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Political Psychology

Purpose Trumps Policy and Principles—Video

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Why did Trump beat Ted Cruz? Probably the biggest reason is that Trump talks purpose while Cruz talks policy and principles.

When people hear Trump, they hear a purpose that aligns with their purpose. I know I do. And it’s similar to the purpose Arthur C. Brooks explained in his great book, The Conservative Heart.

Ted Cruz never seemed to have a purpose, just policies and principles. Cruz spoke of abstract principles and left it to the people to figure out if those principles would make their lives better or worse.

To paraphrase Steve Jobs, it’s not the voters’ jobs to figure out how your principles improve their lives. In fact, if you focus on your purpose, you never have to mention your principles.

Here’s a great example of Trump’s simple purpose. At a recent rally in Portland, Maine, protesters with whistles interrupt Trump’s speech. Here’s how he handled the interruption:

Perfect. Pay attention to Trump’s words, because they will hook just about any sane adult:

And what are we looking for? We want strong military, we want jobs, we want good education and healthcare, right? We’re looking for the same things sort of. You want to have a good life, you want safety.

What everyone hears when Trump speaks is just that: jobs, safety, education, healthcare that works. When those things are in place, there’s a chance for living the good life.

That’s all people want.

This is really important to understand, folks. Purpose trumps policy. Actually, purpose determines policy. Principles guide policy, but neither policy nor principles can influence purpose. Purpose is much higher.

By purpose, I mean your end goal. Mine is this: to build a society where every person experiences the dignity of meaningful work, including jobs that give satisfaction and fulfillment, fostered by a government that protects its people and institutions from attack and leaves them alone to live their best lives, successfully or not. That is my purpose, and very few people oppose it. Who would say “no” to dignified work and freedom? 

And here’s where the principle comes in. 

History shows that constitutionally limited government, free markets, and fiscal responsibility are the best means to those ends, which is why I support those means. But that’s the ONLY reason I support those means. I try to keep the means subordinate to the end, even if I sometimes mix them up.

Trump doesn’t talk about his principles and doesn’t spend too much time on policy. His focus on is on his purpose, and his purpose is remarkably similar to mine and to Arthur C. Brooks’.

You can learn even more about this stuff in my book Turning On Trump which is available in paperback or Kindle.

Being the Oddball Sucks

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Could you stand by a “wrong” answer?

Let’s pretend you’re in a room with 10 people about your age and background. You’ve been talking for a while, and you’ve gotten to know the others. Then the task begins. It’s straightforward.

On a large TV, you see a line drawing of a face. The instructor calls out people by name and asks if the face is a happy face, a sad face, or neutral face.

The first image looks like this:

happiness

The instructor calls on a very attractive woman you’d been talking to most of the night, Amy. Amy doesn’t hesitate. “Sad,” she says.

Your opinion of Angela drops. A lot.

Then the instructor calls on Dave who you knew from your kids’ baseball team even before tonight. “He looks sad to me,” Dave says.

Wow. These two should get together, you think. And not have kids.

Next, is Barry, a business school marketing professor. “Yeah, that’s sad,” Barry says. You make a note not to send your kids to his crappy school.

Then, she calls on a woman sitting behind you. You don’t know her, but she looks like an elementary school teacher from the 1950s. You put all your faith into this woman to get it right.

“Oh, sad, yes,” she says.

You realize that you are likely the only person in the room who interprets the image as a happy. You wonder if, maybe, they’re seeing something you’re not? Were they primed with an even happier face that you didn’t see, one that makes this one sad by comparison?

Now the instructor calls your name. You notice every eye in the room trained on you as if you were the approaching bus they’ve been waiting for.

Do you say, “that’s the happiest damn face I’ve ever seen, and you people are all nuts,” insulting all the other people, or do you go along with your idiot mates and agree that the face is sad?

Standing Alone Hurts

In the scenario above, your classmates were confederates of the instructor. They were actors playing people who thought that image represented sadness. The goal of the test was to see how you would respond when it came to your turn.

