Trump’s Seductive Words

 © 2016 Bill Eddy, LCSW, Esq.

In an article published on June 8, 2016, research by Survey Sampling International showed that Donald Trump’s statements attract more independent voters than repel them. (SSI Study Explains the Trump Phenomenon:  For example:

  • Our country needs a truly great leader, and we need a truly great leader now.

  • One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don't go into government.

  • We need to once again have a government that is of the people, for the people and by the people.

  • Too few Americans are working, too many jobs have been shipped overseas and too many middle class families cannot make ends meet.

  • If you tax something you get less of it. It's as simple as that. The more you tax work, the less people are willing to work. The more you tax investments, the fewer investments you'll get. This isn't rocket science.

  • We've got to bring on the competition. Education reformers call this school choice, charter schools, vouchers, even opportunity scholarships. I call it competition—the American way.

To me, these aren’t “populist” statements as much as seductive statements. In many ways, it’s hard to disagree with these statements. We all want a great leader and many middle class families cannot make ends meet. But there are several major problems with these types of statements:

These Words Are Meaningless in a Political Campaign

In my business of studying and teaching about “high conflict” personalities, these are the kinds of words that people use to seduce potential romantic partners, potential employers and other buyers—who they often make miserable afterwards with the negative behavior that these words covered up. People with high conflict personalities (HCPs) use words with stronger emotions attached to them to persuade people not to look at the facts; not to look at their own history of behavior.

Therefore, it is not surprising to me that so many voters accept what he says at face value and aren’t asking the important questions, such as: Does Trump really want a government “of the people and by the people?” (He sure doesn’t seem to like our nation’s judiciary system or legislative system.) Are his statements even true? (Does taxing work make wealthy people less willing to work? Is competition the best approach for educational reform?). These issues are much more complicated than these emotionally-motivating statements.

The Emotional News Echo Chamber

These types of statements have been fed to the American people for the past twenty years, since cable news shows starting mixing politics and entertainment in a 24/7 basis. The news has become the emotional news, rather than the factual news. And negative news grabs the brain’s attention much more than positive news. Emotional “face and voice” news grabs your emotional brain, whereas print news tends to get you thinking more with your logical brain.

The negativity that has been broadcast 24/7 can make one believe that America is no longer great (while we’re still the world’s only superpower) and that minorities have passed whites in terms of income, healthcare and ease of getting a job (still not true).

Unfortunately, the emotional news echo chamber has to keep escalating and become more and more histrionic in order to keep grabbing people’s attention. So making statements, such as “our politics is such a disgrace” (made by the most disgraceful politician in decades) can seem like a positive thing and attract voters. It’s all emotional, and gets people upset enough that they shut off their thinking.

Trump Can’t Deliver

Lastly, Trump can’t deliver on any of these issues. He is incapable of being a “truly great leader” and never has been. He’s the most divisive presidential candidate we’ve had in decades. It’s because of adversarial politicians like him that many “good people don’t go into government” any more. The jobs that have been shipped overseas aren’t coming back, and there’s little he can do about it. Automation is the biggest cause of job loss in America—and overseas. The jobs that left are disappearing in China and Mexico as well. His tax plans don’t really address income inequality and may make it worse. And schools are run locally, not by the president.

Last, but not least, his wall with Mexico would be absurdly expensive and offensive to the world. Wasn’t is a Republican President who said: “Tear down that wall!” Yep, Ronald Reagan said that to Mikhail Gorbachev in the 1980’s! But if facts don’t matter, I guess history doesn’t either.

Before November, I hope that independents will “think” about what Trump has said, and not just “like” it.

Learn more about politicians and patterns of behavior: Trump Bubbles: The Dramatic Rise & Fall of High-Conflict Politicians 

Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high-conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books  and methods  for handling high conflict personalities  and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.