Saturday, May 14, 2016

Voter psychology

This post is less about Trump than some of his supporters. It's possible to defend voting for Trump on pragmatic grounds. "Bad as he is, Hillary is probably worse." Put another way, a vote for Trump is a vote against Hillary. Not about supporting Trump, but opposing Hillary. That would be a reasonable way to frame the alternatives. 

But many Trump supporters seem to be uncomfortable with a purely pragmatic justification. Apparently, they feel the need to defend their vote on more idealistic grounds. 

As a result, they make endless excuses for Trump. For whatever he says and does. They put the best face on his every statement. Ironically, they are so idealistic that they resort to morally compromising justifications. 

Part of the problem is when voters personally identify with a candidate. They think voting for the candidate reflects on them, so they try to make him look as good as possible to make themselves look good when the vote for him.

Unfortunately, this reveals the kind of psychology that enables someone like Hitler to rise to power. I know that Trumpkins bristle at that comparison, but at the moment I'm not comparing Trump to Hitler; rather, I'm discussing voter psychology. Voters who deactivate their critical faculties because they feel the need to rationalize their choice by making the candidate better than he is. 

They mirror the candidate. Blindly accept the flattering self-image he projects. 

That's a tremendous mistake. Voters should have far more detachment. It's possible for you to distance yourself from some of a candidate's positions, but still vote for him. It's possible to personally disassociate yourself from the candidate, but justify your vote on the grounds that the alternative is worse. Failure to do so leaves voters open to the rise of Hitlers. 


  1. Steve, I was wondering whether you would review some of Stefan Molyneux's content on atheism and Christianity on YouTube. I would love to hear a differing opinion on the matter.

    1. Listening to YouTube videos by an anarcho-libertarian atheist is not a productive use of my time.

    2. I wouldn't expect him to say anything unique however is the "most popular philosopher on YouTube" and as I understand you made this blog for the purpose of apologetics. It's really just a suggestion. Also it's anarcho-capitalist.

    3. covenant31

      "I wouldn't expect him to say anything unique"

      If he doesn't say anything unique with regard to atheism and Christianity, then that's even less reason to respond, right?

      "however is the 'most popular philosopher on YouTube'"

      According to whom? Perhaps according to Stefan Molyneux. :-)

      "and as I understand you made this blog for the purpose of apologetics. It's really just a suggestion."

      Even if someone wants to respond, it doesn't mean they can or should. Everyone has to prioritize their time and activities based on their own circumstances.

      "Also it's anarcho-capitalist."

      Since you appear to know about Molyneux, maybe you could respond to him? It might be worthwhile to hear what you have to say about him.

      By the way, just some friendly advice: in general it's easier for people to address a single specific argument (e.g. Stefan Molyneux's argument for why atheism is true in this or that specific video starting at this point in time and ending at that point in time) than it is to address a vague-sounding web of arguments (e.g. "Stefan Molyneux's content on atheism and Christianity on YouTube").