A Philosopher's Blog

The Trumpernaut, Truth & Anger

Posted in Business, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 24, 2016

When Donald Trump threw his hair into the presidential ring, the pundits predicted that he would burn brightly and then rapidly fade away. They were wrong. As Trump kept Trumping along, the pundits kept predicting that the establishment candidates would surge past him. As this is being written, Trump is riding high on victories in North Carolina and Nevada—thus proving the pundits wrong once again. Jeb, of course, has gone home to make some guacamole.

Trump’s continued success is certainly interesting from the standpoint of politics but also from that of psychology and even philosophy. After all, figuring out why he is doing so well and how this is likely to impact the future of politics are matters well worth considering.

Trumps detractors, which seems to include the entire Republican establishment, point to his alleged negative qualities. Trump is regarded as being a liar—or at least a relentless speaker of untruths. This won him Politifact’s Lie of the Year. He is also seen as a racist and a bully. Those who focus on substance are rather disappointed by the Donald: he seems to lack any substantive plans and policies. Instead, he makes outlandish claims about beating everyone, about getting Mexico to pay for a giant wall, and about banning Muslims from the United States. Given that he has never held political office and has an impressive string of business disasters to his name, this is not particularly surprising.

The usual narrative is that Trump is winning despite these alleged negative qualities and many commentators still cling to the hope that Trump will flare out and slam into the ground. While this has some appeal, I have argued before that Trump is doing well because of these qualities rather than despite them. One reason for this, as I argued in a previous essay, is that the Republican Party and its allies lovingly crafted a political environment that is well suited to Trump. Another reason is that there has been a change in the political mood of the country which makes the niche forged by the Republicans even more ideal for Trump. In this environment, his qualities are superb adaptations for success. As such, it is no wonder that he is doing so well. I will now turn to a brief discussion of how these traits fit the political ecosystem and are enabling Trump to thrive.

Trump majestically handles his untruths by doubling or even tripling down on them. His brashness and confidence is likely to be very refreshing to voters accustomed to weak and insincere apologies on the part of other politicians. As such, even his untruths make him appear strong and decisive in the eyes of some voters. His bullying also makes him appear strong; especially since it is easy to mistake the bluster of a bully for real strength. Trump’s alleged racism and sexism also make him appear defiant and strong—he is regarded as being brave enough to stand up to the bogeyperson that is the PC movement. This ties nicely into his ability to appeal to the fears of some of the population: they want a strong man to protect them from what scares them. Even when the fears are ill-founded and fundamentally irrational.

The appeal of Trump’s lack of experience in politics is very easy to explain. In addition to the concerted effort to discredit the very idea of government on the part of many conservatives, Congress endeavors to do all it can to disappoint and annoy the American people. Thus, while the idea of getting medical care from someone with no medical experience would seem crazy, the idea of having a president with no experience in any political office strikes many as appealing. Presumably the reasoning is that being an experienced politician simply makes a person worse. To use an analogy, a person would not want an experienced criminal handling their money. They would prefer someone who has never been involved in crime.

Trump’s lack of substantive policy positions and the absence of anything that could sensibly be called a plan would seem to be problematic to explain as appealing to people. However, it is easy enough to do this. First, the Republicans have bashed Obama for thinking too much, for being too professorial, and not being bold and decisive (that is, not rushing in to do something). As such, Trump’s lack of thought, failure to plan and promises to “do something” are all very appealing. This ties nicely into the appeal of doing something, even if it is wrong. Somewhat ironically, this is what helped spell the end of Jeb Bush. While Bush is a moderate conservative, he seems very Obama-like in regards to being a calm, soft-spoken man with a plan. This is exactly what Republicans have been told to hate.

Second, planning and thinking are seen as contrary to what a strong man of action would do—as such, Trump’s vague “plans” and his bold assertions about winning make him seem even stronger. After all, only weak people need to think about what they will do and have a plan. The strong can just bash away at things until they break.

Third, Trump is promising people what they want to hear. Somewhat ironically, laying out the plan of how he would, for example, get the Mexicans to pay for the wall would make his claims far less plausible. Laying out a plan would cause people to think about the process, which runs the risk of making them realize there is no way he can do what he claims. By making bold promises and avoiding any planning, he allows people to share the fantasy with him.

In closing, the fact that Trump lacks quality and substance yet is winning should be no surprise. One has only to consider McDonalds, the Transformer movies and the Kardashians to realize that success and substance can be complete strangers.

 

 

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  1. ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 24, 2016 at 3:27 pm

  2. WTP said, on February 24, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Ace…Applies to college professors as well.:

    It has become a badge of honor among the Midcult types — the middlebrows, not terribly smart but proud to not be stupid — to sneer down anyone lower on the totem pole. That’s always been a major part of class insecurity — the need to assert one’s own position by sneering down those allegedly lower.

