Why I am not surprised by Trump's victory

I am not surprised by Trump’s victory and I don’t feel sorry about it. Because I saw it already happening in Italy (my home country), with Berlusconi. I was adolescent when Berlusconi started gaining popularity, I was already interested in politics and following the news regularly. Of course things in Italy were on a different scale: apparently, everything comes in bigger size in USA, but still the same substance.

It seems that Democrats in US did the same mistake done by left wing in Italy: they were too sure of themselves, too arrogantly convinced of their intellectual superiority, and did nothing to demonstrate it. They fostered the idea that Republican voters are ignorant by definition and should feel ashamed of themselves - exactly the same thing done by left wing in Italy with the right wing.

They held a negative attitude: instead of focusing on the good things they could have done for their electors, they focused on the bad things of the opposition. Negative attitude doesn’t pay off. Imagine if you had to do a job interview, and instead of explaining the good things about yourself, you tried to convince the employer that you’re the best because the other candidates are embarrassing and inapt. How idiotic is that?

There is a principle in psychology called the Dunning-Kruger effect: it describes the condition of people who are so incompetent, that they are unable to see their incompetence. With the consequence of being overly confident, despite the inability to perform many tasks. Without being a psychologist, I can describe a complementary effect that I saw regularly in Italy, among voters of the left wing, but can be seen in any field. If nobody described it before, I would call it the “Delusion of superiority”.

People tend to be defensive of their own values, and to obtain security from their own beliefs. Feeling overly proud of own values is a defensive behavior to gain confidence and to avoid regrets. Even skilled or educated people having a high cultural level can easily miss their objectives and suffer from tunnel vision, when they become so sure of their superiority to lose competitiveness with themselves. They lose their ability of introspection, becoming unable of self-examination and unable of understanding others, and despite the clearest evidence they won’t recognize when they’re wrong. Eventually they become lazy in their tasks until they stop experimenting with new logical paths, and they despise whoever thinks differently than them.

People tend to feel superior for any imaginable reason: because they play a violin instead of a viola or some other instrument (trust me: my wonderful wife is a musician), because they code in a certain programming language instead of others (trust me: I am an application architect), because they drive an hybrid car, or because they are vegans, or because they are richer, or more beautiful, or taller, or because they are “against the system”, or possess an iPhone, a BMW, an expensive camera, because their kids have good grades, because their kids are taller than other kids (for God’s sake, I am not kidding), or because they are muscular, because they are teachers of Italian literature instead of maths (saw this with my eyes), or because they study in a liceum instead of a technical school, or because they go to University, or study economy instead of design, or medicine, because their daugthers are dating a medic, because they listen to certain music; or because they vote left wing.

Yes, this happens more between people voting for the left wing than right wing, and judging by the last months articles from New York Times and Huffington Post, Democrats in US have something similar. It’s like with vegetarians: it’s easier to meet somebody who is proud of being vegetarian, than somebody proud of eating meat.

Mind you: this is the first time I express publicly my opinions on this matter, because I was either feeling ashamed of saying these things, or always felt it wasn’t worth discussing them: if somebody is sure to be superior for her life style, trying to speak is like shoveling water with a pitchfork.

I don’t feel superior just because of my ideas, I’m just observing. On the contrary, I always have doubts about myself: this is something I inherited from my mom. I know I can always learn something new, and that everyone (well, almost everyone) has something to teach to others.

At work is the same: even if I am an accomplished developer and I am dictatorial in the code reviews I do, I never feel satisfied with my own skills. There is so much to learn in life, that feeling completely accomplished simply doesn’t make sense.

In many contexts there is a toxic atmosphere: whoever thinks differently than the recognized “intelligentsia” or establishment, is regarded as ignorant like a capra (goat).

And you know what? I like goats, so if some radical chic will call me this way, for my ideas, I won’t feel offended. Not a single bit.


I am not alone in my interpretation:

Written on November 9, 2016

Roberto Prevato

Italian graphic designer, applications architect, DevOps, web applications specialist, artist wannabe.
Metal head fond of philosophy and arts.