As I have occasionally mentioned before, in my social circle is a vocal Trump supporter who gets quite heated when his hero is criticized, so much so that we avoid discussing politics when he is there. But occasionally our guard slips and this happened last week at a dinner party when we were discussing how in an interview, billionaire presidential vanity candidate Howard Schultz could not name the price of everyday items that one might buy in a grocery store. This is a popular line of questioning by reporters who suggest that failure to give the correct answer shows that one is out of touch with everyday people
While none of us were fans of Schultz, we felt that this kind of question was silly and pointless because it did not really prove anything. For example, I am not a billionaire and do grocery shopping regularly but if you asked me the price of bread or milk or carrots or other staples, I would likely get it wrong, even though I buy such things all the time. This is because I am fortunate enough that those things I consider essentials I can and will buy them without being concerned about the fluctuations in price from week to week. The only items of which I am aware of the price are those that are discretionary and fluctuate wildly, like fruits in and out of season. So I do not pay any attention to the price of staples and even though I may notice the price marked on the shelves, I promptly forget it as soon as I put the item in the basket.
But from there the conversation turned to things that genuinely do signal that one has not been inside a grocery store. I brought up the fact that at a recent rally where Trump was going on about tougher ID laws for voting, he defended his position by saying that people need to show their ID even when buying groceries, something that is patently false and only someone who has not personally shopped in a grocery store would be oblivious of. The Trump defender immediately sprang to his defense, first saying that Trump did not say it at all and that it was said by former president George H. W. Bush. I pointed out that the Bush incident, during a photo op in a supermarket, was when he marveled at the scanners that were used, not aware that they had been in operation for a long time. I said that I could send him a link to the Trump speech and others in the room backed me up.
But then the Trump supporter shifted his position and said that if you pay by check, then you need to show ID and this is what Trump was saying. When I pointed out that most people pay by credit cards and that you do not need an ID for that, he shifted again and said that Trump may have been referring to the time before credit cards were used and so he was still right. But I lived in those times and for most purchases, we paid by cash because carrying a checkbook around was a nuisance, only done when making a major purchase.
But the point is that this Trump supporter feels the need to defend him on even the most trivial of issues, even to the extent of creating scenarios that have little connection to actual events. While I have seen such ridiculous rationalization in news stories, it is quite fascinating to observe this first hand in real time. I wonder why Trump supporters cannot concede even a single mistake or fault. Is it because that despite their publicly professed adoration, they sense that Trump’s image is very brittle and that admitting even the slightest flaw could be fatal to the virtual reality they have created around him?