The Trump crazy train keeps caroming down the tracks. But apparently some Republican men, white, non-college educated, specifically, are having a moment of clarity, as they say in 12-step programs, and they want off. They are realizing that their lives have been adversely affected by Donald Trump and they’re seeking to walk a different way. Men who were enculturated with a classic image of toxic masculinity are now beginning to take a second look at that for what it is and they are becoming repelled by what they see — and abandoning their fearless leader. MSNBC:
“Unfortunately, I’m voting for Joe Biden,” Nick Stevens, 30, a Texas small-business owner, told me resolutely after he responded to a call-out I made on social media looking for conservative men having second thoughts about Trump. When we talked on the phone, Stevens said he wasn’t leaving the party because he’s particularly energized by Biden, but rather because he just can’t bring himself to support a man like Trump. Stevens, who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, said Trump’s performance of manhood has pushed him away from the GOP. “He feeds off a particular view of masculinity that bullies people,” Stevens said.
Other men described being embarrassed by Trump’s interpretation of strength. “He’s made this party untenable,” Nick Jesteadt, 30, a former conservative evangelist, told me over the phone. “There is just no compassion. And these softer skills and personality traits that shouldn’t be gender-based” are now once again being tied to gender. Jesteadt described Trump’s brash style of leadership, his repeated verbal abuse and his inability to listen as “old classic masculinity” and “stuff you see from ’60s dad sitcoms.”
Patrick Carr, who introduced himself as a “recovering Republican,” voiced a similar sentiment. “Trump’s version of masculinity would have everyone believe that his opinion is the only one that matters because he is president,” he said. As it did for most of the men I spoke to, the president’s treatment of women specifically touched a nerve. “He openly lusted after his daughter and throws women away when they no longer please him,” Carr said. While he’s always voted Republican, this year he’s voting for Biden and Kamala Harris.
A secondary theme also emerged in many of these conversations. While the men often described themselves as recovering Republicans, many spoke like recovering toxic masculinity addicts. What they despised about Trump was a machismo they once emulated. John Chapman, 36, a former Republican who interned for the Republican National Committee and spent a summer working for the Bush administration, told me Trump felt like a “symptom of the toxic masculinity we all grew up idolizing.” He also said this model of masculinity has long been central to the Republican Party, dating to the days of Ronald Reagan.
This is the 5th Avenue crowd we’re talking about. White men are the demographic that can’t be swayed — except that Trump is swaying them, bigly, and against himself. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that Trump’s lead among white male voters without college degrees has dropped from 35% to 19%. That is quite a plunge. A lot of lemmings are going over this cliff. And who persuaded them? None other than the Macho Macho Man himself. I wonder if he’ll keep playing that song at his remaining rallies? It might just be his death march, if this trend among men continues.
Good for these guys who identify as “recovering Republicans.” I have nothing but the greatest respect for people who realize that there’s a better way to live and who cast off toxic substances or behaviors — or in this case, candidates. This MSNBC article gave me a lot of hope. Maybe America is finally growing up. Maybe this tribalism and splintering can be healed. And maybe, paradoxically, by setting his horrendous example, people who supported Trump will in fact Keep America Great — by walking away from him, and letting America be America again.