Contradictions, Explanations, and Excuses
There are more instances of cognitive dissonance in our politics than we can count. People can’t agree on what is true. People argue over what constitutes justice, character, integrity, and democracy. Listen to enough Trump voters and you will be treated to a cornucopia of cognitive dissonances.
The Contradictions of Trump and His Supporters
A voter says, “I believe our elected leaders should have strong moral character, but I’m voting for Trump. Republican leaders are saying, “I believe character is important until it isn’t.”
“I believe lying is wrong, but I’m voting for Trump.”
“I think Trump is God’s anointed and whether he attends church or not is irrelevant.”
“I believe politicians should tell the truth, but I’m voting for Trump.” Trump isn’t actually lying; he’s using hyperbole, having a bit of fun. The reason Trump supporters are not put off by him lying or bullshitting is that they like it. He looks strong and invulnerable when he lies and gets away with it.
“I believe Trump is the most thick-skinned politician in history, even though he gets his feelings hurt by comedians.”
“I don’t like politicians calling their opponents those nasty nicknames, but I’m voting for Trump.” “There’s no value in calling Governor DeSantis ‘Desanctimonious’ or Nikki Haley ‘Birdbrain,’ but I’m still voting for Trump.”
“I don’t think a politician should use so much vulgarity in his speeches, but I’m voting for Trump.”
“I don’t think a politician should seek revenge on those he dislikes, but I’m voting for Trump.”
See the pattern? Of course, we all see the pattern, but what difference does it make? What does it say about us as a people?
The Explanations of Trump Supporters
“Trump is not a liar; the fact-checkers, the media, and the Democrats are the liars. Calling Donald J. Trump a liar and proving he is a liar do not seem to result in any direct consequences or noticeable changes in his behavior. Trump lies, his advisors and spokespeople reiterate the lie, and when confronted with contrary evidence they defend the lie. If anything, as his administration progresses and as he keeps getting away with lying, his lies become more audacious.
As to moral character, Bill Clinton’s supporters taught Republicans character no longer matters. Evangelical Christians insisted moral character was essential when President Clinton was impeached. With Donald Trump, evangelicals are no longer interested in moral character.
As to the truth, no one really knows what is true. Why pick on Trump?
As to being thick-skinned and taking all those potshots from liberals, why does Trump react with such sensitivity to all criticism?
As to giving opponents nicknames, it’s all part of the made-for-television fun and games. He’s not serious. He’s only having fun.
As to cursing in speeches, politicians have always cursed. Trump is no better or worse than the others except he cusses in public. Maybe that’s more honest.
As to exacting revenge, Trump is just being Trump. He has always believed in revenge. He thinks you must let people know that you must be taken seriously.
When Explanations Are Mere Excuses
When explanations are mere excuses, Trump supporters should know they have a problem. But like the Corinthians to whom St. Paul wrote, “this world has blinded the minds” of Trump’s supporters.
Trump’s ability to say and do whatever he pleases, may be coming to an end. As the courts continue to rule against him, a new portrait of Trump emerges that make explaining his actions more difficult. People who brag that Trump can get away with anything is a sign of his strength may not realize they are close to a fascist situation here. When there is a public despising of truth – of the habit of seeking the truth and telling the truth – we are on the precipice of a fascist dictatorship. No excuses can cover the gravity of this situation.
The problem is not cognitive dissonance. It is knowing the truth and refusing to accept the truth. Trump supporters know he is lying, lacks character, and has questionable morals, but they are sticking by their man all the way to the Big House even as they pray he goes back to the White House.