How the Hell Did Trump Ever Get Elected?


Nov 17

Into the wee hours of election night 2016, the most surprised person in America was Donald Trump. He never expected to win that election. There are stories of everyone around him just gasping and Melania breaking down and crying. Who knows if they’re true, especially since “FAKE NEWS” would soon be Trump’s battle cry.

Still, we should easily accept that Trump himself was not expecting this, and that he would have been content for the rest of his life to repeat, “I was robbed. It was rigged.”

You see, all he really intended to do was to improve his brand. That’s it. He used the entire campaign to improve his brand and make money. And we all should know that making money is something he’s not very good at. Paris Hilton is a better business person than Trump, much more successful. In fact, the only reason anyone even thinks Trump is a successful business person is because of NBC hyping him for ratings.

We all know of his business failures, his fraudulent university, and especially his being the only person in history to lose money on a casino. Enquiring minds often ask: How do you lose money on a business in which people walk through the doors to give you their money?

Who Is Donald Trump?

As the election of 2020 approached, tell-all books about Trump were erupting like a long awaited semi-dormant, but vibrant, rumbling volcano. For some of us they just confirmed what we’d long known about him, but they did give us specific examples, little pictures or vignettes highlighting his failings or flaws. Oh, he’s a very, very flawed individual.

I won’t really go into who he is here except to point out his most salient characteristics, mainly because we all have a reading list as long as our arms.

He’s not very smart. As a retired educator, I’ve worked with all types from genius to the handicapped. I recognized Trump as having borderline intelligence. His usable vocabulary isn’t more than 5,000 words. He has difficulties holding two simultaneous thoughts in his head, let alone contrary thoughts.

He’s a narcissist and a sociopath. There is a film out there called #Unfit—The Psychology of Donald Trump (on Amazon Prime) from which you can hear the educated opinions of trained mental health professionals that point to the simple fact that he was absolutely unfit for any office, let alone the office of the president, and quite possibly unfit to run anything. Again, the tell-all books constantly point out that he’s been helped along all his life.

He is not a happy person. He’s only delighted when he’s hurting someone. He cheats at everything (golf), never plans anything, must always be the center of attention, and is autocratic in his businesses, which has led to his losing more money than he would have had he just banked it away.

He cares for nothing outside of himself, and laughs at his followers, especially the evangelicals, in private.

Nothing he does is thought out. His actions are all knee-jerk reactions, and even in the White House he’s autocratic and listens to the advice of practically no one.

How Trump Got Elected

Pundits everywhere have praised Trump for his genius at campaigning.

I have to shake my head when they use the word genius in connection to anything related to Donald Trump. Nothing about him is genius. But still they say things like, “his particular genius . . . .”

It’s bullshit. He’s a con man and a carnival barker and because he’s so outrageous, he gets free media. And when you get free media for being outrageous, it just encourages him to be even more outrageous.

The things he said and did at the beginning of his run for the presidency would have been political suicide for anyone else. Hell, Howard Dean committed political suicide by screaming while everyone around him screamed, but his mic picked it up and say, Bye Bye, Howard.

So let us go back in time. Not too long ago, just back to Nixon.

Equal Justice Under the Law

This phrase is carved in marble over the entrance to the Supreme Court building.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

I’ll give you a few examples.

The term “treason” is one that is tossed about a lot, but it’s actual meaning, according to “law” is giving aid and comfort to our enemies “during time of war.”

Like we said above, it’s often bandied about, but it refers to acts committed during time of war, and even though we’ve been in a cyber war with Russia, China, and a few others (I’m sure the intelligence offices want to keep a lot of that secret) nobody has declared war so, no treason.

However, when we were at war, the Vietnam war, Nixon committed treason. He was in contact with North Vietnam and told them to hold off on their treaty with Johnson because he’d give them a better deal when he was elected.

That is out and out treason. Nixon could have been taken out and shot.

So what happened to Nixon?

He got elected, committed more crimes, tried to cover them up, and resigned from the presidency in disgrace (though quickly pardoned by the next in line).

