Donald Trump is a con man. He’s also a fraud, a liar, a snake-oil salesman, and a carnival barker. Clearly he is running a scam on the country.
Trump calls himself a “deal-maker.”
I call Trump a Master Persuader.
It’s all the same thing. Trump says and does whatever he needs to do in order to get the results he wants. And apparently he does it well. Given the facts, you can either see Trump as highly skilled or morally flawed. Maybe both. I suppose it depends which side you are on.
Last autumn, when Trump was looking like a serious contender, I told you he would change more than politics. I said Trump would change how you see the human condition. I couldn’t say more about that until it played out. You needed some more evidence before I could make that case. Now you have it.
The evidence is that Trump completely ignores reality and rational thinking in favor of emotional appeal. Sure, much of what Trump says makes sense to his supporters, but I assure you that is coincidence. Trump says whatever gets him the result he wants. He understands humans as 90% irrational and acts accordingly.
Rand Paul, on the other hand, treated voters as if they were intelligent creatures who make decisions based on the facts. His campaign didn’t last long with that message. Rand Paul knows about a lot of stuff. He’s a smart guy. But apparently psychology is not on the list of things he knows. And psychology is the only necessary skill for running for president.
Trump knows psychology. He knows facts don’t matter. He knows people are irrational. So while his opponents are losing sleep trying to memorize the names of foreign leaders – in case someone asks – Trump knows that is a waste of time. No one ever voted for a president based on his or her ability to name heads of state. People vote based on emotion. Period.
You used to think Trump ignored facts because he doesn’t know them. That’s partly true. There are plenty of important facts Trump does not know. But the reason he doesn’t know those facts is – in part – because he knows facts don’t matter. They never have and they never will. So he ignores them.
Right in front of you.
And he doesn’t apologize or correct himself. If you are not trained in persuasion, Trump looks stupid, evil, and maybe crazy. If you understand persuasion, Trump is pitch-perfect most of the time. He ignores unnecessary rational thought and objective data and incessantly hammers on what matters (emotions).
Did Trump’s involvement in the birther thing confuse you? Were you wondering how Trump could believe Obama was not a citizen? The answer is that Trump never believed anything about Obama’s place of birth. The facts were irrelevant, so he ignored them while finding a place in the hearts of conservatives. For later.
This is later. He plans ahead.
Do you remember a year ago when you thought humans were rational most of the time – let’s say 90% of the time – and irrational the rest of the time? That was how most people saw the world, and still do. But Trump is teaching you that you had it backwards. The truth is that humans are irrational 90% of the time.
Hypnosis students learn on the first day of classes that humans are irrational. If you believe people are rational it interferes with the technique. Likewise, if you see voters as rational you’ll be a terrible politician. People are not wired to be rational. Our brains simply evolved to keep us alive. Brains did not evolve to give us truth. Brains merely give us movies in our minds that keeps us sane and motivated. But none of it is rational or true, except maybe sometimes by coincidence.
You can validate my low opinion of human rationality by asking yourself why Trump supporters don’t care that nothing he says is true. Trump literally makes up facts on the fly. Do you think his supporters have not noticed this awkward situation?
They noticed. They don’t care. And at this point they understand he’s just saying what he needs to say to get elected. Democrats will call that evil. Republicans will call it effective.
We all understand that a president has to be the leader of dumb people as well as smart people – and there are far more dumb people. So how does one kind of message get through to two totally different types of voters? Trump’s solution, so far, is to influence the dumb people via emotion while winking to the smart people so we know he is smart and not crazy. The wink is what tells you he probably isn’t Hitler. The wink says he is doing what he needs to do to get elected.
I saw the wink sooner than most of you because I study persuasion. So none of his crazy behavior looked crazy to me. It looked skillful to the extreme. So skillful, in fact, that he got to the point where he can literally say any damned thing and his supporters don’t care how true it is. They care that he is on their side and doing whatever it takes to tear down the money-puppets in Washington.
If you don’t see Trump’s wink, you can be forgiven for thinking he is Hitler. He probably knew the risks. Reagan had the same experience. Trump is following the Reagan game plan so he had to expect what is happening now.
But is Trump dangerous? The only thing we know for sure is that he’s a huge racist. I can say that with confidence because of all the dog-whistles and other clues.
For example, Trump asked his supporters to give the Nazi salute and pledge their support to him. You might think that raising your hand is the same sort of oath people take to serve on an American jury trial or to become citizens. But when you see it in context, it is totally Hitler.
Some of the context is that Trump did not disavow the KKK as quickly as we expected in that one interview. He did disavow the KKK and David Duke before that interview and lots of times after. He says he didn’t hear the question that one time. That sounds totally reasonable until you consider it in context. And some of that context includes asking his people to give the Nazi salute.
And obviously Trump is a racist for suggesting a temporary ban on Muslim immigration until we figure out what the problem is. You might be tempted to say Muslims are comprised of all sorts of ethnicities, and all he is doing is favoring legal citizens over non-citizens, which is the job description of the President of the United States. But again, you have to see it in context. This is the same man who doesn’t disavow the KKK when he can’t hear the question and who makes his supporters do Nazi-looking stuff with their arms. You have to see the whole picture.
Trump also wants to build a wall on the Mexican border and deport all of the illegal Mexicans in this country. That is clearly Hitler behavior because those people are brown and Trump has the same mouth shape as Mussolini. Trump’s supporters might point out that the job of the President is to secure borders and favor citizens over non-citizens, but again, you have to see it in context. This is the man who didn’t disavow the KKK when he didn’t hear the question, makes his supporters do Nazi arm things, and discriminates against the Muslim race that is actually a belief system and not a race. When you put it all together, that’s too much smoke to say there is no fire, right? I mean rationally-speaking.
For more on the topic of humans being irrational, see my description of Moist Robots in my book.