27 votes

Why do Trump’s supporters stand by him, no matter what?

24 comments

  1. [5]
    envy
    Link
    I had to come back to this amazing article to re-read it. I've noticed an incredible consistency in what republicans believe. I once challenged a relative of mine to disagree with just one part of...

    I had to come back to this amazing article to re-read it.

    1. Authoritarian followers get their beliefs and opinions from the authorities in their lives, and hardly at all by making up their own minds.

    I've noticed an incredible consistency in what republicans believe. I once challenged a relative of mine to disagree with just one part of the republican platform, and after some thought he simply said he just happened to believe everything the republican party stood for.

    1. People validate their social opinions socially to a certain extent by selecting news outlets, friends, and so on that will tell them they are right. Authoritarian followers do [this] much more because they don’t have many ideas of their own. Surrounding themselves with people who agree with them, clapping together, chanting together, cheering together, and marching together is convincing evidence for them that their beliefs are right.

    Another relative of mine told me Fox News was too liberal, so she only read Breitbart & Drudge Report. A friend has told me other news sources are terrible, because they talk about things you never hear on Fox News.

    1. One consequence of the followers’ strong need for consensual validation, experiments have found, is that they will trust someone who says things they believe, even if there is a lot of evidence that the person does not really believe what he says.

    As the article points out, this explains holy rollers asking for donations on TV, as well as Trumps ability to lie with impunity.

    1. Dogmatism comes rather naturally to people who have copied other people’s beliefs rather than figure things out for themselves. When you don’t know why your beliefs are true, you can’t defend them very well when other people or events confront them. Once you’ve run out of whatever counter-arguments your authorities have loaded into you, you’re done. When the evidence and arguments against their beliefs becomes irrefutable, they simply shut down.

    I've debated specific issues with a fox news friends and family, and I have definitely noticed once they are confronted with "alternative facts", they immediately get angry, and once they run out of arguments, they switch to what-aboutism's.

    1. Authoritarian followers are more fearful, in general, than most people. Accordingly Donald Trump was well-placed to gain the support of authoritarian followers as he was a large and seemingly fearless, powerful man. All he had to do was say he saw the dangers the followers felt and he would fight to protect them. So he did.

    You can see all these forces coming together when the authoritarian leader and his followers come together at Trump rallies.

    It seems clear that Donald Trump believes his best chance at remaining in power is to keep his base fired up.

    They will support Donald Trump long after it becomes indisputable that he is a felon and should be removed from office.

    Today’s youth, better educated and wonderfully less ethnocentric than their predecessors, give one great hope for the future of American democracy in the long run.

    Authoritarian leaders and authoritarian followers have no great love of freedom and equality. Those who do had better organize and get out the vote, or they will make Donald Trump look like the super-genius he believes he is.

    Unfortunately the article doesn't go into why so many Americans seem to be susceptible to authoritarianism, it simply mentions this doesn't appear to be a problem with the younger generation.

    25 votes
    1. [4]
      Diff
      Link Parent
      Another question raised, this can't be US specific. What happens to people like this in other countries?

      Another question raised, this can't be US specific. What happens to people like this in other countries?

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        Grzmot
        Link Parent
        Few other countries have a conservative media juggernaut like Fox News to keep people isolated and believing. Also, the US is quite far to the right politically entirely as a country. A lot of...

        Few other countries have a conservative media juggernaut like Fox News to keep people isolated and believing. Also, the US is quite far to the right politically entirely as a country. A lot of politics that democrats support would be seen as comfortably right in many parts in Europe.

        10 votes
        1. Diff
          Link Parent
          I'm aware the US is very far right relatively speaking, but what happens to the people who are susceptible to this kind of thing? Is the US so cut off from the rest of humanity that we've created...

          I'm aware the US is very far right relatively speaking, but what happens to the people who are susceptible to this kind of thing? Is the US so cut off from the rest of humanity that we've created our very own psychological quirk as well as the world's only environment that exploits it?

          2 votes
      2. ubergeek
        Link Parent
        It's specific to any nation that has devalued education. Especially critical thinking skills being developed at a young age. As a nation, we've a long tradition of beating out critical thinking....

        It's specific to any nation that has devalued education. Especially critical thinking skills being developed at a young age.

        As a nation, we've a long tradition of beating out critical thinking. Remember, we got our start by a bunch of people who felt they weren't allowed to persecute others enough (The puritans).

        6 votes
  2. [3]
    dubteedub
    Link
    I mean, I get what the author is saying, but this article came out in August 2018 and people had identified Trump's base as being authoritarians as early as January 2016. Politico Magazine -...
    • Exemplary

    The main reason, I submit, is that most of Trump’s backers are authoritarian followers—people who submit too much to the leaders they consider legitimate, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want. “Well yeah,” you might say. “But that’s like saying an apple is an apple because it’s an apple.”

