Trump and the Supporters He Attracts—Split-Brain Pathology (Cont.)

Trump and the Supporters He Attracts—Split-Brain Pathology (Cont.)

There has been a persistent unanswered question in this unusual election campaign. Why are even the most irrational statements by Donald Trump not taken seriously by his supporters? Half of them have been identified by Hillary Clinton as a “basket of deplorables,” who are, she said, bigots and racists, among other things, though she later (as Trump often does) “walked back” her remarks. She also mentioned the other half, sincerely concerned about the economy, security and other issues. Their continued support is much less explainable.

Even seasoned political observers have been unable to adequately explain why this “other half” of Trump supporters have “given up” defending him, but still support his candidacy. They ignore his infuriatingly untruthful, careless and contradictory rhetoric, unwillingness to provide his income tax and medical documents, and his lack of clear positions on any major issue. This otherwise reasonably rational group, in some way, are products of our society’s inability to reconcile tacit abandonment of the need for “compassionate” inclusion with the ‘destructive capitalism” ethic of what they see as the “establishment.” These are the disappointed “left-behinds” (similar to the Bernie supporters) on the left, who have lost faith in a democracy that seems to reward greed and punish those who cannot claw their way over those who do believe in the democratic ethic of equal opportunity for all.

Let’s get to the essentials here. We have discussed how some believe that “democracy kills itself” because of too much freedom, and that every society has an expiration date and ours is fast approaching. This is debatable and the evidence is not convincing, though the indications are that “change” is now occurring more quickly and we are less able to predict its nature. Still, the consequences to these angry and fearful Trump and Sanders supporters to our democratic process is even now disquieting.
The “pursuit of happiness,” is a major tenet of our democratic creed. But over the centuries happiness has been defined in many ways. The evolutionists even suggest that our early ancestors were more “in tune” with nature, and so were more easily satisfied, “made happy.” The philosopher Frederick Nietzsche asked, “What is happiness.” His answer was: “The feeling that power increases—that a resistance is overcome.” That is NOT the answer that most of humanity would even now give. Still, it appears to be one that an undetected “evolution” has begun to insinuate into the brains of enough people for political “demagogues” (among other exploiters of humanity’s emotions).

The “split-brain” scientists have determined, is a major aspect of humanity’s physical development. It involves the way the left-brain (rationality) and the right-brain (emotion), are sometimes in deep conflict. When they are, the ability to deal with complex issues is affected often in ways that can be erratic and unpredictable. Trump’s brain is likely at war with itself.
It may be that Donald’s clearly obvious “split-brain” behavior resonates with others–his supporters–who have similar issues. This may reasonably account for their affinity to Trump’s rhetoric and their acceptance of the way he communicates with them, regardless of how irrational this appears to those who are not so afflicted, to the media.
The difficulty Republican politicians have had in deciding how they, individually and as a party, will respond to their new leader makes it clear that they are deeply conflicted. The self-interest of the GOP “establishment” in the long run is NOT to have this as an issue, and many of the less-affected or not-effected in the Party have decided to “wait it out.” But others, those desperate to be re-elected, and those whose personal interests are affected, cannot “disengage” from the process and attempt to “rationalize” the behavior of their sometimes clearly irrational leader. Their hope is that they will survive. But will the nation’s freedom?

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John H. Langer, JD, Ed.D. Retired Federal agency manger, former professor of education, public school administrator, and writer of a number of articles and publications on education, public affairs, substance abuse and social issues. In writing a book on attention and memory as it relates to education, this blog is helping to focus attention n current issues, and hopefully, add something useful as well.

One Comment

  1. PJ says:

    Winston Churchill said, “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” While I remain a staunch supporter of and advocate for a democratic process, I think that these “split-brain”-ed (as you so aptly named them) reinforce this statement.

    This especially rings true when you look at the demographics Trump-ism attracts – the uneducated. They have a right brain and a left brain, equally adept at processing stimuli that they can intellectually comprehend. The problem with the uneducated is that they suffer from a diminished capacity to reason through the things that Trump (or any fear-mongering politician for that matter) says, and instead allow themselves to be incapacitated by the tempting, easy, refreshing, intoxicating vitriol (blaming immigrants, welfare recipients, etc) peddled to them.

    Great article, can’t wait for the next one.

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