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Wrong and Wronger
I keep trying, but I keep failing. Whenever I think I’ve found the answer, it always turns out to be unsatisfying, always inadequate. I’m beginning to think there is no solution for this puzzle, at least not in this world.

What is it, I continue to ask myself, that keeps Trump supporters going? Why do they persist in believing in this guy? I have explored several possible explanations in this space. One relies on the separate universe theory. Under this construct, these people receive their “facts” from the opinion shows on Fox News and from various online sources, and therefore they come to different conclusions about the world than those of us who rely on more traditional sources of information.

Then there is the hypothesis that Trumpers are people who have an authoritarian mindset — that is, they want a strong figure to tell them the way things are and exactly what to think and do. There is also the thesis that these folks are just happy to have an excuse to be cruel and hateful. Simple tribalism is another suggested motive, one which postulates that people tend to divide themselves into teams and tend to root for their own team no matter how it plays the game. The list goes on, but nothing on that list is completely satisfying, so I just keep straining to make sense of the motivations of MAGA-heads.

Which brings me to this week’s conjecture. We start with the premise that nobody wants to admit they are wrong…or that they made a mistake of any kind. Such admissions are confessions of fallibility. We would much rather be thought of as reliable sources, perhaps even as founts of wisdom. The more we admit to mistakes, the further away we drift from the ideal. Nobody wants to do that.

Based strictly on my own observations, I would argue that those on the right of the political spectrum are much less apt to admit they are wrong. More often, they choose to double down on their faulty assertions and count that stubbornness as a strength. That may feel right, but such a proclivity merely piles more proof of fallibility on top of the original error. Those on the left, conversely, display a tendency to apologize even when they might be right. Instead of simply bending over backwards to be fair, they are sometimes willing to tie themselves in knots to get there.

When it comes to Trumpers, the stakes are even higher. After repeatedly doubling down, tripling down, quadrupling down on the demonstrably boneheaded positions of their leader, it’s even harder for them to admit their mistake. To concede that they may have erred in ever believing this guy — much less to have believed in him — would be a much heavier lift than the admission of one little mistake. It would amount to an admission that they were fools. Colossal fools. Mistakes, after all, can be overcome by merely owning up to them, and perhaps even learning from them. But foolhardiness…that is a permanent condition.

Trumpers, then, have come too far to turn back. Whatever got them to this place, whether it was tribalism or authoritarianism or meanness or plain old gullibility, they are now stuck with no place to go but forward — or downward, which is where this whole mess is heading.

Unfortunately for those of us who sometimes admit when we are wrong, the Trumpers will still be there when we get to the other side of this. And they will still be fools…unless I am very much mistaken.

Please Note: Tim Eagan will read your comments but he is currently not publishing them.

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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon