Saturday, October 1, 2016

Trump's tweets "should" be the death of his campaign

Any rationale person "should" think so. Check out AZBlueMeanie's post on how Trump fails the 3 AM test. Why would any candidate keep alive a media battle with a woman he has defamed? Even conservative bloggers and columnists are figuring out that this guy really is temperamentally and morally and ethically unfit to hold office. Consider the conflation of "no impulse control" and "finger on nuclear button." That's enough for most people to lose bowel control.

But consider the semantics of the title to this post. "Should" is vastly different from {"would", "could", "will", "are"}. The difference is explained by Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria who asks Can Republicans be rational, not tribal?

For months now, many conservative intellectuals have hoped that the campaign would reveal that Trump was neither Republican nor qualified. It has, on several occasions, most recently at Monday’s debate. Public opinion polls showed that Hillary Clinton won by a huge margin. But when Republican and Republican-leaning likely voters were asked in an NBC News poll whether the debate had improved their opinion of Clinton, only 4 percent said yes. When the same group was asked whether it had worsened their impression of Trump, just 6 percent agreed. P eople on both sides simply reaffirmed their pre-debate perspectives .

These dynamics have reminded me of Jonathan Haidt’s seminal book, “The Righteous Mind.” Haidt, a social psychologist, uses exhaustive evidence to explain that our political preferences are not the product of careful analytic reasoning. Instead, they spring from a combination of moral intuition (instinct) and a tribal affiliation with people who we believe share these instincts. We use reason, facts and analysis to affirm our gut decisions.

As an example, Zakaria offers Paul Ryan.

... Ryan is opposed to all Trump’s major policy proposals and has even publicly condemned many of them. And yet, Trump is his man.

Faced with such logical inconsistency and blind devotion to political party, is there any hope?

The signs to look for are whether Trump is losing any support among Republicans. That would indicate that politics is about more than tribal loyalty to a team. It would be heartening on many levels. After all, Democracy depends on the ability to look at evidence and argument, to use reason and judgment, and to take seriously our roles as citizens of a great republic.

So far, the signs are negative. Once again I will say that the real story of Election 2016 is not Trump but those American voters who support him. That they do so does not make me happy to share the label "American."

To rescue some levity from all this try David Fitzsimmons' column in today's Daily Star.

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