At the risk of talking more about myself than anyone else, it seems to me that the public is gradually maturing in its understanding or comprehension of "psychology". This is predictable in a sense: the discipline was developed at a certain place and time, gets spread around, altered, and so forth.
Most of the psychology that people use falls under the category of "what's the real motivation?" I am speaking of the context of debates about politics, culture and society. So if someone makes a statement "x" where x is some kind of assertion of idealistic motivation for example, maybe "I want to help poor people live a better life", the response is something like "your real motivation is to get votes so that you can do your crony capitalism thing."
Now, these types of psychological explanations often have a lot of truth to them, are even purely true in many cases. But in other cases they are fairly obviously flimsy. It might make sense to say a given politician operates in such a cynical fashion, but how would you prove it? There are too many other counter-explanations that are inconsistent with the psychological explanation that also cannot be proven but are also valid. And using the example given, how would one explain that the compassion the middle class voters who vote for such politicians is itself somehow "wrong"? For the implication of the psychological explanation is that all such compassion is merely a weakness to be exploited. Of course compassionate people can and are regularly exploited. So the psychological explanation continues to have currency among those who have been negatively affected by such cynicism, either directly or by observation. But other truths also continue to develop, and those who have become wiser while holding on to their humanity know well enough what the difficulties and hopes are in this field.
There are other ways to discount the psychological explanation using the given example. Some have put forth the argument that New Deal and Great Society programs "keep people in poverty." That is true if you define poverty as inclusive of those who receive those programs, but it is not true that those who qualify for them would not be in poverty without them much less better off or more able to get out of poverty. So the correct application of the psychological explanation should generally be to determine why a given person, sector of society, faction lies to get what they want, what their real motivations are, etc. For the most part, this constitutes a return to the days where workers had no rights and were as brutally exploited without recourse to the law or political power.
There are those on the right, those who call themselves conservative, who wish to be considered "progressive"; fair enough, for we shall see by the direction of this conversation that this is, notwithstanding that which has just been said, a debatable notion.
The bifurcation of people into categories which corresponds to the scientific notion of psychology would be something like, for Christians, "those who have achieved freedom through truth", for Marxists "those who have learned their way out of 'false consciousness', and so forth. In each case, the application of these categories as totalities have led to absurdities.
The correct way to conceptualize psychology is to view the mind comprehensively. A set of impulses, ideas, attitudes and so forth which may shift according to the situation and its aspects with the person in question being relatively aware at any given moment of any of these aspects which are or have manifested themselves either in the mind or the world in conjunction with each other. Each person has a degree of awareness and a degree of control over their mind. To relate to that person then means to try to understand that person in the details of their mental configuration.
The difference between a manipulative person and a politically or socially or culturally active person in regard to this question is one of attitude. If the attitude toward the other is one where the person speaking and acting wishes to form a relationship of conscious mutual understanding then it is good. Otherwise it would be manipulative. I believe there is a distinction there that may not be absolute but is qualitative.
The discourse in the United States is confounded by what might be called "anachronicity". That might be a deceptive term, for it is meant not to indicate merely some kind of being "out of phase" or inadequately adapted to the current situation, but to indicate that the understandings within the public discourse reveal a kind of confusion. Principles derived from previous eras and the frustration in the attempt to apply them lead to the question "from what principles are these principles derived?" For historical reasons, we in the United States live in (metaphorically speaking, although the borders are actual in the sense of being empirically related) what is called a "country" or "nation". What we represent to the world thus becomes complicated by practical questions.
Trump as president clearly indicates some of this confusion. The rejection of Clinton and Obama stems from a rejection of a certain trend of bureaucratization between the private and public sector at the federal level. Nevertheless, though nobody says so explicitly, we all know that Trump is the establishment's anti-establishment candidate. So we are acquiescing to the pattern which has continued throughout the changes to this country in that we acknowledge the need for a certain degree of secrecy in the conduct of affairs. While Trump's exclamation that he doesn't want to give away his strategy to ISIS appears on the surface to be a little silly it reflects the acknowledgement that the outside forces attempting to pursue their own interests in various ways entail a protocol wherein the trend toward nationalism emerges as a counterpoint to the aforementioned concept of 'federalism', that is as one which is the same in some respects but different in others.
In the interests of the present and the future we are obligated to identify certain questions as of paramount importance. One would be to identify to some extent the set of actors whose interests transcend borders, whose actions can be identified and understanding of their interests derived therefrom. To what extent are their interests consistent with those of a more peaceful and just social order? To what extent are "ours"?