Thursday, July 28, 2016

Trump's Appeal

An analysis of Trump's appeal to his followers from one of James Fallows' readers:
Any “rational” analysis of Trump will fail. (“Rational” in both the “logical utility” and in the “sane” sense.) He is not presenting a logical way for attaining real benefits, nor is he presenting himself as sane.

What he is selling is fear and anger. It is those two emotions, and just the emotions, that his supporters want. They want to be deathly afraid of the world, and they want to use that fear to justify an all-consuming anger. They are not looking for justification for those emotions; they just want the emotions themselves.

If you see his supporters as masses of the frustrated and disenfranchised who are seeking a voice at the table of power, then it makes no sense. Anybody like that would not want to be lied to. They have been lied to too many times by the powerful. Trump is an obvious liar, and he is never going to do what he says is is going to do. Anyone who simply feels betrayed by the political process isn’t about to set themselves up to be betrayed again. Those types will simply stay home on election day like they always do.

There is no point going into who said it, but it was said that “people would rather believe a big lie than a small one.” Once you lie, and once you lie very very big, then you are in constant fear of being found out. The only possible face-saving response is to use the energy of that fear to violently insist that you are right.

Once you stand up in public and say you believe that the Earth is flat, then you simply can’t back down. The fear of ridicule is so great that the only way forward is to be angry at all attackers. That anger then becomes its own validity. It is an addiction, pure and simple. It is an addiction to strong empty feelings. No one believes that the Earth is flat because of any logical argument. They believe that the Earth is flat because the panic that is caused by believing that lie sustains their desired anger. And their anger is all they have and all they want. Believing the lie is a deliberate and calculated act to drum up an overriding state of blind emotion.

Trump’s big lies are the whole point of his appeal.

Hillary’s fault is that she makes small lies (about the e-mails and a lot else). Small lies can be proven to be false, and the small liar shown to be a fool. You can say that you believed her about the e-mails, and then be shown that that small lie was wrong, and then say that she is a scoundrel for fooling you like that.

But if you swallow a big lie, you can’t back down. Any backdown would be such a loss of face, that your identity won’t allow it. You get trapped in a world of fear of discovery and anger at your critics and you can’t get out.
This is related to what I tried to say about Fox News in passing the other day. What is the appeal of anger? Because like this writer I see much of what Fox and Trump are selling as not just partisanship but anger in and of itself.

One model would be that our hypothetical Trump supporter/Fox News follower is unhappy about his or her life, and the direction of the country, and wants someone to blame. By creating some enemy to get angry at, people avoid having to think about what is really wrong, a process that might force some people to admit that they themselves are to blame. But against that it must be admitted that conservatives are in general just as happy or a little happier than liberals. So maybe getting angry and blaming someone else works? Could it be psychologically healthy to have enemies to revile?

I have personally found that it is very bad for me, and I am much happier since I eased up on being angry at my political opponents (and other drivers, rude salespeople, people with bad taste in music, etc.). For me, anger just raises my blood pressure and makes me negative. But maybe it works for somebody.

9 comments:

pithom said...

I am absolutely tired of these homosexuals in the press making up lies about Trump's supporters and pretending to speak for them. I mean, any reasonable man can see that this is utter garbage:
"Any “rational” analysis of Trump will fail. (“Rational” in both the “logical utility” and in the “sane” sense.) He is not presenting a logical way for attaining real benefits, nor is he presenting himself as sane.

What he is selling is fear and anger. It is those two emotions, and just the emotions, that his supporters want. They want to be deathly afraid of the world, and they want to use that fear to justify an all-consuming anger. They are not looking for justification for those emotions; they just want the emotions themselves."

-Is Hillary Clinton presenting herself as sane? Not that I can see. Do I see any logic in Her convention? Nope. Do I see lots of fear and anger? Hell, yeah. Of guns, global warming, the omnipresent White Man, and, most of all, the greatest GOP nominee since Ronald Reagan. Nevermind that most men killed by the police are non-Hispanic White, never mind almost all Blacks are killed (whether with guns or not) by other Blacks, never mind the fact the costs required to pay for preventing AGW more than outweigh the benefits, nevermind Hillary's foreign policy has shown itself to be vastly more dangerous than Trump's presently stated one, and nevermind that non-gun crime is a prerequisite for an area having substantial gun crime.

