Why are Trump’s supporters immune to facts?


trump_081215gettyMuch has been said, and much more will be said by many others, and no doubt many might already have overdosed on news and commentary about Trump. I would however like to put out one small observation regarding why he appears to be getting a special free pass that enables him to do and say some quite obnoxious stuff that nobody else could ever dream of pulling off.

I am making a few assumptions here, namely that you are familiar with what has been going on, and also familiar with some of the stuff he has been saying and doing, and so I’ll not roll with yet another list of such things, or focus down upon specific incidents, but will instead strive to in some small way explain why some support him despite all that.

Human Emotions

He operates, not at the level one would normally anticipate, but instead taps into and leverages human emotions, and so those that rally behind his banner do not do so because of the specific and quite frankly daft ideas he articulates, but rather because he triggers an emotional response in a demographic that feels isolated and left behind.

There appears to be a line of thought that believes that publishing far and wide the daft things he says or does will bring about his downfall, and yet when such antics become news, nothing happens to his support. This is in so many ways similar to exposing those that adopt other utterly irrational positions to facts …

  • Explain evolutionary biology to creationists and debunk intelligent design … and nothing happens.
  • Outline the evidence that verifies why vaccines are safe to an anti-vax proponent … and nothing happens.
  • Review all the evidence concerning global warming with a climate change denier … and nothing happens.

The key to understanding why it is like this is grasping that the core issue is not about people lacking a bit of information or simply not correctly understanding something, but instead is very much down to humans having an emotional attachment, and that binds them to a specific cause.

Those that rally to Trump do so because they feel that he is the man for them and not because them have reached an intellectual conclusion that he is. The emotional reaction he instills is that he understands their pain and isolation, and they find in him a way to suddenly be listened to. For example, many evangelicals rally round, not just because the GOP is perceived to be their party, but because in recent years the establishment has been threatening the values they hold close (special privileges to impose belief, homophobia, etc…) and suddenly here is a non-establishment strongman who invokes an emotional aura that sucks them in with a promise that offers resistance to “them”. He clearly does not hold their specific beliefs, but he does offer them emotional support and so they rally round regardless of his behaviour or lack of any real religious belief.

Can he actually Win?

The GOP Nomination … probably yes, it is more or less a done deal, but as for the election, most probably no. He will instead end up destroying the GOP by splitting and fragmenting it into those that rally behind him, and those that recognise that he does not promote traditional Republican values but is instead something quite different.

There are of course risks here and others may make a deliberate choice to play those risks. For example, if some carefully timed ISIS atrocity took place in the US, it would very much play into his hands and would greatly strengthen his support amongst those who sit on the fence. It is conceivable that ISIS or some other gang of religious nutters might indeed strive to do exactly that with the hope that it propels Trump into office.

It could also go the other way, Trump himself just might say, do, or inspire something so outrageous and abhorrent that he would in effect end up instilling some very negative feelings amongst many of his own followers, and that might then cost him the nomination. He is already damn close to exactly this, and it is not exactly a huge leap for a guy who has already announced during a presidential debate that he has the biggest dick.

This is also one other possibility that leads to some hope. He is drawing in some truly obnoxious people – racists, fascists, etc… – and so some of his supporters may look around, and decide to quietly slip away when nobody is looking because while he might appeal to their emotions, this is clearly not their crowd or their people.

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