Supporting DJT:

Some Reasons for People Supporting Trump[i]

 Mark S Schwartz, Ph.D.

October 11, 2020


In this paper, I focus on my speculations on why many USA voting citizens support DJT for POTUS. The reasoning for this support is incredibly challenging. DJT behaves like a malignant narcissistic. He is vulgar, bullying, vengeful, greedy, lying, stupefyingly ignorant, and racist. He is unethical, divisive, insolent, despicable, insulting, and abusive. Like many other people, I am grappling with mixed feelings about views about DJT versus desired views about many of his supporters.I assume this got the attention of readers.

I wrote this as a Clinical and Medical Psychologist and past university educator. I taught the following courses: Abnormal Psychology, Stress Management, History of Psychology, Research Methods, Social Psychology, and Biofeedback. I mainly focus on psychological factors

Surprisingly to many friends and family, I was a member of the Republican Party for several decades. Typically, but not always, I voted for Republican candidates, until about four years ago. I still believe in some positions of Republican politicians. I considered myself "center-right." I loathe the extreme right-wing and remained Republican to help fight against the extremes of that Party. I am now an Independent. I have not recently and would not join the Democratic Party primarily because I disagree with the well-meaning but naive and ill-conceived beliefs of too Liberal politicians.

I never liked HRC. Still, I very reluctantly voted for her solely because I viewed DJT as totally unqualified and dangerously pathological for our country. He has repeatedly demonstrated this over the past nearly four years. You might ask why I am noting all of this at the start of the article, thus risking that some readers will stop reading about here. I am hoping that:

  • Most readers will be at least be curious and read the rest.
  • Most readers will appreciate my honesty and respect me for that and not stop their reading.
  • My history and credentials will at least support my credibility and trustworthiness as a source of valuable information.
  • Some readers will view the content as having heuristic value to stimulate research. Some readers who are researchers might accept some of my thoughts and hypotheses to stimulate their research. 


Now, to the main thrust of this paper. I have noticed how easily people, including me, can sometimes view D. J. Trump supporters, in his role as POTUS, with extremely disparaging terms. I know that I have harbored and sometimes expressed those views openly. I started this paper with one of many such descriptions.

DJT is the worse and most dangerous POTUS in my lifetime that is 79 years. That viewpoint is stating a lot for me, given some of the prior people in that role. As a citizen, I was genuinely embarrassed during some prior men's terms in their roles as POTUS. I will not elaborate as that would be far from my purpose here.

            My intent here is to explore my views of various hypothetical reasons why people support DJT as POTUS. Mind you; I would never vote for him. Still, I am writing this to help me, and perhaps readers, understand some possible and probable reasons people support him. My list is longer than I thought it would be when I first started writing this document. The list is also longer than some readers prefer. The length reflects my views on the complexity of the topic. And yet, the list could be even longer.

Another reason for me writing this document is to communicate to people who intensely oppose DJT, even to the point of ostracizing, alienating, or even "attacking" supporters. My intent and hope are that those people might benefit from considering and incorporating various views and consider them before behaving in ways that they might regret later. It is all too easy to disparage all people who support DJT. That is tempting but ill-conceived, unfair to them, and unfair to oneself.

            Before discussing the individual items, I will share some information about me to facilitate "full disclosure[1]" and possible factors influencing my viewpoints. My career as a Clinical Psychologist spans over 50 years. I have Jewish heritage and still am an ardent supporter of Israel. I taught a variety of university courses over many years. I grew up in a Democrat supporting family. I supported only Democrat candidates until I was in my 30s when I began supporting Republican candidates for the next 40 years. I left the Republican Party and identified as an Independent a few years ago when D.J.T. became President.[ii] However, I had thought of disengaging with that identification for a few years before DJT.