Most people have no idea how difficult it is to be the only person who disagrees. In psychological studies, intelligent students who know better will agree to the wrong answer if four other students before them gave the wrong answer first. “It appears that when we are unsure of how to perform a task or how to behave, we may take comfort in agreeing with a large number of other people (Lumbert, Samantha P., 2005).”We’d rather be wrong than be seen as wrong. And fMRI studies of the brain show that the pain of being the outcast is similar to severe physical pain. It’s why we give in to peer pressure.

Trump Stands Alone

At the first Republican debate in August, all the players were real. There were no confederates.

Bret Baier of Fox News asked the 15 candidates to raise their hands if they would NOT promise to support the Republican candidate for President. If you are trying to win over Republicans, there is only one right answer: you keep your hands at your sides.

On August 6, 2015, 14 candidates had a knee-jerk reaction to a softball question: raise your hand if you might not support the eventual Republican nominee. Each of those men (and they were all men that night) did quick math. They all believed they would win and if they didn’t, someone like them would win. Because that’s what we always think–if not me, someone like me. So they kept their hands down.

One man thought different. That man realized he might not win and the person who does win might be very different from him. Too different. In fact, being a strategic thinker, this man realized that if he did not win, the winner was likely to be very different from him. And despite the pain of being the outcast, Donald Trump raised his hand. Alone.

Later, after he had time to thnk about it, Trump signed the pledge to support the eventual Republican nominee, so help him, God. So did all the others. But Trump was the only one who took the time to contemplate the commitment. He didn’t make a rash, impulsive decision, did he? He made his decision like a man who’s made a lot of big decisions. And like a leader who’s comfortable with being seen as wrong. And he suffered the pain of being the outcast for weeks.

In hindsight, it’s easy to see why Mr. Trump contemplated his commitment. Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Jeb! Bush, and Marco Rubio impulsively signed the pledge without considering the consequences, and now they wish they hadn’t. Now they’d all like to be like Trump.

Leaders Must Stand Alone

When it comes to being presidential, the sin Cruz, Kasich, Bush, and Rubio committed was not the sin of breaking their word to the Republican Party, it was the sin of rushing into a commitment without thinking about the consequences. (For the lawyers among them, that sin was mortal.) It was the sin of avoiding immediate discomfort. Each of those four men later chose to break his word, which is also painful, but less painful than breaking his identity claim.

That sin of Cruz, Kasich, Bush, and Rubio is in the past. It can’t be undone. Endorsing Mr. Trump now will not erase the rash the fact that they made rash decisions in August.

When is comes to executive skills, Trump beat them all. Hands down.

P.S. In a related psychological study, researchers tested groups in several age groups. They found that older adults were more likely to answer accurately even if doing so violated the norms of their group (Lumbert, 2005). Maybe Donald Trump was the only candidate old enough to give the right answer instead of the easy answer. In other words, the others might become better leaders and better decision makers over time. See this for more on these fascinating studies.

Source: Lumbert, Samantha P., 2005, Conformity and Group Mentality: Why We Comply, Rochester Institute of Technology

Caution: Identifying as ‘NeverTrump’ Changes Your Brain

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When a person declares himself “NeverTrump,” he thinks he’s making a political statement. Or a moral one. But he’s not. He’s making a psychological commitment that’s very difficult and painful to break.

Identity is the highest, most powerful form of persuasion. Identity also drives our decisions in parts of the brain we don’t really have conscious control over. I realize many conservatives reject brain science, but, for those of you who are open to learning, I’ll explain as best I can in a moment.

Before that, I’ll tell you that I am not a brain scientist. I’m a persuasive design strategist, and I study this stuff every day. I even work with some brain scientists. But I’m not one. So I’ll have to quote some of those professional, certified scientists to show you how this works.

