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Why the support? ‘Donald Trump is verbalizing people’s frustration’

REUTERS/Jonathan Drake
Janet Beihoffer: "You wonder why people support Donald Trump? He put these issues on the table. People are scared that the America they knew is disappearing."

At a meeting of Republican activists last weekend, where a straw poll was taken on presidential preference, the Donald Trump campaign presence was minimal and, with 10 percent of the vote, so, apparently was his popularity.

But while many in the group found much to dislike about Trump, there were sidebar conversations to the effect that Trump is getting some things right.

Janet Beihoffer, the state party’s national Republican committeewoman, was at that meeting. She heard some of those comments, which she says are similar to what she hears as she talks to Republicans and nonpolitical types around the state.

My colleague Eric Black identified the emotional nerve Trump is striking – “Why Donald Trump’s poll numbers keep going up and up,” as well as the political canniness of his proposal on Muslims – “Two and a half reactions to Trump’s idea of banning Muslims from entering the U.S.”

Beihoffer wouldn’t comment on the politics of Trump’s proposal, but said from what she hears, there’s more than emotion at work.

“Donald Trump is verbalizing people’s frustration — right now, it’s immigration. But, people are afraid for other reasons: Jobs are disappearing (Disney hires foreign workers to do American jobs and makes Americans train them before they can leave); wages are stagnant (if someone has a job); addressing terror is confined to verbal semantics; costs are rising; health insurance premiums are skyrocketing; security at airports is questionable at best (how many security checks have failed?).

Janet Beihoffer
Janet Beihoffer

“And people don’t see the political elite addressing these problems — many of which could be fixed if the laws on the books were enforced.

“You wonder why people support Donald Trump? He put these issues on the table. People are scared that the America they knew is disappearing. They elected people to enforce the law and provide growth solutions. They are not seeing it.

“Their frustration is being addressed by Donald Trump. Will they all vote for him? I don’t know, but I do know the frustration out there is alive and well and Donald Trump is tapping into it,” she said.

Beihoffer’s conversations with activists may appear to contradict the flood of Republican criticism of Trump’s proposals. They are definitely anecdotal. But they illustrate how, even among people who turned their back on Trump in a straw poll, there is a measure of support for the issues that are the core of his campaign for president.

Comments (18)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 12/10/2015 - 10:34 am.

    Mr. Trump

    …is also appealing to, and getting support from, the unsavory underbelly of the Republican Party. Other demagogues, in other countries, did pretty much the same thing several decades ago. They appealed to pretty much the same kinds of frustrations in the same kind of way. It didn’t turn out well.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 12/10/2015 - 11:05 am.

    “verbalizing frustration” is what small children do

    …and we call it “whining”. I’d actually rather find the person with an idea that might resolve the frustration.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/10/2015 - 11:32 am.

    I Can’t Help But Think

    There must be ways of addressing the issues that are frustrating people that do not involve insults, bigotry, or xenophobia.

    • Submitted by Mike Downing on 12/10/2015 - 03:35 pm.

      Was Carter a xenophobe?

      Was President Jimmy Carter a xenophobe when he stopped immigration of Muslims during the hostage crisis? Was FDR a zenophobe when he stopped immigration from Germany & Japan?

      I don’t think I can vote for Trump but Janet Beihoffer is 100% right that Trump is a media genius who is tapping into American frustration with all branches of government, i.e. there is very little that seems to be working right in government.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/10/2015 - 04:49 pm.

        Carter and FDR

        Your analogies do not come close to holding up.

        Carter did not stop immigration of Muslims. After the seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran (something akin to an act of war by a sovereign state), he ordered the review of the visas of Iranians in the US, and ordered the immediate deportation of those whose visas expired. He also ordered cancellation of future visas except for humanitarian purposes. His order did not single out Muslims, so the ban would have applied to Christian or Jewish Iranians (BTW, Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian Iranians are each allotted seats in parliament).

        FDR’s immigration ban was neither xenophobic nor zenophobic (fear of a pre-Socratic philosopher? Sorry, I couldn’t resist). Remember that there was a formal state of war at the time. The detention of Japanese residents was xenophobic as well as indefensible, based as it was on deliberately distorted intelligence.

  4. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 12/10/2015 - 11:58 am.