I am searching for understanding and hypothesizing factors contributing to people supporting DJT, and I arrived at many factors. I searched as a Clinical Psychologist, prior Medical Psychologist, as a prior Psychology professor, and as a prior Republican supporter. My search reflects my attempt to manage the intense stress and divisiveness created by DJT as POTUS. Adding to that stress and divisiveness is the realization that many millions of our fellow citizens support him. My search for understanding is also my attempt to help myself and others manage intense criticism of his supporters and aggressive thoughts toward them and DJT. I want to disagree and politically combat DJT and his power but do so with tempered, humane, and respectful attitudes toward at least many of his supporters. I am seeking to understand them, to feel and show empathy, and to sympathize with them, but at the same time defeat them politically. I want to gain elements of the famous and desirable relationship between RGB and Antonin Scalia. That was a significant part of my goal, as I wrote this BLOG. To understand and cope with the negative emotions that accompany the intense distaste and anger toward DJT, our country's embarrassment and sadness with him as POTUS. I want to enhance my perspectives and avoid the "hatred" and animosity, the fear and aggressive thoughts so many people feel about DJT, and, by extension, his supporters.

            In summary, I propose the following factors and combinations of factors influence and account for support for DJT. Details are beyond this paper's scope.The items on the list are not mutually exclusive. In many, probably most cases, multiple list items characterize the people supporting DJT. Furthermore, these are not in any order.


  • Fear of "as if" beliefs. People have fears and beliefs, hypotheses based on poorly based and distorted evidence "as if" they are accurate. Humans are uncomfortable with beliefs that might be incorrect. Ill-conceived, poorly grounded, distorted, and theoretical beliefs, including perceived but imaginary fears, is part of the basis for support for DJT.   Examples include fears of Democrats, Liberalism, and Socialism.


  • "One-issue" beliefs (e.g., anti-abortion) that are so strong that anything else is intolerable. The anti-abortion dedication is so strong in many people that anything different is intolerable. They support Trump and justify all the negatives about Trump for only this reason. I understand the strong desire to support a candidate who favors your position on a crucial issue or oppose a candidate who favors a fundamental issue very different from yours. However, when seriously ill-advisable for the country and many other vital issues, it is seriously ill-advisable and even pathological.

Israel is another heart-rending and vital issue that influences supporters of DJT. I strongly supported DJT's positions and actions supporting Israel. There are small but vocal factions in the Democratic Party that now seek to oppose some of Israel's policies and actions. Many Evangelical Christians in the USA strongly support Israel's strengths and accomplishments and support DJT's actions. Evangelicals do not seem to care whether DJT's other behaviors are antithetical to being an ideal POTUS. For them, the POTUS must be more supportive of Israel than the Democratic Party. Nevertheless, that which is in the best interest of my country is ridding us of DJT as POTUS. That is clear to me, and I cannot allow a single issue, even one as crucial as Israel, cloud, or interfere with that decision.


  • Severe and dangerous psychopathology involving factors that impact supporters' distortions, prejudices, fears, and more. Most people do not understand the implications or do not care about "malignant narcissism." The public does not understand or care about the interpretation of being the "quintessence of evil," as Erich Fromm noted in 1964. I assume the public is unfamiliar with the concept of the "dark tetrad" of narcissism, psychopathy, Machiavellianism, and sadistic personality traits, all of which characterize DJT. Supporters either do not recognize these features or rationalize their presence, or admire them, or interpret them as consistent with supporters' preferences or needs.  

I am uncomfortable criticizing people simply because of their psychopathology. I can and do forgive the seriously mentally ill. I can try to help them in all contexts except when they support and fight for politicians that threaten needy, innocent Americans, or me or those people I cherish.  I believe that severe psychopathology contributes substantially to the support of DJT. My attitudes toward them are not caring for a patient with my typical "unconditional positive regard," but rather as someone who requires a different approach. My goals include avoiding trying to "help" and diverting my energy to minimally "defeating" them in an election.


  • Intellectual limitations or ignorance is stemming from insufficient or limited education, and "anti-intellectualism." I believe that many supporters of DJT are unable to understand the complexities of the excessively challenging issues and the dangers of DJT as POTUS. Many supporters are probably ignorant or otherwise unaware in the sense of poorly educated or inadequately educated. I also ascribe the same to those supporting the Democratic candidate. One difference in the current situation is that supporters of DJT do not understand the dangers to them and our country.