Our Brains Decide Before We Do

First, our brains decide before we do. In a famous study by neuroscientists at the Max Planck Institute, researchers watched brain activity while subjects responded to images with either their left hand or their right, depending on the image. The images slowly resolved, so it took a while for the subjects to get enough information to make the decision. Here’s what happened:

By monitoring the micro patterns of activity in the frontopolar cortex, the researchers could predict which hand the participant would choose 7 SECONDS before the participant was aware of the decision.

“Your decisions are strongly prepared by brain activity. By the time consciousness kicks in, most of the work has already been done,” said study co-author John-Dylan Haynes, a Max Planck Institute neuroscientist.

Those subjects felt like they made a conscious decision, but they really didn’t. The brain decides before we do. And the brain makes its decisions, in part, based on defaults and filters we consciously implant.

Identity Is Everything to the Brain

One of the most powerful defaults we implant in our minds is identity. For example, I identify as a Blues hockey fan. I don’t know all the ways this affects my behavior, but I know it does. And I now know, after years of studying brain science, that my Blues fan identity affects my behavior in ways I will never be aware of. I’m okay with that. It’s how we’re wired.

But what does that have to do with NeverTrump? Everything.

NeverTrump is not a slogan. It’s an identity claim. Sam Gosling, a personality psychologist at the University of Texas, puts it this way on Eric Barker’s Barking Up The Wrong Tree blog:

Identity claims are deliberate statements we make about our attitudes, goals, values, etc… One of the things that’s really important to keep in mind about identity statements is because these are deliberate, many people assume we are being manipulative with them and we’re being disingenuous, but I think there’s little evidence to suggest that that goes on. I think, generally, people really do want to be known. They’ll even do that at the expense of looking good. They’d rather be seen authentically than positively if it came down to that choice.

Some people think I look like an idiot when I wear a Blues hockey sweater. I’m 52 and I haven’t played ice hockey for 15 years. But I wear it anyway because I’d rather be seen as a Blues fan than positively.

The Brain Wants to be Consistent

When someone publicly identifies as NeverTrump, he makes a commitment. And most people behave consistently with their prior commitments.

My favorite persuasion scientist, Dr. Robert Cialdini, demonstrated this phenomenon in a famous experiment.

In one posh neighborhood, very few residents were willing to place a rather ugly Drive Safely sign in their front yards. But in a similar neighborhood nearby, four times as many residents said “yes” to the sign.

The only difference between the two neighborhoods: a week before, the residents of the second neighborhood were asked to place a small postcard in their windows that read “Drive Safely.” Many of these residents agreed to the postcard. Almost all of the people who accepted the postcard also accepted the sign.

These folks had made a prior, public commitment to safe driving, so they had to “yes” to the big sign. They behaved consistently with that commitment even though they probably didn’t know why they said “yes” to the big, garish sign. They identified as pro-safe driving.

NeverTrump Is Dangerous

In my morning post, I came down pretty hard on the consequences of NeverTrumpism: increased abortions, increased racial violence, and potential assassinations. It’s all true, but I know people didn’t want to read it. If you think I was just lashing out at people I disagree with, this post might change your mind. Here’s why.

NeverTrumpers identify as NeverTrump. Some, like Jonah Goldberg and Bill Kristol, make NeverTrump their primary identity claim. In their brains, all decisions are filtered through the NeverTrump lens. We’ve already seen the science on this, so you know this is true.

As the election gets closer, their fantastical hopes of a viable third choice for president–someone other than Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump–will fade. They will realize what you and I already know and have known: the choice for president is binary. It’s crooked Hillary or Donald Trump for president. There will be no third way. 

When that happens, most NeverTrumpers will choose consistency. It won’t be a conscious choice. They’ve already surrendered their conscious decisions to the NeverTrump filter in their brains. They will feel like they’re making conscious decisions about how to vote, but they won’t be. They’ll just obey the defaults and filters they’ve implanted.

Unless they turn soon.

There’s Still Some Time

So those NeverTrumpers, to be consistent, will actively work against Donald Trump. In the voting booth, that will mean wasting their votes on a non-viable candidate. But before that, they will do whatever it takes to throw the election to Hillary Clinton. Their identity claim will demand it.

