How do we make sense of the descent of Trump supporters, including people we know, into outright sedition? People who grew up reciting the Pledge of Allegiance are now actively betraying “the flag of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands” by supporting an attempted overthrow of democracy.
In my book, I describe the two very different visions of what our republic is, and how people can sincerely believe themselves to be patriots of two very different nations, both called the United States.
But I also describe how unscrupulous leaders can exploit this sincere, horizontal division to elicit something underneath it: the worst instincts in human nature.
That’s what we’re seeing now. At this point, to believe Trump’s outrageous lies is to want to believe them. Even allowing for the right wing media bubble, the malign effects of social media algorithms, foreign disinformation campaigns, or the sorry state of civics education, the self-contradictory conspiracy theories we’re hearing don’t survive a moment’s reflection — whether that reflection is logical or moral. You don’t need to be brilliant or even particularly well-informed to see that what Trump is doing is just wrong.
But with Trump, persuasion has long since stopped mattering.
The point is not persuasion, but permission.[Read more…] about The Psychology of Sedition