Noise (2020) reminds us that intelligence is different from anti-intellectualism, and even smart people embrace ignorant ideas. All humans are prone to influences that interfere with critical thinking. Multiple forces in our society promote anti-intellectualism, and this contributes to them appearing ignorant. So, separate from limitations, apparent ignorance is due to many factors. Nevertheless, for whatever reasons, ignorance and anti-intellectualism appear prevalent among DJT supporters.

Noise, D. (2020). Are Americans Just Stupid? Anti-intellectualism has little to do with intelligence.


  • Habitual Attitudes, Beliefs, Behaviors, and Political Party. Support for a political party becomes a habit that is difficult to change. People who have the habit of voting Republican and supporting DJT developed that habit and lacked sufficient motivation or other need to seek a change.


  • "Heuristic thinking, i.e., a need for simple explanations and solutions for complex situations, e.g., stereotyping, prejudices, COVID19 myths. The lives of most people are full of stressors, are overwhelmed with responsibilities, and they have limited time and resources. There is a need for simplicity, meaning harboring relatively simple explanations for complicated situations. The concept of heuristics ( pertains to a wide range of applications, including Social Psychology research on stereotyping and prejudice. Heuristics give the impression that we understand, or at least that we sufficiently know what we want and need. The understanding seems to be "good enough" for people in many situations. Of course, it very often is not. The basis of stereotyping, prejudice, and discrimination is "as if" they are correct.


  • Conformity. Supporters conform to family, friends, and other groups' beliefs and behaviors rather than engage in independent and critical thinking.  When a person exposes themself only to other people and information consistent with practically all of the person's information and beliefs, conforming to the other people's beliefs and behaviors is compelling. If a person seriously allows themselves exposure to and listens to credible and respected friends, family, and others with different beliefs, understanding, and "nonconformity" is feasible. I believe that supporters of DJT and supporters of his oppositions tend to surround themselves and expose themselves to people and media consistent with themselves. This kind of situation is fertile ground for conformity. Independent thinking is less likely. 


  • Hostility and anger. These people think, feel, and express hostility toward a wide swath of people and objects. They do so without much or any reservation and sufficient management. These traits and behaviors appear to me as more characteristic of DJT supporters than those who oppose DJT.


  • Subversive.  I suspect that subversiveness is a factor for some supporters of DJT. Revolutionary and perhaps treasonous motivations are seeking to destabilize our country. 

I do not view myself as ideally competent to discuss this option. Still, I include it as I believe that it is an element for some people. Admittedly, it might also apply to some anti-DJT supporters. They seek to influence voting citizens who are unsuspecting, naïve, or ignorant of their information sources.


  • Dissonance reduction, e.g., whatever it takes to balance and resolve the dissonance between the perceived vital issues and positions of the Republican administration vs. the President's negatives. I suspect that it is inconceivable to DJT supporters that this POTUS could be so incompetent, so "evil," so racist, so bullying, vengeful, greedy, lying, and unethical and be POTUS. Suppose they accepted all or several of these assertions. It could mean that they would have to resolve the dissonance by believing very negative beliefs about themselves. For many people, that also would be intolerable and too dissonant. So, they believe that POTUS is the victim of "fake news" and can't possibly have these miserable characteristics.


  • They are preferring or "needing" an authoritarian leader. Discussing the history of the extensively researched "Authoritarian Personality" is beyond this paper's scope. The two dimensions of Authoritarian Personality most prominently researched and reliable are Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). Influences are personality, situations, and experiences (John Duckitt, 2015).  There is a significant positive correlation between religiousness and Right-Wing Authoritarianism (Duckitt, 2015). Higher scores on the RWA scale also favor order, structure, and conformity. They view the social world as a dangerous place and influenced by social threats. SDO higher scores value power, achievement, and hedonism. Higher scores are more likely males and a Social Darwinist view of the world. In this view, the world is a ruthless and competitive jungle. In this world view, winning is by the strong, and losing is for the weak. SDO and RWA are independent of each other. I suspect that supporters of DJT would score higher on these two measures. They learned to view the world, including within our country's borders, as unsafe and threatening. I assume they learned to view the world, including within our country's borders, as unsafe and threatening.