The reason I wrote such a powerful statement this morning is to warn others: be careful when making identity claims because you will become that identity. You’ll probably lose control of your decisions. And you will suffer serious emotional pain if you break from that identity, especially if you value consistency. Remember, the brain decides before we do, and the brain decides based on prior commitments. One of the most powerful commitments a person can make is an identity claim, like “NeverTrump.”

You can call my other post “tough love” if you wish, or you can call it me being a dick. I don’t care. But I do care about the damage Hillary Clinton has done and will do to this country with the help of NeverTrumpers.

After all the good they’ve done in their lives, it’d be a shame for Jonah Goldberg and Bill Kristol to be remembered as the Republicans who fed America to the Clinton wood-chipper. The NeverTrumpers are in for four emotionally painful years unless they break their self-defeating identity claims soon. And they will blame the voters, never themselves.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. NeverTrumpers can go through the pain of breaking their commitment to NeverTrumpism before the election and work to influence Trump’s administration and Congress. It will hurt for a moment, but they will be heroes in the end. I wrote a book to help them.

There’s time to turn, but that time is draining away fast. Choose wisely.

 

Why You’re Mad At Trump

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A lot of people seem to be mad at Trump. You might be one of them.

You probably think you know why you’re mad at him. For instance, you might not like what he said about the judge in a lawsuit he’s involved with. Or maybe you didn’t like what he said about Rosie O’Donnell. You might even be mad that he said Saddam Hussein was a bad man who was good at killing terrorists.

[BONUS VIDEO BELOW]

You probably think your decision to be mad was yours and yours alone, right? No one told you to be mad, and you wouldn’t have listened anyway. You’re smart enough to know that it’s stupid to give someone else power over your emotional state. Like most of us, you’ve learned that saying (or thinking) things like, “he makes me so mad,” means you’ve surrendered control of your emotional well-being to somebody you don’t like.

You’re too smart for that.

So you must be mad at Trump out of your choice, right?

You certainly were not tricked into your feelings, were you? You probably know that Trump has been using the line about Saddam Hussein killing terrorists since last summer. No one disputes that. You chose to get mad today because . . . because . . . Well, you had your reasons for choosing today, after all these months, to get mad.

And it was your choice, right? The fact that all the major news media simultaneously said “people are mad about Trump’s comments” had no influence on you. Nor did the fact that the media started covering the story shortly after Trump’s opponent’s campaign released a statement calling on people to get angry about Trump’s comments.

You know that anyone who lets a stranger like Hillary Clinton or NBC News make them mad is mentally weak and emotionally irresponsible. Psychologists pretty much all agree on this. So I’m sure you have fantastic, logical reasons for choosing to get mad today about something Trump’s been saying since at least November 2015. It’s just a coincidence that Hillary Clinton and NBC News told you to be angry on the very day you decided to be mad.

Just a coincidence.

And since you can’t be influenced by anyone, I won’t bother asking you to buy my new book.

(Note: also posted on Medium)

BONUS VIDEO

How to Predict Trump’s Landslide Win

Reading Time: 6 minutes

You might have noticed that my predictions have been remarkably accurate lately, have you not?

For example, on Sunday, May 1, I predicted Ted Cruz would suspend his campaign after getting trounced in Indiana. Two days later, Cruz lost the Indiana primary to Donald Trump 53 to 36. At the time I wrote, many pundits and pollster still believed Cruz could win that Indiana race, and everyone believed Cruz was telling the truth when he said repeatedly he was staying in the race to Cleveland unless Trump reached 1,237 delegates before then. Turns out, those pundits were wrong and I was right. Cruz quit long before Trump won the magic number.

Then on Wednesday morning I predicted Paul Ryan and Donald Trump would end their meeting with a joint statement committing to work together to win in November. Pundits thought Ryan would use the meeting to chastise Trump and drive a permanent wedge between the two men. But the meeting ended with a joint statement that expressed precisely the intention and commitment I forecast.

