Donald Trump rode his self-created wave of misogyny, jingoism, bigotry and insults to a victory in the Dirty South. In a week where he was vigorously booed by a South Carolina audience during a debate for daring to state the obvious about 9/11/2001 and the subsequent war in Iraq, where he verbally sparred with Pope Francis over his desire to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, where he told an urban legend about General Pershing lining up Muslims and killing them with bullets soaked in pig’s blood, alluding to his willingness to torture, to go after the families of ISIS members and that waterboarding was just the beginning, Donald Trump won the SC Primary.
The Trump candidacy no longer feels like the parody it once did, now that real voters have put their votes to work and actually voted for the casino owner. What one must painfully come to realize is that the primal instincts of fear and paranoia override the higher cognitive functions of the brain. In-group bias is a powerful motivator and Trump feeds this collective narcissism on a daily basis. Even his simple campaign slogan to Make America Great Again hits home for many because it touches on their confirmation bias and appeals to the status quo bias: America is a great country but something has gone wrong and we need to undo the things that knocked her off course.
Trump isn’t some kind of political genius. He just says what he feels without thinking it through. He allows his biases to run free and doesn’t ever let facts or history get in his way. There’s a percentage of the population that will relish in this stroking of their often hidden emotional egos and look to Trump as their hero. The man who isn’t afraid to “tell it like it is.” What he’s actually doing is giving a voice to his Lizard Brain; a nickname psychologists have for the limbic cortex. This is the most primitive part of the brain, inherited from our nonhuman ancestors and responsible for basic functions of survival including the fight, flight or freeze response, eating, mating and defending ourselves. Wrapped around this ancient portion of our brain is the cortex that fills us with emotional responses to stimulus. Allow our inborn biases and emotional responses to follow our natural survival mechanisms without engaging the problem solving prefrontal cortex that does the heavy lifting and the result makes thoughtful people shake their heads in disbelief.
Trump supporters in South Carolina carry these beliefs and opinions around with them:
- 70% think the Confederate Flag should be flying over SC’s State House.
- 38% wish the South had won the Civil War, and another 38% weren’t sure how they felt about the outcome.
- 80% support a ban on all Muslims entering the US, with over 60% desiring a database requiring all Muslims to register. A third think practicing Islam as your religion should be illegal.
- Hell, 1 in 3 Trump supporters in SC would ban gays from entering the United States.
We’re only human and in America, we let humans vote. At least most of the time.