Keeping Faith with Trump: The Dangerous Causes and the Consequences

Dr. Lorne L. Dawson 21 Jan 2021

As multiple polls show, the vast majority of the seventy-million Americans who voted for Trump continue to put their faith in him as their president. In the face of so little evidence of voter fraud, why do so many people still believe his outlandish claims about the stolen election? Why do they think he should continue to be the president, even after the storming of the Capitol by a violent mob? This Perspective looks at the literature on four aspects of the study of extremism: how people respond to the failure of prophecies; why people adopt extreme beliefs; the role of social dynamics and networks in consolidating extremist movements; and the nature and operation of charismatic leadership and authority. Examining these, this Perspective provides a better sense of what has been happening during Trump’s presidency, and why his popularity may make him a force to reckon with for some time to come.