The Psychology of Clinton Supporters

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Clara Jeffery, editor-in-chief of Mother Jones magazine, recently tweeted how third party candidates (such as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein) attract young voters more than her favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton. Jeffery stated, “I have never hated millennials more.”

The low turnout at two Clinton rallies at college campuses, headlined by Bernie Sanders, probably doesn’t make Jeffery any happier, either. But why express such negativity in an open forum? Why assume expressing hatred toward voters would inspire them to love your preferred candidate enough to vote for her? As the old adage says, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.”

For those of us who have worked in the mental health field, blanket statements of hatred, like Jeffery’s, raise concern. When individuals readily accept the reality of a situation (i.e., your candidate isn’t popular), the mentally-healthy thing to do would be to strike a positive tone and take steps to rectify the situation. For example, Clinton supporters could ask millennials how to make their candidate more acceptable, apologize for past smears made toward this group, and remain open to feedback on how to address these issues. Once Clinton supporters better understand the needs and perceptions of the millennial generation, they could pass this information along to the candidate, who, in turn, could make adjustments in her platform.

Lashing out indiscriminately at whole blocs of voters for the perceived slight of not liking your preferred candidate seems to indicate a rigid, close-minded personality, unable to bend and flex, when necessary, to accommodate others’ needs. Rigid personality traits are often seen in abusers (spouse/child batterers) and their victims. Several online memes illustrating this trait have been observed lately. “Clinton supporters suffer from Stockholm syndrome” says one popular meme, continuing, “There is help–leave the abusive relationship now.”

Stockholm syndrome is described as a form of traumatic bonding, not necessarily requiring a hostage scenario. It demonstrates “strong emotional ties that develop between two persons where one person intermittently harasses, beats, threatens, abuses, or intimidates the other.” (D. G. Dutton and S. L. Palmer inTraumatic Bonding)

Ms. Jeffery’s caustic remarks against millennials aren’t unique. Clinton supporters have been observed using harassing, abusive, and intimidating language toward supporters of other candidates in forums such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+  and Reddit. These tactics may indicate some individuals have formed a deep bond with a candidate who holds a negative outlook on certain groups of voters, because these individuals themselves hold these beliefs and wish another “stronger” party to act out their frustrations against those who fall outside their abuser/victim bond.

In simple terms, abusers often attract those who have been bullied in the past and who then go on to bully others. On online forums, such bullies are called “trolls.” Trolls lash out with hate-filled language and shocking imagery. A troll named Casey Champagne was hired, along with other trolls, by David Brock, founder of the pro-Clinton Super PAC “Correct the Record,” to post child pornography images/links on Bernie Sanders supporters’ Facebook pages before the New York primary. My page received one of Brock’s hired trolls’ child porn images. Facebook pulled our pages down, insisting it was our fault for allowing the trolls to post the illegal material in the first place. It took several hours to restore our pages.

Trolling– an election year example of an abusive relationship in action.

Obviously, many Americans are in need of mental health care, if they have fallen into an abusive relationship with a candidate, so much so that they openly heap abuse upon others, instead of focusing on the positive aspects of their preferred candidate. Mental healthcare for all Americans as a right–not a privilege only the rich can afford–is the first step to helping these hurting souls and to healing divisions. Only one presidential candidate is for universal healthcare: Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party.

Focusing on positives, stressing what we can do (not what we can’t), including all groups of all ages at the table and welcoming the diversity that is America, the Greens can bring an end to the Stockholm syndrome foisted upon the public by the bullying of the establishment parties’ candidates. There is hope. Like the meme says, “Leave the abusive relationship now.”

 

Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues–The Bernie Blog: http://bernie2016.blogspot.com