My mother often quoted an old-timey saying: “You can get used to hanging if you do it long enough.”
That’s good homespun psychology. Humans will see nearly anything as normal if they are exposed to it long enough. I’m sure ISIS fighters feel they are acting in a normal way after committing several atrocities in a row. We humans can get used to anything.
Consider Trump’s proposal to ban all Muslim immigration until we figure out what is going on. Remember how radical that sounded months ago? Remember how – even if you liked the idea – it sounded outrageously racist, even though Islam is open to all races? To most American ears, Trump’s proposed immigration ban sounded inappropriate and far-fetched EVEN IF YOU LIKED IT.
Innocent people die.
And as humans do, we get used to whatever is in our environment, no matter how outrageous it once seemed. And we’ve all been living for months with the idea of Trump’s temporary Muslim immigration ban. We’re getting used to it.
I just took this poll on Twitter. It is non-scientific (to the extreme), but I’ll bet the rest of the country is feeling the tug of Trump’s persuasion.
Trump has at least five elements of persuasion working for him on this topic.
1. Mindshare: Trump captured headlines on this topic months ago with his shocking idea of temporarily halting Muslim immigration. We can’t stop talking about it, especially after Orlando. We humans assign high importance to whatever we are forced to think about the most. And Trump owns your thoughts for this topic.
2. Confirmation Bias Trigger: Trump knew there would be more terror attacks either here or abroad. And with each attack, your mind goes to Trump’s plan because it is the only DISTINCT and new plan you know about. You automatically start to frame the problem the way Trump framed it.
3. Time: People can get used to any outrageous idea over time. Trump has time.
4. Fear and Uncertainty: In times of fear and uncertainty, people gravitate toward the strongest personality with a clear plan. That is Trump. Clinton’s “more of the same” plan might be the best strategy, but it is unclear to voters HOW doing more of the same thing could get a better result.
5. Anchor – High Opening Bid: Trump’s original idea was to temporarily ban ALL Muslim immigration. Based on his speech last night, he has moderated that to be a temporary ban on Muslims coming from countries where we know we have a special problem. Compared to his opening bid of a complete ban, our minds start to see this limited ban as relatively less outrageous.
Note: I still endorse Hillary Clinton for my personal safety as a resident of California. It isn’t safe to do otherwise where I live.
If you don’t like bad immigration policies, check out my book. It doesn’t have anything about immigration in it at all. But to be fair, that’s true of most good books.