  • "Cult-like" followers. "Messianic" followers are akin to "cult" followers. Some people believe that DJT is akin to a "messiah" sent to protect them. DJT demonizes many immigrants, communicates fearful messages of threats, and emphatically states that he is the only and best protector. Many of his supporters are "blindly" willing to tolerate abuses and behaviors that otherwise they would view as inexcusable.This idea is even more disappointing and "scary." Hassan (2020), "a leading cult expert," details the similarities of DJT's behaviors compared to cult leaders. Cult leaders use the same type of methods to rise to prominence among their followers.  I also encourage readers to read the brilliant, insightful, influential, and perennial classic book "The True Believer" by the immortally inspiring American philosopher Eric Hofer (

Hassan, S. (2019). The Cult of Trump. New York: Free Press/Simon & Shuster.

Hofer, E. (1951). The True Believer. New York: Harper Collins.


  • Harboring a passive wish for or acquiescence about dying, thus "passive suicide."

As a Clinical Psychologist, I have seen far too many suicide risk patients and those with professed "passive suicide" acquiescence. Those who openly and believably profess a passive wish to be dead typically have credibly said that they would not do it themselves. I also believe that many people behave in risky ways for death yet would not openly state that they want to die. Some of these people might admit to it if a trained mental health professional explored this topic carefully. Yet, for other people, the surrender to dying sooner than needed is below their awareness.

So, how does this related to supporting DJT? Ignoring and avoiding using face masks and social distancing and attending social and political events, there are risks for COVID-19. Of course and emphatically, I do not believe that "passive suicide" features are unique to Republicans or supporters of DJT. Nor is the avoidance of face masks and similar protective behaviors the only or primary examples of possible "passive suicide" behaviors in my speculations.

I also discuss some related concepts. Perhaps the main item could be something else like "risk-taking." I chose "passive suicide" because I thought of it first, and it is more important. Related concepts subsumed under this heading include excessive risk-taking, "defying death," and beliefs in "destiny" or "fate." 

Serious risk-takers may be sensation seeking or trying to reassure themselves. They seek to "cheat" death, convince themselves of being "invincible" and invulnerable. They might be believing in "destiny" and "fate" or other external, rather than internal, controls over their lives. Thus, the concept of internal-external control ( is also a source of hypotheses here. External locus of control includes the belief that what happens to a person is primarily due to luck, chance, randomness, or other forces beyond one's control.

  • Sensation Seekers. Some supporters have sensation seeker personality traits, including being impulsive, risk-taking, and social nonconformity. Thus, they likely make unconventional choices experiencing new sensory and mental experiences. This feature is consistent with challenging health care professionals and other authorities urging cautions. Sociopathy also is often associated with preferences for high-risk, high-reward experiences. Supporters are not necessarily nor mostly sociopathic, but I suspect that sensation seekers are attracted to leaders who facilitate, create, and enhance high-risk situations. Avoiding or minimizing risks associated with COVID-19, and leaders who engender and favor such risk-taking are more likely to attract followers who are sensation seeking.    


  • The Psychological Concept of "Blunting" is another proposed concept among supporters of DJT. I propose that many supporters of DJT, particularly those minimizing or denying, think something like "COVID19 is not a threat to me, and I don't need masks or other precautions." The personality concept of "monitors" vs. "blunters" originated by Miller (1987). When "blunters" face threats, they tend to avoid information that other people typically consider threatening.  They minimize and underestimate risks and show much less urgency—these contrast with "monitors" who are sensitive and much more attentive to threats.

The purpose here is not to pass judgment nor imply that one is necessarily harmful and the other beneficial. In medical and psychological testing, it is better to have false positives than false negatives. Thus, if we are going to make an error or mistake, it is better to be more careful than less careful. It is better to err on the side of perceiving a danger that is not there or less risky than is accurate. In science, this is a "Type I error." It is not wise to minimize or err by anticipating there is no threat when, in fact, there is a threat. In science, this is a "Type II error." Humans often use different ways of facing and managing various potential and real threats in life. If a threat is realistic, then blunting is a disadvantage compared to monitoring. I think this is more characteristic of supporters of DJT.


