The President-Elect of the United States of America is Donald J. Trump. It is not difficult to assess his character and record: inadequate, in all domains.
But how did he win? Professional pundits and statisticians argue basically as follows:
- People are so angry with the status quo that they want someone to blow the entire thing up.
- People without an education prefer Trump because he "tells it like it is" and this is appealing to a group of people who feel wholly disenfranchised in a modern economy.
- People in rural areas feel that Washington is screwing them.
I don't believe there are enough troubled, self-hating racist misogynists out there to have elected Donald Trump to the Presidency all on their lonesome. Trump voters are taking to social media to defend themselves against accusations of inherent racism and sexism, especially white women. They do not want to be seen as being racist, but they seem to be ok with aiding and abetting which makes me wonder where the line is. I do believe there are enough angry people - many of whom are older, whiter, maler - out there that voted purely from their gut on this one. And I think this is what connects the anti-establishment, older, rural, whiter, maler, un-educated to each other. This is the Trump Coalition.
"From the gut" decision-making is obnoxiously glorified among the people that voted for Trump and held as important even among those who didn't. Cultural encouragement of the use of gut feel when it comes to health care decisions is common - I see it all the time with vaccines, with medications, with investigations. People will or won't do some of these things basically because they do or do not sit right.
Making important calls "From the gut" is lazy and - ironically - gutless. It is the glorification of guessing.
Before you call me a liberal elitist: I know I am one, thank you very much. But by the grace of adequate social safety nets and government-mandated opportunities for country folk like me, I have an education. I've been warned through the study of history that strong nations require planning, thought and foresight even after they become strong. Strong nations require enshrined inclusivity. If that makes me a liberal elitist, I'll take it.
Imagine if I practiced medicine from the gut? I would kill people. There is a huge movement to remove gut instinct from medicine entirely, called evidence-based medicine. The same is true with politics. Good policy is an evidence-based endeavour. Good-policy takes testing, modelling, piloting. It takes a lot of people to triangulate "gut feel" against actual data and to use that data properly to meet policy objectives.
America just "gut feel"-ed her way into electing Trump, who is essentially a humanoid reflex - no internal checks and balances from the frontal cortex, no ability to empathize with others, no sense of self without a sea of external cues. He is a lizard.
Most often, when gut feel is correct, it is because of experience, patience and skilled observation. That is, it isn't actually gut feel. It's wisdom. Most often, when gut feel is wrong, it is due to a lack of experience, patience and skilled observation, as well as intense emotion, stigma, bias, racism and sexism.
The next time you find yourself endorsing an option - be it a new supplement or a new job offer or a new candidate for office - please check yourself before you wreck yourself.
We must hold ourselves accountable for making good decisions. We shouldn't be lizards. We're better than lizards.