    Secure people don’t have to do that.

    http://ace.mu.nu/archives/361730.php

  3. ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 24, 2016 at 8:46 pm

  4. TJB said, on February 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

    Priceless:

    Thursday on ABC’s “The View,” co-host Raven-Symonè declared she would leave the United States for Canada if a Republican is “nominated.”

    Symonè said, “My confession for this election is if any Republican gets nominated, I’m gonna move to Canada with my entire family. Is that bad?”

    When pressed she added, “I already have my ticket … No, I literally bought my ticket, I swear.”

    http://www.breitbart.com/video/2016/02/25/views-raven-symone-vows-leave-us-republican-gets-nominated/

    • WTP said, on February 26, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      In a world where literally does not literally mean literally, what are words for?

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 26, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Say “hi” to the moose. Also, Canadian bacon is not real bacon.

  5. TJB said, on February 26, 2016 at 9:13 am

    Scott Adams. Mike, is it perhaps time to take Trump seriously?

    Donald Trump is the most famous narcissist in the world. That fact probably seems obvious to you, given Trump’s continuous self-promotion. Mental health experts agree with your assessment. Trump hits most of the checkboxes for the diagnosis.

    The biggest tell for narcissism is a belief that you are better than other people. For example, if Trump believed he could run for President – with almost no political experience – and dominate the Republican party in only a few short months, that would be an example of…

    Okay, wait. That one doesn’t work. Apparently his self-image was spot-on in that one specific case. It was the rest of us who got that one wrong.

    But still, Trump obviously has an inflated self-image. For example, there was the time he thought he could transition from being a real estate developer to being a best-selling author of a book about negotiating, but then…shit. Okay, that example doesn’t work.

    Okay, how about this example: Remember when Trump thought he could transition from developing real estate and being a best selling author to becoming a reality TV star and then…okay, forget that one. That sort of worked out for Trump.

    Um…okay, I have one. Remember all of the Trump real estate and casino businesses that failed? I think there were a handful of big failures. That’s a terrible track record when you consider Trump’s hundreds of successful projects that…shit. Okay, that example doesn’t work when you put it in context.

    But the ego on that guy. For example, Trump thinks models are attracted to him. Models! Ha ha! And they are, but my point is that I forget what my point is. Something about his ego? Yes, that’s it.

    Anyway, Trump thinks he is smarter than most people just because he has a high IQ and went to great schools. Usually that does mean you are smarter than 98% of the public, but in this case it was probably just luck, because obviously all of us are smarter than Trump. I mean, look at his haircut!

    Narcissists also seek attention from others. That is Trump all over! Compare his attention-seeking ways to other people who license their brands for a living. Those other people like to stay quiet or maybe say their brand is not so good. That is what good mental health looks like. But narcissist Trump actually promotes his brand every chance he gets, which is gross. Sure, it makes him a lot of money, but capitalism is about more than that. For example, something about the Fed.

    Anyway, unlike Trump, the other candidates for President of the United States do not seek attention. Okay, technically they are seeking it as hard as they can, and failing. But to me, that seems exactly the same as not trying.

    Narcissism is more than having an over-inflated ego and a need for attention. Narcissists also lack empathy. That’s Trump all over. He has no empathy whatsoever. Sure, he says he loves wounded veterans, underemployed Americans, and even the undereducated. But you know all of that is lies.

    How do you know? Simple! You know because you are far smarter than normal people. You might be an unrecognized genius, given your modesty. Maybe you’re not the test-taking kind of genius, but you are definitely a beacon of common sense. For example, you know for sure which candidate would be the best president while idiots like me can only guess. In fact, you are so smart that you can peer into Trump’s soul from a distance and see his lack of empathy. Impressive! And, I might add that you are an ace at diagnosing mental conditions despite your total lack of training in the field. You, my friend, are indeed better than other people because you see Trump for the over-inflated, uncaring buffoon that he is. And unlike Trump, you do not seek attention. So don’t leave a comment below to showcase your brilliance.

    Narcissism is definitely a thing. But we also need a name for the mental condition in which you believe you are so smart you can diagnose narcissism from a distance.

    I won’t call you a narcissist unless you state your opinion in a public comment forum and insult other voters and commenters as if you have no empathy. So don’t do that.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/post/139910704581/how-to-spot-a-narcissist-trump-persuasion-series

  6. wtp said, on February 26, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Found this interesting:

    Philosophers have been muzzled by the Western global regime; most of great modern philosophy concealed from the masses. What has been left of it, allowed to float on the surface is toothless, irrelevant and incomprehensible: a foolish outdated theoretical field for those few remaining intellectual snobs.

