When Facts Collide With Support

John Balzar has a very interesting op-ed piece in today’s L.A. Times, A Scientific Name for Teflon Politics, explaining how people can continue to support Bush even if they don’t like anything he’s doing. It’s called ‘cognitive dissonance.’

Because of 9/11 many Americans have been convinced it is vital to their safety and to the country to support Bush. So what happens when confronted with facts that might undermine that support?

“People abhor inconsistency; they just don’t like conflicting beliefs in their lives,” Cooper explained. When two things we believe are in conflict, we iron out the wrinkles of dissonance.

So if you believe in George W. Bush — and polls say that a significant majority of Americans do — but don’t approve of cutting pensions for long-term workers, then (1) you can turn against Bush. Or (2) you can decide that Bush is right and that corporate interests are more important than worker pensions. Or (3) you can take the easy path and simply deny that pensions are in jeopardy.

Lots of Americans clearly are choosing option 3. (Update) Later in the piece,

With cognitive dissonance in mind, we can theorize why corporate and Wall Street scandals have not become a gripping crisis in American politics. Many people, it appears, resist evidence that free-market elitists have made a mockery of our treasured values of hard work and fair reward. To acknowledge it could call into question one’s very purpose in society. It cannot be!

There’s a lot more to Balzar’s piece, so go read it.