How Trump’s rallies help keep MAGA Republicans in a politically segregated 'bubble': journalist

How Trump’s rallies help keep MAGA Republicans in a politically segregated 'bubble': journalist

A common talking point on the right — and even among some Blue Dog Democrats — is that liberals and progressives live in “safe spaces” where they are cut off from conservative, and even centrist, ideas. According to that strawman view of liberals and progressives, politically isolated Democrats need to spend less time on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, or in Downtown Boston or the San Francisco Bay Area and more time talking to “the real America.”

But political bubbles are hardly limited to the left in the United States. Veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove was such an ideologue during the 2012 presidential election that he looked like a deer caught in the headlights when, in the presence of Megyn Kelly on Fox News, he learned that President Barack Obama had defeated GOP nominee Mitt Romney in Ohio — and therefore, would be staying in the White House for four more years. And ten years later, in 2022, one of the most isolated political bubbles is the one inhabited by MAGA Republicans who voted for Donald Trump in 2020.

Journalist Elaine Godfrey takes a look at their political isolation in an article published by The Atlantic on January 20, arguing that their self-imposed segregation is reinforced by the media they consume and the MAGA rallies they attend.

“Before the 2020 election,” Godfrey explains, “Trump and his fans would often ask reporters how Joe Biden could possibly win when he didn’t have rallies as big as Trump’s. Now that Biden is president, Trump-rally goers say things like: Trump couldn’t really have lost. Look at all of these people!”

One such Trump supporter, Godfrey notes, was 51-year-old Tammy Shutts, who attended a recent MAGA rally in Arizona and told the Atlantic journalist, “100%, 1000%, 1 million percent, Biden didn’t win…. I’ve been in Arizona for almost 21 years. There is no way — no way — we went blue.”

Evidently, Shutts obviously doesn’t spend a lot of time hanging out with Latino voters in heavily Democratic areas of Maricopa County.

Godfrey points out that “many American liberals” also “live in political bubbles,” noting that after President Richard Nixon “smashed” Democrat George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election, film critic Pauline Kael “famously” commented, “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon.”

To further illustrate Godfrey’s point, this journalist attended a Walter Mondale rally during the Summer of 1984 outside Queens Borough Hall near the Union Turnpike subway station — talking to Mondale supporters, New York City residents and Democratic activists who were confident that President Ronald Reagan would be voted out of office. In November 1984, Reagan was reelected with 525 electoral votes.

Godfrey writes, “Some people in overwhelmingly blue parts of the country, for example, were shocked to find that Trump got so many votes in 2016…. Some of those same blue-area Democrats were just as confident that Sen. Elizabeth Warren would be the party nominee. But Republicans also live in bubbles…. Trump voters might find it hard to believe that Biden won the election because their neighbors and friends mostly voted for Trump too.”

Ryan Enos, a political scientist at Harvard University, told Godfrey that MAGA rallies validate what Trump voters are hearing in their favorite right-wing media outlets.

Enos explained, “You have the president saying things, your neighbors who you (perceive as) saying the same things — and then, these Trump rallies seem to be almost a social event. Now, you have an element of your social life, not just what you’re seeing on TV, that is caught up in believing these lies.”

According to Godfrey, it’s no coincidence that Trump loves to brag about the size of his rallies.

“For Trump, boasting about his throngs of supporters is about more than just telegraphing his wild popularity to his opponents,” Godfrey writes. “Trump’s boasting reaffirms his voters’ beliefs, and shuts out doubt. It keeps his supporters inside their bubble.”

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