Why, Why, Why Would Anyone Vote for Trump?


Perhaps no question in history has spawned more theories and more books to explain the “Trump Phenomenon.”  Why would anyone with one iota of decency vote for and support someone who lacked all morality and all integrity?  Trump is certainly not the first leader to lack any semblance of morality. However, given that he was elected to what some believe is the last great hope for “Democracy,” it boggles the mind that such a person could become President of the United States of America.  Trump and his supporters stand against every principle that this nation was founded on.

1_olMzFxyjypYKzro3iFezQgI have read at least a dozen books and heard a different theory each month on why Trump was elected.  From racism, to sexism, to xenophobia, to white supremacy, to rural alienation, to immigration, to abortion, to anti-immigration, to income gaps, to blue collar woes, to anti-globalism, to Christianity, to government overreach, to tax issues, to wage gaps, to inflation, to isolationism, to lack of American jobs, to anti-education, each one of these and several more have been promoted as the “reason” for Trumps support.

You can read volumes about these reasons, and you will still be looking for a reason.  None of them seem to provide the “whole” explanation and new books are pumped out daily by Trump accusers and sycophants.  These same ass-kissing, boot licking followers who now want to throw shit on Trump while exonerating their own culpability.


So imagine my surprise when I came across this explanation for why people followed Hitler written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  He wrote this while in jail for his resistance to Hitler’s policies.   Bonhoeffer was a famous Lutheran pastor and theologian who threw caution to the wind when he decided that he had to speak out against Hitler.  He was arrested, tried, and found guilty.  He was too well known for Hitler to immediately execute.  Hitler put Bonhoeffer in prison but on April 9th, 1945 just three weeks before he died, Hitler opted for his trademark vindictiveness and cruelty.  He ordered Bonhoeffer hung along with several other conspirators.

This writing was done while Bonhoeffer was in prison.  In a very short piece,  he sums up why anyone would support someone like Trump, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin or any other actual or would be dictator.  It explains “Why Trump” better than any of the long-winded studies I have read.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think.


Bonhoeffer:  On Stupidity

Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease.

Against stupidity we are defenseless.

Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable, they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack.


For that reason, greater caution is called for than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

If we want to know how to get the better of stupidity, we must seek to understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is in essence not an intellectual defect but a human one. There are human beings who are of remarkably agile intellect yet stupid, and others who are intellectually quite dull yet anything but stupid.

We discover this to our surprise in particular situations. The impression one gains is not so much that stupidity is a congenital defect, but that, under certain circumstances, people are made stupid or that they allow this to happen to them.

We note further that people who have isolated themselves from others or who live in solitude manifest this defect less frequently than individuals or groups of people inclined or condemned to sociability. And so it would seem that stupidity is perhaps less a psychological than a sociological problem.

It is a particular form of the impact of historical circumstances on human beings, a psychological concomitant of certain external conditions. Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or of a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity.


It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other.

The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence, and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances.

The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with a person, but with slogans, catchwords and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.


Yet at this very point it becomes quite clear that only an act of liberation, not instruction, can overcome stupidity.

Here we must come to terms with the fact that in most cases a genuine internal liberation becomes possible only when external liberation has preceded it. Until then we must abandon all attempts to convince the stupid person.

This state of affairs explains why in such circumstances our attempts to know what ‘the people’ really think are in vain and why, under these circumstances, this question is so irrelevant for the person who is thinking and acting responsibly. The word of the Bible that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom declares that the internal liberation of human beings to live the responsible life before God is the only genuine way to overcome stupidity.

But these thoughts about stupidity also offer consolation in that they utterly forbid us to consider the majority of people to be stupid in every circumstance. It really will depend on whether those in power expect more from people’s stupidity than from their inner independence and wisdom.



You can keep looking for explanations.  I think there surely will be more raised.  However, I am content to stop here with Bonhoeffer’s explanation.  I may not agree with everything he says but he explains quite well why discussion and debate with these people are a total waste of time. 

