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Living With My Cognitive Dissonance

my cognitive dissonance

My cognitive dissonance is how I explain deep disdain for Donald Trump, but also why I might want to see him re-elected this November.

Cognitive dissonance is about inconsistency in our beliefs. Inconsistency causes pain. Our most famous example is “do as I say, not as I do”. We find lots of examples where people say one thing but do another, exposing dissonance between attitudes and behaviors. We try to resolve the discomfort by changing one or the other.

But sometimes I just have to admit to living with my cognitive dissonance. Grin and bear it.

Last week, I exposed myself to the most dramatic case of cognitive dissonance I have ever experienced. I suddenly realized that the best thing for my province (Alberta) and myself in retirement just might be for Donald J. Trump to win a second term in November, 2020.

Say what? John, given all the comments you have made about the dysfunctional U.S. presidency, how can you possibly even think – let alone say – that maybe Trump should win again?  Well, friends, that’s where my cognitive dissonance comes in.

I need to hold two equally valid but contradictory beliefs in my head. First, that Trump is a disaster. Second, that Trump may just be a necessity. Let me explain why.

My Cognitive Dissonance Votes Trump

Alberta has been a wealthy yet undiversified province that has supported Canada for most of the past 75 years. Oil and gas exports, baby. But now, with the multiple whammy’s of Russia-Saudi Price Wars, higher production costs for oil sands, and the amazing job foreign lobbyists have done locking us out of energy transportation, our province is in deep trouble. Add COVID-19.

I had been counting on a reasonable Alberta economy to support me through retirement and get my kids off to a good start. But based on feeble Canadian political leadership, things look dark for Alberta and, somewhat, for me.

Donald Trump winning a second term would, unbelievably, be a ray of light. First, Trump will no doubt bully the economy back into action, if only to make him look better/good in the fall. Democrats would probably prefer a weaker economy this fall for the same reason, and also to make a stronger case for social intervention. Doesn’t much matter what we do in Canada; we simply free ride.

Second, Trump will support a North American energy industry based on extraction and self sufficiency. While he personally may be full of hot air and wishful thinking, he knows real energy is required for the time being. Neither Canadian government nor U.S. Democrats are up for that.

Third, Trump will display little tolerance for the so-called scientific models of humans and greenhouse gases, if his interest in pandemic science is any indicator. But I think he will realize that we need to actually deal with real climate change, if only to save Mar-a-Largo.

Rock on, carbon-based life forms.

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