Political Fix (6 October, 2016)

I Never Knew Plastic Bags Could Be So Confusing

I got several comments about last issue’s Political Fix. One concerned “Custer’s Last Stand,” where I stated “no Republican has held statewide office in 10 years.” Cheyne Strawn of Tulare called to say that it’s only been five years since a Republican has held office in California. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger held office from 2003 to 2011, and Republican Steve Poizner also held office until 2011 as California Insurance Commissioner.

What I thought I was saying was, no Republican had been elected since 2006, which is true. But I’m glad Mr. Strawn called because many people have forgotten about Mr. Poizner, who has had a very successful business and political career. His last political involvement was as John Kasich’s campaign co-chair. It would be enlightening to hear what he has to say about his party’s current nominee.

I then got a comment on the Valley Voice website concerning my wrap-up of the propositions. The reader said, “You state that the recap is unbiased. I beg to differ, not only are you biased you are not complete with your recap.”

My introduction did say “here is an unbiased recap of the propositions” which was a result of heavy editing of that paragraph. I eliminated the part that made it clear that I was being facetious. I definitely do not have an unbiased opinion about the propositions, nor do I have a firm grasp of all of them. I did think that through my sarcastic comments about the use of condoms in pornographic films it was obvious.

I also thought that my sentence, “Does anyone really need 20 rounds of ammunition when deer hunting, shooting squirrels, doves or your husband?” might tip readers off.

Another problem with last issue’s Political Fix was my confusion on how to vote for Proposition 67. The plastics industry spent millions of dollars to stop California from enforcing the state’s ban on single use plastic bags. Now, the plastics industry is spending millions of dollars to defeat Proposition 67.

Our web guy changed the Valley Voice’s on-line version, but the print version says “Vote no on Proposition 67” whereas I meant to say vote Yes.

I mistakenly thought that a No vote would ban plastic bags. But a yes vote reaffirms California’s law and permanently bans single use plastic bags.

According to Voters Edge, a publication put out by the league of Women Voters, “Voting ‘yes’ on Prop 67 would allow the 2014 state law to go into effect. Across California, single-use plastic bags would not be allowed at grocery stores, convenience stores, large pharmacies, and liquor stores. These stores would be required to charge for paper or thicker plastic carry-out bags and they would get to keep the money.”

Plastic bags could still be used for meat, bread, produce, bulk food and perishable items.

Vote yes on Proposition 67.

Psycho-delic Trump

Presidential candidate Donald Trump is a horse of many colors. His audience, or a change of wind, determines the color he represents that day. Currently he is a deep red. Comedians call him orange. Just five years ago he was swing state purple. Fifteen years ago he was Democrat blue.

But what do you get if you take the “delic” out of the title? That’s the Trump I have been pondering ever since June of 2015 when he announced he was running for president.

As everyone looked on in disbelief while Mr. Trump picked off his Republican rivals one by one, political analysts have debated if he is a narcissist, master manipulator, psychopathic liar or just a plain sociopath.

Besides dissecting his appeal to “the angry voter,” news anchors have asked mental health experts to explain how someone so divisive, negative, and angry could be elected president of the United States.

Robert Levine, a psychology professor at Fresno State, wrote a book called “The Power of Persuasion – How we are Bought and Sold.” He said during our phone conversation that, “Trump is just a smorgasbord for anyone interested in psychology. He is a salesperson. He is an advertiser. He is a cult leader.”

As far as his tactics of persuasion, Prof. Levine said, “The guy belongs in some sort of Hall of Fame. He does things that couldn’t be patented. What he is, is a sales person and that is the nicest term I can use for him.”

Prof. Levine wondered aloud about the election: “What kind of odds was he up against when he started his campaign? Trump’s clientele is extremely conservative, poor or financially struggling, and very religious. Trump is a New York billionaire playboy whose views go against his own clientele. And yet he pulled it off.”