    I think you are giving his fans too much credit

    They are racists, xenophobes, haters of all that shows them their own failure to succeed. I imagine the woman who smashed the beer stein in the Somali woman’s face was a Trump supporter. Since the time of Nixon the racists and backwards, uneducated rednecks have been responding to the same dog whistle hate sounds that Trumps fans respond to. That 10 or 20% of American adults and 30-40% of all Republicans fit that profile (guessing those numbers) explains for me why he polls the way he does. That another large segment of the Republican party is willing to accept those people as supporters in order to gain power explains why people like Cruz won’t just outright call an evil an evil. He has a lock on the Klan vote if he should decide to run independently. He gains the Republican nomination I would think it would permanently cripple that party.

  5. Submitted by Jim Million on 12/10/2015 - 12:30 pm.

    Oralizing Frustration

    More thoughtful expressions of frustration tend to come in writing. But, who reads these days?

    Aren’t most (all?) social demonstrations about frustrations of some sort? Certainly, we have many examples here now, in Chicago yesterday, on the streets of many U.S. cities for decades. Today, when we are collectively frustrated, we march, or at least show up on sidewalks with banners and placards.

    For a very long time the preferred tactic of dissent has been to be “in your face.” As a master manipulator, Trump has succeeded in being in our faces every day on all types of digital screens.

    I honestly have no idea what Donald Trump’s true purpose might be; although, I have posted some conjecture this week. Maybe this is all about reaching catharsis. His detractors seem to fear that; while, blindly or boldly, his supporters clearly welcome it.

    Trump Trump Trump the tweets are marching. And, the bleat goes on….

  6. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 12/10/2015 - 12:57 pm.


    Trump is indeed verbalizing the frustration some people feel, but those aren’t necessarily the people you want setting policy. Someone may be frustrated that they can’t thump every third person on the street, but is that really a bad thing?

    There are a lot of other people of all political stripes who are ticked off that the political and economic systems in America aren’t serving the average people. Instead of carrying Trump’s banner for him though, I’d recommend people take a look at Bernie Sanders and see what he has to say. Bernie has some good ideas and has a very practical and pragmatic way of addressing issues that we don’t see in other candidates, Hilary included.

    Trump, on the other hand, is a thug who’s wealthy and makes weird proclamations because he’s used to people simply taking care of things for him. He has no concept of how common people live, work, and struggle because he’s never had to work for a paycheck. He’s the classic case of a guy who starts out on third base and thinks he hit a home run.

  7. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/10/2015 - 01:42 pm.

    See this is the problem

    Trump isn’t talking about stagnant wages and unemployment, no republican is beyond magical thinking that tax cuts will solve the problem. Anyone who talks about those issues responsibly is labeled a “socialist”.

    Sure republicans are frustrated, it’s been decades since republicans have conceived of any kind of workable solution that actually addresses any legitimate frustrations they have, and they steadfasly appose any coherent idea anyone else comes up with. Beyond that, republican have spent decades cultivating perpetual frustration as a means of motivating their base. You promote perpetual crises year after year and then wonder why people are frustrated by the lack of progress? Seriously?

    And here we see republicans as usual mounting up to ride in the exact opposite and wrong direction. Like Iraq before it you think terrorism in California or New York is about putting “boots on the ground” on the other side of the world instead of security here at home. So You’re all about fighting ISIS in Syria while people buy assault weapons here at home and launch attacks. Trump gets some things right?

  8. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 12/10/2015 - 02:06 pm.

    Frustration or fear?

    People often use “frustration” when they really mean “anger”. Anger is an emotion which all too frequently conceals another emotion: fear. I have no problem with people using euphemisms but we should all be clear about what they, or we, really mean.

    I think it’s fair to say that people in America are deeply afraid for the reasons Ms. Beihoffer says. Maybe they’re also frustrated because they feel they can’t do anything about it. Or they’re angry at politicians- theirs or ours-for not recognizing it or dealing with it. But at the bottom is fear. Which of course we can all deal with perfectly easily. By simply not being afraid. Most of the things people are afraid of in reality have very remote chances of hurting us. More of us will die or become seriously ill from falling off of a ladder at home than being blown to bits or shot by some terrorist.

    • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/10/2015 - 04:07 pm.


      “More of us will die or become seriously ill from falling off of a ladder at home than being blown to bits or shot by some terrorist.”

      It would seem that the task to educate people that we’re worrying about all the wrong things is easier to accomplish than making ISIS functionally go away.

      The lack of an ability to apply simple and practical math to our problems is stunning. For example: 16,000 deaths per year due to lung cancer from inhaling radon gas. $10.00 for a radon gas home detection kit, 123,000,000 US households. Want to apply tax dollars to save lives: $768.00 Per life saved by testing every house hold.

      Apply that to the war on terror: 3200 US Domestic deaths due to terrorism in the name of Islam since 2000. Total cost of the “WAR ON TERROR”: 1.7 trillion. Spending per life lost: $532,000,000 per life.

      Why is a life lost to terror worth 692,000 times more than a life lost to lung cancer?

      • Submitted by joe smith on 12/12/2015 - 11:46 am.

        Because I can choose to get radon detector or not to. Just like I can choose to smoke tobacco or not. I have no control over an administration that has fumbled the ball at every turn from calling the Fort Hood shootings work place violence to ignoring ISIS and hoping they go away to the Iranian deal (Iran is already firing off missiles a violation of agreement). It is more anger at the empty words and promises than fear of being personally killed by a terrorist. Unfortunately I fear Americans will be killed by terrorists until we eliminate the ISIS foothold in N Iraq and Syria plus step up our broken immigration system.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 12/14/2015 - 08:41 am.


          You would endorse spending another 1.7 trillion dollars and thousands of American soldiers lives so that the threat of bodily harm in the US from “Islamoterrorism” is reduced from 4 times less likely than a lightening strike to 100 times less likely than a lightening strike? Your worries about Islamic terrorists and Mexicans sneaking across the border are trivial distractions used by politicians, the media and other interested parties in distracting us from fixing real problems like jobs, taxes, social security, energy and the environment.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 12/14/2015 - 11:28 am.

            Not Such a “Trivial” Distraction

            I disagree with you only in calling the distractions of terrorism and illegal immigration “trivial.” They are far from trivial, in that those distractions have proven historically to be very useful and efficient tools to mobilize the electorate. The fact that these tools are based on what are at best distortions, at worst outright lies, makes them all the more insidious. Look at the mileage the Republican Party gained, and continues to gain, out of the so-called “birthers,” or the people who believe the President is a Muslim. If you were running for an office as a Republican, which would you rather discuss: your party’s utter failure at governance, or your speculation on why we haven’t really seen a “long form” birth certificate?

  9. Submitted by Rich Crose on 12/10/2015 - 04:17 pm.

    FUD Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt

    Madison Avenue sells FUD, not products: Aspirin unsafe? Buy Tylenol. The boy is not going to like you because you have a zit. Buy Clearasil. The sales pitch is always subtle innuendo and it works or they wouldn’t keep doing it.

    The Republican’s have always been good at this, Trump is GREAT at this: Immigrants might steal your job? Trump won’t let them. The terrorists are Muslim, Trump attacks Muslims. (By the way, Obama’s middle name is Muslim. You better hate Obama. Oh, and Obama is a Democrat. Better hate Democrats too.)

    I’m waiting for him to say something about THOSE people who are stealing your hard earned tax dollars in welfare payments. His followers will eat it up. Scott Walker followers did.

    • Submitted by Jim Million on 12/10/2015 - 07:39 pm.


      Democrats have been very good at this, as well.

      Independents have not been very good at this for some reason.

  10. Submitted by Geo. Greene on 12/11/2015 - 10:07 am.

    Boggles the mind

    “People are scared that the America they knew is disappearing. They elected people to enforce the law and provide growth solutions. They are not seeing it.”

    For decades they’ve been electing Republicans who have either been in power or have immobilized government with filibusters when they weren’t. These frightened people do not get that it’s been the GOP screwing them all along.

    Trickle down was a historically monumental failure -wages did NOT go up as Republicans promised.
    Greed on Wall Street devastated the economy.
    We were lied into a long and costly war.
    Higher education cuts -pushed by Republicans- mean your kids may not be able to go to college (and if they do they’ll be deep in debt just when they’ll need to raise a family and buy a house.)

    The list of losses to this country from Republican action (or inaction) is long and tragic and will take decades to fix. Donald Trump to the rescue? It boggles the mind how the election of a blustering egocentric narcissist -reviled by world leaders and peoples alike- and with his finger on the nuclear trigger could possibly make anyone feel safe.

    If unhappy Americans want their America back maybe they ought to understand who it is that’s been taking it away.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 12/12/2015 - 11:12 am.

    But really

    The question is:”Why do republicans hate America?” All this fear and frustration and anger is result do decades of republican mongering, they say the thing that Trump gets “right” is his fear mongering. Frankly Cruze isn’t much better but republican voters just don’t get. They’re driving themselves into oblivion. Seriously you listen to these folks describing America and it’s like an alternate nightmare universe of some kind.

    They lost their country? Lost their country to whom? Their fellow Americans? That doesn’t even make sense but they think they can use it to win elections? Every time I get a little window into the republican mentality I become more convinced that these people simply no longer have the capacity to organize and run a major political party in this country.

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