Garssen, B. (2007). Repression: Finding Our Way in the Maze of Concepts. Journal of Behavioral Medicine,  30, 471–481.

Miller, S. (1987). Monitoring and blunting. Validation of a questionnaire to assess styles of information seeking under threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 345-353. 


What to do?

We can extend our psychological, insightful, empathetic, and positive features toward these people who seem so misguided and burdened with one or more features that propel them toward supporting DJT. Some of these people were unwilling "victims." We can understand, be compassionate, patient, and empathetic and even forgiving for at least some of DJT followers. These people could be neighbors or friends. Some of these "victims" are close relatives. Trying to do the above is challenging but doable in some cases.  Yet, in many cases, I think it is impossible to extend ourselves this way.

The best choices for us are to avoid the topic and perhaps avoid them. In another Blog, I wrote I suggested some options for managing situations and family relationships with people with other offensive beliefs. Some of the options apply here too. So, one can cognitively restructure your interpretation of them without agreeing with them. You can forgive them without agreeing with them. You can avoid allowing their "problem" to become your problem.

You can also ignore them, especially when they start talking about their support for DJT. I don't recommend debating and arguing with them unless you "love" that sort of interaction and get some pleasure from the process. You can use the opportunities with them and your thoughts about their beliefs to explore your thinking and stress management strategies. For example, you can practice "unconditional positive regard" despite their "anomalies." I suppose that you might "join" them in their beliefs. No, I am not recommending that, but it is an option. You have that right.

But, at some point, you and we may choose to and even need to decide to do whatever it takes to "defeat" them and their beliefs regardless of who they are in your life. That also is your right. Life presents many challenging choices.


[1] I am a Clinical and Medical Psychologist and have been for over 50 years. I now have a private practice for the past 15 years but for 37 years I was on the staff of a highly credible medical institution. I also have a Jewish heritage and upbringing I have been and still am an ardent supporter of Israel. I consider myself spiritual but also prefer atheist views about deities. I taught the following university courses several times: Abnormal Psychology, Stress Management, History of Psychology, Research Methods, Social Psychology, Personality, Biofeedback, and History of Israel and the Israel-Arab conflict (mid –late 1970s). Although raised in a Democrat supporting Jewish family and supported only Democrat candidates until I was in my early to mid-30s, I switched to the Republican Party and supported Republican candidates for about the next 40 years. I withdrew from the Republican Party a few years ago and identified as an Independent where I will remain for the rest of my life. 




[i] Original title was ABT (Anybody But Trump). I used that to attempt to catch attention of readers but that does not accurately reflect the content or my beliefs.  


[ii]By discussing additional questions below, albeit briefly, I at least am on record and disclose my bias and position.


Why did I leave the Republican Party? After belonging to the Republican Party for several decades and typically voting for Republican candidates, I emphatically resigned a few years ago primarily because of the increasing dominance of the Right-Wing branch and the spreading support of Donald J. Trump. I liked some other Republican candidates, but after DJT, they faded away.  The Republican Party has dissolved into ideas, politicians, and supporters that I don't appreciate or respect anymore.


Why would I not join the Democratic Party? Why am I registered as an Independent? Extreme Left-Wing of the Democratic Party is as much an anathema to me as Right-Wing Republicans. I understand much of their thinking, and I believe that they usually mean well. Still, I have long considered them very naïve and misguided.


Why I support the Democratic nominees in 2020, although I oppose parts of their beliefs? Nearly all of my reasoning is DJT and much of what too much of the Republican Party has become. I can't entirely agree with several policies and viewpoints of Democratic politicians and constituents. For some of the extreme Left-Wing, I dislike them as people. However, except for a very few who represent views such as being anti-Israel and anti-Jewish, I do not detest them as people. However, I cannot say the same about many Republican politicians and supporters who I have learned actually to abhor as people. Yup, I said it!


DJT Supporters: Why