Someone posted an essay attributed to Steve Harvey on Facebook last week. I did not fact check to make certain that these were actually Harvey’s words, but I felt the concept was worth sharing as I continue to try to understand support for Trump.
Trump’s base sees a two-fold problem which is depleted economic opportunity and security, and the immigrants they blame for their economic problems. They blame the corrupt, out of touch government that caused or allowed this to happen. They see the government as broken and as something that must be destroyed and rebuilt. They see all politicians as the enemy, but are particularly hostile to democrats and liberals. They believe Trump’s wealth and success keep him from being influenced by lobbyists and wealthy donors. They see the problems as urgent and unfixable. They don’t care how despicable, dishonest or immoral Trump is because he’s the one who is going to change government, fix the economy and return it to what it once was.
They don’t see the incompetence and the self-dealing and the lies. They cheer the breaking of our institutions and norms and they don’t care about our standing in the world. They believe that this destruction will somehow fix government and return it to a golden time that never really existed for everyone. For the rest of us, who only see the destruction and not the unrealistic vision of how things could be in Trump world, we’re on a runaway train with no one at the helm and no one maintaining the tracks, that is heading toward a crevasse spanned by a broken bridge.
Maybe impeachment is the answer, if not, the 2020 election. So Vote!!!
Accountability for years of wrongdoing has not stuck to Teflon Don, but guess what, it only takes one scratch to compromise the non-stickability of a Teflon pan. Will the information provided by this week’s whistleblower cause the first deprecation of this invisible amour that is the result of unearned wealth along with the demeanor of an entitled schoolyard bully?
Apparently, Trump asked the leader of the Ukraine for dirt on Joe Biden’s son in exchange for military support. Joyce White Vance, a former U.S. Attorney in Alabama tweeted, “If this turns out to be what the whistleblower complaint is about & it’s accurate, Trump must leave office immediately, a president can’t offer US aid to a foreign country in exchange for prosecution of a political opponent. Heaven help us if we can’t all agree.”
Is this the fatal scratch that will cause us to toss this useless pan into the trash? Don’t let false claims of fake news and witch hunt keep you from seeing the scratch.
Mocking a reporter with a disability, outrageous and derogatory claims about Mexican people and a highly limited vocabulary was enough for me to not vote for Trump. Then the events at Charlottesville and the subsequent pro-white nationalist comments made by Trump convinced me that he did not possess the leadership qualities that Americans deserve. After those days, I felt a sense of dread and fear that our country was in danger of losing its standing in the world as “… a shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere” (Ronald Reagan). None of these observations were the product of media opinion or fake news. They were the unadulterated behaviors of an unfit President. I was very perplexed by the fact that not everyone felt the same way. This conundrum was actually the impetus for this blog as I explored why others still supported Trump.
Even after two and half years of watching our institutions and world alliances being torn apart and witnessing over 12,000 documented lies espoused by the President, many still support Trump. Just before I began this blog in November 2017, a respected retired police officer who worked and lived and still lives in my community, wrote a pro-Trump letter to the editor of our county newspaper. He could not understand why everyone was so critical of this wonderful President. Now, just this past week, two years later he wrote another pro-Trump letter to the editor. In it, he is intrigued that other opinions published in the paper “…attack our president with unsubstantiated baseless, fact-less fairly tales.” He claims that, “…the phony media will stop at nothing to berate our president with wild, imaginary commentary.” He says that the “…socialist left uses nothing but propaganda, lies and distortions in an attempt to have our president removed from office.” He continues saying “I challenge anyone from the donkey party to provide factual information that President Trump has violated any federal law commensurate to an indictable, impeachable offense. There are none, period.” WOW!!!
The next day another reader called out this author, saying read the Mueller Report and watch another news source other than Fox News. It is also obvious to me that the retired police officer is living in an information bubble that he refuses to leave and he believes anything outside the bubble is a lie. Trump is already an unnamed co-conspirator in a felony case and has engaged in many impeachable offenses which do not have to break federal laws to be enforced. And, this does not even mention the half dozen or more credible counts of obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller Report. It is exasperating that an intelligent and productive member of my community can be so out of touch with the truth. And, sadly, he probably feels the same way about me! LOL
In the article “A Complete Psychological Analysis of Trump’s Support” by Bobby Azarian Ph.D (psychologytoday.com, December 27, 2018), the author outlines 14 reasons some Trump supporters would follow him off a cliff.
