I was listening to some random political podcast while out for my run this morning, and the discussion at one point ran across one of my least favorite bits of conventional wisdom—that Trump’s win in 2016 means that voters have already passed judgement on his character and behavior. According to this argument, there is no point in looking into Trump’s past immoral behavior and crimes, because voters knew that he was a jerk and a shady businessman, and they elected him anyway.
This argument is, in a word, nonsense.
The political pundit class (and the journalists that may in their wake) may be well aware of Trump’s character flaws and shadiness, but I would suggest that most Trump voters know him as (to quote Timothy Snyder), “Donald Trump, Successful Businessman.” They know the character he played on The Apprentice, and the guy on the cover of The Art Of the Deal.
What they do not know is that he is a crook, a cheapskate, and a business failure several times over. That is the story that the current investigations and lawsuits against him will tell, and it is one that voters need to hear over and over.
So please, let’s retire this faux-savvy notion that “Everyone already knows this.”