On the Dynamics of Being a Member of a Small Herd

Pulled from the front page of the George W. Bush store:

As licensee for the last eight years to the George W. Bush Presidential Campaigns, and as the creator of the George W. Bush Store, Spalding Group has been fortunate to experience the tremendous popularity and respect that President Bush has attained. As President Bush enters his last year in office, we are receiving countless requests for new items that allow supporters to demonstrate their appreciation and admiration for our President.

As a result, Spalding Group is proud to present the first in a series of products that reflect our way of saying “Thank You” to President Bush. Check back often as we add new items throughout the year.

I don’t think its a partisan to say that GW hasn’t exactly experienced “tremendous popularity and respect” and that most Americans (and foreigners for that matter) don’t think he’s in the same league recent predecessors like Clinton, GHW Bush, and Reagan. I realize this company is targeting a very specific market: the dwindling percentage of Americans who feel any need to “to demonstrate their appreciation and admiration for our President.”

Which leads to a question… why do people feel the need to believe that huge numbers of other people feel as they do? Its one thing to believe you’re right, its a whole another thing to convince yourself, despite all sorts of evidence to the contrary, that all but a small fringe of terrorist-loving moonbats (it is necessary to have someone on the other side, after all) agrees with you. In this case, for the dwindling 28% or so to believe that GW should be very popular requires ignoring a lot more evidence than believing he is popular. (As Coberly mentioned in comments to another post, I hasten to add: a Democrat President who had spent the last seven years getting us from the year 2000 to here would probably also have a core group of die-hards, so this is not a Republican v. Democrat issue.)

But… did those who supported Reagan or Clinton, to name two Presidents who actually were popular, and both of whom were respected by at least half the population, also feel the need to make themselves believe that President was more popular and respected than he actually was? Does the desire to convince oneself and others that one is part of a large herd increase when the herd is really very, very small? And is there a point where evidence overwhelms one’s wish or ability to believe things contrary to that evidence for everyone?