- Practicality Trumps Morality – Tax cuts, deregulation and the promise of jobs are more important than Trump’s behavior.
- The Brain’s Attention System is More Strongly Engaged By Trump – His showmanship (conman behavior) and simple language resonate with some at a visceral level.
- America’s Obsession with Entertainment and Celebrity – It doesn’t matter what he says because he’s so amusing to watch. For that reason, some supporters will forgive anything he says.
- “Some Men Just Want to Watch the World Burn” – Some supporters want Trump to be rebellious or to introduce chaos into the political system as they have such distaste for the establishment and democrats.
- The Fear Factor: Conservatives Are More Sensitive to Threat – Apparently being liberal or conservative can be determined by biology and evidenced by a brain scan. For instance, conservatives fear illegal immigrants and feel protected by Trump.
- The Power of Mortality Reminders and Perceived Existential Threat – Triggering thoughts of death tends to shift people towards the right which is evidenced by Trump’s fear-mongering.
- The Dunning-Kruger Effect: Humans Often Overestimate Their Political Expertise – Not only are people misinformed, they are completely unaware that they are misinformed. People cannot be reached because they mistakenly believe they are the ones who should be reaching others.
- Relative Deprivation: A Misguided Sense of Entitlement – Some believe that their lack of perceived and deserved success has been unfairly usurped by others who are equal or inferior.
- Lack of Exposure to Dissimilar Others – Many Trump supporters have experienced less contact with minorities than other Americans.
- Trump’s Conspiracy Theories Target the Mentally Vulnerable – Some people are more susceptible to conspiracy theories and magical thinking, and are directly targeted by Trump and his media allies.
- Trump Taps into the Nation’s Collective Narcissism – Collective narcissism is an unrealistic shared belief in the greatness of one’s national group who believes it represents the “true identity” (in-group) of a nation. It perceives itself as being disadvantaged compared to out-groups who are getting ahead of them unrightfully.
- The Desire to Want to Dominate Others – Social dominance orientation refers to people who have a preference for the societal hierarchy of groups, specifically with a structure in which the high-status groups have dominance over the low-status ones. They are typically dominant, tough-minded and driven by self-interest.
- Authoritarian Personality – Authoritarianism refers to the advocacy or enforcement of strict obedience to authority at the expense of personal freedom, and is commonly associated with a lack of concern for the opinions or needs of others. Those with an authoritarian personality are attracted to and accepting of Trump.
- Racism and Bigotry – Not all Trump supporters have prejudice against ethnic and religious minorities. However, Trump routinely appeals to racist and bigoted supporters.
After all this, it is still personally disconcerting that our collective sense of reality would be so different. I question my news sources and fact check. I try to identify my personally biases. I try to understand how others support Trump without being judgmental. I fear the damage Trump is doing to our country, and moreover, I fear that not everyone can see the damage before it is too late!
While the majority of Americans are struggling to make ends meet in the current economy with one in five children living in households described as food insecure, the President is altering NOAA weather maps with a sharpie to cover his misstatements. The point is a balanced economy is more important than covering a simple mistake that nobody cared about.
According to Steven Brill in his recent book Tailspin (2018), America depends on the “…balance between the energizing inequality of achievement in a competitive economy and the liberating, conmmunity-binding equality of power promised by democracy.” The problem is the former has co-opted the government and implemented legislation that favors themselves at the expense of the latter. They pursue their personal fortunes without regulation or accountability. Their focus is on short term gains and profits for shareholders which includes reducing labor costs to bare mininums.
Our democracy is meant to balance the power of all citizens, but this class of “overachievers” as Brill calls them has taken over our economy through aggressive deep-pocketed lobbying to buy and manipulate our government in their favor. Guess what? It is not immigrants or minorities or poor people taking your money or good-paying jobs! It’s these “overachievers” who are only interested in short-term investment to increase their personal wealth! They are not investing in infrastructure and the labor needed to maintain it. They are the destructors of American Exceptionalism. American Exceptionalism is founded in a strong and prosperous middle class.
Without food workers, infrastructure workers, transportation workers, healthcare workers, educators, fire, police, EMTs and the military, just to name a few of the hard working occupations that make America great, there would be nothing for the “overachievers” to rob and exploit! They are NOT more deserving than the rest of us. We need campaign finance regulation and an end to lobbyists. All are required to be represented, not just the powerful few!