These over-educated elitist homosexual absolute scum in the press should take a vacation and give the Trump supporters some room in their failing papers.

The good thing about all this is that their papers are failing. AdBlock plus is killing them off.

Burn, Hollywood, burn.

Let's Make America Great Again. Let us end the stupid Cold War politics of the Beltway consensus, let us appoint justices who are friends, not enemies, of the Constitution, and let's stop the importation of groups whose children commit vile acts vastly out of proportion to their numbers.

pootrsox said...

I stopped reading after "these homosexuals in the press."

John, I admire you deeply, but I wonder how you can continue to allow pithom the freedom to respond to your blog.

pithom said...

My emotions were fully ready to use much nastier language. I consider my comment very restrained.

"John, I admire you deeply, but I wonder how you can continue to allow pithom the freedom to respond to your blog."

-What; 'cause I'm the only supporter of the nominee of the Republican Party in this comments section? I, too, like John. He is generally a respectful person.

John said...

You know, Pithom, if you want people to engage with you instead of just asking me to ban you, you might try making arguments instead of tossing inflamatory statements about homosexual reporters. James Fallows is straight, by the way. Not that there would be anything wrong with that. . . .

If you didn't notice that fear and anger were the main notes of the Republican convention, you weren't paying attention. If you think that fear and anger are justified, that's one thing, but denying it just makes no sense.

Yes, there is Democratic anger; I noted that I used to be into it but have tried to give it up and seek understanding instead. I recommend this to everyone. One of the key moments in my intellectual life came while listening to the Dalai Lama refuse to denounce the Chinese government on NPR, saying, "We believe that dialogue is always the way."

Yes, there is Democratic fear. Some of which is weird, like environmental panics (Alar in apples) and so on. But I find the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere a lot more disturbing than Hispanic immigration. I have Hispanic neighbors and a half-Mexican niece and I don't see any problem. The real concentrations of social problems in America are among people whose ancestors have been here for centuries, viz. poor Appalachian whites and poor urban blacks. And Wall Street financiers, but that's another matter.

Why does it matter that most of the people killed by the police are white? Does that make killings by the police ok? Not to me. Why carp that people in Black Lives Matter talk too much about race when they are calling attention to a very serious national problem? And they actually have a program for making things better, which is more than can be said for most protesters. In America we have a habit of making everything about race (that you seem to have adopted) so it is hardly surprising that this gets to be more about race than it really has to be. I don't mind. If it's black Americans who are finally fed up with the police shooting unarmed people, fine, I'm on their side. And no it is not anti-police or anti-order to complain about police shootings, since other countries (even Russia) manage to do their policing without shooting nearly so many unarmed people.

I have defended Trump several times this year against what I saw as unfair accusations. But he really is a very strange candidate with hardly any actual policies and a terrible record for stating the truth, the worst Politifact has ever measured in a national candidate. I don't necessarily think he would be a disaster as president; as I have said I have no idea what he would do as President, and I don't think any of his supporters do, either. That seems weirdly risky to me.

I am prepared to tolerate just about any opinion, but I do insist on a civil tone.

David said...

I'm on record that I think what pithom stands for is pure evil, and I think a Trump presidency is unacceptable. But, FWIW, I wouldn't be happy about denying anyone their soapbox. Power, that's what I want to deny them.

Some decorum should be observed, but many of us sail close to the wind on that one. Interesting times . . .

I don't know that, during my adult life, I've ever lived through such historically raw and iffy times as these, totally unscripted. I don't like it.

pithom said...

"I am prepared to tolerate just about any opinion, but I do insist on a civil tone."

-As you insist, but I do not think you can possibly call the above-posted letter civil. I treat others as I'm treated. I find it extremely unfair to treat others better than I am treated.

"James Fallows is straight"

-Again, I treat others as I am treated. I have zero regard for bothering to look up the facts about people who do not bother to look up the facts about me.

"You know, Pithom, if you want people to engage with you instead of just asking me to ban you, you might try making arguments instead of tossing inflamatory statements about homosexual reporters."

