There are a multitude of reasons why so many are angry at President Trump. You can hear it on just about any liberal media outlet. Even some conservative television and print media sites are critical of his crazy start. I predicted his presidency would be riddled with errors—even potentially dangerous ones. His year-and-a-half campaign was revealing enough. In fact, my intention was to write an ongoing HuffPost piece (titled “This is What Happens When a Buffoon Becomes President”) cataloging a chronology of his missteps—and updating it each time he said or did something to demonstrate his buffoonery. For example, Trump made numerous negative comments about China during the campaign. We currently need China’s cooperation regarding the North Korean issue. If they decline to assist us, whose fault is that? Then it hit me that this updating and buffoonery would be so frequent that it would consume my time. Whenever asked my reaction to any specific crazy Trump behavior/comment, I would simply respond “This is what happens when a buffoon becomes President.” I would have been repeating this ad nauseam. Looking back, I was right—so I’m glad I didn’t do the piece. It’s exhausting trying to keep up with his mistakes and nutty comments—and I already have a full-time job. But why should we be critical of Trump if so many of us expected this?
Displaced Aggression—Psychologists use the term displaced aggression to refer to “taking out one’s frustrations on some less threatening or more available target” (Ciccarelli and White). Similar, but slightly different is the Trump dynamic. If we elected him, shouldn’t our anger be directed to the voters? Trump is a “more available target” than the voters are. It’s true that Trump didn’t win the popular vote, but the fact that he could even “eek out” an electoral victory is mind-boggling. It appears to me that we have nobody to blame but ourselves. Electing Trump tells us more about ourselves than it does him.
Lack of Critical Thinking—So what’s the root cause of electing Donald Trump as president of the United States? Our voting system is fair, but that doesn’t mean the voters possess the critical thinking skills necessary to make wise voting choices. Some critical thinking textbooks like to use “just because” exercises (How to Think About Weird Things by Schick and Vaughn) to illustrate the point. For example, just because you hear a noise outside your house doesn’t mean it’s a good reason to conclude it’s a would-be intruder. Similarly:
- Just because Trump is a billionaire businessman, doesn’t mean he will fix the economy.
- Just because Trump was a reality TV star is not a good reason to vote for him.
- Just because Trump has name recognition, doesn’t mean he will be a good president.
By the way, just because someone writes a critical article surrounding President Trump, doesn’t mean the author is a Democrat. It would be easy to make this erroneous assumption. I’m not a Republican either (in this day and age, I don’t see the sensibility in aligning with either extreme party). I’m registered as an Independent. I’m not “anti-Republican”—I’m anti-buffoon. So be clear that this is not an article in support of Hillary Clinton. Just as Trump is a buffoon, so too is Hillary corrupt. Therefore evidence for our lack of critical thinking skills exists on both ends of the spectrum. There are self-serving, narcissistic people (like Trump) all over the U.S., and there are corrupt people (like Clinton) all over the U.S. - but the fact that we hoisted Trump and Clinton to the top of their respective parties, again, tells us more about us than it does them. Bernie Sanders was right there for us—and we passed on him (although the deck was stacked against him). Sixteen other Republican candidates were right there for us—and we passed on them. I’ll give the voters a pass on Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson since he didn’t know what Allepo was. That was a no-go for me as well (even though I generally like him). And how many times did the voters let Trump off the hook during the campaign? In any other election, it would have been a deal-killer if a candidate (1) would not release his/her taxes, (2) berated opponents, (3) mocked a disabled reporter, and (4) was on record making derogatory, braggadocios sexual remarks about women. He doesn’t seem prepared for the job. A friend told me she thinks Trump wanted to win the Presidency for the control factor—but not for the day-to-day Presidential duties and decisions. I tend to agree.
We think Trump’s presidential missteps are his fault? I don’t think so. We have nobody to blame but ourselves. Careful what we wish for.
Having said all this, Trump does possess some talents. I’m hoping he can muster a successful Presidency.
Dr. Bryan Farha, professor, is editor of the critical thinking anthology, Pseudoscience and Deception: The Smoke and Mirrors of Paranormal Claims. He can be contacted at bfarha at okcu dot edu