I’m a firm believer in understanding and knowing your opposition. For the 2016 election that meant engaging with far more supporters of Donald Trump than I would have liked. It didn’t take long before I realized most of these folks were completely different than any other group of people I had ever dealt with in politics — in a terrifying sort of way.
Donald Trump used fear, anger, hate and over-the-top nationalism to brainwash his supporters into believing anything he said. He vilified entire groups of people because he knew that was the type of rhetoric his supporters wanted to hear.
But the more I talked with many of these people, the more I realized how extremely dangerous they are.
1. Most of them are literally brainwashed: Throughout my years following politics I’ve dealt with plenty of hypocrisy and ignorance from Republicans, but I’ve never seen anything like this. They only believe what Trump or those backing him say. Even if you use indisputable video or audio evidence that completely debunks something he’s said, they’ll still think you’re a liar. From my experience interacting with these folks, to their core, they truly and honestly believe he’s going to “make America great again,” even if they don’t even know what that actually means.
2. They generally don’t know anything about how politics or our government work: The reason why #1 exists is because most Trump people I’ve interacted with have absolutely no idea how government works. It’s really easy for someone like him to make absurd promises he knows he’ll never follow through on when the people supporting you have absolutely no idea how government works. It also makes these folks incredibly pointless to try to reason with, because you can bust out a “Government 101” textbook and it won’t matter one bit — they’re going to believe him over any factual evidence you show them proving he’s a liar.
3. Not only do they buy into conspiracy theories, but they seek them out: It’s pointless to debate a conspiracy theorist because no matter what evidence you use to debunk whatever nonsense they believe, they’re simply going to claim that it’s “all part of the conspiracy.” Well, Trump supporters are probably the largest group of conspiracy theorists we’ve ever seen. These are folks who, because they believe any lie he tells them, will stoop to ridiculous levels to believe anything — and I do mean anything — to try to counter whatever evidence you’ve used to debunk some asinine thing they believe.
4. They thrive on hate, anger, and fear: While these traits are how conspiracy theories are generally concocted, these people seem to thrive on this upwelling of blind hate, anger, and fear that fuels their entire being. The truth is, no matter how good this country is doing, they’re always going to harbor hate, be angry, and remain fearful. I remember back during Bill Clinton’s presidency when our economy was reaching historically successful levels and the same type of people supporting Trump now were hateful, angry and afraid back then. The truth is, it really doesn’t matter what reality says; unless these folks are being told what they want to hear, they’re going to be filled with hate, anger and fear.
5. They simply don’t care: Above all else, they simply don’t care. They don’t care if Vladimir Putin was trying to help elect Donald Trump for Russia’s best interests. They don’t care if Donald Trump constantly feeds them almost nothing but lies. They don’t care if he shouldn’t have really been the “winner.” They don’t care that, for the second time in a row, a Republican was “elected president” despite losing the popular vote.
They. Simply. Don’t. Care.
To most of Trump’s supporters, as long as he “won,” they literally don’t care how it happens — just as long as it happened.
They have no respect for democracy, the voice of the people or ethical behavior — just as long as they get what they want.
And let me tell everyone this much, it’s a very dangerous situation in a country where you have millions of people who simply don’t care about how they win — just as long as “their side” emerges “victorious.” Especially when they’re driven by hate, paranoia, conspiracies, fear and have been brainwashed to such an extent that facts don’t matter if they conflict with the garbage being spewed from their favorite person’s Twitter feed.
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