Thinking about the question posted to commentators on this recent PBS show: How to make sense of Elizabeth Warren getting tangled by how she addresses her Native American heritage, while Trump’s innumerable prevarications are not a problem for him and his supporters. My first response was that there are many social dynamics going on–If there was one, someone would have named it succinctly and it would have gained wide circulation. After starting to list various dynamics, from the evangelical push for a Christian nation to profit-making by Fox-stream media, I shifted to see that Trumpism might be resisted by acting upon a unifying dynamic:
Life has more possibilities and joys for a person when they admit mistakes, especially those in which other people are or have been harmed. Indeed, finding ways to care for others makes life seem worthwhile and is the basis for community and society.
The alternative of doubling down—not admitting mistakes or taking responsibility for harms—is emotionally constraining, anger- and grievance-inducing, which diminishes a person’s capacity for finding opportunities not to perpetuate past and ongoing harms and injustices. Racism and undermining of welfare and universal healthcare and the carceral state are long-standing US currents in this vein.
Trump is a front man for this given that he is 24/7 never-admit-a-mistake. The appropriate response then must connect the listener with the feeling of things opening up when the first path is pursued. It hardly needs then to be made explicit that Trumpism loses out on so much of what makes life feel worthwhile.
Comments, including ones that nudge me to tease out the logic here and its implications, welcome.