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Wayne Woodman
    Jun 13, 2022 @ 14:35:46

    Thanks John and I have to agree with Bonhoeffer on this one and apply it, not just to the US, but the world as I see it. I have a nephew that I know is quite intelligent but equally stupid when it comes to god and the bible. He can quote all kinds of “facts” from the bible to support his conclusions but totally unable to see other facts that refute the previous.



  2. Jane Fritz
    Jun 13, 2022 @ 15:05:47

    So sad that such a potentially great country comes to this. Let’s hope the current Jan 6 hearings bring some positive directions.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 13, 2022 @ 17:48:10

      I hope so Jane, but human nature being what it is, I doubt it. Nevertheless, Pandora kept hope in the box so I cannot call it over yet.

      Liked by 1 person


  3. Cherune Clewley
    Jun 13, 2022 @ 15:34:02

    I cannot completely agree with Bonhoeffer. Yes, there is definitely the layer of rank stupidity. However, with the TFG, there is a layer of deep, intense narcissistic malignancy, laced with a complete lack of historical intelligence. While both TFG and Hitler commanded people to their causes. One was able to actually able to provide concrete proof of his ideas, buildings, designs, elaborate plans, and intricate, devious plots. TFG fumbled, bumbled, lied, bombastically ruined language and misspelled written texts and sentences constantly. While not even completing a promised wall. His plots are the stuff of sophomoric drunken bad humor. The only thing that I see that might have merit is the Space Force. Which we know he did not dream up.
    I would love to agree, but in all fairness I have yet to find a good reason for his name and #45 being attached for history.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 13, 2022 @ 17:47:10

      Cherune, Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Hard to compare Hitler to Trump but I think the sycophants and followers are much more alike then either of their leaders albeit I do see similarities between Trump and Hitler. Hitler was much more of a buffoon then you acknowledge. His so called military ability was a sham and it was the main reason for Germany’s defeat. As for Trump’s legacy. I hope you are right and that history either forgets him and puts him down as one of the worst leaders in American history. John



  4. barryh
    Jun 14, 2022 @ 06:28:37

    Thanks, John. The Bonhoeffer quote about stupidity appears to make a lot of sense. I must admit that ‘stupid’ was the word that most immediately came to mind when thinking about why people voted for Trump, Brexit, Boris Johnson…
    But is it all too easy to say that people who do not vote the way we think is sensible and moral are stupid? Maybe it says something about the alternatives they were presented with; even more it says something about the way they were manipulated by spinners and charisma, and the groupthink encouraged by TV and social media ghettoes – it seems that en masse people are very easily manipulated, especially if they are not encouraged to think for themselves.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 14, 2022 @ 23:05:03

      I agree Barry. We can be too quick to label people who disagree with us as “stupid.” On the other hand, the definition is key in terms I think of who and when we label anyone as acting stupidly. I think many of Trumps supporters have been brainwashed but many were acting in total self-interest with little concern for others or the larger society. The morons denying climate change come to my mind as stupid individuals who cannot see beyond their noses to the larger ramifications of fossil fuels, coal usage and excessive water usage. I can not bring it to my mind to think charitable thoughts towards these people.



  5. Mark Edward Jabbour
    Jun 14, 2022 @ 10:21:43

    I doubt ya’ll have read my book, published in 2018. In it I predicted Trump’s victory, in real time, and gave a complex explanation as to why. I also have a configuration not that dissimilar to Bonhoeffer’s; but more nuanced. You can order the book here markjabbour.com or here ; or here https://shepherd.com/best-books/understand-personality-and-who-you-are



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 14, 2022 @ 23:16:13

      What is your prediction for 2024? Your last prediction seems like it was done after the fact. When did you predict Trump would win and where did you state this belief? I am very skeptical of “predictions” unless they are specific and can be dated to a source.



    • Dr. John Persico Jr.
      Jun 16, 2022 @ 10:37:23

      I would love to hear your explanation Mark. I have heard so many. It is a little Zen like trying to sort out the “real” cause or causes.



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