No one is above the law.

Actually, presidents are above the law.

Nixon was never even indicted nor charged, or even spanked for committing treason.

Next comes every conservative’s favorite, Ronald Reagan. It almost seems as if every Republican running for the presidency eventually calls himself a Reagan Republican, even when they’re no closer to being Reagan than they are to being Eleanor Roosevelt. I think it must be a standing joke at their clubs and parties in DC. “I’m a Reagan Republican!” “Sure, and I’m a Reagan Democrat.” “Oh, cut it out, we’re all Reagan Socialists!” “Hahahahahaha!”

We were not at war, at the time, although Reagan wanted to be known as a “war time president,” as many often do, and so he flipped over a taco stand in Panama and with the help of Great Britain’s Royal Navy, rescued nurses and medical students from Grenada, an Island that no one had ever heard of previously.

But it was with Iran where his crimes began.

In November of 1970, a group of Islamic extremist college students seized the US Embassy in Tehran, taking hostage 52 American diplomats. This standoff would last 444 days.

Under President Jimmy Carter US troops went in to rescue the hostages, but the mission failed. Politicizing this failure was extremely fun for the Republicans and because of it Jimmy Carter, one of the most brilliant minds to sit in the White House, one of the most loving human beings ever to hold that office, has been labeled ineffective. This bullshit just angers me, because having been a pilot in the military, I know that Carter did not choose the crews to fly there nor did he choose the obsolete aircraft for the mission. The higher-ups in the military chose them, and apparently they chose pilots who had no experience flying in sand. It’s tricky. I’ve done it.

Iran was, basically, our enemy, because friends don’t kidnap friends.

Ronald Reagan contacted the leaders of Iran prior to his election promising them a much better deal if they’d hold off hostage negotiations until after the election.

Then came one of America’s most shameful scandals, the Iran-Contra affair. Put briefly, we traded guns for hostages and financed death squads in Central America.

In Central America, we were going after “commies.”

It’s ironic, not to mention shameful, that every time we say we’re going after commies, we end up subjugating, suppressing, and murdering innocent men, women, and children, while propping up and supporting corrupt dictators. And don’t ask me how, but in the end, the wealthy in America make money out of these crimes against humanity.

Reagan was never prosecuted for these horrendous crimes, because presidents seem to be above the law.

Next we have the Bush/Cheney administration, although historians might just refer to it as the Cheney/Bush administration since it was Cheney and his cabal of Neo-Cons who seemed to be running things back then.

During those years, America engaged in international crimes that should have stood the entire administration up before the Hague. We invaded a country that was not a threat to us, starting an illegal war. We stole their oil (yes, soldier testimony backs up that crime), and we engaged in Extraordinary Rendition and torture. One of the DOJ’s attorneys, John Yoo wrote the infamous Torture Memos referring to the Geneva Conventions provisions as outdated and “quaint.”

America does not torture. Torture has never worked. You’d think after waterboarding Khalid Shaikh Mohammed a couple of times and not getting what they wanted, someone would stop that stuff. They’d just proved that waterboarding did not work.

But no. They waterboarded this man at least 181 more times in just one month, March of 2003.

When Barack Obama was elected, everyone just knew he would bring back the “rule of law.” He was a constitutional scholar. He knew the importance of the rule of law. He taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

But instead of standing Bush/Cheney up at the Hague, like his predecessors, he decided to just move on. I’ve heard some historians say that he did not want to appear as an “angry negro,” although he was acting in one of America’s finest traditions of holding ex-presidents to a lesser standard, and proving to the world that nobody is above the law, except our presidents.

It is my contention that had these administrations been tried for their crimes, someone like Donald Trump would have never dreamed of campaigning for the office.

I could be wrong though. Trump, being the mental midget he is, like most criminals, he might have thought he would never get caught. He might have been stupid enough to run, at least because he really wasn’t running for the presidency; he was running to improve his brand.

