Living Large In Carson City: When Lies and Deceit Supplant Common Sense Edition

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“Who does vote for these dishonest shitheads?”

Hunter S. Thompson

I watched as the Trump clown show drove over yet another cliff when Trump invited Kayne West to the Oval Office for a sit-down chat with himself, Jim Brown and a gaggle of reporters. West confirmed what I had always believed; he is mentally ill. West confessed he suffers from bipolar disease, a heartbreaking condition that leaves many diagnosed with the condition forever plagued by the effects it has on one’s interaction with the world and the people they encounter on a day-to-day basis. Regardless of his admission, what transpired was a jaw dropping experiment in kissing up to the “man” and an orgy of senseless proclamations of love and loyalty to the Orange One.

What has many people upset is West’s use of the term motherfucker in the Oval Office. His exact statement was,

“You might not have expected a crazy motherfucker like Kanye running up to support.”

Still, it begs the question, “What did they expect?” The guy is a longtime, very successful rapper, a subset of American society that is not known for their eloquence in speech or gestures. There has been much ado about nothing surrounding West’s use of the term, but again, what did they expect? The thing I took away from the interview was the wild ranting monologue West subjected the room to really seemed like something that would offend the straight-laced Trump supporters who make up his base, obviously not.

Who are these people? How do they justify overlooking some fool making a mockery of the presidency and upending the decorum that goes along with the office. I decided to watch the now notorious Iowa rally Trump held earlier this week to see what goes on at these events. What makes these normally sane people find Trump so alluring? Trust me, there are no answers there, only more head scratching servility from the Trump minions that is shocking and not a little disturbing.

The YouTube video begins with a camera shot from behind a portion of the crowd looking into a darken doorway stage right. Inexplicably, the mournful dirge of Elton John’s Funeral for a friend/Love Lies Bleeding in My Hand begins and plays for the next eight minutes or so. At the end the music segues  into what has become a Trump rally theme song, Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA. Am I the only one in this country that thinks this is one of the most sappy and piss your pants hard to listen to quasi-country melodies ever written. Don’t get me wrong: I am as patriotic as the next guy, but Greenwood’s syrupy delivery makes me want to gag. It’s a wonder millions of people don’t contract diabetes from listening to it more than once. I digress.

At 8:20 into the video, a booming voice comes out over the speaker system reminiscent of a World Wrestling Federation announcer introducing Trump who wanders out onto the walkway where he stops and does that infuriating thing he does where he points at individuals in the crowd, waves and claps. He then holds his hands, palms up, and swiveling his hips right and left to bask in the warmth of the near rabid crowd’s response. What mystifies me is he does this at every opportunity and gets the same response to the sound of the crowd chanting USA, USA, USA.

All this is accompanied by the backdrop of Trump supporters waving signs that say “Finish the Wall” (fat chance) or “Women for Trump” ( a notably small group) or “Veterans for Trump” (a patriotic but misguided group). After the obligatory comments on the great success of confirming Brett Kavanaugh, praise of the octogenarian Senator Chuck Grassley, and trashing the protesters at the Supreme Court (some of who were whining because they didn’t get paid (???)), Trump lights into the Democrats with a vengeance, rather less than a healing moment,

And in their lust for power, the Democrats have become totally unhinged. They’ve gone — they’ve gone crazy.

No, they’ve gone crazy. Now the Democrats — or as some people would says, the Dims — the Dims — who says that? Lou Dobbs, the great Lou Dobbs. He says that, right? Sean Hannity says that. The Dims. Sean Hannity. Judge Jeanine says that, doesn’t she? Laura — Laura, how good has Laura been, right? We got a lot of good people. . .

But the Democrats have become too extreme. And they’ve become, frankly, too dangerous to govern. They’ve gone wacko. They’ve gone so far left that they consider Pocahontas to be a rational person. No, it’s crazy. Elizabeth Warren. Oh, I hope she runs. I hope she runs. Then we can finally get down to the fact as to whether or not she has Indian blood. YouTube

This was when I realized that there was no reason to watch anymore of this fright fest. It has literally been repeated over and over again since Trump came on the scene and began having his ego stroked by the deplorables he calls his base. The only change is the scenery or mid-western township where his followers gather to be, I am sure, thrilled to the very cockles of their beings. Who are these people?

