One of the questions that has arisen recently is how many of Trump’s followers actually believe that the election was stolen from him. Or if Trump even believes it himself. On Wednesday Trump went into the Diplomatic Reception Room (of all places) and recorded a 46 minute rant, reproduced in a much abbreviated 2 minute form on Twitter (see below), regurgitating virtually all of his false claims over the last month about why the election was stolen from him.
Mary L. Trump, his niece, opined on MSNBC that nobody can gaslight himself like the Donald. Interviewer Don Lemon asked her whether she thinks the Donald actually believed the election was stolen form him, or if “he’s pulling a thing here, so people think he’s a fighter?” Lemon added that the Donald has “got to pay off campaign debts and so on”
As is often the case with Donald, I think both things can be true on some level at the same time. He gaslights himself, which is kind of a fascinating thing. You know, he understands what the truth is, but he lies about it to such a degree that it’s not just other people he starts convincing.Mary L. Trump on MSNBC
The same question can be asked with respect to the Trumpistas. When they are polled, alarmingly large numbers of them claim they believe that the election was stolen from Trump.
But do they?
This is something pollsters have very limited ability to discern.
First of all, Trumpistas are already legendary in their willingness to lie to pollsters.
Second of all, do they even know what they themselves believe?
Earlier this week, even Bill Barr, Trump’s consigliere, got off the “election was stolen” bandwagon.
Every Republican election official is already off the bandwagon. Some have been warning, in no uncertain terms, of the dangers posed to election officials by the Donald’s continuing assault on the process.
The principles of cognitive dissonance suggest that people will be lying to themselves, but even with cognitive dissonance, there is a breaking point where even the most extraordinary of cognitive gymnastics will no longer support a false belief.
We’ll have to see where that breaking point is with Trumpistas.