There’s on turn of phrase that’s sure to make me cringe. I’ve spent the last four years cringing a lot, and something tells me it’s going to flare up again soon.
The idea is before Trump, people make decisions based on the facts. Then Trump comes along, lies a bunch, and gets elected anyway.
The truth is dead! Welcome to the post-truth era!
Trump clearly has some skills that let him become a real estate mogul, reality TV superstar and, you know, president. But drastically changing human nature? His critics give him far too much credit.
The last US election was normal. Yes, the result surprised a lot of folk – but that’s to be expected. Yes, it was highly divisive, but they all are. Especially in the social media age, where slight differences of opinion can bloom into deep chasms.
If you’re model of the world is “folk were rational and now they believe lies”… well, no wonder you’re confused about what you see.
What do people base their vote on?
Sure, there’s an element of rationality. No one votes for the candidate who’s about to steal their pension fund or whatever.
But folk also base the decision on identity. Identity could come from race, class, income, geography, hobbies, language… and whichever candidate speaks toy our identity the best in the one you unconsciously favour.
Then there’s emotion. Which candidate inspires you the most? Which candidate makes you vomit a little in your mouth?
Another factor is a weird bundle of unconscious markers for leadership. Tall candidates tend to beat shorter ones. Deeper voices attract more votes than softer ones. The statistics are overwhelming on that front.
(“Of course we’re in a post-truth world now. In the good old days, we made sensible voting decisions based entirely on height! Now voters get sucked in by irrelevant stuff.”)
Anyway, what’s the point of all this?
Rationality isn’t what you think it is. The first part of your journey is to admit that you – yes, you, not just “other folk” – make decisions outside of logic. And that it’s sensible to do so. If all you used was logic, a sleazy used car salesperson could outwit your reasoning and talk you into a bad deal. Meanwhile, your gut is silently screaming “do not trust this guy!”
Having accepted your irrational self, the second part of the journey is to do something about it.
Not to dissolve your instincts and emotions, but to better train and understand them.
That’s what mind training is all about.
And it begins here: