It boggles the mind to listen to CNN reporters tell us that Mike Pence “won” the vice presidential debate on style. Since when is style more important than substance? They drew this conclusion despite the fact that their own focus group gave the win to Tim Kaine. So, you have to take such decisions with a grain of salt.
What’s important to point out is that research has clearly shown that the authoritarian personality, which Donald Trump fits, does not experience the discomfort that usually accompanies cognitive dissonance. In other words, he does not feel uncomfortable about saying or doing something today that totally contradicts what he said or did last week.
While most people have difficulty defending two competing values, positions or principles, the true authoritarian’s mind does not wrestle with such contradictions. If the “boss” says it’s so, then it is, even if he said it wasn’t so yesterday.
If Mike Pence speaks ill of Vladimir Putin while “the boss,” Donald Trump, does the opposite, there is no problem for Trump or his authoritarian followers who admire other authoritarians.
If Trump had to choose between contradictory positions or feel like a phony, if the mainstream media did their job challenging him, that would be problematic for him. But as a true authoritarian, such discomfort does not occur. Unless we insist upon knowing where Trump really stands, anything goes from day to day. And the price for that if he enters the White House as president will be extremely high.