Politics  •  October 12, 2016

Trump’s Worldview

“The question of what Donald Trump ‘really believes’ has no answer” is an interesting analysis, but I disagree with his conclusion. I think contrasting him with Hillary Clinton would shed further light on his theory.

I think all politicians use words to do things. That is an essential ingredient to make a politician. In the leaked emails of Clinton, she spoke about her “public” and “private” positions. The point she is trying to make is that what matters is achieving a particular end, so the means by which to achieve it is secondary. This is how all politicians operate, including Lincoln as she noted.

Now, why do politicians do this? It’s because it’s not possible for them to explain to the masses in logical terms how exactly things work. No matter how much they try to simplify the logic, the masses would pay no attention. Since they are not full-time politicians, they simply don’t have the time or energy to comprehend everything in detail. 

In contrast, if you simply ignore the logic, and use words that are emotionally significant, you can much more easily sway the masses to the particular end you want. So, what you actually say to the “public” might be a distortion, manipulation, or outright lie. It does not matter because the end justifies the means.

Now, let’s contrast this with someone like Noam Chomsky. Given how active he is politically, why wouldn’t he become a politician? Because he can’t. Because he is missing this essential ingredient. He is not capable of splitting “public” and “private.” He has no choice but to state his “private” opinions unaltered and unmanipulated. Because of this, he could never be an effective politician.

Now, we get back to Trump. How is his worldview organized? The key difference, I believe, is that his worldview is not organized by reason. He operates from his instincts. This is typical of successful entrepreneurs. Their worldviews are not bound by reason and they do not see why they should be bound by reason. The need to split “private” and “public” views arise only when your worldview is constructed through reason. Because the logical complexity required to comprehend their “private” views is not accessible to the masses, they are forced to adopt different “public” positions. This is why Clinton is perceived by many as manipulative and untrustworthy; because she is exceptionally smart. It’s not so much because her goals are dubious but because the means by which she tries to achieve the ends are indeed manipulated through this split. The masses are wise enough to see that they are being manipulated. This is why they want outsiders like Trump and Sanders to change the culture of Washinton, D.C.

Trump has no need to split his worldview because he does not see why his worldview should be constructed through reason in the first place. So, he can simply say whatever he thinks and feels like. This is further amplified by the fact that he has no stakes in the established power structure of Washington.

From this point of view, I disagree with the article’s conclusion. Whether Trump in particular would be disastrous or not is independent of how effective leaders should construct their worldviews.

The reason why Trump appeals more to the Republicans is because most religious people don’t construct their worldviews through reason either. They operate more instinctively. The political left has always been more intellectually and academically oriented. Because of this, the liberal elitism alienated their own constituents. Ironically, the lower class found themselves more aligned with the Republicans. I think this is because successful entrepreneurs operate through their instincts, not through reason. These two groups of people seem like an odd combination, but they at least share in common how they construct their worldviews.