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Trump: An Enabling Dissenter


By Hunter Wallace

In Politico Magazine, Troy Campbell lays out the most persuasive reason I have seen as to why anyone should support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign:

“Today, Trump supporters voice opinions that yesterday they may have been unsure of or publically afraid to acknowledge for fear of being alone and called a “racist” or “bigot.” Likewise, today, Sanders supporters voice opinions that yesterday they may have been unsure of or publically afraid to knowledge for fear of being alone and called a “socialist.”

Decades of psychological studies help to explain this phenomenon. In one of these experiments, the famous Asch conformity trials of the 1950s, test subjects were far more likely to express a dissenting opinion, parting from the norm when asked a question, if someone in front of them did it before them, acting as the “enabling dissenter.”

Now millions of Americans are shouting these fringe beliefs from rallies, to college campuses, to endless tweets and uncomfortable holiday dinner tables. Even if Sanders and Trump fade away, they will leave this legacy behind. Long after their wild hair no longer graces the front pages of newspapers, their equally wild ideas will flow through the news and in the hearts of the masses. …

They call this phenomenon biased assimilation. If people are given a little legitimate support of their beliefs, they can deploy that against a sea of contradicting evidence. If a potentially legitimate politician agrees with a voter, that politician becomes the voter’s bedrock source. More and more debate against that politician often just makes that bedrock stronger.

Thus, with the help of an enabling dissenter, an individual can stay strong in a fringe belief. But an individual’s belief is even stronger as part of an army of enabling dissenters.”

When I was living in Virginia, I remember all the conversations we had about the role that legitimacy plays in the success or failure of revolutionary movements.

Basically, I can sit here and write articles for the next twenty years, convince thousands of readers in their hearts that my analysis is true, but the vast majority of people won’t act on their ideological beliefs unless they sense that they are being given a “permission slip” by a legitimate authority figure. This is human nature.

Ultimately, Trump’s policy papers on issues like taxes and immigration are less important in the long run than the role he is playing on the national political stage as an “enabling dissenter.” I might not like his position on taxes, but if Trump gives permission to millions of ordinary people to air their grievances, violate politically correct taboos, and act on long suppressed ideas by revolting against the cuckservative establishment then that is certainly a “Trump card” that outweighs any other reservation.