In his latest Letter to America, Australian Roger Pugh wonders why Trump supporters seem unmoved by any of the arguments against their candidate.
Your Presidential election makes for incredibly compelling theatre from a safe distance down here.
We were particularly impressed by Elizabeth Warren’s recent speech which took Trump-trashing to an entirely new level. It seemed to be embraced enthusiastically by the usual left-leaning suspects, but we were intrigued by speculation about whether it made any impression whatsoever on Trump supporters. The consensus seemed to be they regarded it as welcome reassurance they had chosen the right advocate for their cause.
It is evident from his convention speech that Trump is positioning himself as the voice of the forgotten people, primarily white politically-incorrect males who have been treated with contempt and disdain by an unrelenting campaign from the morally-outraged dedicated to humiliating and silencing them.
The UK government paid no heed at all to the concerns of ordinary people about the increasing control over their lives exercised by EU bureaucrats in Brussels until Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage gave voice to their cause. It seems likely that things have boiled over in Turkey because many ordinary Turks have been experiencing similar frustrations. Ordinary Americans have found their voice through Trump.
Trump supporters believe, for example, that by allowing more Muslims into the country you inevitably attract more terrorists as well. While there is a certain simplistic logic to that argument, it doesn’t stand up in the cool light of day against strong counter arguments. Sadly the counter arguments don’t seem to register with Trump supporters as much as the abuse they suffer.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s classic principle of free speech “I disapprove of what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it” seems to be losing traction not just in the U.S. but the world over.
The predominant principle in the Trump-Hillary contest seems to be rather, “I abhor what you say and I will pursue to the death my irresistible urge to shut your mouth.”
Between now and November, Trump and Hillary are going to say some awful things about each other. While you may experience an irresistible urge to join in and even to silence people holding opposing views, please above all rejoice that you are in a robust democracy where this can happen and not in China or Turkey where it can’t. Free speech in the U.S. is a crucial element in Western Democracy.
It is perhaps worth remembering, however, that free speech works best when people don’t abuse it and are given a fair hearing.