Do you remember last week (or so) when Trump was saying that things are worse for African-Americans in 2016 than at any time in their history?
You probably laughed because it was such a ridiculous thing to say. And perhaps you wondered what kind of person says something that is so clearly false. The answer is a Master Persuader. That’s who.
The recent headlines about police shootings, and Colin Kaepernick’s protests in particular, had focused the nation’s attention on the PROBLEMS that still need to be solved for African-Americans to fully enjoy the American experience. When you focus on something, it seems more important than it would otherwise seem. That’s how brains are wired. And the nation was focusing on something that had the potential to erupt into a race war.
So Trump flipped the frame. He said life in the big cities is worse-than-ever for African-Americans, thereby forcing his opponents and the fact-checkers to explain in detail how much better things have gotten since slavery. And the civil rights movement. And on and on. That changes your perspective. Now you see 2016 as the best year – probably ever – for African-Americans, albeit with plenty of work left to do. And that’s the sort of reframing that diffuses racial tension. I think it helped.
But it gets better.
Trump’s absurd claim that things are worse-than-ever isn’t true in a factual sense. But it is emotionally compatible with the feelings of African-Americans who feel victimized by police and the system in general. This is one of those cases where being totally wrong is the most sensible approach. Emotions matter in the real world because they drive behavior. Facts, not so much.
Trump doesn’t ignore facts because he is dumb. He does it because facts don’t matter. Every trained persuader knows that.
In the 2D world, where people think that facts and reason matter, Trump’s claim that life is worse than ever for African-Americans is an absurd lie. But in the third-dimension of persuasion – where Trump operates – it was brilliant.
In case you are wondering, this is a known persuasion technique. You agree with someone harder than they agree with themselves, and it forces them to argue against their own point. Trump did that in part to dilute racial tensions (that he partly caused) and also to put himself in emotional harmony with the African-American community. Persuasion-wise, and strategy-wise, what Trump did was a base-clearing home run…that you thought was a dumb mistake.
As I said last year, Trump is changing more than politics. He is changing how you understand reality itself.
Watch the debate with me on Periscope at @ScottAdamsSays. Tune your TV to CNN. I’ll be with my co-host and neighbor, Kristina Basham.