Understanding Trump Supporters

7 months ago Citizen#7 0

Trump supporters are people that love their country, and are hoping for a better future and believe that with President Trump they can get closer to the promise of the American Dream.

How can they support Donald Trump given the voluminous number of lies, backtracking on campaign promises and more? The answer is something we all need to step back and examine closely.

Reason 1: History

Back in 1992, presidential candidate Ross Perot warned us about the “giant sucking sound of jobs leaving America” if the North American Free Trade Act (NAFTA) legislation passed.  Perot’s prophetic warning was ignored, drowned out by President Clinton and a host of corporations like GE, Caterpillar, promised that passage of NAFTA would result in more jobs and greater exports. Multinational Monitor and Public Citizen studied promises made by these and other companies and reported that 89% of promises made were broken.

Many states and communities as well as workers were devastated by the resulting carnage of NAFTA. The auto parts industry was decimated along with entire communities. All the while politicians on both sides patted themselves on the back citing higher share prices and corporate profits, all at the expense of citizens.

Both political parties have done little beyond lip service during campaign season if at all to address the losses experienced as a result of NAFTA and years later CAFTA.

Reason 2: Motivated Reasoning

When you have two contrary beliefs, values or ideas or when presented with new information that contradicts a belief or idea that conflicts with something we believe to be true we become uncomfortable for us to “rationally” continue to hold the false belief. This is what is called Cognitive Dissonance.

Rather than feel the discomfort created by the new information or the opposing beliefs we employ Motivated Reasoning to discount, ignore, or the new information allowing us to remain loyal to our original idea about what is right and what is wrong. This is an emotional tool that can be subconscious in that we think we are being using rational thought to discount the new information or the thoughts that disagree with our original value. In reality we are all subject to this, not just those who support President Trump. This does however provide some explanation of why citizens remain loyal to President Trump despite his many false statements and failure to adhere to his campaign promises.

Reason 3: Authoritarian Personality

Right-wing authoritarians want society and social interactions structured in ways that increase uniformity and minimize diversity. In order to achieve that, they tend to be in favor of social control, coercion, and the use of group authority to place constraints on the behaviours of people such as political dissidents and ethnic minorities. These constraints might include restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association and laws regulating moral behavior. It is the willingness to support or take action that leads to increased social uniformity that makes right-wing authoritarianism more than just a personal distaste for difference. Right-wing authoritarianism is characterized by obedience to authority, moral absolutism, racial and ethnic prejudice, and intolerance and punitiveness towards dissidents and deviants. In parenting, right-wing authoritarians value children’s obedience, neatness, and good manners

While these three reasons can’t be applied to all of those that support President Trump it is clear that aspects of all three combined do explain why those that support President Trump do so in the face of information to the contrary.

The real question is when are the two major political parties going to provide Trump supporters an alternative they can believe in?