You might think an ancient Sumerian god speaks to me through my dog Stella. Maybe. But more likely, I’ve been applying my day-job thinking in human behavior and persuasive design to my forecasting in politics. And it seems to work. While I’m not nearly as good at this as Scott Adams, I’m getting better.

I now predict that you would like to know my secrets for predicting outcomes. Great. I’ll tell you. In a moment.

Before that, let me tell you I have no idea if I’m right about any of this. I know just enough psychology to know that people are terrible at understanding their own motivations and errors. For example, psychologists will produce better research papers if they’re offered virtual badges for transparency and completeness. In other words, psychologists respond to incentive tactics that most psychologists consider psychological errors. If psychologists with PhDs fall for meaningless rewards, I’m pretty sure I have some blind spots, too.

Now, my secrets.

Focus on Words, Voice, Face, and Body

First, I try to focus on individuals. I can learn more about famous people like Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan than I can about millions of people whose names I don’t know. Over time, I might be able to accurately predict how many people respond to a given situation. An election, for example. But for now, I’m focusing on these people with a large body of public information. I pay to attention to the words they use, their tone, tempo, and volume of voice, their facial expressions, and their body language. These four behaviors–language, voice, face, and body–told me Ted Cruz was a beaten man the Friday before the Indiana primary. Maybe he told no one, but Cruz’s brain had already decided his race would end the following Tuesday. No matter how hard he tried, he could not hide what his brain had decided as he spoke to supporters in Jeffersonville, Indiana. The key is to watch people without judging or expecting anything.

Compare to a Baseline

In predicting the Cruz announcement, I had a baseline to compare against. That baseline was Cruz’s speech to supporters in Iowa just before the Iowa caucuses. When you watch the two speeches side-by-side, it’s impossible to miss the changes in Cruz’s words, voice, face, and body. One of the strongest tells was words. In Iowa, Cruz talked about the future, but in Indiana, Cruz talked almost completely in past tense, saying things like “we ran.” The difference in tense was probably totally subconscious, but it was distinct.

An example of subconscious language tells of future behavior happens when employees are ready to quit their jobs. Employees who’ve had enough start referring to the company they work for as “it,” “they,” or “them.” Happy employees say “we” and “us.” Again, it helps to have a baseline. Some people never refer to the company they work for as “us.” But most do–until they’re ready to quit.

Consider Their End Games and Interests

Everything in life is a form of negotiation, and most people open negotiations by stating their positions. But, in the end, rational people abandon their positions and, instead, focus on their interests. I’ve written about the difference before. Crazy people sometimes sacrifice their interests for their positions, but that’s always a losing strategy. The cliché that describes choosing position over interest is cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face. See #NeverTrump for more examples of people who abandon interests for positions.

Paul Ryan’s interest is remaining Speaker of the House. Ryan also wants to get some legislation passed in the Senate and signed by the President. His interests are better served with President Trump than with a Democrat in the White House. I realize Never Trumpers can’t get this through their heads, but a Trump victory in November increases the likelihood of the GOP keeping the House and keeping the Senate. Plus, while Trump’s policies are somewhat vague, Clinton’s are not. Clinton would veto every bill Republicans like. A Clinton administration would look a lot like Obama’s administration when it comes to legislation and compromise. So Ryan’s interest is to get Trump elected in November.

Remember that People Decide Emotionally and Defend with Reason

There is no such thing as a rational decision. Zero. All human decisions are emotional. The most important decision most people make is whom to marry. If you think that’s a purely rational decision, tell your wife. Then duck. If the most important decision in your life is an emotional decision, the less important decisions are even more emotional. It’s obvious.

Children with brain damage that prevents them from connecting to the emotional centers of the brain cannot choose between a black pen and a blue-black pen. There’s no rational reason to prefer one over the other, so the kids in the experiment had no information available about which pen to choose. So, even the choice of very dark blue ink or black ink is purely emotional. Understanding that we decide emotionally allowed me to see that Cruz had already decided to leave the race if he lost Indiana. It was that simple.