    I mean, I get what the author is saying, but this article came out in August 2018 and people had identified Trump's base as being authoritarians as early as January 2016.

    My finding is the result of a national poll I conducted in the last five days of December under the auspices of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, sampling 1,800 registered voters across the country and the political spectrum. Running a standard statistical analysis, I found that education, income, gender, age, ideology and religiosity had no significant bearing on a Republican voter’s preferred candidate. Only two of the variables I looked at were statistically significant: authoritarianism, followed by fear of terrorism, though the former was far more significant than the latter.

    Authoritarianism is not a new, untested concept in the American electorate. Since the rise of Nazi Germany, it has been one of the most widely studied ideas in social science. While its causes are still debated, the political behavior of authoritarians is not. Authoritarians obey. They rally to and follow strong leaders. And they respond aggressively to outsiders, especially when they feel threatened. From pledging to “make America great again” by building a wall on the border to promising to close mosques and ban Muslims from visiting the United States, Trump is playing directly to authoritarian inclinations.

    I think the author of both this piece and the article from Politico reflect a lot of the same points, but one issue I think is underestimated is how much influence the Fox News and the alternative right media landscape plays in his support.

    Without Fox News, InfoWars, Breitbart, and others, these people would be forced to hear facts rather than the half-trusts, twists, and outright lies that are pushed on them through these propaganda outlets. Trump's support would be nowhere near as high as it is without the constant reinforcement he receives from alternative media. Fox News has a huge impact across conservatives in the U.S. and is their most trusted news source, and often their ONLY news source

    What’s continuously interesting about Suffolk’s findings is how unified Republican trust in Fox News is, compared to the relatively distributed trust Democrats place in various outlets. CNN is the outlet Democrats trust the most, in Suffolk’s polling, but seven outlets get at least 5 percent of Democratic respondents calling them most trusted. Among Republicans, nearly six in 10 cite Fox as their most-trusted outlet. The only other outlet that gets the endorsement at least 5 percent of Republicans? CNN.

    Not only that, but recent polls have also indicated that a vast swath of Trump supporters who watch Fox News believe that there is nothing that could dissuade them of that support.

    Although 37 percent of Republicans overall said that almost nothing could dissuade them from approving of Trump, more than half of Republicans whose primary news source is Fox News held that view. By contrast, only about 3 in 10 Republicans whose primary news source is something other than Fox were as solid in their support of Trump. Even Republicans without a college degree, a bastion of Trump’s support in 2016, and white evangelical Protestants were less likely to say that they expected to stick with Trump no matter what.

    What’s more, 98 percent of Fox-citing Republicans oppose impeaching and removing Trump — opposition that’s “essentially unanimous,” as PRRI puts it. By contrast, 90 percent of non-Fox-citing Republicans oppose impeaching and removing him — which is overwhelmingly high, but suggests that among this group, at least, Trump could suffer losses on the margins as the inquiry turns up worse revelations.

    And here’s another real doozy: In response to my inquiry, PRRI tells me that 71 percent of Fox-citing Republicans strongly approve of Trump, while only 39 percent of non-Fox-citing Republicans strongly approve of him.

    “The numbers show that Republicans who watch Fox News tend to be much more pro-Trump,” Natalie Jackson, the research director for PRRI, told me. “Fox seems to be a powerful vehicle for Trump support.”

    I just don't think it can be overstated how dangerous and great an impact Fox News has on the American public and how much it singularly accounts for Trump's support.

    14 votes
    1. [2]
      vord
      Link Parent
      I get it. I lost my parents to Fox News. Dad literally said the words "I don't like Trump but I have to vote for him" After the election my parents went all in and continue to support everything...

      I get it. I lost my parents to Fox News. Dad literally said the words "I don't like Trump but I have to vote for him"

      After the election my parents went all in and continue to support everything Fox News tells them to.

      4 votes
      1. balooga
        Link Parent
        When I was a kid my parents warned me about the mind-numbing effect TV would have on me if I watched too much of it. They were referring to fluff entertainment, which I've consumed plenty of over...
        • Exemplary

        When I was a kid my parents warned me about the mind-numbing effect TV would have on me if I watched too much of it. They were referring to fluff entertainment, which I've consumed plenty of over the years. Meanwhile, my parents used the TV to watch important and meaningful shows like the news. Eventually Fox News. In the end, they were right— but not in the way they expected.

        9 votes
  3. [4]
    mrbig
    Link
    You can't use reason to change an opinion that wasn't formed by reasoning. I see this in my own country, with South-American Hitler.

    You can't use reason to change an opinion that wasn't formed by reasoning. I see this in my own country, with South-American Hitler.

