What if Trump Really Believes All of His Falsehoods?
The New York Times listed 31 false statements that Trump made in the last week, repeating many that he has stated many times before ( http://nyti.ms/2cZAIPa ). We have to consider the possibility that Trump actually believes all of these statements. As an example, he was the chief birther for five years when there was clear evidence that he was wrong. We try to explain how this might come about. We then try to consider what the implications of this might be were he to be elected President.
Obviously, this is pure speculation, like most of Trump’s beliefs themselves. We must remember the warning of the American Psychological Association to not analyze his psychic if he were not our patient. That is probably their standard answer, otherwise people would stop going to professional psychologists or psychiatrists. All of the columnists seem to have their own theories.
Trump has arranged his life, work, and knowledge base in a unique way that forms and reinforces his beliefs. Let’s start with Trump’s trademark “you’re fired”. There can be little doubt that he is surrounded by “Yes Men”, both in his business and campaign advisors, as well as in his own family. Nobody is going to tell him that he is wrong. If told to look up data, I’ll bet his aide goes away for a short time, and then tells Trump whatever he wants to hear. A lot of Trump’s knowledge is Republican conservative or alt-right made up outlook or exaggerated data, often on questionable partisan websites. Now, Steven Bannon of Breitbart, funded by Robert Mercer, is actually running his campaign.
Trump has admitted that he would stretch the truth to make a sale, since that is what he thinks salesmen are allowed and expected to do. After that though, Trump apparently believes what he made up, especially with his carefully constructed “Yes Men” network. People who have followed the fact checking of the campaign know all about this. The reinforcement of enthusiastic fans at his rallies, and all of his Convention speakers, and everybody on Fox News, also enforces his false “facts”, and leads to him forgetting the original number he exaggerated, if there even was a real fact that he started from. We may all know people that are dedicated to watching Fox News, who end up uniformly believing a set of beliefs that all anchors on Fox News are told to emphasize each day with the same theme.
Trump probably really believes that the non-Fox News or non-Breitbart news media really is dishonest and liberally balanced, maybe as a giant conspiracy. After all, dedicated Fox News watchers and Republicans have been fed this line for ages. Thus, when confronted by fact checking, he just writes that off as the “crooked” media. Trump’s response to the Gold Star father who criticized his knowledge of the Constitution at the Democratic Convention, is an example of how he feels unfairly insulted. Most of us are really flattered if anyone tells us how smart we are, even about just one thing. Imagine living in a world where everybody, even complete strangers who work for you, or are seeking a political donation, tell you constantly that you are the smartest man in the world, in every area. That is why he feels he knows more than the generals do.
Trump also has a memory problem, but he is 70, and since I am over 70, I understand that. Trump forgot that Putin has invaded Crimea and Ukraine. He mixed up that 84% of whites were killed by whites, and stated that 84% of whites were killed by blacks. That makes no sense, but may result from people hearing something as what they expect to hear, rather than what was actually said, a common phenomena. The memory problem maybe why Trump forgets that he backed the Iraq war before it began. It may also be why he attributes problems to Obama or Clinton, that actually happened during the Bush Presidency. This would not be a problem as President, if he had aides that were willing to tell him that he is wrong, without fearing for their jobs or reputations.
Clearly, the half of Americans who fear Trump as President, realize that the roles of the President cannot be fulfilled without an attachment to real facts, real intelligence analyses, and realistic analyses of programs for domestic departments and the State Department. The reliance on unreliable, highly partisan websites and advisors would lead the Nation down strange and dangerous paths. With 4,000 political appointments to departments to fill, and with Trump‘s tendency to appoint industry representatives with direct conflicts of interest, the independence of the Federal departments would disappear. So would any honest feedback or in-house criticism of Trump’s beliefs or policies.
Again, this is pure speculation, but the alternative, that Trump is purposely and continually lying, is even a worse scenario to contemplate.