Hearing hoofbeats, expecting unicorns

Over and over, ask this: Trump and Pence sided with Putin over US intelligence (and over the objections of other GOP leaders). Does that not bother you?
The response that I’ve gotten from at least a few Trump supporters is extremely disheartening: It’s “no”.

They had some variety of this argument:

You don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors in the government. Too many people get caught up on what we see and forget that we run black ops and covert operations. You only see what the government wants you to see. It’s all misdirection; sleight of hand for the government to do whatever they want behind closed doors.  We see 5% of what’s going on and the people who like to argue the most are the ones who are the most gullible in this charade.

It’s a perfect storm of self reinforcing conspiracy theory crap, designed to protect their “rightness” but little else.

Visible evidence that reinforces their support of Trump? Admissible. Evidence that should undermine that support? Must be a feint. Are you well informed and outraged? Then you’re gullible and should be discounted.

And what’s worse is that this argument sounds plausible…if you don’t poke it too hard. Sure, we run black ops. Sure, there’s classified stuff we don’t know, or motivations we are unaware of.

But that falls apart for two reasons.

  1. There are real consequences for how things appear. Undermining our country’s reputation by going back on deals we’ve made (Iran) and attacking our historic allies (NATO) makes things demonstrably worse for the United States.

Ethics courses teach that the appearance of a conflict of interest can be just as damaging as an actual conflict of interest, and with good reason.

  1. When you hear hoofbeats, expect horses, not unicorns.

So we must keep poking this kind of argument with facts. Perhaps we will never convince the die-hard Trump supporter. But we could convince those around us to expect horses when they hear hoofbeats.

Though maybe in the case of Trump, you should expect asses.