These clips come from television interviews on CNN, BBC, NBC, and CBS with self-proclaimed Trumpettes, ardent women supporters of Trump. The interviews and focus groups aired between 2016 and 2018, and span Trump’s presidential campaign and Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate Judiciary Hearing. News organizations tended to seek out and interview Trumpettes during the period’s many sex- and gender-related scandals, including the leaked Access Hollywood tapes, Trump’s comments about Alicia Machado’s weight, the allegations against Rob Porter, the Stormy Daniels revelations, and the sexual assault claims against Kavanaugh. Reporters often asked Trumpettes to explain their continued support for a politician whose words and deeds frequently came across as demeaning to women.
The women in the videos come from an assortment of backgrounds, from cosmetically enhanced Florida dowagers to working-class Midwesterners and Dallas evangelicals. What links them, with a few exceptions, is their overwhelming whiteness and blondeness. They all share a notable confrontational charisma. In the early videos, they insist that the media and Democrats are condemning Trump for daring to speak the truth in a politically correct culture, as when he called Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado fat. One interviewee, a member of Trumpettes USA, suggested Trump was merely pointing out the obvious. “She got fat,” she said, “he’s not lying.”
The ascendance of Trump has led to a unique iteration of conservative womanhood. Until the spectacular implosion of iconoclast mother and former Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, maternalism played an inextricable role in conservative politics. For decades, conservative women promoted themselves as reproducers of the family and, by extension, the nation. Trumpettes, by contrast, rarely, if ever, mention the family. Theirs is an ostensibly bold, sexy, individualistic, assertively in-your-face conservatism. The Trumpettes cast aside discourses of motherhood and morality in favor of a belief in the ruggedly flawed individualism that Trump represents. Yet they celebrate individualism while asserting a strikingly unified opinion (and aesthetic), as if only men like Trump can experience individualism in its ideal state (whatever that ideal state might be). Despite shifts in rhetoric, however, the Trumpettes’ primary drive is nonetheless very familiar: to uphold white supremacy. They do this by defending and absolving Republican men and doubling down on the racial and ideological requirements of white American citizenship.