The political upheaval that put Donald Trump into the White House has left me pondering. Why did so many women ignore his sexists attitude when they voted for him? Why do his supporters remain loyal, insisting he is fulfilling his promises, when by any objective measure, he has betrayed or ignored almost all of them. We know the list. It grows daily: repeal and replace Obama care; build a wall on our southern border and send Mexico the bill; build oil pipelines with American steel. (bog 4/4/2017), and revive the coal industry. (Click)
True, the American stock market soared after Trump’s election, but euphoria was based on the hope he would deregulate the banking industry, music which should sour in the ears of home owners who were victims of the 2008-2009 mortgage debacle. True, manufacturing has improved, but the improvement has been ongoing for the last few decades. (Click) What Trump has actually done is lay siege to women’s reproductive rights and the environment. The “swamp” he has drained are programs to assistant the working poor and with those savings, he provides tax advantages to the rich. (Click)
Trump’s supporters will blame his failures on the obstructionist Democrats; or on Republicans who are fighting among themselves; and, possibly, to Russian meddling. Our president’s supporters want to believe. In their eyes, he is a fresh breath of air. No amount of reason or data will alter their opinions because, like belief in God, they pervert deductive logic. They start with the belief and instead of testing it, they interpret events, pro and con, according to that belief.
Scientists use deductive reasoning regularly. They begin with a hypothesis which they verify or disprove according to objective observations. Objectivity is key. Without it, a person is unable to determine what is true, false or wishful thinking. In a belief system, however, emotion overrides objectivity. The hypothesis goes untested and becomes its own conclusion — known in logic as a tautology or circular reasoning.
Untested hypotheses lead to dangerous states of mind. People will make idiotic excuses for contradictions and call the difference an alternative truth. Laugh at their error and they cling to their belief all the more, martyrs for their singular reality.
What we achieve with circular reasoning is a closed system, a fanaticism from which the afflicted refuse to be delivered. We’ve dealt with this mindset before. The Third Reich is one example. The Ku Klux Klan is another, but there are many. The worst of them harbor the notion that some people are ordained to the masters of others; that the unequal distribution of wealth is either the fault of the poor or God’s will. (Blog, 4/19/17) Leaders who appeal to our feelings of righteousness or injustice or insecurity manipulate us and make us blind to any dissonance between words and deeds. To question is to fall from grace and risk being ostracized from the group. Fear and tyranny thrive comfortably within the noose of a closed circle.