Trump Supporters — Who Are You?
It is late May, and many of us are wondering how in the holy Hell anyone can still be supporting President Dumpster Fire.
I decided to try and apply a rational approach to figure it out.
I am a big fan of Thomas Kuhn’s work on paradigms and paradigm shifts. For those who are not familiar, Kuhn explained the nature of scientific revolutions as follows:
Scientists develop a hypothesis based on available data, then they gather more data. As long as the data they gather supports the hypothesis, it holds. But as soon as a single piece of data that contradicts the theory is discovered, the hypothesis is thrown out, and a new one that accounts for all the available data is created.
For example, let’s say you live on an island where all the native birds are red. You might hypothesize that all birds are red. This hypothesis would hold as long as red birds are all you see. But what if someone comes to the island and brings a blue bird? You would have to revise your hypothesis to say all birds are red or blue. You would further revise it as you came across other birds of other colors, until you ultimately determine that bird color varies by species, region, and a whole bunch of other factors.
A paradigm is a collection of hypotheses that form a worldview. Individual hypotheses can change within the paradigm without impacting it too much, but if several change, or a small number change in big ways, then you have a paradigm shift. The old paradigm is thrown out, and a new worldview that accommodates the new hypotheses is adopted.
This is how things are supposed to work in science, which is based on logic and facts instead of feelings and biases. In theory, anyway.
When you move from science into the world in general, however, you have much less assurance that things are being done for rational, logical reasons.
Nonetheless, I like to believe that I am more rational than emotional, and I often make the mistake of overestimating the influence of logic where opinions and beliefs are concerned. So the fact that DJT still has supporters leaves me completely flabbergasted.
Here is the main thing I can’t figure out. Are the people who still support him:
- So completely immersed in their own feedback loop that they just don’t see/hear the negative stuff, and/or they see/hear it but truly believe the counter-arguments Fox and Friends gives?
- So committed to the cause that they see and hear the negative stuff, but willfully ignore it because they don’t want to admit that they are wrong?
- So focused on looking out for themselves, and so convinced that Trump is like them and will ultimately help them get what they want regardless of who else suffers, that they are willing to pretend to care about everyone when they don’t?
- Too stupid to know anything beyond the fact that they really like red hats?
If #1 is true, then they are wrapped in their safe bubbles and nothing that they see or hear in the realm of hypothesis shifting is enough to rattle their paradigm. They are strong and confident in their belief that Trump is good for them and for America.
If #2 is true, then the island has been flooded with birds of every hue, but the inhabitants have tattooed “All birds are red” on their chests and don’t have the money or the pain tolerance to have the tattoos removed. The hypotheses have shifted so significantly that there is no way the current paradigm can hold, but they continue to swear that it is true and sound. The enthusiasm with which they’ve supported Trump makes it hard for them to now accept the fact that they were wrong and should start to protest against the damage he is doing to America.
If #3 is true, then people are a lot less awesome than I want to believe they are. The hypotheses and paradigms they say they support are a smokescreen for the actual selfish evil paradigms they operate from. They say “All of us are created equal” when they mean “I am better than you, and more deserving, but I am smart enough not to say that to your face.”
If #4 is true, then people are a lot less intelligent than I want to believe they are. They can’t spell hypothesis, much less formulate one on their own. They are easily manipulated, quick to anger, and make the best people for late night talk show correspondents to catch on the street to show just how stupid people can be.
Unfortunately, I am more and more convinced that the truth lies somewhere between #3 and #4.
I wanted to believe initially that it was #1. Then over time I started thinking maybe #2 was the case.
But as more and more time passes, I realize that the most likely explanation is that there are a lot of selfish, self-centered people who truly believe they and theirs are “more equal” than other groups. These are the racists, the misogynists, the homophobes, the religious zealots, the rich, etcetera. The people who are willing to throw others under the bus so that things will be better for themselves.
And people like this know the best way to get what they want is through numbers, so they spout vile hateful bullshit to get the folks in the #4 camp all worked up and ready for battle. They convince these folks to vote against their own interests, incite them to riot, and general prove how much they belong in the #3 camp.
I could be wrong. I’d like to be wrong. But based on my own current paradigm, it is hard not to start considering the benefits of being a misanthrope, you know?