On Trump: Towards An Understanding Of Why Republicans Have Switched Off Their Critical Faculties

At the average rate of 4.88 lies a day [1] the current US president during his first 100 days in office has disgraced his office and further besmirched the international reputation of the US. Lie by lie he has walled himself in and lost credibility in the eyes of most sane and rational people. The disturbing and for many people mysterious phenomenon is that Trump’s job approval rating amongst Republicans is still at 87%.[2] This little article might provide some crucial pieces of this puzzle.

One study of the rise of malevolent political groups observed that when “a group [in this case the GOP] has succumbed to pathological influence [Trump and his clique] its members soon lose the ability to distinguish normal human behavior from pathological.”[3]

I think a strong case can be made that most Republicans have been hoodwinked and spellbound by Trumpism and that their increasing lack of critical thinking is being compensated with becoming more emotional and confused and that they increasingly, like their leader, perceive non-existent conspiracies and dangers.[4]

A very similar analysis was recently provided by the CEO of The New York Times, Mark Thompson, who gave an analysis of Trump’s use and abuse of the English language.

“The super-short sentences emphasize certainty and determination, build up layer upon layer, like bricks in a wall themselves, toward a conclusion and an emotional climax. It’s a style that students of rhetoric call parataxis. This is the way generals and dictators have always spoken to distinguish themselves from the caviling civilians they mean to sweep aside. . . Trump’s appeal as a presidential candidate depends significantly on the belief that he is a truth-teller who will have nothing to do with the conventional language of politics. . . . We shouldn’t confuse anti-rhetorical ‘truth telling’ with actually telling the truth. One of the advantages of this positioning is that once listeners are convinced that you’re not trying to deceive them in the manner of a regular politician, they may switch off the critical faculties they usually apply to political speech and forgive you any amount of exaggeration, contradiction, or offensiveness. And if establishment rivals or the media criticize you, your supporters may dismiss that as spin.”[5]

If you tie the above ideas with the analysis by political scientist Karen Stenger on the increased intolerance of authoritarian conservatives based on their perception of real and imagined threats [6], you can get a more fine-grained understanding of what is really going on with the conservative part of the US electorate in relation to the truth.

[1]. “President Trump’s first 100 days: The fact check tally“. The Washington Post. 1 May 2017. 

[2]. “Presidential Approval Ratings — Donald Trump“. Gallup. 

[3]. “The Genesis of Evil“. Political Ponerology Web Site. 

[4]. “Trump: The Aspiring Pathocrat“. Alpheus. 24 Feb 2017. 

[5]. Blow, Charles. “Trump’s Degradation of the Language“. 1 May 2017. The New York Times. 

[6]. “On Trump: Intolerance and Authoritarianism“. Alpheus. 20 Feb 2017. 

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