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So, Are We Still Friends?

Whenever the subject of Donald Trump comes up on my radio show, I’m reminded that I am an odd man out in West Virginia, and that is not a comfortable place.

Trump has more support per capita here than perhaps any other state. He received 69 percent of the vote in 2020 and 68 percent in 2016. I suspect Trump would do just as well here if the next presidential election were held today.

However, I believe Trump has disqualified himself from ever serving again for two reasons:

First, he refuses to acknowledge the legitimate outcome of the last election. Every allegation of serious fraud has collapsed or been disproven. Joe Biden won, and Trump lost, yet Trump continues to spread the false narrative that the election was stolen from him.

He puts himself and The Big Lie above the good of the country. That is the kind of extreme narcissism that is dangerous in the White House. Sadly, he is dragging a lot of good people with him on his self-aggrandizing con.

Second, Trump was the primary instigator of the January 6th insurrection. No, he did not specifically tell his supporters to break down the doors of the U.S. Capitol, but he brought the crowd to Washington and created the false impression that their pressure could change the outcome of the election. The mob did the rest.

I’ve made these points many times on Talkline and am met with the same responses. Trump supporters say I am ignoring what they believe are legitimate complaints about election fraud and that January 6th was not as bad as I make it out to be.

I also get healthy doses of “whataboutism” where callers and texters remind me of Hillary Clinton’s emails or Hunter Biden’s laptop.  Sometimes listeners will say something like, “I don’t like what Trump did, but I (or the country) was better off under Trump than Biden.”

Some listeners say my views on Trump make me a mouthpiece for liberalism. I’m not a liberal and I don’t see it as a partisan issue.  For me, the issue is more about right and wrong. I don’t see any gray area with Trump.

The polls show—and I know from lots of experience—that ardent Trump supporters are deeply committed. A recent New York Times-Siena poll found that the MAGA base “doesn’t support Mr. Trump in spite of his flaws. It supports him because it doesn’t seem to believe he has flaws.”

In fact, “not a single one of the 319 respondents in this MAGA category said he had committed serious felony crimes. A mere two percent said he ‘did something wrong’ in his handling of classified documents,” the poll found.

So, Trump’s base is as strong as a West Virginia oak. They are not going to change their minds about him, but I’m not going to change mine either.

Frankly, my life would be easier if I just rode the Trump wave in West Virginia. After all, the logic goes, if I am hosting a show in West Virginia shouldn’t my views reflect those of many, if not most, of the listeners? Unfortunately, I can’t do that.

I take no joy in being out of step with many of my listeners. For one thing, it’s bad for business. No listeners, no show. And I’m not trying to stake out any holier-than-thou high ground. Trump supporters are up to their ears in that kind of condescension.

I consider regular Talkline listeners as a broad extension of my circle of friends. Thomas Jefferson said, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”

I’ll try to hold true to that, and I hope Trump supporters who listen to the show will too.

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