-By no means am I asking you to ban me.

Now, for the substance:

"If you didn't notice that fear and anger were the main notes of the Republican convention, you weren't paying attention."

-Maybe my memory has degraded over the past week, but, while there was some anger at the GOP convention, there was very little fear, and, by ascertainment, far less than the present Democratic convention is using ("or to a dark place of discord and fear", for example, just now). I truly think there are more Democrats in the audience afraid of a Trump presidency than there were Republicans in the audience at the Republican convention fearful of a Her presidency. As Trump is, by most standards I can see, less scary than Clinton, no doubt this is due to the messaging in the Democratic Party being more fear-based than that in the Republican.

"But I find the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere a lot more disturbing than Hispanic immigration."

-I don't see how. Climate change may hurt some regions (Florida, California) and benefit others (North Dakota, Michigan). Rule by the people who presently govern Mexico City, on the contrary, would harm the entire United States and the entire civilized world.

"I have Hispanic neighbors and a half-Mexican niece and I don't see any problem. The real concentrations of social problems in America are among people whose ancestors have been here for centuries, viz. poor Appalachian whites and poor urban blacks."

-Indeed. However, average Hispanic incomes and college degree completion are still lower than the same variables for average Whites and Blacks.

"And Wall Street financiers, but that's another matter."

-And which county in New York was the only one to reject Trump in the primary? The financiers largely hate Trump and are With Her, partly due to historic Jewish affiliation with the Democrats since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and partly due to post-Reagan realignments. In any case, Her is the last candidate do do anything against the interests of Wall Street.

"But he really is a very strange candidate with hardly any actual policies and a terrible record for stating the truth, the worst Politifact has ever measured in a national candidate."

-He is a candidate despised by the Establishment, which has performed such an abysmal job since 2000, and his general program is superior to Hers. Trump's Politifact rating tells us more about Politifact than Trump.

pithom said...

"Why does it matter that most of the people killed by the police are white?"

-Because White Lives Matter.

"Does that make killings by the police ok? Not to me."

-Some killings by police are not justified. Most of those hyped about in the progressive media are very well justified. By no means am I against police reform. I am, however, against the anti-White narrative that has developed around it by assorted agitators.

"Why carp that people in Black Lives Matter talk too much about race when they are calling attention to a very serious national problem?"

-One can't just give in to an agenda designed to establish SJW supremacy upon the nation unless from a position of strength and for an unambiguously good purpose. If anything has been proven over the past two centuries, it is that the slippery slope is real, especially in racial matters. Otherwise, there would be no affirmative action.

"And they actually have a program for making things better, which is more than can be said for most protesters."

-Then work through the legislature, instead of enforcing an anti-White narrative upon the media.

"In America we have a habit of making everything about race (that you seem to have adopted) so it is hardly surprising that this gets to be more about race than it really has to be."

-I fully agree.

"I don't mind. If it's black Americans who are finally fed up with the police shooting unarmed people, fine, I'm on their side."

-I am deeply uncomfortable with any form of modal Black supremacy, especially when efforts for that cause have caused so many deaths and so much property damage in America's cities.

"And no it is not anti-police or anti-order to complain about police shootings, since other countries (even Russia) manage to do their policing without shooting nearly so many unarmed people."

-I don't think it's inherently anti-police or anti-order to complain about police shootings. But when policemen are shot, cities subject to the Ferguson effect go up in flames, and calls for violence against the police are reasonably common, it's hard not to see the movement as doing much more harm than good.

The U.S. has three main problems in regards to shootings: a relatively homicide-prone White population in the South, Black crime all across the country, and a long and solid tradition of gun ownership.

"That seems weirdly risky to me."

-In a time when the country is clearly going in the wrong direction, risk is absolutely necessary for any return from its course.

G. Verloren said...

I was inspired to learn a new word by reading through all this: anosognosia. It doesn't quite actually apply here, but it's in the right ballpark at least.

szopen said...

... ". For me, anger just raises my blood pressure and makes me negative. But maybe it works for somebody. "

Or maybe Trump supporters are not really being driven by fear and anger - on the contrary maybe they felt fear and anger before, and Trump is actually giving them hope, and is assuring them that their fear and anger will go away?