Be Careful What You Wish For (Especially if it is American Carnage)
(This was written in response to Scott Adams's post. Please read that first.)
As a trained persuader, I’m seeing a dangerous situation forming that I assume is invisible to most of you. The setup is that during the presidential campaign Trump’s supporters accused America of having lost its greatness and they were sure other citizens would see it too, thus elevating an alleged monster to office.
They were right. The alleged monster took office.
Now you have literally millions of citizens in the United States who were either right about America having lost its greatness, and we will see Trump try to restore it, or they are complete morons. That's a trigger for cognitive dissonance. The science says these frightened folks interpreted all they saw as America having lost its greatness, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to the objective observer. And sure enough, we are seeing that.
The alternative to America being a place of carnage is that they have to live out the rest of their lives as confirmed morons.
To be fair, Trump made it easy this week with his temporary immigration ban. If you assume Trump is just fulfilling his campaign promises, that fits with your hypothesis. But of course it also fits the hypothesis that he’s turning into the next Hitler. We’re all seeing what we expect to see.
But lately I get the feeling that Trump’s supporters have evolved from expecting Trump to restore greatness to proving that America has utterly lost it. Obviously they don’t prefer it in a conscious way. But the alternative to America being a landscape of tombstones is that they have to live out the rest of their lives as confirmed morons. No one wants to be a confirmed moron. And certainly not after publicly siding with Russia and the KKK in endorsing Trump. It would be a total embarrassment for the pro-Trumpers to learn that America never lost its greatness. It’s a threat to their egos. A big one.
And this gets me to my point. When millions of Americans want the same thing, and they want it badly, the odds of it happening go way up. You can call it the power of positive thinking. It is also the principle behind affirmations. When humans focus on a narrative, events start to conspire to make it happen.
I’m not talking about any new-age magic. I’m talking about ordinary people doing ordinary things to actually degrade America. For example, if congress repeals Obamacare without a replacement, millions of people will lose health insurance. And that degrades America. I can think of dozens of ways Trump supporters could cause the thing they are trying to fix. In other words, they can wish it into reality even though it is the very thing they are trying to remedy.
In the 3rd dimension of persuasion, Trump supporters need to be proven right, and they will do whatever it takes to make that happen. So you might see the Republicans inadvertently create the carnage Trump talked about.
If you are looking for the tells that this dangerous situation is developing, notice how excited/happy the Trump supporters seem to be – while fearful of the consequences at the same time – that Trump’s immigration ban fits their belief system. If you see people who simply want to make America greater, they are probably harmless. But the people who are excited about any law-and-order-restoration by Trump might be leading the country to a police state without knowing it.
So watch for that.