Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Why Trump Is Worse Than A Clown

Donald Trump will not be the next President.  He could win the nomination, but I can't see him winning the presidency.

But he does matter, and part of the reason is this study.

One of the most discouraging things as a teacher and historian/political observer is that there is apparently a deeply ingrained human tendency to ignore facts that contradict a priori assumptions.  In the words of an old t-shirt: "If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of."  This basic insight - that emotional, irrational beliefs are impervious to facts - undermines a great deal of previously held political and economic theory.

If you believe that guns make you safer or immigrants are overrunning this country or crime is on the rise or climate change isn'y real or ISIL poses an existential threat or Obamacare is tyranny....then there is no set of facts that can change your mind apparently.  Without anything to back me up, I would say that the one thing that MIGHT change your mind would be broad based social approbation.  You might be a racist, but if enough people shame you on that subject, you will at least keep those thoughts to yourself and perhaps fail to influence others to believe the same thing.

Trump exposes all those ugly thoughts that we have labored to suppress via social shaming.  He's ripping the lid off the national id.  He's giving voice to the irrational fears of the Trumpenproletariat.

But he's hardly alone as last night's debate demonstrates.  The combination of Fox News scaremongering and the visceral belief that Obama is secretly opposed to the very idea of America means that 47% of the population is deeply wedded to a belief system that is verifiably false.

And it won't make a damned bit of difference to point this out to them.

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