To argue with a man who has renounced the use and authority of reason, and whose philosophy consists in holding humanity in contempt, is like administering medicine to the dead, or endeavoring to convert an atheist by scripture. -Thomas PaineSo one thing that has really frustrated me about Trump supporters and about Trump himself is the level to which they are disconnected from reality. I mean at first I was actually surprised--stunned--that so many people could believe something so different from what is actually the case. But as time has gone on and I've thought about it more, I should actually be surprised if they were grounded in reality. And this is because their most fundamental beliefs are not grounded in reality at all.
Consider the statistics on how religious people voted. A majority of Christians voted for Trump. An overwhelming majority of Mormons did. Clinton did get a majority of Jews and other religious people. I believe the best explanation for this is those people are minorities and have been targeted either by Trump's hateful rhetoric or that of his followers.
So the reason why I think it's perfectly natural for Trump supporters to be disconnected from reality is the simple fact that they live their lives disconnected from reality. Fundamental Christians literally believe that the Earth was flooded about 4,000 years ago and that one man, his family, and two of each species of animal all got on a boat and survived like that for a year while it rained and then the rains dried up. They literally believe that we're all descended from two humans who were created some 6,000 years ago. They literally believe that there is a deity who listens to their prayers and responds to them in tangible ways. Despite all of the evidence that has been shown to the contrary. So, they are used to being told they are wrong. They know that they are right despite people telling them they're wrong. They're used to people claiming to have evidence to dispute their beliefs but holding on to those beliefs anyway.
That is precisely what is happening with Trump. He claims the media is all fake--they never publish the truth all they publish is lies about him. Despite the fact that good journalists do very well with citing their sources and verifying the facts they claim, Trumpeters are confident that the media is lying and will never speak the truth about Trump. They are convinced climate change is not influenced by the burning of fossil fuels. They are convinced that Obama was a non-citizen. They are convinced that Hillary was more corrupt than Trump. They are convinced that Trump has no ties to Russia. They're convinced Trump won the popular vote and had more people at his inauguration than Obama. Presenting them with facts to the contrary will not make them change their minds any more than presenting them with geological evidence will convince them that the Earth is billions of years old.
Attacking them will not make them change their minds. Presenting them with facts will not make them change their minds. They will explain why the facts you present them with are unreliable. They might say that that source is invalid, or that they found another source which proves it wrong. They might say it's just a matter of personal belief for them and they're entitled to their own beliefs.
The simple fact of the matter is we will need to get along with people who cannot be reasoned with--people who live in an alternate reality and will not accept facts which disagree with their pre-conceived notions.
So what can we do? My own thoughts on the matter are to continue to stand up for truth and advocate for change in light of truth. Stand steadfast in the advancement of critical thinking, empiricism, and science. These efforts might not reach diehard Trump supporters. But they might reach someone.
Another thing that I believe is vital for all of us is to practice what we preach. If you have a belief, challenge it. Ask not just what evidence you can find to support your belief, but what evidence can you find which rejects your belief? What would be an indication that my belief is false, and can I find such evidence? How would I know whether I was wrong? When you see something online which you agree with, rather than immediately sharing it, find out if it's true or false. There are so many sensational headlines these days which only serve to further polarize the nation. Look into it. See if it's real. See if it's fake. See if it's real but grossly exaggerated. It is really something that deserves to be propagated? I wish to make it my continual effort to sift through every belief I have, determine whether it is based in reality, cease to believe those which do not seem to be, and develop more beliefs which do seem to be. I firmly believe that any hope for a brighter future rests in the electorate having a firm grip on reality.