    Philosophy used to be the most precious crown jewel of human intellectual achievement. It stood at the vanguard of almost all fights for a better world.

    But that’s all I had time for. TJ, check out the rest and tell me how it ends,…

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/02/26/academia-hands-off-revolutionary-philosophy/

    • TJB said, on February 29, 2016 at 8:24 am

      It is about as nauseating as you would expect from anything at Counterpunch.

  7. ajmacdonaldjr said, on February 26, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    • ronster12012 said, on February 29, 2016 at 7:22 am

      AJ

      So Foampartyboi Rubio has found out that Floridians don’t like him so much either…. Seems like Cruz has crashed and burnt too.

      I tell you, from this distance, it is quite a sight to see the corrupt elites,their lobbyists and hangers on, who thought they, and only they had the right to choose the prez get screwed over by some who knows how to play the game better than them.

      Whether Trump wins or loses the nomination or the presidency, things will never be the same again.

      If he does manage to get the nomination, I think it will be most entertaining to watch him bring out every one of Hillary’s skeletons out of the closet. He shut her up beautifully when she accused him of being a misogynist by reminding her of her dear husband and her reaction to his infidelities. Priceless…

  8. Anonymous said, on March 9, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Yes, I know I’ve been away a long time. But this issue has energized me. For the first time in my life, I feel as if both sides of the political debate are trying to weave a Matrix-like reality. Usually that’s a Democrat meme. It’s a false reality when it comes to Trump. Everything from his supposed flip-flopping, to accusations of being a horrible person. I’ve watched multiple videos from decades ago, of interviews of Trump. On Oprah, in 1988, he said the exact same things he’s saying today–that the US is being injured by protectionists such as Japan and China, and that the rules should be the same on both sides. In an interview in the early 90s with Larry King, he was asked why he let his ex-wife continue to run his casino. He answered that he did it because she came to work every day and was trying and that she was the mother of his three children and that he loved his children very much. He did this against the advice of his lawyer, and that the world’s best casino managers called him for jobs, but he turned them down.

    There is so many more misrepresentations, and I don’t have the time to address them all now. But truly the establishment is something I never thought it was; nearly monolithic. The Republicans are fakes. They have not addressed a single issue that’s important to their grass roots voters in decades. I hope to address each individual charge against Trump, and show that for the most part, they’re mere ad-hominems. Almost all of the classic conservative outlets are against Trump, too.

    For now, please read this article that I wholeheartedly agree with.

    http://nypost.com/2016/03/05/why-i-support-trump-and-resent-the-elites-trying-to-destroy-him/

    Magus

    • wtp said, on March 9, 2016 at 10:52 pm

      Welcome back…Yes, i agree that the GOP has become a disgrace, what with the Nazi comparisons and the I’ll-vote-for-Hillary-otherwise threats. Up until the past week or so it was only the establishment types and such that I felt were out of touch. But as things are getting down to the wire, even the Cruz supporters have lost their minds and are perfectly willing to throw in with the establishment and/or HRC if necessary. No integrity whatsoever. For all their contempt for Trump, they may as well be Democrats themselves. And especially after he was arm twisted into swearing loyalty to the GOP and to not run third party. Yet even these Cruz supporters rant at those who point out that they are overreacting. They then accuse the more level-headed crowd of being hysterical “Trumpets”. And they do it in the same condescending tone that they find so contemptible (or I should say, found so contemptible) when the establishment looked down their noses at the Cruzers and such.

      The funny thing is, I’m not a big Trump fan. It’s the ridiculous, pants wetting, over-the-top fear mongering that makes me want to change my vote to him. I was somewhat leaning to Cruz but my feeling before I sent in my absentee ballot was a pox on all their houses. I’m kinda glad I went ahead and sent it in because I’d probably vote for Trump if I had to wait until Tuesday. Either way, come the general election I don’t know how anyone could possibly vote for HRC, especially someone who even remotely considers themselves a conservative or classical liberal (though likely less of those), after how she handled the email situation, let alone Benghazi and the rest.

      • magus71 said, on March 10, 2016 at 12:18 am

        The link TJ posted from Dilbert is spot on.

        • WTP said, on March 10, 2016 at 6:55 am

          Agree. It’s the smart people. They know everything. Including who is a narcissist and who isn’t.

  9. TJB said, on March 10, 2016 at 12:24 am

    Glad you are back, Magus! Are you back in the U.S.?

    • magus71 said, on March 10, 2016 at 12:57 am

      Yes, in Hawaii. Out of the Army in less than a year.


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