In order to persuade Trump voters, I’d have to understand them first. Believe me, I’ve tried.
For months I’ve been imagining the closing argument I would post the day before the election: a devastatingly persuasive case why voters should choose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump.
To a large extent I’d be preaching to the choir, of course, since most of my regular readers already agree with me. (That’s true for just about all bloggers.) But I’m sure a lot of them have friends or relatives who are undecided or leaning towards Trump. My convincing analysis would be something they could forward or quote, or maybe it would just help them marshal their thoughts before making some argument of their own.
It was a pleasant fantasy. But now it actually is the day before the election, and I have to admit failure: I can’t hope to convince Trump voters, because I can’t understand them. I can’t fathom why we are even having a national conversation about making Donald Trump president. Why did anyone ever think that was a good idea?
I’ve tried to understand. I’ve spent months listening to the Trump supporters I happen to run into, watching interviews with them on TV, reading books and articles about them, and even quieting my own revulsion as I listen to Trump so that I can look deep inside myself for something that responds to his message.
I got nothing.
As guys with erectile dysfunction often say: This doesn’t usually happen to me. I didn’t support John McCain or Mitt Romney, but I understood how other people could. (In 2012 I wrote an article claiming that Romney could win if he’d run as a problem-solver rather than an ideologue. I even included a campaign speech he could give.) Sure, I often thought “I don’t agree with that” or “I don’t think that’s true” when I watched McCain or Romney. But with Trump it’s different. All I can think is “What the hell is wrong with that guy?”
So I have no idea what his supporters are thinking. I can repeat some words back to you, but I can’t grasp why anyone believes them.
“Politicians have screwed this country up. Maybe it’s time to give one of our top businessmen a chance.” This could be the start of an interesting national conversation, if Trump were a top businessman. But he’s not, he just plays one on television. 
Yes, I know, Trump is rich.  But that’s because he was born rich. He inherited a New York real estate empire from his father, and the last few decades have been good to the New York real estate market. On the other hand, just about everything he’s done on his own, outside his father’s shadow — the bankrupt casinos, the failed airline, the mortgage company he opened just before the real-estate bubble popped — has been a disaster. Romney was right about Trump: “A business genius he is not.”
Now, I have to admit, he did pull off one good trick: He turned inherited wealth into celebrity, and then turned celebrity back into wealth (by charging people for the right to put his name on things he had nothing to do with). But you know who else has mastered that maneuver? Paris Hilton. Strangely, no one ever tells me that Paris Hilton should be president.
What else is he good at? He’s good at getting government subsidies. He’s good at avoiding taxes. He’s good at stiffing the small businessmen who work on his projects. He’s good at scamming middle-class people out of their money. If that’s the kind of stuff you admire in a businessman, then I guess Trump is your guy.
But the businessmen I admire see into the future. They change our lives by creating new products and new ways of doing things. They build opportunity for others. They bring prosperity to their communities, and enrich lots of other people, not just themselves. 
Donald Trump has never done any of that.
He’s also never done anything remotely like being President of the United States. And whatever you think of government service, President is not an entry-level job. We need somebody who can go in already knowing the major players, the major issues, and the nuts-and-bolts of how government functions. That’s not Trump, as you can see whenever anyone pushes him past the slogan level. 
I think Trae Crowder (a.k.a. the Liberal Redneck) nails something here:
Look, it’s like this. Think of your football team. Imagine y’all have been bad for years and years — not a stretch in my case. And imagine they fire the coach, and they come to you as a fan base and they say, “Look. You’re gonna love this new guy. He promises we’re gonna win twice as many games. We’re gonna score all kinds of points. He’s gonna go get our touchdowns back from the Mexicans. It’s gonna be awesome.”
You’d be like “Hell, yeah. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. So where’s he coming from? Where’d he coach at before this?”
And they’re like, “Oh, actually he’s not a football coach. He’s a European soccer coach with the emotional intelligence and fingers of a fucking six-year-old. Also, he rapes.”
You’d be like, “What the fuck? No. Why would we do that? That would be an embarrassment to our program, to everything we stand for. No.”
“He’s not politically correct.” When did avoiding political correctness become a blanket excuse for being an asshole?
