I got issues: Why did people vote for Trump? Terror management

Reason Three Why Someone Might Have Voted for Trump: Terror Management Theory

This one seems logical but doesn’t particularly excite me. Nor does it explain why some people can be driven to terror by a demagogic fool, a cartoon character.

Unless you want to combine this theory with Reason One (know-nothings) and Reason Two (conservatives have a bigger amygdala).

Here’s an explanation:

Terror management theory (TMT) attempts to explain a type of defensive human thinking and behavior that stems from our awareness and fear of death. According to TMT, death anxiety drives us to adopt worldviews that protect our sense of self-esteem, worthiness and sustainability and allow us to believe that we play an important role in a meaningful world. Our survival instincts, and the need to reinforce our cultural significance in the face of death, often result in displays of prejudice, or the belief that the group with which we identify is superior to other groups.  In this way, we confirm our self-importance and insulate ourselves from our deep fear of merely living an insignificant life permanently eradicated by death. TMT proposes that we are motivated to develop close relationships within our own cultural group in order to feel immortal, to convince ourselves that we will somehow live on, if only symbolically, after our inevitable death.

Oh, really? Problem with this is, all of us face mortality and, presumably, some sort of fear about it. But not all of us “manage” our fear by dwelling on it so assiduously we need to “reinforce our cultural significance,” or display prejudice, or think our group is superior to others. Or cling to a god.

What does it say about a political party that gets votes by scaring people into nationalism, bigotry and acts of aggression?

More than half of us faced existential terror by voting not for Trump.

Indeed, more than half of us see Trump as existential terror.

But, as I said, if you’re too ignorant to know you’re ignorant, and you have an enlarged amygdala, maybe you’re prone to let some creature manage your terror thusly.

Me? I think, I write, I read, I love family, I have a cold, I laugh a lot, I watch too much TV, I listen to music. I don’t remember a time when I was terrified, not even on the day the Twin Towers were brought down, not even on the day I was told I had cancer.

And I never, never have been made to feel terror by a bigoted demagogue.



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