Trump’s Genius

This isn’t an oxymoron, or a paradox. This is an out and out lie. The word genius shouldn’t even be in the same room as Donald Trump.

He’s got borderline intellect and that’s all.

What made Donald Trump popular was a combination of the dismal quality of life in America and Trump’s simple vocabulary. Toss in his tendency to bully, to make fun of others, and his fame as a reality TV star, which had been boosted by NBC, and add a dash of racism, and he became half of America’s Fantasy President Pick.

The State of Our Country

The American Dream has died and has been dead for a couple of decades. The old “work hard and succeed” isn’t working. Both partners in a family have to work, and sometimes at two jobs each, or even three jobs (remember Bush telling that woman who said she was working at three jobs how “uniquely American” that was?). Life for the average American is tough.

President Obama and Congress had given the people Obamacare. That immediately lowered the number of bankruptcies since half of our bankruptcies were due to medical bills.

Funny, but recently when Trump took Obamacare to the Supreme Court, I actually heard one person say he didn’t care that they were going to destroy Obamacare, because he was covered by the Affordable Care Act.

Yes, even in polls, people who hated Obamacare said that they loved the Affordable Care Act without ever knowing they were one in the same.

In the next month (or so) I will finish a paper I’m writing called “Where The Fuck Are We,” (title is subject to change, but I’ll put a link to it on this page) in which I will go in depth into where we are today, but what I want you to know for now is that where we are is one reason Trump got elected.

And having just taken back the White House in the 2020 election, moderate Democrats immediately started pointing fingers at the progressives who are “radically” progressive, blaming them for the some of the defeats we’ve suffered.

Again, more bullshit.

The people want radical change because where we are isn’t working. Little changes aren’t working. Changes that will take effect in twenty years aren’t working

This pandemic is showing everyone that where we are is not working.

Many of the people who voted for Trump were Bernie Sanders supporters because Bernie promised “radical reforms.”

In an oatmeal mush world, sweetened with saccharine, some of the simplest solutions seem radical. Or at least will be called radical by those whose accumulation of wealth depends on maintaining the status quo.

What’s important is that the masses wanted change; they wanted radical change and along came Donald Trump who was radically different from everyone else.

John McCain said of Trump’s fandom, “What he did was he fired up the crazies.” I’d like to leave it at that, but it’s just not very satisfying, or intellectually satisfying, is it?

These are the reasons Trump is loved and supported, according to psychologists.

  1. Dunning–Kruger Effect
  2. Social Dominance Orientation (SDO)
  3. Authoritarianism
  4. Relative deprivation
  5. Prejudice
  6. Intergroup contact
  7. Terror Management Theory

We’re going to handle these one at a time, so let’s get started.

Dunning–Kruger Effect

When someone is not good at something, sometimes a person doesn’t realize they’re not good at it. Take art, or woodworking. A person failing at these pretty much knows they’re failing. But take philosophy, or psychology, or even politics. Unless we are tested and we see in the results that we’re pretty miserable, we tend to believe we’re pretty good in these areas. Or, as the Dunning–Kruger Effect puts it: we’re too stupid to know how stupid we are.

From Psychology Today, we get: “Studies have shown that people who lack expertise in some area of knowledge often have a cognitive bias that prevents them from realizing that they lack expertise.” [You should note, that I could not have written any of this without the help of Psychology Today, so for more in depth information on this subject, just visit them.]

It’s pretty simple, actually: some people are too stupid to know how stupid they are.

And it is not their fault.  

David Koch and his brother, who has passed away, spent millions of dollars destroying our educational system, by buying up text book companies and buying up local school boards. They purposely dumbed down our citizens, which has led to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, which has led to the great division in America.

I’ve just read an article in which David Koch said, “Oops.”

Yes, it’s not been good for America. The divisiveness has not created a better America and he knows he’s very much responsible for this.

You see, stupid people will lean toward authority, they will stick together with their own kind, and if the authority they’re leaning on says everyone out there is your enemy, bingo, the country is divided.

