Trump says or does something horrible, scandalous or vile every single day. It’s how he stays at the center of the media shit-storm he himself creates. He’s the embodiment of the notion that there’s no such thing as “bad” press. But in his case, it’s all bad, and yesterday was no exception. Trump started the day with another spectacularly unhinged and desperate tweetstorm, blathering about Anthony Scaramucci, berating the Federal Reserve Board, and accusing Google of somehow altering the 2016 election vote totals. Twitter exploded in ridicule, with many commenting that they couldn’t even fathom what Trump was talking about. But Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray and smacked Trump down in epic style:
What got under Trump’s skin? Perhaps it was the shaky economy or sagging poll numbers. Or perhaps he was trying to distract from the empty seats at his New Hampshire Klan rally, or perhaps he was trying to take the focus off of his flip-flop on universal background checks.
Regardless, none of this insanity had any effect on Trump supporters. The unhinged ranting at his Klan rallies, the broken promises on the border wall and healthcare and drug costs, the disastrous tariffs that have bankrupted farmers–none of this matters to his cult of followers. Why? Because they are, in fact, a cult in the established and nefarious tradition of authoritarian strong men and fascists. This is a good time to revisit one of the most profound and useful articles written about Trump supporters, published at the end of 2018 by Alexander Hurst in The New Republic entitled “Escape From the Trump Cult.” Hurst draws from decades of study of cults and authoritarian regimes around the world:
Trump sold his believers an engrossing tale of “American carnage” that he alone could fix, then isolated them in a media universe where reality exists only through Trump-tinted glasses, attacking all other sources of information as “fake news.” In the most polarized media landscape in the wealthy world, Republicans place their trust almost solely , seeing nearly . In that context, the effect of a president who is the total blurring of fact and fiction, reality and myth, trust and cynicism.
What is their goal?
The more defections they can get from voters that would otherwise side with the illiberal president, the better. If the opposition can get the other side to split, they win.”
So how do we deal with these cult members?
When it comes to helping individuals leave cult-like groups, many sociologists agree: Positive social factors are more effective than negative sanctions. Lalich using dialogue to ask questions and reinforce doubts, rather than “to harp” or criticize. Testimonials from former cult members can be particularly helpful in fueling disillusionment, she says.
This statement confirms why guys like Scaramucci and former white supremacists are so valuable. They were once insiders whose legitimacy isn’t so easily dismissed by cult members. They aren’t just another coastal lib–they have enough credibility to pierce the bubble of delusion that cults require.
If you haven’t, it’s a must-read. Here’s a link:
At some point–hopefully in January of 2021–we’re going to toss Trump into the ashcan of history. But his supporters will still be out there. As angry as we will rightfully be at them, and as much damage as their support of Trump has caused, we demonize and marginalize them at out peril. They already feel frightened and adrift in a culture that is changing around them. We have to find points of agreement and shared aspiration or we risk further polarization–which will always lead to upheaval, authoritarianism, and violence. We can’t “otherize” them the way they and Trump are otherizing us now. It’s a recipe for disaster. Meanwhile, we can’t fracture and split apart. As Hurst’s article points out, the side that splits apart first will lose.
In case you’re interested, Congressman Delgado is holding another town hall event at 6:30pm tonight, August 20th, in Broome County. Here’s a link to details:
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”