Toward a more compassionate view of Trump supporters

May 8, 2017

cognitive-dissonanceI’ve thought a lot about the people who seem so tone deaf to the facts and who continue to support this man, despite the fact that his behavior and beliefs go against much of what they say they believe. They overlook his inconsistent positions, high-five his insults and turn a blind eye to the way they, themselves, would be impacted by his policies.

It’s cognitive dissonance

What’s at work is cognitive dissonance theory, a concept in psychology which posits that people strive for internal consistency, so when confronted by two conflicting ideas, they are going to rearrange their thinking so they can  find equilibrium. In the case of Trump supporters, they have to find a way to justify his actions.This happens all the time in life, but that it’s happening now with such serious matters feels crazy to me.Here’s a perfect example: in the face of the draconian House Republican health care bill which considers just about everything a pre-existing condition and requires heavy surcharges for treatment, a Trump supporter who in any other circumstance (such as if Democrats proposed it) would think this is crazy said “Maybe this will force people to take better care of themselves.”

Why facts don’t matter

Really? Seriously? I’m not sure how hereditary conditions or pre-existing conditions are going to be impacted by “taking better care.” But that illogic doesn’t seem to occur to Trump supporters who have had to work overtime to justify their support. The psychology is deep; that’s why facts don’t matter.

I’ve tried hard to find a compassionate way to look at these folks, but I have to admit that it’s difficult, even for me. The Trump supporters I know have a few things in common:

– A limited world view
– An inability to see beyond themselves
– Compassion only for those they know and not for the world
– Fear of losing what they have, whatever it is
– Fear of being taken advantage of
– Belief that we are not our brother’s keeper
– The easy attitude that those with “less than” are “lazy”
– Inability to think critically
– Belief in revenge and punishment
– A distorted definition of The American Way

These are serious intellectual and emotional handicaps in a complex world. What’s shocking is that so much of our population suffers from them.

I do feel compassion for them, because they perceive the world as so hostile they have to live on the defensive.

At the same time, I see them as destructive to the very American Way they claim to support.

What you can do

There’s only one way to combat them: Work hard on midterm elections to make sure these distorted views —that lack compassion for the human condition– do not become the law of the land.

Like I’ve said before, I’m not going to hate. I’m not going to insult.

I’m going to act. And I hope you do, too.  Because even though individuals may not be, as a country? We are better than this.

And although I feel great compassion for the fearful way they approach the world, I’m going to do everything I can to keep them from destroying it.

56 comments on “Toward a more compassionate view of Trump supporters
  1. Rita says:

    A well thought out article. It’s difficult to understand those who support Trump who are so hateful of poor people, people of color, and immigrants.

  2. Robin rue says:

    I am so scared for our country. I know some Trump supporters are starting to see what they did, but sadly it’s too late…..let’s just hope we can survive Trump’s reign of terror without TOO much damage.

  3. Marina Rosie says:

    This was a fantastically written post with a really powerful topic. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t ruin the USA as we know it.
    Lots of love,
    Marina Rosie x

  4. We are all human beings, and all have our faults. We should learn to love each other to build a better future for our children. Hate only breeds hate.

  5. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    You are right, Carol. What we need to do is ACT. The groundswell is there and we have to keep the energy going.

  6. FYI, Not all Trump supporters hate poor people, people of color, and immigrants as said in some of these comments.

    • Not all Trump supporters think that way. & not all of us hate poor people, colored people, or immigrants.
      I for one, am a trump supporter. My sister in law is from the UK and I have MANY colored friends.
      I also very OFTEN donate to the poor.

      • Maureen Stacey says:

        The term “colored people” is derogatory and insulting. Words set injustice in motion.You kinda give yourself away. This has nothing to do with being politically correct. It does, however, have something to do with being respectful to others.

  7. chei says:

    I just hope everything will be alright in your country. As well as ours. Lets all hope for the best.

  8. Kristy says:

    I don’t normally comment on political posts but I’m glad to see that people are being reasonable and trying to get along

  9. I feel very sad for you, it is horrible that this leader who seems to alienate any group that does not conform to his idea of humanity is allowed to get away with unspeakable actions. Shocking x

  10. Nellwyn says:

    As a Canadian, it’s really hard to understand how the current proposed healthcare bill has any support whatsoever. I hope people in the States can have access to the treatments they need regardless of who is in office.

    • As Canadian, I don’t really follow US politics but it would be great that they make everyone entitled to health benefits irrespective of the parties.

  11. I know very little about the situation with Trump but from what I have read it is a horrendous situation for those who did not want Trump in power. I think on some level it’s like when we were going through Brexit, the divide amongst our country was clear!

  12. Great post. I am a very non-political person so I will never understand this whole pro Trump/against Trump ‘thing’. If everyone could just get along that would be lovely, lol.

