Say what you like about Donald Trump, (go on, say what you like), but among his many, er, attributes, is a complete lack of a sense of humor. I am not being partisan when I say this, but I cannot recall a single witty remark, amusing saying or joke that Trump has ever uttered or written. Trump has never come up with a quotable quote, either. To be sure, Donald Trump has made utterances worthy of mockery, but nothing anyone would ever recruit with which to make a point, win an argument or construct a meme.
It is a curious feature of the average MAGA fascist and could in fact point to an intrinsic difference between “them and us.” If you think about it, the same dreary legacy of unquotable utterances applies to Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and the late Rush Limbaugh, despite vast chronicles of speeches and writings available to us today. They left nothing of value behind, only hate. Meanwhile, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Jon Stewart, to name three members of the good guys, are veritable cornucopias of quotable wit.
The answer could lie in how we are wired, and may go a long way in accounting for why today’s conservatives are unreachable by the most formidable arguments. To quote Scientific American, “The volume of gray matter, or neural cell bodies, making up the anterior cingulate cortex, an area that helps detect errors and resolve conflicts, tends to be larger in liberals. And the amygdala, which is important for regulating emotions and evaluating threats, is larger in conservatives.”
In other words, conservatives tend to be more resistant to self-correcting behaviours and are more emotional and defensive. Brevity isn’t the only thing that’s the soul of wit. So is the ability to see the comic in us all, something that requires a healthy amount of the kind of introspection that leads to self-correcting behaviour. That could explain why liberal comedians vastly outnumber conservative comedians, and they are also much funnier. They are, simply put, better equipped for the job than their conservative counterparts.
Before someone in the comment field points it out, I will point it out for them. In my example above I use Winston Churchill as an example for the liberal camp, who ended the larger part of his career famously as a member of Britain’s Conservative Party. But Churchill was an atypical example of a Conservative, and demonstrates that the difference between the groups is statistical, not individual. Besides, Churchill was a member of the Liberal Party for some twenty years.
Conservatives’ brains are wired such that they are also more prone to seek out and worship heroes. They like rule-based systems where strong men are in charge and answers are simple, rules are many and punishments severe. So it’s little wonder that American evangelicals readily embraced Trump, despite the clear and obvious fact that Trump is most emphatically not one of them. Evangelicals are all-too willing to ignore Trump’s serial infidelities, blasphemous language and multiple marriages — as long as he upholds and supports their draconian anti-choice and bigoted biases.
Evangelicals sometimes justify their tolerance for a man like Trump by pointing out that, even though David pursued Bathsheba with notoriously underhanded methods, God was able to use him anyway. It’s an infuriating escape clause that wouldn’t work so easily on people whose brains weren’t, tragically, wired accordingly.
So if you’ve ever wondered why conservatives are so stupid, now you know why. A peek under the hood will show you that their engines aren’t just different, they’re inferior, and have, on average, less horsepower. Sadly, it means that many of them are unreachable with even the most penetrating and irrefutable logic.
But the good news is that we outnumber them and, for the time being anyway, the good guys live in democracies. So we can always vote them out. Which is another reason why MAGA Republicans want to do away with voting. Remember, it only took a third of Germany and some incredibly bad luck to put Hitler in charge. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.