We as a country have always prided ourselves on our values. But to me, that is a major problem. It’s not only why we elected a narcissistic boob to be our President, but why a sickeningly large percentage of the voter base continue to support him. In an article for Think, Derek Newton writes:
But the back of the Trump base is not likely to break any time soon, because Trump’s supporters aren’t beholden to politics or logic. Instead, they are creatures of a group psychology dynamic more commonly seen in religious and fraternal organizations.
In the “communion mode” authority structure, described by Andrew Gray, people’s recognition of legitimate authority is “based on an appeal to common values and creeds.”
“In this mode,” added Gray, “the legitimacy for actions lies in consistency with the understandings, protocols, and guiding values of shared frames of reference.”
Is this why Evangelical Christians tend to be so forgiving of infamy? In the news today, a man in Spartansburg, PA who was convicted of a felony sex crime against a 4-year-old girl was elected to a second term as chief of the town’s volunteer fire department. And look at our president’s sexual transgressions. He was probably right when, during the campaign, he said he could kill someone in cold blood on the streets of Manhattan and get away with it. (There is a certain feral wiliness to the man.)
Do I have values? Yes—but all my values are subject to revision If my choice for political office starts putting Jews in concentration camps or claiming there is a doctors’ plot against him or shooting down Rohingya or their families, I would in fact revise them. Yes, I would shitcan my values in an instant if I thought they left room for any sort of infamy.
Communion governance structures rely on regular in-person meetings, call and response rituals (witness the continued usefulness of “Lock her up!” chants at Trump rallies, despite Hillary Clinton’s 2016 loss) and faith in shared values and experiences. Groups built around communion authority are tightly connected and very strong in part because, research shows, they display “homophily and parochialism directed to those outside the group.” (That is a scholarly way of saying that those in communion groups tend to associate and bond with people that are similar to themselves and view those who are not with suspicion and hostility.)
Perhaps our president’s supporters should be sent to other countries to do some research on why their values need to be changed. Preferably during election time.