Thanks to timely assists from Wikileaks, Trump has successfully framed Hillary Clinton as a crooked politician. Meanwhile, Clinton has successfully framed Trump as a dangerous monster. If the mainstream polls are accurate, voters prefer the crook to the monster. That makes sense because a crook might steal your wallet but the monster could kill you.
As of today, Dilbert Creator Scott Adams writes, Clinton has the superior persuasion strategy. Crook beats monster.
Reality isn’t a factor in this election, as per usual. If the truth mattered, voters might care that the Democratic primaries were rigged against Sanders. They might care that the Clinton Foundation looks like a pay-to-play scheme. They might care that the FBI gave Clinton a free pass. They might care that we know Clinton cheated in at least one debate by getting a question in advance. They might care that Clinton’s dirty-tricks people incited the violence at Trump rallies. They might care that Clinton’s “speaking fees” were curiously high. They might care about all of that. But they don’t, because a crook is still a safer choice than a monster.
The biggest illusion this election is that we think the people on the other side can’t see the warts on their own candidate. But I think they do.
Clinton supporters know she is crooked, but I think they assume it is a normal degree of crookedness for an American politician. Americans assume that even the “good” politicians are trading favors and breaking every rule that is inconvenient to them. I’ve never heard a Clinton supporter defend Clinton as being pure and honest. Her supporters like her despite her crookedness.
Likewise, Trump supporters know what they are getting. They know he’s offensive. They know he’s under-informed on policies. They know he pays as little in taxes as possible. They know he uses bankruptcy laws when needed. They know he ignores facts that are inconvenient to his message. They just don’t care. They want to push the monster into Washington D.C., close the door, and let him break everything that needs to be broken. Demolition is usually the first step of building something new. And Trump also knows how to build things when he isn’t in monster mode.
Clinton’s team of persuaders have successfully crafted Trump’s offensive language and hyperbole into an illusion that he’s a sexist/racist in some special way that is different from the average citizen. The reality is that everyone is a little bit sexist and a little bit racist. We’re all wired that way. There’s no escape if you are human. Our brains are pattern-recognition machines, but not good ones. That’s what gets us in trouble. We see patterns where none exist. None of us are exempt from that. But we can use our limited sense of reason to see past it.
Clinton’s persuaders have taken advantage of the public’s faulty pattern recognition to build an illusion about Trump that he is a horrible monster who hates people because of their genitalia, their skin pigmentation, and their sexual preferences. I don’t believe Trump holds any of those views in 2016. But there is plenty of confirmation bias to make us think he does, thanks to Team Clinton’s persuasion efforts. For example…
There was the time Trump said we need good border control with Mexico, and Clinton turned that into something racist because of the way he worded it.
There was the time Trump said we need to try harder to keep out terrorists who want to kill us, and Clinton turned that into something racist because of the way he worded it.
There was the time that Trump said a judge with Mexican heritage might be biased against him because 90% of American citizens with Mexican heritage are biased against him. Clinton turned that into something racist because of the way Trump worded it.
There was the time that Trump didn’t need much sleep one night and decided to fire off a few thoughts on Twitter about one of his accusers. But because it was late at night, Clinton framed that as some sort of “meltdown” to prove Trump is unstable.
I realize I can’t change anyone’s mind if they see Trump as a monster who hates people with different genitalia and with skin pigmentation that is far superior to his own pasty-orange covering. To me, those illusions about Trump are ridiculous on face value. I can’t change anyone’s mind if they see Trump as a monster. So instead I will make you a promise.
My promise: If Trump gets elected, and he does anything that looks even slightly Hitler-ish in office, I will join the resistance movement and help kill him. That’s an easy promise to make, and I hope my fellow citizens would use their Second Amendment rights to rise up and help me kill any Hitler-type person who rose to the top job in this country, no matter who it is.
As I often say, Democrats generally use guns to commit crimes. Republican use guns for sport and for self-defense. If you are a Republican gun-owner, and you value the principles of the Constitution, I’m confident you would join me in the resistance movement and help kill any leader that exhibited genuine animosity toward people because of their genitalia, sexual preference, or skin pigmentation.
In other words, I’m willing to bet my life that the “monster” view of Trump is an illusion.
That said, I also don’t know which candidate has the best policies. I wouldn’t risk my life for any of their tax plans or ISIS-fighting strategies. I’m only interested in helping the public see past their hallucinations about the monster under the bed. You’re on your own to decide who has the best policies.
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If you like books, Adams points out you might like his book because it is a book. Bigly.