EMOTIONAL REASONING: HOW IT GOT TRUMP ELECTED AND WHY IT IS MORE DANGEROUS NOW THAN EVER BEFORE.
Jay Arrington April 17, 2020
Even in normal times there exists an inherent danger for our lives to be shaped or influenced by ‘emotional reasoning’. A cognitive process by which we shape an idea, or a belief based on how we feel and not on reality. The American psychiatrist Arron Beck, considered by many the father of cognitive therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy wrote, “If our thinking gets bogged down by distorted symbolic meanings, illogical reasoning, and erroneous interpretations, we truly become blind and deaf.”
Blinded and deafened by distorted symbolic meanings, illogical reasoning, and erroneous interpretations. Let’s take a minute to assign a specific example to these phenomena as they relate to the average Trump voter.
When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, he tapped into the emotional reasoning of many Americans when he said, “When Mexico sends it people, they’re not sending their best (illogical reasoning). They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us (erroneous interpretations). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists (distorted symbolic meanings). And some, I assume, are good people.”
From that point on, in the minds of those whose limbic side of the brain causes them to sometimes behave unreasonably and even irrationally, Trump was the ‘Chosen One’ who could say or do no wrong. It’s what got him elected and Trump has been exploiting that “Abby-Normal” gray matter ever since. From alternative facts, to fake news, and pedophile rings run out of pizza shops, Trump along with many of his supporters have abandoned any capacity for analysis, reflection, induction, and logic.
It was frightening to witness these beliefs manifest themselves at Trump rallies in the form of violent physical attacks on people of color, verbal attacks on journalists, chants of “lock her up” and “send them back,” and the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Va. Frightening then, but even more frightening now for us to witness a president stand in front of the American people and boast about how he operates on his ‘feelings’ and not according to reality. While we grapple with a biological pandemic unlike, we’ve ever seen.
What is worse is that Trump’s followers for the most part are in lock step with this dangerous solipsistic thinking. Trump TV (Fox) for weeks parroted Trump’s illogical reasoning that COVID-19 was no more harmful than the flu and that it was/is a democrat hoax. Conservative pundit Trish Regan (who was fired by the way) of CNBC dismissed the outbreak as a conspiracy to throw Trump out of office.
In a February 26, 2020 story Travis View, a QAnon researcher and cohost of the QAnon Anonymous podcast, told BuzzFeed News’ Ryan Broderick he believes many pro-Trump conspiracy theorists believe they’re safe from the outbreak: “Many QAnon followers feel that they’re safe from serious disasters, including global pandemics, because ‘patriots are in control.’ This stems from their belief that serious disasters are engineered by the evil ‘cabal,’ rather than being natural and unpredictable.”
This belief must be based on a feeling because it’s not reality. Emotional reasoning on steroids. Other hyper-partisan news sites, scammers, and conspiracy theorists posited that the virus is a deep state plot formulated by the Chinese government to sabotage Trump in the 2020 election.
Bottom line folks is this. We need leaders who operate, and shape policy based on reality. Not on feelings. Especially the man who stands behind the podium that carries the seal of the President of the United States. In this time of unprecedented suffering and death the only feelings that are real and that matter are the feelings of anxiety among those who have no idea how they are going to survive this event. Even more so the feelings of loss felt by the loved ones of those who haven’t.
Now is not the time for our thinking to get bogged down by distorted symbolic meanings, illogical reasoning, and erroneous interpretations. We can ill afford to become blind and deaf.