Behold a typical interaction on Twitter when I tweeted about Donald Trump’s defense of Planned Parenthood.
— Kelly (@KLSouth) February 15, 2016
I replied “If dog, rabbit.” That’s my standard reply to total non-sequiturs or people who stopped making sense about three sentences ago.
People in South Carolina, and likely all over the nation, are in a #TrumpComa. They’re not just sleeping, but they’re in a deep state of brain hibernation and suggestibility. It’s like Trump is Khan and his supporters are Pavel Chekov in “The Wrath of Khan” and he’s put that ear bug in their helmets so now they simply do his bidding.
It doesn’t matter what we say.
For example, Trump is not a Christian. But Christians defend him even when he’s clearly not pro-life, or even a regular church attender. But they attack Ted Cruz, who prays with supporters often and without reservation. They viciously call Cruz a liar, manipulator, all the character flaws their own candidate exhibits. They blast Marco Rubio for his inclusion in the Gang of Eight on immigration, when Rubio shares the gospel more clearly and forcefully than most pastors on Sunday morning.
Trump trumps Christianity to these Christians. I’d say that makes him an idol and his followers idolators. But I’m sure they’d find a way to defend it. They’re in a #TrumpComa.
Trump made his cash on the sin of gambling, and continues to do so. But they are okay with gambling because Trump doesn’t drink. Trump is an unabashed adulterer who admires women the way a glutton admires a buffet. But they are okay with philandering because Trump “fights for us.”
Trump is a silver-spoon playboy who’s lived every day in his entire life as a rich man. Compared to others born into similar circumstances, Trump has performed poorly with his father’s money. Trump’s golf buddy and real estate rival Richard LeFrak, is worth nearly double Trump’s fortune. While The Donald was out making himself a household name and bedding every beautiful “piece of ass” he can get, others made far more money with far less.*
Citing an independent evaluation, Business Week put Trump’s net worth at $100 million in 1978. Had Trump gotten out of real estate entirely, put his money in an index fund based on the S&P 500 and reinvested the dividends, he’d be worth twice as much — $6 billion — today, according to the calculator maintained by the blog Don’t Quit Your Day Job.
But they are okay with that because Trump will “make America great again.”
It doesn’t matter what politics or policies Trump advocates, his supporters will defend it even to the denouncement of their own values.
I’ve gone before to persuasion expert and Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams for analysis of Trump’s appeal. Here’s what Adams wrote Friday about Trump’s “persuasion stack” (not a term you should be hearing about in politics).
That talent stack is so strong that Trump could make almost any basket of policies sound good to the public. In fact, he could have run as a Democrat, taken Bernie Sanders’ entire platform, and be leading the polls on that side.
Ridiculous, you say?
If Donald Trump ran as a Democrat, on a platform of universal healthcare and free college tuition – paid entirely by corporate tax-dodgers and China – he would absolutely be leading on the Democrat side.
Trump couldn’t pick ANY policy and win on ANY team. But if you think picking the RIGHT policies to put yourself in first place is an accident, and not an element of persuasion itself, you are very wrong. Picking your fights is an element of both persuasion and strategy. Trump is good at both.
Why did Trump go all-in this year but not in past elections? It is because he saw a weak field this time. He knows how to pick his battles. That’s a skill.
The bottom line is that having the right policies is a requirement for doing well in a presidential campaign. But all the candidates had the same policy options as Trump. It isn’t luck that Trump picked right.
Back in August of 2015, you could be forgiven for thinking Trump got lucky by picking a hard line on immigration and finding that it worked out for him. But by February 2016 you probably see the pattern to his work. Everything you thought was Trump’s craziness is actually science – specifically the science of persuasion.
The candidate you think is the least science-minded is the only one using science to win.
And none of it is an accident.
If you’re a Trump supporter, and you read what Adams wrote, and you don’t see how you’re being manipulated, or worse, if you think it’s a good thing that you’re being manipulated, I feel pity for you, because you’re being used in the most ruthless way for a man who’s only concerned with his own ego. This applies especially to Bible-believing Christians, who should offer allegiance to no-one over Christ.
If Christians fail to awaken from the #TrumpComa, the result could be catastrophic. Trump will veer left during the general election. If he wins the White House, he will be a tyrannical, ineffective president who bullies his growing list of enemies. And Christians will be first on the list.
*In case you go with Trump’s own estimate of his worth at $10 billion, using Trump’s own inflated version of his 1976 net worth of $200 million, he’d still be worth $12 billion today if he just invested his money in the same companies Warren Buffett put his into or the S&P.