Group think

One of the questions that the Republican campaign for president raises is why those with little money swoon over Donald Trump who boasts he has a lot. Another puzzle is why his fan base sticks with him despite his many ethnic and sexist slurs, vulgarities and gaffes? Inherent racism and sexism may be part of the answer, but to hear a political scientist tell it, the usual suspects aren’t driving Trump’s zealots. Amanda Friesen, a professor at Indiana University who specializes in political psychology and behavior, believes that the have-nots are less fixated on Trump’s money and more on the way he makes an exhibition of it. She believes that his die-hard supporters would speak as openly and as outrageously as he does if they had his money because they think the same way he does.


In an interview with the Pacific Standard Magazine, Friesen shared results of research that indicated a link between Republican conservatism in politics and materialism. She theorizes that people who need things like houses and jewelry and look at such material items  as proof of who they are, are not inclined to the distribution of wealth through political policy as liberals are. Because their sense of self-worth depends on material things they own, they’re not given to a fair tax code.   

The American dream

So when Trump supporters see him jetting around in his private plane, they see how they’d like to be. He is the projection of their fantasies. Friesen went on to say that in that way, Trump is like Jay Gatsby, the lead character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dark tale who lives in a giant mansion and throws obscenely lavish parties.

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Trump’s low-income supports like the flashiness because if they had his money, that’s how they would behave. And they see themselves with money because Trump promises that when he makes America great again, he will make them rich. The hitch, of course, is that he’s not a self-made man whose business savvy made him rich. His father’s money did that.  

Everyman, he’s not

From what Prof. Friesen says, it’s clear how necessary it is that Trump’s born-with-a-silver-spoon beginning go unnoticed by the rank and file and he can don a hard hat and pass himself off as a construction company guy versus lawyer and longtime politician Hillary Clinton. While all that may be true, Trump is no Gatsby Yes, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s dark tale chronicles a man who flaunts his wealth in ostentatious ways like Trump. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Impelling Gatsby to make a show of his moneyed status was his love for a well-born woman who he fell for when he was poor. He amassed his wealth (through shady means) to rate being with her. If love drives Trumps’ bragging rights, it’s his love of self. And if he’s channeling anyone, rather than the Great Gatsby, it’s “The Great Dictator,” Charlie Chaplin’s ‘40s comedy about madman Adenoid Hynkel. #Election 2016 #Book