Hello Laura, in response to your first question, it seems that all social animals have hierarchies; the need to pick on someone lower down generally seems to result from being quite far down oneself. Now in US society that’s often seen as a function of wealth but of course that’s not necessarily the case. Many people are quite satisfied with their lives because they derive pleasure & satisfaction from non-material elements. These people won’t feel the need to “peck” someone lower down.

As for Trump supporters, I spent most of 2017 and 2018 interacting with a great many of them across the Bible Belt and without exception I found people who simply had no grasp of reality. Very few humans are intentionally bad, and fewer still recognize their own culpability in evil acts. Even monsters like Hitler, Stalin, Mao and PolPot imagined themselves to be good men striving to lift their respective nations out of danger. But it doesn’t matter what we think of ourselves; what matters are our acts. And I never, in the two years aforementioned, found a single Trump supporter willing to entertain the notion that their beliefs might be entirely lacking in factual validity and that their votes could be contributing to substantial harm being caused to other human beings. My experience of Trump supporters was universally the case that they believed they were “doing god’s work” and that this was a thin veneer which didn’t succeed in disguising a deep racism coupled to a yearning to turn the clock back at least 100 years.

In the end, I don’t think many of these people are “convertible” to any semblance of rationality or adequate awareness of reality. And as there are 43 million Trump supporters, any effort to do so would require an astonishing amount of time and an extraordinary amount of resources, neither of which are in fact in abundance.

People don’t mean to be evil. They just are when circumstances make it easy to be that way.

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.

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