    6 votes
    1. [3]
      Kuromantis
      Link Parent
      Hey, I'm also Brazilian, at least some politicians are trying to dismantle his party but he's just gonna go to a new one soon.

      Hey, I'm also Brazilian, at least some politicians are trying to dismantle his party but he's just gonna go to a new one soon.

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        mrbig
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        Olá, compatriota! IMHO, the problem in Brazil is that after 4 leftist government people came to associate corruption only with the left, and opted for an "outsider" that's been in politics for...

        Olá, compatriota!

        IMHO, the problem in Brazil is that after 4 leftist government people came to associate corruption only with the left, and opted for an "outsider" that's been in politics for more than twenty years.

        But my memory is good enough to remember that neoliberal administrations were deeply corrupt also. Public universities were in ruins, there were no effective attitudes to end poverty and healthcare was even worse than it is today.

        We had a right-wing president impeached!

        If you didn't like the left, there were several conservatives in the race that would be far better than Bolsonaro. But people just wanted to take the Workers Party out by any means necessary.

        The world has more than two-sides, and politics require a nuanced and well-informed approach. But most people treat it like "torcida de futebol" (soccer fandom). They vote with their gut, not with their heads.

        2 votes
        1. Kuromantis
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          I think this is the most important part of the problem. Politics is incredibly complex yet is barely given any thought in school. The most nuanced political model I know is what's used at...

          The world has more than two-sides, and politics require a nuanced and well-informed approach. But most people treat it like "torcida de futebol" (soccer fandom). They vote with their gut, not with their heads.

          I think this is the most important part of the problem. Politics is incredibly complex yet is barely given any thought in school. The most nuanced political model I know is what's used at 8values,which is literally a 'political compass-esque' site, and that doesn't even mention the division of powers, what tools can be used to protect a government from falling into authorianism, or how news organizations work and what they may do to make money or what does a scientist do and how they too, can be biased or be funded by someone biased, or how does the private sector influence politics, or how do news aggregators work and more.

          1 vote
  4. [6]
    suspended
    Link
    I've heard that cognitive dissonance may have a part to play as well. Hopefully, someone else who is more knowledgeable about this will chime in.

    I've heard that cognitive dissonance may have a part to play as well. Hopefully, someone else who is more knowledgeable about this will chime in.

    5 votes
    1. [5]
      nothis
      Link Parent
      Right around when Trump got elected, 1984 jumped up in some bestseller lists and I decided to finally read the book. I knew it as kind of a cliche, the 1984 Apple ad, "big brother is watching...

      Right around when Trump got elected, 1984 jumped up in some bestseller lists and I decided to finally read the book. I knew it as kind of a cliche, the 1984 Apple ad, "big brother is watching you"... and to me, the book was about state oppression and surveillance. And it kinda is about that but the part that's harder to explain and more relevant to the situation is the concept of "doublethink", which is basically cognitive dissonance risen to a political norm.

      I found it challenging to make sense of and, in my mind, it always shifted towards parody/sarcasm, like "people clearly suppress lies when it benefits them so if they claim to not see them, they must be thinking two things at once", like they're lying about not seeing the lie. But it goes deeper. There are people who genuinely believe two contradictory things at once, as a state of mind, as their personal reality. Maybe you could say they "lie to themselves" but the point is that they do not perceive a lie. Maybe they don't allow themselves to see it or maybe they're afraid of it. I don't know. But there clearly was a real-world inspiration for the concept of "doublethink" and it's terrifying.

      13 votes
      1. Sahasrahla
        Link Parent
        I've become convinced that one of the most common mistakes some people make in thinking about others' cognition is the assumption that people can't believe the impossible if they know it's...
        • Exemplary

        There are people who genuinely believe two contradictory things at once, as a state of mind, as their personal reality.

        I've become convinced that one of the most common mistakes some people make in thinking about others' cognition is the assumption that people can't believe the impossible if they know it's impossible, i.e. that people apply at least some basic logic (A implies not not-A, etc.) to their beliefs. I think for a lot of people your beliefs are just something you accept or don't accept and rather than being guided by "what do I think is true?" you're guided by "who do I believe?" or "what do people like me believe?". In this way of thinking contradictions aren't a problem because truth follows from belief, not the other way around: you choose your beliefs and that informs what you think is true, rather than you try to find what's true and let that inform your beliefs.

        There's a story I have from high school that always stuck in my mind. In history class we were learning about flood myths, "creation-science", and actual science when it came to the story of Noah's Ark. Our teacher asked us to write a short essay about which we believed (to be graded on just answering the question; we were free to believe what we want). I'll always remember a friend's answer to this. She said that, well, science is science and it's obviously right, but she was a Christian too so she also believed the Christian answer. This didn't appear to be difficult for her: she knew science was right so she believed the Earth was billions of years old, but she was also a Christian so she believed the Earth was 6000 years old. She acknowledged the contradiction but it didn't seem to faze her or influence her belief.

