Monday, October 10, 2016

Trump's Cognitive Dissonance Gambit

All of the negative statements surrounding Hillary Clinton have been circulated for many years in advance of her bid to become President of the United States. Her detractors have futilely pounded away at her character, her political voting record, even the reputation of her husband, the former President of the United States. The claims her opposition have made have never stuck. The accusations are just that, accusations. Accusations meant to raise the specter of some great evil which is lurking in her past which will manifest itself as the Destruction of America.

Everyone who supports Hillary has heard the claims against her, her husband and her association with the present President, Barack Obama. The detractors repeatedly try to show the guilt by association with those persons. Ironically, those two people have been two of the best Presidents this nation has been in recent decades. Her supporters lend their votes knowing all the supposed negatives.

The other candidate, Donald Trump, surfaced early on in the run up to the Primary Elections of 2016. Since that entrance he has engaged in a progressively more vile behavior inciting hatreds and violence against one demographic group after another. He started out being very bland and ordinary at the start of the selection process of his own party, the GOP. Since then he has added new vitriol on a nearly weekly basis.

There is a psychological process which humans experience called Cognitive Dissonance. In short, what takes place is the subject person is offered a token reward for an insignificant acceptance of an attitude toward a person, a plan or an idea from a source which is not acceptable. Once the token is accepted, there arises a conflict in the person to remedy the disconnect. The person must either accept that he in actuality supports the position or he must turn away from the token. A token which is an object may be discarded or returned, but one which is an intangible favor, cannot be.

This is the strategy which the Donald Trump presidential campaign has employed. He offered the simple token of "Make America Great Again" which most people would not oppose. They may oppose the methods and the suggestions of what is wrong in the first place, but that part comes later. Once the allied voters accepted the idea of making America great, Mr. Trump began enumerating how he wanted to do it. Now keep in mind there are many Americans who view Trump as a charismatic personage. They love him and his style. But now that they have come to accept it, they cannot break with their support no matter how vile he becomes.

Part of his allure has been "I am your savior and Hillary is so bad that I will appoint a special investigator to indict and imprison her after you elect me." His only focus as of late is to assert how dishonest, evil, criminal and untrustworthy she is. His alleged positive attributes have no meaning since support for him is mainly as the only alternative to her. His qualifications have as little value as does Jill Stein and Gary Johnson. A vote for Trump is merely a protest vote against Hillary.

Every time Trump adds yet another negative statement, his supporters categorize it as one they must accept in order to reduce the dissonance they feel for liking him even when he and his statements and behaviors are so utterly destructive of American values, the Constitution and the dignity of targeted demographics such as African-Americans, Hispanic persons,  Muslims, women, persons with disabilities, gays, low-income workers, veterans and immigrants.

For any supporter to disassociate themselves from the vitriol of Donald Trump necessitates they also disavow Trump himself and admit that they were misled and wrong in their prior energetic support. Trump has engendered a lot of support from people who formerly would not have expressed such negative attitudes, however there are many others for whom he merely gave a voice and emboldened them to become vocal and inflamed.

It is they who after the election will be troublesome to the state of the Union, no matter which candidate gets the 270+ electoral votes. Donald Trump has carelessly lit brush fires which will flare up all over the landscape no matter which way the wind blows.