WASHINGTON, November 20, 2016 — Donald Trump will be inaugurated as America’s next president because the Democrats didn’t “get it” and because many Americans could not help but ignore the obvious.
Americans do not necessarily act based on fact or logic. Combine that tendency with Hillary Clinton’s failure to truly comprehend how so many poor Americans actually live or to realize how horribly marginalized and “left out” they truly are, and it is easy to understand how Donald Trump won the 2016 election.
The extraordinary power of the consistency principle is a phenomenon well known to psychologists. Simply stated, the consistency principle is a term that describes the nearly obsessive desire of an individual to be consistent and to appear to be consistent with what he or she has already done. The consistency principle may explain why so many voters who may have otherwise been “expected” to vote for Hillary Clinton instead voted for Donald Trump.
Robert B. Cialdini, Ph.D., acknowledged as one of the world’s leading psychologists and author of numerous books including a national bestseller “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” observes in that book that
“…once we have made a choice or taken a stand, we will encounter personal and interpersonal pressures to behave consistently with that commitment. Those pressures will cause us to respond in ways that justify our earlier decision.”
William A. Parks, Jr., a leading Virginia attorney, says that Americans who voted for Donald Trump had very good reasons, from their perspective, to elect him as this country’s next president. Logic, facts and truth did not matter to them. Trump may be bigoted, xenophobic, misogynistic, ethnocentric, blah blah blah. But few of his early supporters, despite the constant evidence of these behaviors, ever gave heed. Even now, few of them give a tinker’s damn.
Once again, a strong reason for this behavior is the consistency principle. If asked, nearly everyone would condemn the habits and points of view Mr. Trump embraces if the inquiry was directed at someone else.
Do you like racists? Do you agree women should be treated equally and should not be sexually assaulted? We are a nation of inclusion. We are a nation that rejects much of what Mr. Trump apparently embraces. We are not a nation of only white, Christian men. Yet, early on, Mr. Trump displayed absolute genius in playing the brash, tough and profane cowboy who was going to solve every problem held by his audiences, and he did so by belittling and insulting and making fun of many.
Yet, unlike Ms. Clinton, Mr. Trump also appealed to Americans who are not getting their share of the pie and whose incomes have been hit; who drive or ride on dangerously crumbling roads and bridges; who self-medicate because they still cannot afford health care; and who as a consequence feel ignored and cast adrift by all levels of government.
Americans embraced Mr. Trump’s apparently attractive message early on because that message resonated with who and where they are. Once they came on board with his campaign, they could not abandon their support, despite overwhelming evidence and information about Mr. Trump’s character.
Dr. Cialdini says that once we have made up our minds about something, stubborn consistency allows us a very appealing luxury: We really don’t have to think hard about that issue anymore. We don’t have to consider the information we encounter every day to identify relevant facts; we don’t have to expend the mental energy to weigh the pros and cons; and we don’t have to make any further tough decisions. Instead, all we have to do is turn on our “consistency tape,” and we know just what to believe, say, or do. We need only to believe, say, or do whatever is consistent with our earlier decision.
In his “Influence” book, Cialdini provides an example of the consistency principle. A researcher attended an introductory lecture designed to attract people to join a Transcendental Meditation (TM) program. He brought a second man to the lecture, a university professor whose areas of specialization were statistics and symbolic logic.
The TM lecturers claimed they could teach a unique brand of meditation that would allow students to achieve all manner of desirable things ranging from simple inner peace to other specific concerns. At the Q&A session after the presentation, the professor stood up and gently demolished the presentation in less than two minutes. He pointed out precisely where and why the presenters’ complex argument was contradictory, illogical and unsupportable. The presenters had no response other than to admit the points made were good ones and “required further study.”
As soon as the question session was over, virtually everyone rushed to the front of the room to pay for admittance into the program. It seems that despite completely understanding the professor’s comments, people signed up anyway, After being asked why, many said that initially they were not 100 percent sure they were going to sign up at the end of the session, but finally did so because they knew that if they left, they’d go home and start thinking about what the professor said and then they would never sign up.
These were people with real problems and they were desperately seeking a solution. They had decided earlier that TM was their answer. Although a contrary voice of reason was introduced at the presentation, the action that was consistent with their earlier decision — signing up for the course — took over, because otherwise, logic would prevail and they would be left without hope. It was as if they were silently saying, “Here, take the money for the program… whew, safe in the nick of time… no need to think about the issues any longer.” The decision had been made, and from now on the consistency principle could be repeated whenever necessary.
Combine the collective, blind mindset of many and the underlying forces of the consistency principle with the Democrats’ failure to “get it,” and the election results were likely pre-determined last May.
Ms. Clinton and the Democrats simply did not get it. They failed to embrace the obvious truths about the economy, healthcare, education, the environment, the tax code, and more. They never even began to take the walk in someone else’s shoes. We saw the results early in the morning of November 9.
Now, particularly, women, Muslims, and Hispanics should beware. An outright assault is coming against our nation’s longstanding acceptance of America’s social contract, the voluntary agreement among individuals by which—according to various theories such as those of Hobbes, Locke, or Rousseau—organized society is brought into being and invested with the right to secure mutual protection and welfare among its members.
Mr. Trump and his administration may indeed fix some problems and may indeed help some Americans. Pray that in the process, what made America the land of opportunity for all is not lost.
Paul A. Samakow is an attorney licensed in Maryland and Virginia, and has been practicing since 1980. He represents injury victims and routinely battles insurance companies and big businesses that will not accept full responsibility for the harms and losses they cause. He can be reached at any time by calling 1-866-SAMAKOW (1-866-726-2569), via email, or through his website.
His book “The 8 Critical Things Your Auto Accident Attorney Won’t Tell You” can be instantly downloaded, for free, on his website: http://www.samakowlaw.com/book.
Samakow has now also started a small business consulting firm. His new book “Step By Step, Achieve Small Business Success” is available at www.thebusinessanswer.com.