        I think that for "belief follows from truth" people it's hard to believe that "truth follows from belief" people even exist. How do you believe what you know to be contradictory? Do you really believe that? But, I think their belief is genuine and even untroubled. It's just a fundamentally different way of thinking.

        Sidenote Now, that's not to say that the rest of us can be smug about our way of thinking. "Belief follows from truth" people can also believe things based on what they want to believe, including holding contradictory beliefs. It's just more work. This is where convoluted "mental gymnastics" comes in and I think rather than being immune from this, smarter people can actually be better at it. If you're very smart you're probably smart enough to convince yourself of something stupid that you *really* want to think is true. (see: the entire field of religious apologetics)
        13 votes
      2. [2]
        dubteedub
        Link Parent
        I think the issue is not that they believe two contradictory things at once, it is that as the author of this article states, they "get their beliefs and opinions from the authorities in their...

        I think the issue is not that they believe two contradictory things at once, it is that as the author of this article states, they "get their beliefs and opinions from the authorities in their lives, and hardly at all by making up their own minds." So if Trump or Fox News tells them to believe two seemingly contradictory things, the supporters do not engage in the critical thinking necessary to understand why they believe those issues, they just accept them as incontrovertible fact.

        8 votes
        1. nothis
          Link Parent
          That kinds explains "facts and logic".

          That kinds explains "facts and logic".

          5 votes
      3. ubergeek
        Link Parent
        And think: Many of those people buying it, were probably looking at it as a How-To, and not a warning.

        And think: Many of those people buying it, were probably looking at it as a How-To, and not a warning.

  5. [2]
    krg
    Link
    Is this unique to Trump? People get staunch about anything. How is that surprising? Isn't that the shit his base actually wants?

    Is this unique to Trump? People get staunch about anything.

    But if you look at the poll results over this time and try to find some kind of reaction when (to cite recent examples) Trump began the trade wars with friend and foe alike, or absolved Putin in Helsinki of interfering in the 2016 election, or separated children from their parents at the Mexican border, you won’t find any! His base has been very loyal.

    How is that surprising? Isn't that the shit his base actually wants?

    3 votes
    1. envy
      Link Parent
      This applies too many things, but the article is focusing on Trump. Trade wars were considered bad by Republicans until Trump. Russia was considered bad by Republicans until Trump. I was astounded...

      Is this unique to Trump? People get staunch about anything.

      This applies too many things, but the article is focusing on Trump.

      How is that surprising? Isn't that the shit his base actually wants?

      Trade wars were considered bad by Republicans until Trump.

      Russia was considered bad by Republicans until Trump.

      I was astounded when Trump started questioning party orthodoxy while not losing party support.

      9 votes
  6. [4]
    Macil
    (edited )
    Link
    I think it's important to identify that Trump and his fans are authoritarians, but I don't think it's an explanation. It's not enough to say the explanation for Trump's popularity is just that it...

    I think it's important to identify that Trump and his fans are authoritarians, but I don't think it's an explanation. It's not enough to say the explanation for Trump's popularity is just that it happens to be that 40% of people like people like Trump.

    I think the reason that Trump's fans defend him so much is that they believe that he will never punch in their direction, and the democrats will. Right-wing media spins everything democrats say to look like democrats are attacking every republican voter, so the republican voters flock to someone they believe won't attack them and will attack back. Some of Trump's supporters know or can acknowledge that Trump is doing bad things, but they just consider it much less important than the belief Trump won't punch in their direction.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      ubergeek
      Link Parent
      But, even when he does punch them, directly, their only reply is "I have thots and pears he will stop, but he's still good" So, I'm not even if your explanation fully explains it?

      But, even when he does punch them, directly, their only reply is "I have thots and pears he will stop, but he's still good"

      So, I'm not even if your explanation fully explains it?

      2 votes
      1. moocow1452
        Link Parent
        Abortion is a helluva drug. And he's not punching them directly, he's putting them into difficult situations. Math works out the same, but as long as the bad guys are hurting when you have to...

        Abortion is a helluva drug.

        And he's not punching them directly, he's putting them into difficult situations. Math works out the same, but as long as the bad guys are hurting when you have to tighten your belt or plug your nose, it works out. Totes.

        4 votes
      2. Macil
        Link Parent
        I think the right wing media is just good enough at minimizing those cases relative to how much they play up similar cases from the left.

        But, even when he does punch them, directly, their only reply is "I have thots and pears he will stop, but he's still good"

        I think the right wing media is just good enough at minimizing those cases relative to how much they play up similar cases from the left.

        1 vote