Reason and facts do matter but only after the decision. For people to remain committed to their decisions, they need rational evidence to defend their decision. It helps to provide facts before people make their decision because the easy available of these facts makes it easier for people to commit to their emotional decisions. Every salesperson knows this.

Be Bold and Announce What You See

The last step is important and it’s the most difficult. To get credit for predictions, you have to announce them. That means you have to be okay with being wrong. Some people would rather die than be wrong, so I don’t know what to tell you if you think people decide rationally. I don’t want you to die. For you, being wrong in public is very painful, so you probably need to keep your opinions to yourself. I am used to being wrong, so I find it easier to announce my predictions in public.

And that’s all there is to my effortless and easy formula for predicting that Cruz would quit the race and that Trump and Ryan would work together to defeat crooked Hillary Clinton and down-ballot Democrats this year. I looked at behavior of key players, determined their interests, and remembered that they decide emotionally and defend rationally. Then I wrote about it.

Expect Trump to Win in a Landslide

Now I’m pretty sure Trump will win in a landslide in November with about 400 electoral votes. Maybe more, but 400 seems about right. That means he’ll win about 40 states. I don’t know which 40, but that doesn’t matter. If Trump wins 40 states, he’ll win about 400 electoral votes. Everyone will call it Trump’s Landslide, and Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan will be very happy because President Trump will support and sign their favorite bills.

Most people expect Trump to beat crooked Hillary. I know pollsters aren’t releasing their expectation polls yet, because those polls would be a disaster for crooked Hillary. But people keep talking about “when Trump’s president” and “President Trump.” Even crooked Hillary released a “President Trump” video. These are psychological tells, just like Cruz’s “we ran.” Subconsciously, most people expect Trump to beat crooked Hillary Clinton (assuming she’s even allowed to run), and expectations trump preferences.

My only hesitation in making this prediction is that Never Trumper Glenn Beck also thinks Trump will in November. And Beck is usually wrong, but not always. So predicting the same thing Glenn Beck predicts scares me a little. Still, this time I’m going to agree with Glenn Beck and stick with what I see: a Trump landslide.

If you think “Never Trump,” you must also think “Never Cruz policies” and “Never Ryan policies.” That’s also called cutting off your nose to spite your face. And that’s crazy, folks. That’s crazy.


P.S. Your Comments: You’ll probably see a lot of people argue with me in the comments. They’ll ridicule me, then list a bunch of “facts” to prove I’m wrong about Trump winning in a landslide. Those commenters are actually proving my points. Everyone knows that facts don’t persuade, so why would people use facts to argue? Those commenters are not arguing with me; they’re arguing with their own minds. They’ve made an emotional decision, and they’re trying to defend that emotional decision with facts, exactly as I said. But the fact that they’re arguing on a public forum shows they’ve allowed some doubt to creep into their minds. Maybe some emotional trigger is urging them to believe Trump wins in a landslide. Vindicating.

Who Is Conservative?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

People think they’re rational, but we’re not. For example, on many issues, Trump’s positions are almost identical to Ronald Reagan’s. When it comes to abortion, trade, taxes, foreign policy and the military, and entitlements like Social Security, you can’t fit a dime between Reagan and Trump.

So why do people see Trump as far to the left of Reagan?

Contrasts and comparisons.

Reagan ran against George Bush and John B. Anderson. Also-rans included Howard Baker and Phil Crane, John Connally, Harold Stassen, Bob Dole, Larry Pressler, and Lowell Weicker. That made Reagan the most conservative Republican by a wide margin. George H. W. Bush was an eastern seaboard Rockefeller Republican in 1979 and 1980. Bush didn’t became a conservative until after he became Reagan’s VP. John B. Anderson never became a conservative. Anderson ran as an independent to try to throw the election to Jimmy Carter. Bill Kristol is a lot like John Anderson. And in four years, Kristol will be forgotten just like Anderson.

