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The Easily Duped U. S. Citizen

An Opinion based on a news article in The Week Magazine

We have become a nation of sheep, herded by politicians and self-serving news agencies. With a little research, one can find a long list of boasts by any president which are not likely to ever get done. From what I can tell by looking at history, there is no sign at all of buyer's remorse. Once a president is elected, his supporters feel they must stay the course or lose credibility. In the case of Trump, I am convinced there never will be any dissent, at least among his strongest supporters (which make up about 20-30 million voters).

At the heart of this behavioral inconsistence are a couple of key factors.

  1. Humans are FAR more easily duped than convinced that they have been duped, especially when they have invested so much into their original belief.
  2. Trump fans have created a narrative about him which gives him inherently plausible deniability for literally ANYTHING he says, does, or fails to do.

Trump's fans believe he is a strategic genius. They also have fully accepted/embraced that he is a prodigious liar. So they now determine whether or not Trump is telling them the truth at any given moment, not by what the facts or logic dictate, but simply by whether they WANT him to be telling the truth.

As an example, a friend who is extremely smart, had absolutely no problem rationalizing Trump's unnecessary praise of President Obama as "a very very good man" as simply a polite lie. When I showed her a clip of Trump lavishing praise on both Hillary and Bill Clinton, she immediately determined that (even though he was not remotely a politician at the time) this was just him playing politics and not an indication of his true beliefs. When I told her that Trump indicated to 60 Minutes that he would not be pursuing a prosecution of the "criminally corrupt" Hillary, she countered that it was only because Trump knew Obama would just pardon her first.

Several media personalities have gotten praises for their "revelation" that Trump fans don't take him literally, but rather only figuratively. The truth is much scarier. They are simply listening only when he says what they want to hear, and then they just rationalize, or forget, the rest.

Another example... "The Wall" has not been built, and will probably never be built. All Trump has done is make sure some small portions have been constructed. He has held a few photo opps, tweeted a victory declaration, and let his propaganda machine of Fox News, The Drudge Report, Breitbart and Alex Jones do the rest for him. They will eventually blame Paul Ryan for the whole thing not being built.

When he quietly decided to not, as promised, lock up his former wedding guest Hillary Clinton, his fans praised him for being a statesman and not getting distracted from making America great again. Other broken promises can be blamed on the congressional leadership not backing their hero more strongly.

My guess is that in the end, Trump will make sure that his biggest fans get a few prominent crumbs, but he will, in general, crap all over his base so that he can expand his support. Having such a uniquely loyal following will allow him incredible flexibility to drift in whichever direction serves him at any given moment, and nobody will dare call him out for increasing his wealth at the expense of the American people. Even now, we are in the midst of massive inflation, a catastrophic mis-handling of the corona virus pandemic, and a national security mistake involving bounties by Russia being put on the heads of our servicemen, and still, Trump's base is praising him for a "fantastic economic recovery".

Having been wrong about Trump's political prospects more than right, I'm inclined to accept the reality that if Trump plays his cards right he could end up being perceived, at least in the short run, as a rather successful president. Those who would benefit most under that scenario will not be those who supported candidate Trump the most, but, more likely, those who supported him the least. After all, those who already love a narcissist with a tiny attention span are not nearly as enticing to him as those whose adulation he has yet to win over.