  13. Amber Myers says:

    I always hope that people can remain kind and come together. Sometimes it can’t always happen, but I always hope.

  14. Barbara says:

    I’m sure you know where I stand. When I think of the health care bill and the outrageous number of innocent people it will impact I have to shake my head over anyone who could continue to support these people. Someone suggested to me that his ‘supporters’ who are smart enough to understand how horrendous this bill is will never admit they no longer support him but, probably would not vote for him again if, God forbid, he runs for another term. Personally, I hope he’s gone before his first year is over, and his cronies in the White House with him, but until 2018 we can’t shift the weight in Congress. So, we wait and hope.

  15. I think with this election we were screwed no matter what. There were 4 different sides: Hilary supporters, Trump supporters, Anti Clinton supporters, and anti trump supporters. No matter what our choice sucked. Keep in mind I’m not justifying the craziness from either side.

  16. I get so frustrated with politics these days. Ha, I just saw an email pop up with a TrumpCare message as I was writing this. Perfect timing, spam bot. Anyway, I think you nailed it with “limited world view.” All the Trump supporters I know are born and raised in one place that they still live and don’t travel much. It’s hard to have an expanded worldview if you legitimately don’t know anything about the world. I don’t expect Trump to magically change and bring society together, but I do hope next election cycle we get candidates who can really relate to people on both sides of the aisle.

  17. Natalie says:

    We sure live in trying time. I just hope that things will turn for the better for our US neighbours.

  18. Very powerful! I think Van Jones put it best when he discussed working with Obama, and people opposed to Obama continually sent hate mail and called him awful things – Jones said (in a nutshell) that he wasn’t going to let their hate infect him, and he was going to fight for everyone’s rights not just those that supported Obama. Even when we disagree with people and can’t understand why they support Trump, we have to keep fighting for everyone and the rights of all people.

  19. Rebecca Swenor says:

    This is a great post and I do feel the way you do. Actually I know so many that have the same views as you do. It is so important for us all to act instead of fighting against each other.Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the information.

  20. Jessica says:

    I try to stay out of the political debates. I have family and friends on either side, so it is hard for anyone’s feathers to not be ruffled. I do admire that you did this write up in a more respectful way than most I have seen.

  21. Very insightful. I don’t wish to say anything politically. But I can see where you’re coming from. There’s always so many sides of the spectrum though.

    XOXO // Check out my latest post if you like 😉

  22. Unfortunately I feel like most people are involved in a large scale amount of cognative dissonance. Things that they would never accept of the other party they accept of their own. Because at least they are “our party.” I think I have seen far too often of late both parties engaging in some convenient forgetfulness. I remember growing up feeling like I had to support someone. At this point I guess I am just too jaded to believe that to be true.

  23. Annemarie LeBlanc says:

    I understand how you feel, however, here is just my thoughts. Again, just MY thoughts. I would rather go ahead and continue working, feeding my family, minding my finances and letting the world turn. It is not the end, it is not failure. If we start with acceptance, work on peace, and embrace our differences. maybe, just maybe everything will be for the better.

  24. blair villanueva says:

    I cant comment directly to his behavior or ways of governing as it is legally beyond my jurisdiction as Filipino citizen. However, as a human, changes will happen first from yourself and not solely from the leaders. Act now starting from ourselves, be humble always and have change for the better.

  25. Rosey says:

    Even though I try to stay away from political articles and opinions I think your post is great. I try to steer away from it because I hate to venture into topics that have a great negative side to them like Donald Trump. Proud of you for being bold and taking initiative to take on the topic of Donald Trump.

  26. Czjai says:

    This is one way of looking at the issue. Great thoughts, Carol. 🙂

  27. Sara says:

    I can see these qualities on both sides of the war. War is a strong word but it might just be the best way to describe what’s going on. (Not all wars are fought with weapons on a battlefield.) It’s a war about how to move forward as a country.

    Will America stand on Nationalism (with a nod to the rest of the world) OR will it give up it’s “independence” and join Globalism?

    This is the war going on, not only with the country of America but with all countries that want to preserve their individual (Nationalism) control without the input or thought of how it affects the world.

    You’re correct, both sides have two different visions for their America. And, psychology plays a part on both sides.

    It’s actually pretty common for people to think their way isTHE WAY (ex. religion) and for the good of all.

    It takes a person going deep inside and a willingness to accept the fact that not all will agree or want the same kind of country BUT still be respectful.

    The same goes to people of the opposite viewpoint. Are they willing to listen or even to amend their point of view or even to compromise?

    It’s a deep question and something that can’t be forced without casualties.

    Who will win this war?

    Time and People will tell.

