The following is an
abridgment of a much longer article.
the full article:
Supports Trump and Why
Donald J. Trump has
managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How?
There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their
anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a
non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And
The answer came from a
realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in
family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons
and daughters to war. We have homeland security.
The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can
most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are
encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The
Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family
What do social issues
and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in
our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions
in terms of the governing systems of families.
In the strict father
family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the
ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what
he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative
spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and
are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of.
When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them
painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do
what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical
discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally
strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t
prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be
moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in
conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and
undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility
is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social
responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has
nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for
others — who are responsible for themselves.
The basic idea is that
authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and
that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has
been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally
dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man,
Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined
(Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults
above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above
other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites
above Nonwhites, Christians above non-Christians, Straights above
Gays. ...[C]onservative policies flow from the strict father
worldview and this hierarchy
worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing
right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition
— who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines
for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one
can become frustrated and angry.
Trump is a pragmatic
conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of
Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a
reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young,
unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need
what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially
by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.
Similarly, young or
middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own
wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of
caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them
of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep
Social Security and Medicare.
vs. Systemic Causation
Direct causation is
dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation
recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and
must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has
four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes
(or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic
Direct causation is easy
to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all
languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is
not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be
Empirical research has
shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and
that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic
causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father
model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to
an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly
as possible. Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms
of direct causation.
Immigrants are flooding
in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants
who have entered illegally, just deport them … The cure for gun
violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter...If
Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take
control of the oil. All this makes sense to direct causation
thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire
consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic
There are at least tens
of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father
morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle
class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to
immigrants, nonwhites, women, non-Christians, gays — and people who
rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals
would call “bigots.”
Donald Trump expresses
out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and
no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they
don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views,
since he does it for them and his victories make those views
respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of
self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.
How Trump Uses
Your Brain to His Advantage
effective salesman knows how to use your brain against you … by
certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn
people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money,
1. Repetition – The
more a word is heard the stronger it gets. Trump repeats. Win.
Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.
2. Framing: Crooked
Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing
crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating
makes many people unconsciously think of her that way.
3. Grammar: Radical
Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale
and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that
terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests
that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in
it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican
Lakoff lists many other
examples of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are
manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to
be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress
and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer
Morality govern America into the indefinite future.
Millions more people
have seen and heard Trump and company on TV and heard them on the
radio. The result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being
believed by a growing number of people. And it is not just the media,
such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of
unconscious brain mechanisms like the ones we have just discussed.
This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their
campaigns at all levels.
Democrats Do Better?
Remember not to repeat
false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts.
Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine
claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed
truth. Use repetition.
Second, start with
values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but
haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on
empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens.... Use history.
That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses
were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national
bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce
support, and of course the criminal justice system.
Over time those
resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research
universities... Private enterprise and private life utterly depend
on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has.
Almost no other public figure has. And stop defending “the
government.” Talk about the public, the people and good government.
Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and
The conservatives are
committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating
funding for most public resources. The contribution of public
resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.
Unions need to go on the
offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from
corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working
people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they
deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement.
Say it. Public resources create freedom, and Freedom creates
opportunity and that creates more freedom.
And don’t forget the
police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource.
Third, keep out of nasty
exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches...Civility,
values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful.
Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful.
Values come first, facts
and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they
always support values.
Give up identity
politics. No more women’s, black and Latino issues.... And address
poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention
as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who
will just increase their suffering.
And remember JFK’s
immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you
can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our
country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And
Be prepared. You have to
understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him
all over the country.