“Hillary Clinton is a bigot,” said Donald Trump recently. Is this a joke? Why in the world would he say this?
I have been taking a marketing course from Trump’s own Wharton School of Business (via Coursera) and had an epiphany. Donald Trump is using marketing theory to psychologically manipulate America.
Marketers Know How Bias Can Manipulate You
Marketers realize that people often very entrenched biases. One great example to show just how biased we are is the called the, Stroop Test.
Try to name the color of the text below… the actual color of the words, without worrying about what the word says.
You may have been surprised by how difficult this actually was. Seeing the word, “yellow” (even though the word is colored green) creates a strong bias in your mind that is very difficult to overcome.
For whatever reason, your mind is biased to first think, “yellow” even though the word is green. This demonstrates the extremely effective way that mental bias can be used to deceive us.
How Trump Uses Mental bias to con America: Example
Some polls have shown Trump has less that 1% of the black vote. One wonders if an actual KKK leader would do any worse than that while a large reason Hillary won the Democratic nomination was because of the black vote. The accusation is comical.
Futhermore, Trump has galvanized the white supremacy movement in the US to the point that a major white supremacist icon called it, “treason to your heritage” not to vote for Trump in the primary, chosen a prominent white supremacist as a delegate, normalized bigotry against an entire religion, and the list goes on (more here).
Did Trump do this Purposely?
Once you remember that he has taken a lot of criticism recently for hiring Steve Bannon, who as Betsy Woodruff and Gideon Resnick put it, “did a lot to normalize the racist, anti-Semitic world of the alt right. as his campaign chair,” it makes a lot more sense.
He knew an attack was coming
Trump openly stated he knew an attack on him for being a bigot was coming,
“…Hillary Clinton is going to try to accuse this campaign… of being racists.” – Donald Trump, shortly before Hillary’s speech.
He timed his comments to overshadow Hillary’s speech
The press widely reported that Hillary Clinton would be giving a speech on August 25th pointing out Donald Trump’s connections to the racist alt-right movement.
August 24th (evening):
Knowing Hillary is going to make a speech tying him with bigotry, Trump uses the word, “bigot” to describe Hillary Clinton. Something he knows will dominate the news up until the next day.
August 25th (morning): At a rally in New Hampsire, he claims he is not racist clearly trying to preempt Hillary’s speech.
August 25th (evening): Hillary gives her speech essentially calling Trump a racist.
August 25th (late evening): Trump is on CNN again defending his accusation that Hillary Clinton is a bigot.
Con Exposed: Preemption – Saying it First
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that Trump is doing this intentionally. Knowing Hillary was going to call Trump a bigot (or connect him to bigotry), Trump called her one first.
Now imagine what it would look like if Hillary literally called Trump a bigot. It almost sounds like she is a child, repeating Trump’s claim using the immature, “I know you are but what am I” response. Why aren’t we smart enough not to be manipulated by this silly tactic? How does it work?
Inserting mental bias
As with the Stroop Test, your brain has been trained to bias. As when the word, “yellow” was colored green, your mind has to fight to adjust. If Hillary literally called Trump a bigot your mind would have to fight to see her accusation was not childish name calling, or somehow suspect. It has a similar effect if Hillary suggested Trump was a bigot without openly saying it. And (inserted later) this is exactly what happened.
Trump’s Cons are Distorting the Debate
Trump’s use of this tactic is part of the reason so many people say, “both candidates are really just the same.” Everything Trump is most guilty of he has called other people. It is a pattern, something he has been doing his whole life. As his Art of the Deal Coauthor noticed as far back as the 1980s,
Something I saw early on w/ Trump: most negative things he says about others are actually describing him. Read his tweets with that in mind
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) July 27, 2016
The way Trump uses this tactic distorts truth and compromises reality for the mind of his audience. This is extremely dangerous psychological manipulation. Imagine if I could literally convince you, using the Stroop Effect that the following word is the color blue. If I could do this, what couldn’t I convince you of?
To elect a dangerous, racist, megalomaniac to the most powerful office in the world?
Unhinged? Unbalanced? Not all there? Will cause destruction of our country? Who is Trump describing?
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) August 7, 2016
It is much easier to convince someone they don’t see an abstract quality like, “danger” or “racism” coming from someone than it is to convince them that purple is blue. That should terrify us.
But when we expose Trump’s cons we can see what substance is behind all of the deceitful uses of marketing theory…
Trump is a bully who has finally had his lifetime bluff called. It’s a real life Wizard of Oz moment. There is nothing behind the wall.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) August 16, 2016
I broke the unspoken code of confidentiality with Donald Trump on Art of the Deal because I truly believe his election imperils the planet.
— Tony Schwartz (@tonyschwartz) July 27, 2016
This post is part of a series. Please subscribe to our blog to see the next marketing tactic Trump abuses to con America exposed.