Sen. Bernie Sanders once described President Trump as someone who is “is compulsively dishonest, who is a bully, who actively represents the interests of the billionaire class, who is anti-science, and who is trying to divide us up based on the color of our skin, our nation of origin, our religion, our gender, or our sexual orientation.” But despite that Trump has only proved how dishonest and divisive he is, there are still, somehow, millions of people who support him. So, what makes so many people not merely vote against their interests, but champion against their own well-being?
It comes down to three things.
1. Trump supporters have a superiority complex.
It’s easy to forget that many Trump supporters are well-educated and wealthy, and people who are doing well are more likely to feel entitled, superior, uninterested in those they deem “beneath” them, and less likely to support the needs of their community. When racism mixes with a superiority complex of this kind, a Trump supporter is born.
But it isn’t just rich, educated white people who can feel a sense of superiority. Poor Whites, seeing that they are back on top of the racial hierarchy after eight years of a Black president don’t want to give up their hard-fought return.
2. They’ve been convinced to hate enemies that don’t exist.
Both the Republicans and the Democrats ran a similar tactic in 2016. “Our president is the lesser of two evils,” and it turned enough Americans (though not the majority) believed Donald Trump was the lesser evil compared to the enemy, Hillary Clinton.
But Clinton isn’t the only “enemy” he manifested. He attacked ‘lying’ media, ‘job-stealing’ immigrants, ‘business-stifling’ environmentalists, ‘elites,’ the LGBTQ community, and pro-abortion, and now, the FBI.
3. Cognitive Dissonance
It’s not just that Trump supporters can’t admit when they are wrong, they delude themselves to support their own beliefs–and Trump feeds into their politics even when they are faced with conflicting evidence. For example, Trump and the Republicans have convinced their followers that an assault rifle ban is the last thing that will prevent mass shootings. They use straw man arguments like mental illness and video games to deflect from the real problem, but the supporters are willing to believe it as it correlates to their already established beliefs.
And this is why Democrats can’t just run on the “We’re not Trump” platform. Some supporters will never change, but many can be, and attacking their leader, who has been manipulating them for nearly three years now, will only make them more resilient.