Why do so many people not see the same Trump that I see?
I asked the same question 10 years ago about Obama. Those of us on the right, at the time, just couldn’t fathom how people could support Obama while we could so clearly see his flaws.
It’s the same with Trump. Those on the right who do not support Trump can’t understand how anyone could support him. Likewise, those who do support him believe that those who don’t are idiots (or closet liberals) for not seeing what they see.
Beyond these extreme examples, we can see this phenomena in every single issue that we debate. Both sides believe, vehemently, that they are right. And the thing is, both sides can provide plenty of evidence for their side.
You’ve probably seen the image of the young lady/old lady perception experiment. This is something that Stephen Covey discusses in his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.
He talks about providing the image on the left to one side of an audience and the image on the right to the other side. He then allows them to study their respective images for a while. Then, he pops up the image in the middle on a screen for all to see. The side that had originally studied the image on the left, which depicts a young lady, immediately sees the center image as a young lady. Those on the other side, see the image as an old lady.
The point is, each side sees the same image from a different perspective. Their respective perceptions are based on the information that they have previously seen.
Covey talks about how adamant the different sides can be as far as what they see, some on one side claiming some on the other are just idiots for not seeing what they see. It’s not until all are provided both of the original images that they can then all see both perspectives in the center image.
This is to show that each of us have our own biases on everything. They are based on our knowledge and experience. In other words, we base our conclusions on the total of the information we have to work with. If we’re only presented with one set of facts about an issue, we may come to an entirely different conclusion than someone else, who is presented with a totally different set of facts about the same issue. Note that each set of facts can both be true, which is why people become so entrenched in their positions and can’t see how the other side is so oblivious to reality.
We see this every day with the news media. Those on the left dispel FoxNews as Faux News and those on the right lament about CNN being nothing but Fake News.
The reason for this is that most people are unwilling to recognize that there are legitimate facts on the other side. Many on the right refuse to watch anything at all from CNN, convinced that it is all fake news. The left is the same about Fox News. The result is that each side yells at the other, spouting their conclusions based on the facts that they have been presented. And neither one is particularly good at articulating the facts very effectively that the other is missing. Yelling and screaming and name-calling are not effective.
It’s the people who recognize that there are other facts, and other perspectives based on them, that are able to look at the totality of the issue and come to a better conclusion. The term “low information voter” is probably familiar to most people. This is referring to someone who bases their positions without having an adequate amount of information. We can readily see that someone with more information on a person or an issue is more likely to come to a better conclusion.
So, this takes us back to Trump…
Is it not possible that we all are looking at Trump with different levels of information about him? And not only different information about Trump, but also different information about the issues Trump talks about?
For example, many of us watched every minute of every debate in the Primaries. In watching them, I concluded that Trump was ignorant about most every topic. Others, who did not actually watch the debate, simply got their information about it the next day through the analysis of others like Rush or Hannity or Fox News, etc. In having that different level of information, we’re very likely to come to different conclusions about him. We can extend that to how many speeches we watched, how many rallies, how many interviews? How many videos from history did we watch of Trump? How many reports did we read about his businesses, legal problems, personal problems, etc.
Another example is someone who has a good basic knowledge of economics may realize how ignorant Trump sounds when he talks about trade and tariffs and minimum wage issues. Someone who doesn’t have that knowledge of economics may simply agree with him and think nothing of it. Likewise for issues about the constitution, or history, or foreign policy, or any other subject. The result is that when we view things that he says or does, we view them from a perspective based on the totality of information we have.
Based on the information I had on Trump, I concluded that he has shown himself to be dishonest, disloyal, untrustworthy, immature, ignorant and wholly unacceptable and unfit for the Presidency. And so everything he says and does is viewed through that perspective. Others who did not see the same information that I did, do not see him the same way, so view him through a totally different lens.
The important thing is to acknowledge these different perspectives, actively work to view things from these different perspectives and then attempt to make a better informed conclusion. If you refuse to consider that a NeverTrumper has a reasonable, rational basis for their position or likewise refuse to believe that a Trump supporter might have valid reasons to support him, then you are not making an attempt to view all perspectives and, therefore, you are not considering all of the information available.
This same concept applies to every issue that we debate.