Skip to main content

Naomi Ellemers on Psychology Today: Why Trump Voters Might Have Confidence in Joe Biden


Joe Biden pledged his intention to serve the interests of Trump voters as well as those who had voted for him. The words that he chose to express this emphasized the responsibilities of the presidential office, and the duties towards the American people it implies: "My responsibility as president will be to represent the whole nation. And I want you to know that I will work as hard for those who voted against me as for those who voted for me. That’s the job. It’s called a duty of care, for all Americans." He further specified that his “first responsibility as President will be to control COVID-19”. On other occasions, too, Biden has highlighted that he thinks of a president as someone who takes responsibility in extending care for others, and leading by example.This turn of phrase communicates an approach to the office that is very different from the language often used by President Trump.. On multiple occasions, he actively deflected responsibility for events that unfolded under his leadership. 


For instance, when Trump was asked about the spread of the coronavirus in the USA (“it’s China’s fault”), whether he should feel responsible for understanding the anger and pain of Black Americans (“I don’t feel that at all”), or for Americans asking whether they should ingest disinfectants to combat the Corona virus (“I can’t imagine why”). When asked to respond to the spread of COVID-19 and lack of testing capacity in March of this year, President Trump said: “I don't take responsibility at all”.

The systematic difference in these leaders’ choice of words to refer to their position of power – and to indicate their ambitions of using this power – might not be without consequence. Read Naomi Ellemers' blog on Psychology Today, November 10, 2020


Photo by visuals on Unsplash