I will argue that the nature of mind is not a mere technical issue for the cognitive and brain sciences, but that it had everything to do with the outcome of the 2016 election — and the failure of the pollsters, the media, and Democrats to predict it. They were not alone. The public needs to understand better how the human mind works in general — but especially in politics. There is a lot to know. Let us go step by step….Important.
Humans act much more in terms of presumptions of which we are not consciously aware, unlike assumptions of which we are conscious. Presumptions are hidden assumptions. Understanding now this operates is based on understanding the neurology from the point of view of cognitive science.
We can only understand what our brain circuitry allows us to understand. If facts don’t fit the worldviews in our brains, the facts may not even be noticed — or they may be puzzling, or ignored, or rejected outright, or if threatening, attacked....Why do people vote against their interests? Because they vote their values. Republicans got this. Democrats didn't.
For each type of conservative, the main issue is one’s identity, which is defined by strict father values. One can have a religious version, a business version, or a working class resentment version, but in each case self-identity is the issue. That is why those who voted for Trump didn’t care if he constantly lied, or if he treated women outrageously, or if he was ignorant of foreign policy. What mattered was the voter’s moral identity, the voter’s sense of right and wrong, the voter’s self-respect as a conservative.
Trump and those in his campaign understood this. Those in the Democratic party, the media, and pollsters did not.Moreover, values can be shaped. Conservatives have been working on this for decades. As result, many of the white working class voted against their economic interests, generally more supported by liberals, in favor of their more deeply seated conservative values.
This is a bit longish and somewhat repetitive for those who are already familiar with Lakoff. But it is a good summary and worth the read.
Incidentally, this accords in some ways with Scott Adams' view about persuasion versus reason in that both are based on psychology rather than reason. Lakoff and Adams view reason as the booby prize in politics.
A Minority President: Why the Polls Failed, And What the Majority Can Do
George Lakoff | Emeritus Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, and Director of the Center for the Neural Mind & Society