One tactic of persuasion Mr. Trump has perfected is selling his name. Prof. Levine said that Mr. Trump has not been involved in real estate for years and instead has concentrated on selling his brand. Skilled advertisers don’t sell the nuts and bolts of their product but promote the image of the brand. Mr.Trump hasn’t put a lot of energy in explaining what he would do as a leader. Instead he has selling points such as how he is not a politician or how he is a successful businessman without getting into the specifics.

He is the poster child of an “insider” but has convinced his supporters he is an “outsider.” He says he isn’t a politician while running for the highest political office in the country. He profits from the same rigged system he purports that he will change. Then he gets the most votes of any Republican ever during a primary because his voters claim “he tells it like it is.”

Whether he is fully aware of it or not, Mr. Trump uses a variety of other tactics of persuasion.

Fear Mongering.

Fear is an incredibly powerful emotion that shuts down higher thinking. Fear is a central to Mr. Trump’s message and was central to his acceptance speech. He said the United States is in “troubling and dangerous times. Things were bad already and on their way to getting worse.” He erroneously cited that violent crime was on the rise in the United States.

“Poverty and violence at home, war and destruction abroad. This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness,” Mr. Trump said.

Bottom line: Vote for Mr. Trump or our world will come to an end.

Fear is a Convenient Segue into Anger.

Mr. Trump has cornered the market on lower-middle class white anger. America is angry at the millions of undocumented (i.e. Mexicans) taking our jobs, being on public assistance, and causing all the crime. He says China is taking our money and ISIS is lurking on our borders.

Bottom line: If you are not angry then you are un-American.

The Messiah Complex

Mr. Trump’s rallies have a cult-like euphoria where he makes the attendees feel like a group like no other.

In his speech announcing his candidacy he said, “I’ll be greatest jobs president God ever created.” During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention he said, “I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.”

“He targets people who are unhappy and trains his message specifically to their needs.” said Prof. Levine. His message is “if you come with me, if you are loyal to me, then I will solve all your problems.”

Also during his convention speech he said, “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.” That message made mainstream Republicans shudder.

Bottom line: He will save us.


When Mr. Trump repeats emotionally provocative words like “strong,” “win,” and “great” over and over, its is no accident. This is a subtle tactic to condition people to associate winning and strength with Mr. Trump. Through shear repetition these images of winning and greatness become embedded into the mind even if it is subconsciously.

Bottom line: if you do not vote for Mr. Trump you are stupid.


Coming up with special nicknames is a favorite tactic of manipulators. “Little” Marco, “Lyin’” Ted, “Crooked” Hilary, “Goofy” Elizabeth Warren, and “Crazy” Bernie were Mr. Trump’s favorites. If he can’t humiliate his competition into losing or quitting, then he will crush them with insults at 3am on twitter.

Bottom line: If you don’t vote for Trump you are a major loser.

Appealing to Irrational Parts of our Brains

Humans are surprisingly bad at making rational decisions and are much more likely to make emotion-driven decisions. Mr. Trump knows that there are certain methods of manipulating people’s emotions to get them to do what you want.

He tapped into voters’ fear and anger and has humiliated his opponents, then repeats. The constant drum beat telling voters that Mr. Trump is our savior makes his supporters feel very confident. They feel confident despite clear evidence that Mr. Trump is too unstable to be president.

The final take-away is: Trump supporters are passionate about their candidate–but do they know why?

Also, how can Sec. Clinton combat an opponent proficient in mind control?

Lucky for her she hasn’t had to put up much of a fight, though she is taking nothing for granted. Sec. Clinton just has to keep plugging away while Mr. Trump gets into 3am pissing contests with beauty queens and yells at Sec. Clinton during the debate how she doesn’t have the temperament to be president.

Since he is a psychology professor whose specialty is mind control, I asked Prof. Levine if he foresaw Mr. Trump’s winning the nomination. “I was stunned, just stunned that this could happen. I was blindsided. I was looking at it wrong. I was looking at it like a political debate. Mr. Trump took a different approach.”

Prof. Levine said that he has studied persuasion from the mundane to cult leaders. “A lot of his approach is shared by some of the most successful cult leaders we have known.”

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