Richard Cristdahl: How did Trump happen?
Conservatives’ brains are different than liberals. Studies show that it depends on the size of your amygdala, this is an almond shaped mass of gray matter located in the frontal portion of the temporal lobes of your brain that deals with fear.
A magnitude of studies on this subject has shown that conservatives and liberals process political rhetoric and correctness in fundamentally different ways. In a article written by Bobby Azarian, PhD, he defined 14 ways that make people pro-Trump, and how this genetical difference may play a more important part than parental, peer, and even propaganda programming. Together, with fear leading to the Terror Management Theory, and Trump’s showmanship, these three have gotten Trump to where he is today.
Fear: a 2008 brain-imaging study found that conservatives have a stronger physiological reaction to startling noises and graphic images. The fear-processing amygdala, is larger in conservatives than in liberals, and can’t distinguish between a real threat and a perceived threat. So conservatives can be easily manipulated through intense rhetoric, especially exaggerated distortions and lies that induce fear.
Terror Management Theory: these heighten fear responses can lead to this condition found mainly in conservatives, it was coined by psychologist’s Jeff Greenberg, Sheldon Solomon, and Tom Pyszczynski, with the concept coming from anthropologist Ernest Becker, who argued that the majority of human actions are primarily a means to ignore or evade death.
In Terror Management Theory, world views are adopted that protect self-esteem, worthiness, and sustainability. This allows the belief that people play an important role in a meaningful world. Prejudice’s and superiority over others are survival instincts that insulate these people from the deep fear of living an insignificant life and the need to reinforce cultural significance in the face of their death.
Terror Management Theory proposes that people confirm their self-importance by developing close relationships within their cultural groups in order to feel immortal, convincing themselves that they will somehow live on — if only symbolically — after their inevitable death.
Showmanship: Donald Trump is unique in his ability to keep your brain engaged. He keeps your attention and emotional arousal higher and longer than his opponents. Trump’s ability to keep your brain engaged was confirmed in a study by neuroscientist Ryan McGarry, when he monitored brain activity while participants watched 40 minutes of presidential debates and commercials from presidential candidates. Trump held voters’ attention at a 7 on a 10-point scale, better than even the most popular TV commercials. His simple language and negative rhetoric stirred up fear, the most intense emotion human’s experience. Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton averaged only 4 out of 10; voters were basically bored with her.
The difference: Liberals are more tolerant than conservatives. They tend to be less emotional, therefore less motivated by fear. They tend to think things out rather than reacting, allowing them to make a more beneficial choice based on intellect rather than emotion. This can be clearly seen in several ways.
First, Donald Trump and conservative Republicans in general present a negative and fear inducing message in their political propaganda. Whereas liberals and Democrats tend to message on issues that affect peoples jobs, their health, and the education of their children.
Second: evangelical, literalists, and fundamentalist Christians, along with white supremacy, racially-biased and homophobic groups are the unwavering core that supports Donald Trump. These groups are comprised of individuals that have very narrow perspectives that are held in place by fear. Lastly, this core group is predominantly white, rural, less educated, and they hold fast to rigid ideas and world views.
The financial core of the Republican Party: the wealthiest 1 percent, most industries, manufacturing, agriculture, the NRA and other groups captured by the 1 percent are all in it for the money and power. They will support anyone who will do their bidding; they finance these bigoted candidates that cater to Trump’s core of supporters. These politicians then pander to these people’s emotional values to the detriment of their economic and physical needs.
What can you do about it? You vote every day with where you deposit your money and where and what you spend it on. Get involved, educate yourself, deposit and spend your money with companies and on products produced by people who support you and your ideas on how this country is run. Spend your money with companies that support candidates that share your values and boycott those who don’t.
Vote with your money and your ballot, just be sure that you do vote; it’s your power.
Richard Cristdahl lives in Nevada City.
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