There seem to be two aspects of conservative ideology that are particularly relevant when trying to understand Trumpism: Authoritarianism and free market rhetoric. It is mind-boggling to many progressives that Trump voters seem to swallow all his lies. It is as if they’ve lost their moral bearings. Another explanation could simply be that they see Trump as an authority figure and are then unable to question anything he says because, you know, he’s an authority and you just don’t question that. Yes, to me that seems absurd: Especially in a democracy, we need to question authority, that is part of our role as citizens. This doesn’t (necessarily) lead to chaos or undermine institutions, since we can question what an authority does without undermining their authority. The idea that questioning authority completely undermines that authority is the kind of black-and-white thinking also characteristic of the conservative mind.
The free market rhetoric mostly shows up as small government arguments (and is often undermined by the very policies enacted by those advocates). It also seems to be a flavor of authoritarianism as the authority of the market cannot be interfered with through regulations. It is as if questioning that the market is really allocating things the way the theory purports is already undermining the invisible hand.
Mooney has been heavily criticized by conservatives who prefer the moral philosophy presented by Jonathan Haidt, which, to me, isn’t all that different except that Haidt argues that conservatives morals are superior to that of progressives as they rest on all six moral foundations more equally. I plan on outlining why I think that this isn’t all that morally superior in a future post (see note below).
Here I want to end with something that neither Mooney nor Haidt seem to address: The tremendous hypocrisy that seems to be visible on the conservative side during this election season and it’s aftermath. Hillary Clinton was supposed to go to jail because of her usage of a private email server. Except Trump does a lot of what he accuses Clinton as well: Delete emails and have insecure servers. While Trump was screaming that the election might be rigged (before he narrowly won enough electoral college votes and thus dropped that line), the Republicans have been busy ensuring that white conservatives have a leg up during elections by rigging the system through gerrymandering and voter expulsion. The gerrymandering has been found unconstitutional, a decision likely to go all the way to the Supreme Court. It seems to me that there are more of these self-serving blind-spots appearing on the conservative side, which I have not yet seen investigated (after all this might just look like this to me due to my own blind-spot(s)).
Note: As I was researching what has been written in critique of Haidt, I found a set of posts on Rationally Speaking by philosopher Massimo Pigliucci, which articulate the problems with Haidt’s approach far better than I could have. Here is one article. This post addresses the most fundamental issue with Haidt’s approach: He glosses over the is-ought criteria, thus violating one of the most important rules in moral philosophy – just because something is a certain way does not mean it ought to be that way.