The vast majority of Donald Trump supporters who claim to be conservatives are not stupid. They’re not even really misled. In fact, they’re aware of many of the things that Trump has said and done that demonstrate he’s a liberal. They’re simply unwilling to listen to anyone, whether individuals or the media, that tries to make them feel like they’re stupid or misled.
In other words, those of us who support Ted Cruz as well as many in the media who are against Trump have taken the wrong approach. We’ve tried to shake his supporters up by giving them facts but we’ve done so in a way that can be insulting. It doesn’t matter what the facts are if they’re presented in this manner. His supporters will not hear a word of it. They’ll call us liars and move onto another conversation or news story that doesn’t expose their candidate.
They don’t want to be made to feel ignorant. By doing this, their ignorance is perpetuated.
A loosely scientific investigation into the reason that Trump supporters ignore the facts was done by the Washington Post. In it, they concluded that the moment a Trump supporter sees a story or hears a fact that paints Trump in a negative light, they instantly believe it to be false or some form of propaganda, particularly if it paints their perspective in a negative light. It’s natural. People do not want to be labeled as “poorly educated” even if it’s Trump who called them that. They don’t want to be labeled as “sheep” even if Trump claims he can shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose a voter.
I experienced this phenomenon first hand today. In response to an article posted on Facebook about Trump calling for transgenders to be allowed to use whatever bathroom they choose, a commented called it “propaganda.” I asked them if they’d read the article or seen the video of Trump saying what he said. The reply was expected.
“Nope. Don’t need to. I already know it’s a lie.”
It wasn’t of course, but that’s what Trump has done to America and millions of voters out there. His moderate and liberal supporters are getting what they want. His conservative supporters fall into one of two categories:
- Those who only care for one or both of two issues: securing the border and keeping Muslims out of the country
- Those who aren’t fully aware of Trump’s liberal policies on bathrooms, abortion, affirmative action, touchback amnesty, entitlements, progressive taxation, tariff-based trade policies, universal healthcare, or any of a myriad of other progressive policy proposals
Two things must happen. First and foremost, every Cruz supporter must keep up the pressure to make absolutely certain he wins Indiana and does well in California. That doesn’t mean that the other remaining primaries get ignored, but if Cruz can close the deal in those two states, we will have a contested convention that favors Cruz.
The second thing is that we must be patient in our discussions with Trump supporters. Again, they’re not stupid. They need to have their eyes opened through facts delivered with kindness and understanding. Even if they’re insulting, shower them with the truth rather than lowering into attack mode.
I’ve experienced success with “the patient approach,” though not nearly as much as I’d like. It’s not that it doesn’t work. It’s that I have a hard time not getting into attack and insult mode when dealing with Trump supporters. With this new study, I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep my wits about me and not let it turn into an emotional exchange. I encourage everyone else to do the same.
There are too many intelligent people who have shielded their own eyes from the truth. Insults won’t make them see reality. In fact, it’s much more likely to make them more embedded in the Trump deception.