In an peer-reviewed article that appeared the Journal of Social and Political Psychology titled Social Psychological Perspectives on Trump Supporters written by Thomas F. Pettigrew, he identifies five distinct personality traits of the average Trump supporter. On the one hand, what he discovered is what most of us suspected all along. Trump supporters are actually “mini-mes” of the Orange One’s outsize ego. Still, it is interesting and a bit frightening to see it spelled out and printed in black and white. Briefly, here are the categories:

  • Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Disorder (SDO) Authoritarianism is an intensely studied syndrome the effects of which are surprisingly consistent across the globe . Several traits characterize the syndrome: deference to authority, aggression toward out groups, a rigidly hierarchical view of the world, and resistance to new experience. Authoritarianism is typically triggered by threat and fear, and authoritarians tend to view the world as a very dangerous and threatening place.

These traits seem to be consistent with the mindset of older white people, especially people who were directly affected by the Great Depression or suffered under parents who’s lives were horribly altered by the poverty and depressive effects that that era produced. My own parents were stereotypical examples of this disorder. Racism and bigotry go hand in hand with these traits.

  • Prejudice Many outgroup prejudices characterize dedicated Trump’s followers, not just anti-immigrants, but anti-outgroups in general. Since Richard Nixon’s “southern strategy,” the Republican Party has employed strategies that appeal to bigotry with “dog whistles” – somewhat subtle codewords for race and other minorities designed to be heard by racists but not by non-racists.

Again, this trait is breathtakingly obvious in the vast majority of Trump supporters. Civility is one of the first positive ideals that fall by the wayside in the face of unbridled prejudice and bigotry. The hatred that Trump supporters have for Hillary Clinton, Christine Blasey Ford, Democrats and others who oppose them is symptomatically over the top mainly because Trump latched on to the prejudice factor and fanned the flames until we find ourselves in the quagmire we are now.

  • Intergroup Contact A major means of reducing intergroup prejudice is through optimal intergroup contact. So it is noteworthy that there is growing evidence that Trump’s White supporters have experienced far less contact with minorities than other  Americans. .   .                                                                                                                  Consistent with this finding, these researchers also found that Trump support increased as an area’s distance from the Mexican border increased. Throughout the world, intergroup contact has been shown typically to diminish prejudice by reducing intergroup fear and inducing empathy.

It should come as no surprise that this trait is exacerbated by the prior two categories. In Shakespeare’s Othello, the concept of “the other” plays an important role in Iago’s plan to discredit and smear Othello’s good name. Hatred of “the other” comes from an deep seated belief that outsiders are incapable of intermixing with the dominant social classes of a society and are held at bay through prejudice and authoritarianism and SDO. The old saying “Walk a mile in another man’s shoes” will help people understand better the forces at play in acceptance of outsiders in society. Something Trump supporters are loathe to do.

  • Relative Deprivation Trump adherents feel deprived relative to what they expected to possess at this point in their lives and relative to what they erroneously perceive other “less deserving” groups have acquired. Rapidly rising costs of housing and prescription drugs have aggravated their financial concerns. Their savings may not allow the type of ideal retirements they had long envisioned. And hopes for their children advancing beyond their status and going to college are being dashed by rising tuitions.

Relative Deprivation is a huge topic, and one that crosses a plethora of social strata. Combine this trait with the idea that older white men are being pushed out of the mainstream into a lesser social strata that devalues their long-held beliefs in white privilege and things deteriorate quickly into finger pointing, blame and anger, if not outright hatred. Immigrants are especially juicy targets for angry, white men facing what they see as irrelevancy in a time when they should be at the height of their plans for retirement.

This brief look does not do Pettigrew’s research justice, however, it is a thumbnail look at the motives behind, not only Trump supporters, but the manipulative genius that Trump brings to the table to demonize opponents and assuage the emotions his audiences bring to the rallies he and they thrive on. Pettigrew sums things up by saying,

All five of these tightly interconnected phenomena – authoritarianism, social dominance, prejudice, lack of intergroup contact and relative deprivation – make people vulnerable to an intense sense of threat. Authoritarian leaders have long understood that they can attract followers by enhancing the perception of dangerous threats to the society and offering simple solutions (Mols & Jetten, 2016). Sometimes the threats are real (Hitler with massive Weimar inflation), but often they are imagined (Trump with patently false claims of a declining economy, massive voter fraud, enormously increased crime, and unvetted immigration).

The sad and frightening reality is that Trump’s use of these traits is working and working very well. Democrats are now being characterized as acting under “mob rule.” This is yet another attempt to create the idea of “the other” in the mind’s of his supporters. The real question unanswered is how will those supporters react if even this bottom feeder approach is taken away from them and Trump goes down for whatever reason. The prospect isn’t pretty.

 

 

 

 

 

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