The thing that bothers me most about Donald Trump and the people who admire him, follow him and most importantly think like him, is that they operate in a fact-free world of opinionated ignorance. Trump himself is a blowhard with ADHD. A narcissist with such an inflated opinion of himself that he actually thinks the continually changing, bombastic positions he barks out have merit. He and his ilk are prone to stereotyping, conspiracies and blaming others for the ills they see around them, even if these ills are nonexistent.
Take for example, Trump’s implication that American manufacturing is taking a beating at the hands of Mexico, China and Japan. His statements are just broad-based accusations and fear mongering, with or without any actual relevance to the truth. For example, when he told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that Mexico was “killing us,” Todd tried to clarify what he meant, since the peso was not doing well against other currencies. Trump shifts, shimmies, insults, dodges and heads off on tangential position statements. People listen to him; they assume because he’s a rich businessman he knows what he’s talking about. These folks are afraid of other tribes (which is a perfectly natural, human evolutionary trait), so they latch on to Trump’s divisive rhetoric and run with it. But what’s really happening with American manufacturing? Who, if anyone, is “killing” us?
The US economy is enormous. While manufacturing is a vital part of it, it’s quite small compared to the entire economy. It’s certainly a smaller part of the economy since around the year 1990, but since 2007, manufacturing in computer and electronic parts, aerospace, and transportation have all seen increased production. The United States is the world’s second largest manufacturer, with a 2010 industrial output of approximately $1.7 billion. In 2008, its manufacturing output was greater than that of the manufacturing output of China and India combined, despite manufacturing being a very small portion of the entire U.S economy, as compared to most other countries.¹
- If the top 500 U.S.-based manufacturing firms were counted as a separate country, their total revenue would rank as the world’s third-largest economy.
In 2013, the United States produced more oil than it imported. That’s the first time since 1995. Richard Nixon first called on the U.S. to achieve energy independence, and the challenge was to do so in 10 years. Although we’re not there yet, the U.S did meet 86 percent of its energy needs in 2013, the highest since 1986.²
Where are these kinds of statistics in Trump’s repertoire? Nowhere because he either doesn’t know, doesn’t care to know, or prefers his opinions to verifiable data and statistics. If you listen carefully, Trump and those who support him are completely under the spell of their biases. In group bias, bandwagon effect, confirmation bias, negativity bias, status quo bias. Trump loves to characterize huge segments of a population for example, and then support his statements by saying that “everyone knows this.” He then changes subjects because his mind is a chaotic and turbulent sea of half-thought out ideas, which he supports by saying them loudly, with confidence, and insulting and degrading anyone who dares disagree.
The good news is that Donald Trump will not be President of the United States, nor will his campaign last much longer. But the mindset will remain, and continue to power “us vs. them” divisiveness and ugly, insulting rhetoric combined with stereotyping, profiling and pure, unadulterated baseless opinion. He’s unleashed an uncouth monster into an already nasty and belligerent system of self-governing.