Conservative is relative. I know conservatives tend to believe there’s no such thing as relativity, but they’re wrong about that. Conservatism is relative. I won’t bother with defining left-right or liberal-conservative or any other dimensions of political thought. They’re meaningless. But I will point out that all of the definitions I’ve seen are relative. A position is conservative or liberal only relative to other positions.

Nowhere does the constitution mention “conservatism.” And the modern concept of conservatism didn’t really exist at the time of our founding. America’s founders were pretty much all radical liberals for their time. They believed in liberty, and they were willing to overthrow their government to get it. That’s very radical and very liberal.

I think modern conservatism seeks to conserve classical liberalism. But that’s just my opinion. You are entitled to be as mistaken as me.

But let’s play pretend for a moment that there is a conservative absolute. If there were, Ronald Reagan would be the only absolute conservative president in the lifetimes of anyone now alive, would he not? Everyone agrees.

So let’s see how Trump compares to Reagan on some key issues and themes, okay?

Trump vs. Reagan
Issue Trump Reagan
Theme Make America Great Again Let's Make America Great Again
Trade 45% tariff on unfair imports from China 100% tariff on Japanese semi-conductors, 45% tariff on Japanese motorcycles
Abortion Opposes abortion except cases of rape, incest, or life of mother Opposed abortion except to save the life of the mother
Social Security Committed to preserving Social Security, eliminate fraud and waste, increase efficiency …ironclad commitment to Social Security, signed 1983 bill and encouraged every Republican to read it. "To be sure, we must reform it, root out the fraud, make it more efficient, and ensure that the program is solvent."
Taxes Cut taxes, overhaul tax code, flatten brackets  25% tax cut early, then overhaul tax system & reduce rates
Defense Build a military so powerful no one will dare bother us, avoid nation-building and open-ended wars of intervention Rebuilt the military and launched SSD to break the Soviet Union without a war
Illegal Immigration Build a wall, deport illegal aliens Granted amnesty to illegal aliens and reform immigration laws

Those are not the only issues, but they’re some of the leading issues of both Reagan and Trump. On some issues, Trump is slightly to Reagan’s left. On other issues, like illegal immigration, Trump is somewhat to Reagan’s right. Overall, there’s little difference between Reagan and Trump on many key issues.

Why does it feel like Trump is so far to Reagan’s left? Because memories are fluid. Memories are not fixed. They change over time.

When Reagan took office, we had very few conservative think tanks, few conservative magazines, and a handful of conservative pundits. Since then, conservatism has bloomed into an industry, Conservative, Inc. Tens of thousands of people make their living being conservative. That’s something new. And it’s made conservatism kind of weird. In fact, Conservative, Inc., has done for conservatism what the Civil Rights Industry has done for African-Americans.  That’s not a compliment to either corporation. Have you looked at African-American unemployment lately?

Plus, the internet came along after Reagan. The internet lets us all hide inside affinity bubbles–safe spaces where we can hide away from any ideas that we don’t agree with. In these affinity bubbles, we morph our memories to fit a narrative. We’ve made Reagan more “conservative” than he was. We’ve created Reagan in our own image and likeness.

That’s why so many Cruz fans lost their minds when Phyllis Schlafly endorsed Trump. A lot of Cruz supporters remember the Reagan years differently than they actually happened. That’s just the way the brain works.

I believe the Constitution, though flawed, provides the best government ever conceived for human flourishing. And I believe the best hope for Constitutional government lies in understanding how things really are and dealing with reality on reality’s terms. That’s why I formally endorsed Donald J. Trump for President.

If you can’t vote for Trump because he’s too liberal, you probably couldn’t have voted for Reagan, either. You just don’t remember.

And if you’re thinking about voting for Hillary or working against Trump, you’d probably cheat on your wife to punish your daughter for marrying a guy you don’t like.