Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Cognitive Dissonance Election

The theme of the 2016 Presidential election is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is a psychological theory that explains the unpleasant emotions that one feels by either holding two dissonant beliefs or acting in a way that is contrary to one or more beliefs. The discrepancy between the two causes discomfort and the individual tries to relive that discomfort by trying to reconcile the two.

There are many Democrat, Independent, and Republican supporters who eagerly admit that Hillary Clinton was not their first choice for President. I am one of them. However, I choose to support her in the upcoming Presidential election. This was not a decision I took lightly. I honestly considered either not voting or supporting a third-party candidate. Then I remembered that I live in a swing state and realized that I cannot afford to throw away my vote on a candidate that cannot win. I am not judging others who vote for other candidates. This is what I have decided is the best for me. My point is, there are a number of individuals who have decided to vote for Clinton, when she was not his/her/their first choice. My decision produced dissonance in me and dissonance is experienced by everyone who did not select her as their first choice for President.

I admit that I cannot understand why any woman, ethnic or racial minority, or disabled person would vote for Donald Trump. Any individual who belongs to any of these categories and chooses him, if they are honest with themselves, have to be experiencing tremendous cognitive dissonance. Donald Trump consistently expresses himself in a way that makes it clear that he believes people in these categories are less than. They are the other. In terms of cognitive dissonance, that means these supporters either have to agree with Trump that they are indeed less worthy or come up with other reasons to justify their vote and reduce dissonance.

It appears that a majority of Trump supporters and close to or a slight majority of Clinton supporters will vote against the other candidate, not for the candidate they choose on the ballot. This is a rare occurrence and certainly underscores the importance and uniqueness of this election. This election is likely to be a turning point for the county. 

I hope you voted, and that is the view from here.

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