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!