When Trump waves his arms around to make fun of a disabled man, when he suggests that Natasha Stoynoff isn’t attractive enough to assault, when he critiques Hillary Clinton’s butt in front of thousands of cheering fans, when he says that an Indiana-born Hispanic judge can’t be fair to him because “he’s a Mexican“, when he taunts a bereaved mother of a decorated Muslim-American soldier — that’s not “politically incorrect”. He’s just an asshole.
“He’s one of us.” You were born filthy rich? You attended expensive private schools? You’ve spent a bunch of your life hanging around with supermodels in Manhattan nightclubs? No? So how exactly do you feel similar to Donald Trump or imagine that he identifies with you?
Not only don’t I think Trump is “one of us” (whoever you think “we” are). I wonder if he even knows any of us, other than as flunkies he can boss around.
“But Hillary is so awful!” Really? Did you happen to watch the Benghazi hearings on TV?
This was like the eighth investigation of Benghazi, so by then every little detail had already been analyzed to death. And to hear folks like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh tell it, Hillary had practically murdered those four guys with her bare hands. So a Republican-controlled House committee finally gets Clinton right where they want her: testifying under oath on national TV, where they can finally make her answer for every horrible thing she did.
And you know what? They didn’t lay a glove on her.
That’s a typical Hillary Clinton “scandal”. Fox and Breitbart and so forth are really good at ginning up wild charges and whipping their audiences into frenzies of rage. But when someone has to back those claims up with real evidence … there never was any.
Now we’re watching the same thing happen with her emails. (Remember how we got into the emails? That was where Republicans were going to find the smoking gun that nailed her for Benghazi. Seen it yet?) Again: lots of wild charges, lots of rage. Actual wrongdoing? Not so much.
For comparison, Trump faces a real court case that he managed to put off until after the election: his Trump University fraud. (He’s going to lose that lawsuit, because he really did defraud those people.) You know whose family foundation is a seething pile of corruption? Trump’s, not Clinton’s. Whose friends in the media have been hushing up scandal? Trump’s. His wife broke those immigration laws that he supposedly cares so much about enforcing. And the guy he tapped as the head of his transition team — the guy who is going to staff the new administration, in other words — is Chris Christie. Christie staffed his own administration in New Jersey with people who just got convicted of felonies.
What else could you be thinking? I can’t guess. Maybe you’re for Trump because you like being on the same side as the KKK and Vladimir Putin. Maybe you think American politics needs more playground insults like “Lyin’ Ted” or “Crooked Hillary”. Maybe you enjoy being told that you that you didn’t just see what you saw or hear what you heard. Maybe you’re sick of political spin and would rather hear a candidate tell whopping lies instead.
I know, I’m grasping at straws here, because I really don’t understand.
Donald Trump as President of the United States? I’ve got nothing to say. Why are we even having this conversation?
 To get a sense of just what a manufactured character the “Donald Trump” of The Apprentice is, listen to the men who manufactured him: the show’s editors.
Setting up story beats to justify the contestant that Trump ultimately fired required editorial gymnastics, according to the show’s editors. Manipulating footage to invent a story point that did not exist organically is common in reality TV editing, although with The Apprentice, it proved a tremendous feat.
“We’d often be shocked at whomever Trump chose to fire,” Braun explained. “Our first priority on every episode like that was to reverse-engineer the show to make it look like his judgment had some basis in reality. Sometimes it would be very hard to do, because the person he chose did nothing. We had to figure out how to edit the show to make it work, to show the people he chose to fire as looking bad — even if they had done a great job.”
 Though probably not as rich as he says he is. He claims to be worth $10 billion, but some estimates place his net worth at less than a billion. You have to wonder why he has systematically avoided revealing anything (like tax returns) that could give us a clearer idea of his actual wealth.
 For enriching other people, look at Sam Walton or Bill Gates. Lots of ordinary folks are millionaires because they got close to those guys early in their careers and then hung on to their stock options. But the most frequent story you hear from people who have worked with Trump over the years is that he cheated them somehow.
 Take his signature issue, immigration: Do we need a “deportation force” to round up all 11 million undocumented immigrants and force them to leave? Or do we just focus on the “bad ones”, as President Obama is already doing? Trump says different things at different times, because he’s never really thought about how any of this works.