According to The Washington Post, Donald Trump has made 2,436 false or misleading accounts in his first 406 days of being in office. Trump lies like no other current politician and incidents like the infamous faux pas of the “alternative facts” occur frequently. Still, a recent study shows that amongst Republicans he finds tremendous support — in spite of all he claims. How do these facts add up?
Donald Trump lies often. It is a fact that no one can deny, even the people in whom he finds a believing audience cannot disregard a proper fact check. His most infamous and controversial claims, or those of his administration, vary from the zealous hyperbole of the attendance at Trump’s presidential inauguration, which Kellyanne Conway, at this time a top Trump aide, later dismissed as “alternative facts,” to when Trump referred to events he claimed to had happened in Sweden — which they never had. An absurd bogus like that would cause any other powerful politician an avalanche of outrage and shock from all over the world, however when it happened to Donald Trump, all that erupted from it was an internet meme and a baffled press. That is because we are used to it.
We are used to Trump causing controversy, acting like what one would consider non-presidential, going on Twitter rants and straight up lying. So while Trump adversaries call him out and use statistics to reason their belief of his being unqualified for the position of president of the United States of America, his supporters, the ones that are fully aware of his falsehoods, cannot ignore said incidents, yet they still do and even worse, they completely disregard them. They just do not mind.
People have a habit of only calling out dishonest or unethical behavior when it directly benefits their position or furthers their agenda. I believe there is an underlying motive for which Trump supporters not only excuse his behavior, but figure out a reasoning for themselves to do so, only to go as far as using it to applaud him. Trump supporters do not deny his statements being wrong, instead they question the rest of us: What if this was true? They point out that it in fact could be true, that it is, to them, realistic and praise Trump’s hypothetical reactions to hypothetical occurrences.
An example is the time President Trump shared a video on Twitter that allegedly showed a Muslim immigrant committing assault in the U.S. When that turned out to be false, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, attempted defending him, saying: “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real,” alluding to the fact that this could be real.
Or, as previously mentioned, when the exaggeration of the attendance numbers at President Trump’s inauguration took place, Sanders adverted to the fact that the claims would have been true, had the weather been nicer.
By saying the weather had kept people away, Sanders had not increased the size of the crowd. By saying that the Twitter video could have been real, she did not actually make it real. But the psychological effect that the statements had on the general public, was that, yes, Donald Trump had lied – but in the eyes of evidently many, somehow it was less unethical and with that excusable. Because under different circumstances it could have been true.
So when Trump’s electorate is being asked to imagine a hypothetical situation, of which the consequences benefit their politics, it will. And it will proceed to stand behind the carrier of the message, that it considers to be, though counterfactual, probable to be within the bounds of possibility.