Cognitive dissonance is, in a nutshell, having inconsistent thoughts and/or beliefs. Many of us exhibit mild forms of cognitive dissonance-enjoying Nutella and signing petitions to protect orangutans whose habitats are being destroyed to make palm oil for example. But conservatives? Conservatives are walking, talking examples of cognitive dissonance, so much so, one wonders why their heads don’t simply explode on an hourly basis.
One example of conservative cognitive dissonance comes to us courtesy of The Daily Show. Jordan Klepper, roving reporter, interviewed a male Trump supporter wearing a tee shirt that read “Hillary Sucks but Not Like Monica.” The entire point of Klepper’s segment was seeing if Trump supporters agreed with Trump’s new “extreme vetting” policy for anyone trying to immigrate to the United States. Trump wants to only admit immigrants who “share our values and respect our people,” according to a speech he gave in August. Values like gender equality, religious freedom, and gay rights.
At this moment, you are most likely staring at that last sentence, mouth slightly agape. Conservatives aren’t really known for supporting gender equality, religious freedom, or gay rights, so how will they react to Trump’s extreme vetting? Easy! They’ll use cognitive dissonance.
Jordan Klepper asks a man “Two men getting married is what?”, to which the man responds “Disgusting.” Klepper sadly shakes his head. “Legal,” he counters. Klepper asks a woman if she respects all religions, and she says yes. Does she respect Christianity? “Yes.” Judaism? “Yes.” Islam? “No.” Looks like these two should be in the Basket of Deplorables. He speaks to a woman about gender equality, asking if a woman can be president. The woman says no, citing hot flashes as one of the reasons.
The most obvious, and disturbing example of conservative cognitive dissonance during Klepper’s visit to a Trump rally, comes when he speaks to the man wearing that “Hillary Sucks” shirt. The man begins by telling Klepper that “extreme nations” do not treat women with respect. He agrees with Klepper that treating women with respect is an “American ideal,” at which point Jordan Klepper says “Tell me about your shirt.”
This is conservative cognitive dissonance. You’ve bumped into them online, perhaps out in public, you may even have one or more in your family. Men like Tee Shirt Guy who really believe they respect women while at the exact same time wearing a misogynistic shirt, or posting rape jokes on social media, or catcalling on the street. Women who work in a male-dominated industry, who are proud of the accomplishments they’ve made, and believe the presidency is a man’s job.
Other examples of conservative cognitive dissonance include:
Being pro-life and pro-death penalty.
Worshipping Jesus and hating the poor.
Supporting the First Amendment and demanding Colin Kaepernick leave the country.
Waving signs that read “Keep The Government Out Of My Medicare.”
Hating democratic socialism while complaining the public road outside their house has potholes.
Saying “Blue Lives Matter” and supporting militia attacks against police officers.
Trumpeting their love of women while stating when a woman gets raped it’s most likely her fault.
Posting on social media that Fox “News” is the only balanced media source and posting Fox is the only media that supports conservative values.
Claiming they’re not racist and sharing memes that portray President and Mrs. Obama as monkeys or apes.
It is this cognitive dissonance that allows conservatives to support Donald Trump. Conservatives worship Ronald Reagan, yet Trump is engaged in a bromance with Vladimir Putin, former KGB agent, invader of Ukraine, and jailer of journalists and critics. Conservatives consider themselves Christian, yet Trump wants to ban, bomb, and kill, people Jesus told them to love. Conservatives claim they respect women, yet they support a man who has called women dogs, said Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out her wherever,” and frequently states he would date his own daughter. Conservatives believe they support veterans, yet they are voting for a man who said John McCain was not a war hero because he was captured, compared attending a private military school to serving in the actual military, and dodged the draft.
The worst thing about conservative cognitive dissonance is conservatives don’t understand it. They don’t see that supporting Trump goes against everything they supposedly believe. Like Tee Shirt Guy, or Respect All Religions Woman, Trump supporters walk around with juxtaposed belief systems, and they just don’t care. Trump’s gonna get our jobs back, and he’s gonna build that wall, and keep terrorists out, and ban abortion, and make this a Christian nation! And he’ll nuke whoever gets in our way! Even Europe!
It doesn’t matter Donald Trump has aligned himself with the alt-right. It doesn’t matter Trump can count among his supporters actual anti-Semites. It doesn’t matter that Trump supported the Iraq war. It doesn’t matter that he may have actually bribed Pam Bondi. None of it matters, because conservatives are relying on their cognitive dissonance to get themselves to November, so they can walk into a voting booth and vote for a sociopathic narcissist who lies every single day about practically every single thing.