Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.
The mechanisms are:
1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits that determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.
2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.
First, the numbers. Despite Trump’s overt sexism and racism, he managed to win over many women and Latinos. White women, for example, voted for Trump over Clinton by a ten-point margin, according to CNN’s exit polling. Depending on which exit poll you believe, Trump may also have won anywhere from 19 percentto an astonishing 29 percent of the Latino vote, despite his virulently anti-Latino rhetoric. Clinton’s supposed bulwark among college-educated voters also failed: White college graduates backed Trump by a 4-point margin, including 45 percent of college-educated white women.
Contempt for Corbyn is rivalled only by disdain for the party that elected him. His critics argue that the membership is unrepresentative of the country as a whole. By definition most political memberships are, but that does not mean they represent nothing. In this case the Labour party membership represents two quite crucial constituencies. First, the group that will help select the Labour MPs and leaders. And second, the group that will knock on doors and staff the phones to fight for a Labour government. Those are no small things.
If Corbyn resigned tomorrow, the issues that he raised would still stand, and the Parliamentary Labour party would still have no coherent response to them. He did not create the dislocation between the PLP and the membership, he merely illustrates it. His critics say they want their party back. Their party may well say it wants Corbyn back. In the absence of any reckoning as to how that discrepancy came about and any idea what to do about it, his critics are going to destroy the party they claim they love to save it from a leader it prefers.
The outcome of the EU referendum has been unfairly blamed on the working class in the north of England, and even on obesity.7 However, because of differential turnout and the size of the denominator population, most people who voted Leave lived in the south of England.8 Furthermore, of all those who voted for Leave, 59% were in the middle classes (A, B, or C1). The proportion of Leave voters in the lowest two social classes (D and E) was just 24%.8 The Leave voters among the middle class were crucial to the final result because the middle class constituted two thirds of all those who voted. Continue reading
But even so, let me make three warnings.
We’ve seen ugly things happening up and down the country, and the license given to horrible, malign forces by the way the Leave campaign conducted itself. Notwithstanding those awful events: please let’s not think of the vast majority of the people I’ve talked about as stupid, or deluded, or bigoted or hateful. I don’t believe 17 million people are like that. In fact, I think I’m confident enough to say I know that.
If you woke up on Friday morning thinking the country was suddenly in the hands of a social tribe you didn’t know much about and you were suddenly terrified about the future, bear in mind: that is how millions of people in this country have been living for decades.
Please understand that the Labour Party has left a vacuum in these places which has been growing for ten or fifteen years. And if the result is denied, certainly while all of this is still raw, Ukip – with or without Nigel Farage, or maybe something even nastier – may well sweep through a lot of England and Wales, and the terrain for meaningful progressive politics will be destroyed. That’s how high the stakes are.