Over at her blog, Sheila Kennedy, has once again sparked a good political debate, this time about what motivates Trump supporters. Professor Kennedy’s blog has attracted a dedicated group of readers who often chime in with their own ideas on the subjects Sheila raises. While those readers are very thoughtful in their commentary, they tend to be more liberal and, when it comes to explaining Trumpism, the explanation almost always is that Trump supporters are racists. I don’t agree with that. While I agree that all racists are Trump supporters, I do not believe that all Trump supporters are racists.
In her column, Professor Kennedy makes an observation that, in Nazi Germany, the citizens were brainwashed into hating Jews:
The difference was a hatred with a much longer, deeper history. The majority of German citizens had been conditioned to hate Jews. They had been taught that the Jews had destroyed the economy, that Jews were secretly scheming to destroy non-Jewish Germans and enact a Communist coup.
That is exactly what is going on with Trump supporters. They have been conditioned, i.e. brainwashed, to hate Democrats and liberals. They are fed a constant diet of traditional (such as Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, etc.) and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) stories that reinforces the very worst allegations against the Democrats
That conditioning to believe the worst of Democrats is why the Qanon conspiracy theories have gained such traction among Republicans. One poll showed that 56% of Republicans mostly or partly believe the Qanon conspiracy theory that a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles, led by prominent Democrats, is running a global child sex-trafficking ring and plotting to destroy President Trump who is fighting against the cabal.
Likewise, if you ask Republicans who is more evil, Russian President Vladimar Putin a dictator who suppresses freedom and has his political opponents killed, or former President Barack Obama, the vast majority of Republicans will say Obama. Ask the same question, but this time substitute for Obama the names of Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer or Joe Biden, and you will get exactly the same result.
As a conservative Republican, I often communicate with Trump supporters. I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is. All they do is spout Trump talking points they have heard on Fox News or their social media feeds. There is no independent thought, no critical thinking. When you point out the hypocrisy of giving Trump a pass on behavior or political positions that they regularly condemned from President Obama, Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden, they do not deny the hypocrisy. It just does not phase them. If D’s do something, it is by definition evil because Democrats are evil. If R’s, and particularly Trump, does the exact same thing, it is by definition good because Republicans and Trump are good.
How do you deprogram Trump supporters from hating Democrats because they are Democrats? How do you ensure Trump supporters step outside their media bubble to hear alternative news and views? Frankly, I have no idea.