Elizabeth Kolbert asks, “How can Americans trust Donald Trump?” After all, as she notes, “As has been amply documented, Trump’s relationship to the truth is on par with his relationships with women—opportunistic and abusive. Daniel Dale, a Washington correspondent for the Toronto Star, who since mid-September has been publishing a more or less daily tally of Trump’s false claims, recently called the Republican candidate’s campaign rhetoric a veritable ‘avalanche of wrongness.'” He lies constantly, unabashedly, and aggressively.
This, as Kolbert goes on to note, is precisely why people see him as more honest than Hillary Clinton: he lies with gusto and conviction, which makes his lies feel true to people:
One way to understand the up-is-down logic of this election is as an expression of what might be called American sentimentalism. What moves the electorate is not true facts but true feelings.
Donald Trump is the kind of jerk who authentically, genuinely, unabashedly inhabits his own jerkiness. The indifference to reality he’s displayed on the campaign trail is the same indifference he displayed as a businessman, a husband, a boss, and a taxpayer. His narcissism, petulance, and whatever other character flaw you care to choose aren’t under wraps; they’re on view for all to see and hear. In this sense, he truly is the real thing.
By way of contrast, Kolbert argues, Clinton’s emotional control and public presentation of herself feels inauthentic because it’s so polished. “Clinton, meanwhile, is constantly role-playing. On the campaign trail, she displays an interest in people that, one can only assume, she doesn’t always feel. In her speeches, she invokes lofty ideals, when doubtless she’s often motivated by expedience. The high-minded, Presidential persona she’s committed to is constraining in many ways.” In other words, she behaves like we expect most adults with any modicum of authority to behave. Continue reading