Elizabeth Picciuto pushes back against the mockery Donald Trump received for saying five magic words:

What is funny about saying “I love the poorly educated”? Of course Trump loves poorly educated voters. Who else would be asinine enough to buy his tripe?

But some of the same people who have been laughing because he said he loves the poorly educated also denounce voter ID laws. Why? They disenfranchise Americans who are disproportionately lower-income workers, minorities — and poorly educated.

They denounce the laws because they believe — rightly — that an education is neither necessary nor sufficient for thoughtful democratic participation.

Michael Drew also put together a Tweet Storify on the subject, with a similar theme. Because he tends to split his tweets mid-sentence, it’s hard to embed a tweet, but the best part is:

If you self-identify as undereducated and feel bad about it, you’re allowed to hear those words and take them at face value. Even if you’re poorly educated, the guy “loves” you (after a fashion) and wants to be greedy for you.

I might go a step further than Drew and say you don’t even have to feel bad about it. You just have to know that other people see you that way. And so Trump’s comment may have used the wrong word, but because of the message he gets the benefit of the doubt among potential Trump people in a way that someone else, or a different Trump with a different campaign theme, might not.

I confess that my original response to hearing the phrase was a bit of an eyeroll, but some of the pushback (both of these and others) convinced me otherwise.

The other factor is that, of course, Trump is Trump. One of the challenges of opposing him is the benefit of the doubt that he gets by virtue of being himself. He really can say things that nobody else can. A substantial minority of the population really wants to like him.

To look at the other side of the equation, you have Ted Cruz. I’ve seen bafflement from more than one place that he has been so quickly disregarded for such small margins. Cruz fans are upset that he’s getting the reputation for being a mean attack dog when Rubio is similarly on the attack. They’re also exasperated that while Cruz has gone after Trump, he’s still being remembered as the guy who cozied up to him.

But that’s exactly what happens when people have no reason to want to like you. A lot of people want to like Trump because of his novelty. Some love his outrageous comments, but yet others will let the ones they disagree with go because you take the bad with the good. Cruz just doesn’t have that well to draw from. He speaks to a narrow audience, and so people that are not a part of that narrow audience have no reason to cut him some slack.

And, of course, the media, which has a lot of reasons to like Trump – albeit not like-like him – and fewer reasons to like Cruz.

Category: Newsroom

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5 Responses to Loving the Poors

  1. This is the first I’ve heard of what Trump said and (probably not surprisingly), I agree with Picciuto, Drew, and you.

    Not exactly related, but have you ever seen the Steve Martin movie “Roxanne”? At one point toward the end of the movie, the mayor tells a group of people, “I’d rather be with you than with the best people I know.” For some reason that reminds me a little of the stereotypical elitist liberal’s supposed concern for the less educated. (With emphasis on “stereotypical.” I don’t think all, or even a majority of, liberals feel that way. I just think that’s the stereotype and occasionally there’s some evidence to support it.)

  2. Michael Drew says:

    You’re right about “feels bad.” My frame for understanding Trump is that he broadly appeals to people who are feeling bad about something in their lives, or the country. (That may be wrong, but I think it’s largely right.) So whether it’s directly feeling bad (or having been made to feel bad) about one’s education, or feeling bad (or angry) about one’s economic circumstances, which might be linked to one’s education (which link you may be more or less aware of), I think feelings about one’s education directly or indirectly play into whatever extent this comment played the way I speculated that it would.

    • Michael Drew says:

      …I should add: in addition to feeling resentful, or just rejected (but then that’s feeling bad), knowing that people look down on you for your education, like you say.

      But I have to say that I don’t quite hear this comment as doing the same thing that rhetoric designed to stoke class/educational resentment does. Trump almost seems to be saying, “I could look down on you – I look down on everyone else I think is beneath me [and he touts his good education] – but I’m not going to, because you’re voting for me.” I don’t really hear that as a rallying cry to the undereducated to push back at educated elites. It’s more just acceptance.

      So I’m not sure exactly what array of dispositions toward one’s education would make a person receptive to that. But whatever they are, I think that’s who it would be.

    • Michael Drew says:

      …I guess kind of what I was thinking with “feel bad” was that if you self-ID as not educated *and don’t feel bad about it*, you might already be well on down the road of resentment of those who try to make you feel bad about it. I imagine then you probably don’t mind hearing this from Trump, but I guess I was thinking that it might not have the same impact as it might have for someone who hasn’t developed that kind of thick skin, and is unused to hearing this kind of acceptance of who you are from politicians or in the media generally. Obviously this is all just speculation.

      But I think you’re right that it probably did appeal quite a bit to people who have developed a thick skin or even a degree of self-conscious political resentment about education, as well. I think maybe I suspect that’s a smaller proportion of non-college educated people than others.

      Btw, I would say that self-awareness of the resentment would make a difference about which category you’d fall in. I’d count people who have resentment about education, but who haven’t really reflected on it and created a political perspective around it, as “feeling bad” about one’s education. Whereas if you’ve developed that kind of conscious resentment of the particular elements in media and politics that make people feel bad about their education, and perhaps proudly wear the label of working-class/HS-educated, then I’d say you maybe don’t feel bad about your education.

  3. Brandon Berg says:

    They denounce the laws because they believe — rightly — that an education is neither necessary nor sufficient for thoughtful democratic participation.

    I want to push back on this. A four-year degree may not be strictly necessary, and definitely isn’t sufficient, but an education of some kind in a number of relevant topics is absolutely necessary for thoughtful democratic participation. People voting without meeting this requirement is the reason elections, and ultimately government, are the complete and utter farce that they’ve become. You cannot have an informed opinion on which candidates are best qualified without actually being informed.

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