I’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.