Trump even said he loves the poorly educated. It’s very simple: the poorly educated need authoritative figures to save them from their perceived enemies. And Donald Trump has been portrayed as and acts like an authoritative figure.

Toss in an internet upon which fake news travels six times faster than real news (real news is boring but a pizza joint with a basement where Hillary Clinton is running a child sex slave operation, now that’s NEWS).  

Fun Fact: Donald Trump has lied over 20,000 times while in office.

Funner Fact: His followers believe he’s never lied to them, or if he had he was joking.

Funnest Fact: Trump never jokes. He has no sense of humor.

People too stupid to know how stupid they are will be the last people on earth to fact check something. They automatically believe anything that resonates with their prejudices (see that below). And as you will soon see, conservatives have a heightened fear response, which can cause them to believe nonsense.

Authoritarian Personality Syndrome

This syndrome shows up in every spectrum of political leaning, but most often in conservatives.  People with this syndrome don’t care about their opposition or the needs of others, and advocate strict obedience to authority, even at the expense of personal freedom. They are submissive to authority, aggressive to outside members, and resistant to anything new. This behavior is triggered by fear, therefore when Trump exaggerates fear—of Muslims, blacks, or immigrants, these people’s allegiance is strengthened. And when he calls others losers, he’s appealing to this type of individual.

Social Dominance Orientation

You’ll see that this is related to the APS above, and for these folks, order is everything. I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase pecking order, but are you aware of pack behavior?

In wolf packs, there is most certainly a hierarchy of order. The pack leader struts his stuff, and even pisses on the inferior ones to prove his dominance.

Trump is a bully and a narcissist. His speeches are riddled braggadocio about how he’s so much better than anyone at anything. He’s automatically assuming dominance, and then by attacking those on the lower rungs of the social ladders using simple language (losers, scum, rapists, drug addicts, suckers) he draws this group in to him. These folks love him even more because they’re white and proud and not losers.

These folks are dominant and tough-minded. They are also driven by their self-interests, but here’s where the Dunning–Kruger Effect comes in. These people don’t know their true self-interests; they’ve been fed what are supposed to believe are their self-interests. One example is their views on farming. Organic, sustainable farming is a liberal, elitist, “commie” thing. “Nobody’s going to tell me what to eat!”

They focus on their personal freedom to eat “whatever the hell they want” without realizing they’re being slowly poisoned, that farms are filling up with waste that seeps into our water, or that the toxic poisons used on crops are showing up everywhere and are accumulating in their bodies. Nor do they realize that eventually these farms will all turn to deserts, thus ending all that eating they want to do. They’re too stupid to know their own self-interests. But they will fight to the death to die early from toxic air, water, and food.

Relative Deprivation

Here is where most people find themselves today. People are not able to give their kids the things they never had. Student debt is in the trillions. The average person cannot find $400 for an emergency. We’re all living paycheck to paycheck.

People want that American dream.

(To learn where the American dream went, you might want to read our Short Course in Economics.)

Bernie Sanders promised to end these horrible conditions, and when he dropped out, only Trump addressed them. He’s not done a single thing to remedy them, and, in fact, he’s made them worse, but then again there’s that Dunning-Kruger thing (people believe he’s fixed the economy), and as everyone said back during the Great Depression: Prosperity is just around the corner.


Not everyone who supports a racist is a racist. There are those who went along with Trump simply because he was their useful idiot. The Senate was able to fill seat after seat with far right judges (many of whom are totally incompetent and have never tried a case) while the wealthy got tax breaks that redistributed the wealth of the nation upwards. Pandemic relief went to many, many wealthy people, and even the Trump family prospered.

But we’ve never before seen anyone run for office who is so openly racist. Trump threw out all the dog whistles and openly blamed Muslims, immigrants, anyone at the bottom of the social scale for all our problems, and for taking food off our tables. And never forget the fear mongering. It was these minimalized people who were going to rape and murder us.   

Intergroup Contact

Or put simply, lack of contact with others outside their circle.