  28. Since i do not live in the US, I cannot responsibly comment about the trump presidency because i have no first hand knowledge and i only have the information from mainstream media. But i do hope that for your country’s sake, things will be better sooner than later

  29. Elena says:

    I really like this article, it is well written but I cannot say that I have a well defined opinion on this matter, maybe because I don`t live in the USA.

  30. We watch with disbelief sometimes at what is happening in the USA politically – we pray for you all and hope that things will get better in time.

  31. I do worry for the USA now. Trump doesn’t only have an impact on what happens with the future of the USA, but also the rest of the world. I hope it gets better.

  32. Joanna says:

    With everything that happens in the world right now, with Trump as the president of the united states, with England coming out of the EU…. there is still hope. Look at France and their smart decision at Sunday’s elections. Not everything is lost! With US unfortunately the smart people didn’t bother to go to vote and the “sheep” decided for them….

  33. Nay says:

    I’m not fully able to understand the impact of Trump as I’m not from the US but of it’s anything like Brexit here, the lack of unity in the country is really worrying.

  34. Claire says:

    This election has made me so glad i’m not American and don’t have to deal with him. But then again i’m English so he’s still far too involved in my world!

  35. Britta says:

    Love this post! I am not American but I feel that across the Western world the media is doing a very good job to motivate people to act out of fear rather than compassion and kindness. It is good to hear though that there is still a lot of people who stand up against injustice and show kindness to those who think differently.

  36. Lynn says:

    Despite not being a Trump supporter, I’ve been respectful of him because he’s our President. I’ve also tried to avoid any discussions with others regarding their thoughts on the issues because they always seem to turn into an argument and it’s not worth hurting feelings or loosing friends over. We all see things differently, which is fine, but a decision that’s great for one person isn’t the best for everyone. Another thing I try to keep in mind when dealing with politics (and most things) is that we will never know the whole story.

  37. Andrea says:

    It’s hard to read the details of the ACA bill that passed, and understand how anyone voted for it. I also struggle with understanding how anyone can see what Trump is doing, and think it is going to benefit anyone other than the incredibly wealthy.

    Thanks for the advice at the end… I also agree that it is important to not insult or argue, but to work hard to get better people into elected positions. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Anele says:

    Well thought article and easy to understand your view on this very serious issue. Your advice at the end is refreshing. Thanks! Xx

  39. Ali Rost says:

    I always try to remember that whatever side we’re on politically .. we’re all still people. My sincerest hope is that we can find some common ground, for all of our sakes

  40. Don’t even get me started!!! That’s all I have to say. I couldn’t believe the election results when they were in on election day, and I can’t believe them now. What a mess!

  41. Elizabeth says:

    It’s scary times we live in. Us on the other side of pond are watching America with a keen eye as actions over there directly affect us too. Scary.

  42. My Teen Guide says:

    I try my best to stay out of politics. Life is stressful enough as it is, so why complicate it with more issues? I just live my life everyday as I should. And I pray a lot. I pray for peace in my home, in my community, my country and the world.

  43. Aimee Geroux says:

    This is something I am glad I don’t have to really deal with. Being a Canadian we have our own … I can’t think of a nice word to call him so I will just say man, running our country. Hopefully though he will be out the door next election!

  44. Michelle Waller says:

    I do not like to get into talking about politics because everyone has their views. I agree with a previous commenter. I just stay out of it and give prayers for everyone and everything and hope for the best.

  45. Although I highly dislike Trump, I agree with some of the previous comments. Just let people have their own views and just go out and enjoy life! 🙂

  46. I’m one of those people that tries to stay out of politics as much as possible. I am grateful though for people voicing their opinions and for those that have the courage to speak up for what they believe in.

  47. wendy says:

    With politics, everyone has a different view on things.Right or wrong or how the other person perceives one side or another but at the end of the day; people can only hope for the best for the country and its inhabitants.

  48. This was a very well written explanation for what is happening or how someone could choose to vote for him. I do not support him and wondered how many could.

  49. Eloise says:

    the health care position he has was a MAJOR concern for me… I was born with a rare liver disease that I will live with for the rest of my life and I have to go in every 6 months for check ups and tests (that are costly!) and take meds for the rest of my life… I feel like I’m being punished for something I don’t even want ! I hate it!

  50. Tiara Wilson says:

    This is a very good read. I absolutely did not vote as I didn’t see any president to be worthy of my vote except for Bernie Sanders. Every president has done their good and their bad. As far my husband’s job, Trump was the better option because Hillary would have royally screwed us, but I do not see eye to eye on 90% of his reasoning for doing anything.

  51. This a very good read and I agree with you,We should do everything we can to make the world a better place.

  52. angela milnes says:

    This an Interesting topic and a really great article, I’m not live in the USA but I love trump.

  53. Theres so much hate in the world right now and I don’t want to be a part of it. I find it too hard to understand Trump supporters 🙁 xxx

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