In a column for the Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson suggests Donald Trump "dead-enders" will never accept that the president lost his re-election because they are not psychologically capable of letting go of their deeply held beliefs.
As Michaelson writes, Donald Trump has spent the last four years distorting reality to serve his own ends and his rabid followers have lapped up his lies because they comport with their own beliefs and cognitive dissonance rules their world.
"Human beings will do just about anything to resolve contradictions between our deeply held beliefs about the world and the reality of the world itself. Cognitive dissonance is so unpleasant, so disordering and catastrophic for the ego, that no amount of absurd, tortured reasoning is worse than reality contradicting a deeply held belief," he wrote before adding, "All of us try to resolve cognitive dissonance, but the Trump movement has been a years-long exercise in it. Election denial is its latest manifestation. But before that came COVID denial, science denial, climate denial, ‘alternative facts,’ the inability of Trump’s most devoted fans to see him for the obvious con man that he is, and, at the movement’s very core, denial of the social and demographic changes that are transforming America."
As the columnist notes, supporters of the president who have been buffeted by reality are increasingly reaching for far-fetched conspiracy theories which helped along groups like QAnon.
"Cognitive dissonance is also a primary reason that people resort to conspiracy theories, which Trumpworld increasingly resembles, not only in fringe manifestations like QAnon but in the allegation of widespread fraud in the presidential election, which, of course, has no factual basis whatsoever and is, at this point, simply a conspiracy theory writ large," he explained. "In this light, QAnon isn’t some weird, fringe phenomenon with no connection to populist politics. It’s a logical extension of the populist worldview. If 'the people' are actually the majority, then a sinister minority—Jews, ‘coastal elites’, the media, the Satanic pedophiles, whoever—is actually in control. It’s a short jump from that to full-blown conspiracy madness. And when the anointed messenger of 'the people' turns out to be a buffoon chiefly interested in his own enrichment, well, that must all be a ruse. Or a media conspiracy. Or whatever."
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