Mark Twain once said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrowmindedness.”

It sure is. When you get to know people, they no longer scare you.

I’ve often mentioned Deeyah Khan, the Muslim documentary producer who sat down with White Supremacists to interview them. The documentary she made is called, White Right: Meeting the Enemy.

Deeyah is a brilliant, engaging, and seemingly fearless woman. She is the proverbial Daniel in the lions’ den. But she was scared. At times she didn’t think she was going to walk away from where she’d gotten herself.

The film is amazing, but no longer available in the US, though you might find copies you can purchase. The one thing everyone walks away with is the end of the film.

She’d spent a lot of time with many leaders of this white supremacist movement. But in the epilogue of the film, one of them she’d been with told her that he’d left the group. He could no longer belong to that group because of her. He’d had an epiphany. He’d realized that she was not his enemy.

There can be a lot of hatred for what is unfamiliar, but its birth place is fear. Once you get to know people, you no longer fear them and you can no longer hate them.

There are many consistent attributes to Trump supporters, but this one stands out. They do not mix with people outside their circle. They fear the unknown and they fear the people they don’t know. And fear leads to hatred.

Terror Management Theory

This is where we put it all together. His followers believe in authority, they believe in their dominance over those they hate, and the people they hate they don’t know, but they just know they are better than them, and putting it all together is this thing called terror.

We are going to die. We stand unique in the animal kingdom because we are one animal that knows we are going to die, and it terrifies us. Because of this fear of death we create purpose in life, we create beliefs. The age old saying: if there was no god, man would invent one.

Terror Management Theory goes like this: When reminded of our own mortality, the more we will cling to our beliefs, cling to our group, hold tight to those who share our worldview, and act out aggressively toward those who do not share our views, our values.

It is that simple.

Donald Trump has united people with his hate filled rhetoric. He uses simple terms because he has a simplified vocabulary. Everyone understands exactly what he tells them.

And this fear mongering works both ways. It first makes people more conservative in their views, and because conservatives already have a heightened fear response, it bonds them to an authoritarian figure and their group. Psychologists point to these people, these conservatives as the only people whom when their sense of mortality is triggered, they will easily go along with extreme military interventions that will leave hundreds of thousands of civilians overseas dead. Their sense of mortality is murderous to the “others” outside their group.

Trump is the ultimate fear monger. He’s the ultimate bully. He’s the ultimate authoritarian figure and when fear is triggered inside his followers, they will cling more tightly to him, especially when he does or says something so outrageous that the rest of the world sees as insane, but will cause his followers to cling more tightly to him. His outrageousness bonds them together.

You cannot make fun of Trump’s outrageousness because that’s what bonds his people together.

It’s recently been discovered that those Republicans who broke off and formed the Lincoln Project that made all these fabulous anti-Trump videos, most likely created stronger followers of Trump. The videos appealed only to people who already disliked trump, but to his followers, they made them even bolder and more bonded to Trump.

There is nothing anyone outside their circle can say that will reach them and turn them away from their authoritarian leader.

When Trump says: Socialism bad, his people fear socialism without even knowing what it is.

When he says lefties are bad, ANTIFA are terrorists, and radical liberals are here to destroy your way of life, the fear he engenders crawls up their spines and appears on their hate filled faces. They know there are liberals in the world. They see them are they are reminded of their own mortality and they want their enemies dead. And this situation ain’t going away.  

There is nothing we can do to convince them otherwise because their entire personalities are wrapped up in beliefs that they are not smart enough to factcheck. And when they hear the truth, the boomerang effect makes them believe their lies even stronger, and cling to those who share this mass insanity.

There is nothing we can do to change them.

Trump has lost the election and will be evicted from the White House, but his followers aren’t going anywhere. They live among us. They supported the Ayatollah Khomeini and hated Americans. They supported Hitler and hated the Jews. They will be still be here to support the next fascist to run for office, and hate those this new one designates as his enemies.

And the good news?

There ain’t no fuckin good news.