The cult of Trumpism

  • President Donald Trump departs carrying a walking stick given to him by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., after a signing ceremony for H.R. 1957 – "The Great American Outdoors Act" – in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

Published: 8/7/2020 4:18:57 PM
Modified: 8/7/2020 4:18:44 PM

Trumpism is a cult — a social pathology — not a political movement. If it were a movement, people would be following the facts and making rational judgements based on how those facts help or hinder their goals. None of that happens with cult followers. They believe everything their cult leader says, regardless of how ludicrous it is, how cruel it is to others, or even how damaging it is to their own self-interest. They drink the Trump Kool-Aid no matter what the consequences are to themselves or the rest of humanity.

How this all came about will be the subject of many volumes to be written by future historians. But it is certain that FakeBook and Fox Propaganda will figure prominently in the equation. The insidious thing about FakeBook is that it uses algorithms to create whole ecosystems that are extremely effective at spreading extreme opinions and false information (hence the term viral, although cancerous is far more accurate). Nearly every Trump cultist I’ve met seems obsessed with getting their “news” from like-minded people on “social media.” They seem totally unaware of FakeBook’s use of algorithms that feeds them a steady diet of what it thinks they want to hear.

The first thing to remember about cults is that they are not logical. They are basically an addiction to a steady diet of propaganda. No amount of rational discourse will change its belief structure. Just like with any drug addiction, you have to hit rock bottom first. So far, there has been no “rock bottom” for the Trump cult. This means that things will get much much worse before they get better.

So how do you stop a cult? First, there must be a shock to the system. Either the cult leader needs to be exposed as the fraud that he is (good luck with that one), or things need to get so bad that cult supporters are forced to reckon with reality. Basically, Trump will need to do something so horrific that even his own supporters will be repulsed.

I have met Trump cultists, some of whom claim to be evangelical “Christians,” oozing with hypocrisy, that believe the United States should “nuke” Muslims in the Middle East because “those people” have always been so violent. They are quite content to brandish their own religion as a weapon to justify genocide. I am confident that many of those cultists would feel the same if such weapons were used against “violent” brown people in Mexico or “violent” Black people in “liberal” cities. But your guess is just as good as mine.

So what can non-cult believers do to help avoid whatever catastrophe is yet to come? Probably not much, if anything at all. Some things in life just need to play out to their inevitable conclusion. I do believe, however, that the rest of us must stand up for what is right, no matter what the consequences are to ourselves. Because if Trump is just allowed to steal another term, the consequences will be much greater for the rest of humanity.

Joe Jabonaski is a resident of Athol.


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