The cult of Trump

If you’ve seen American pop culture media over decades you have seen a great deal of celebration of this type of character.

We have also promoted the admiration of the “guy who’s out of fucks to give”, and made it a consistent trope that the people who insist in playing by the rules and observing the norms are just lame squares and wrong about things.

Heck, in business we have elevated “disruption” to be something to look for.

What has happened is that those posing those images and ideas neglected to properly communicate that it’s not a matter of disruption or rules-breaking or not caring what others say is good for its own sake. You get then a culture that welcomes underpants-gnome logic: “1. Ignore established rules; 2. ???; 3. Justice and Goodness triumph! AND we profit!”

Well, at least you’re now acknowledging that there are such relationships! But I assure you that my point isn’t to show that they involve close or even genuine friendship.

Then what were you intending to convey by using the phrase “good friend”?

I don’t see much point in continuing this, other than to point out that it’s a standard (if tired) right-wing trope to claim that Bill and Hillary were “good friends” with Donald. It was never true. And more importantly, it’s not a claim that advances any serious theses about any of those people.

What I mean by that is that the relationships of the rich are based on conveniences, i.e., what is advantageous or pragmatic. I have no idea why you thought I meant something else.

As for whether or not it “advances any serious theses about any of those people,” I’ll wait and see if you can connect what I meant to the thread topic.

@ralfy
Your theory does not make a lot of sense. Trump is not the type of person who does things for others. Nor did he run his election like he wanted Clinton to win. He completely vilified her in the minds of his followers. He ran hard against her. His campaign and presidency had tons of leaks, and yet none of them were about “how can we make sure Clinton wins?”

The way you are arguing doesn’t seem to be based on factual analysis. Not only did you put forth a conspiracy theory, but you seem to be borrowing rhetorical techniques from conspiracy theory sites.

For example, it’s not up to us to put together the pieces. Making you connect the pieces yourself is something done on conspiracy theory sites to get you to believe things more. The idea is that, if they say something out loud, it can be rebutted. But if they lead you to draw the conclusion yourself, you’re more likely to believe it.

You’re also playing loose with language. You said “good friends.” People pointed out why that term doesn’t fit, so you changed tried to change what it meant, and then acted incredulous that anyone could have possibly meant literally good friends. That’s exactly how those who make false predictions cover up for their mistakes. “I wasn’t wrong. You just didn’t understand what I really meant!”

Sorry. The more far-fetched an explanation, and the more people you need to be in on a conspiracy, the less likely it is true. It’s comforting to think that there’s someone in control of all of this, but there really isn’t.

People only start believing these sorts of things when anxiety is high, like during a national tragedy. Or when something you thought couldn’t happen actually does. It doesn’t make sense that someone as evil as Trump could have won, and it’s scary as hell that this one little virus in an animal can cause a global pandemic.

But it’s the truth. In the vast majority of cases, things are as they appear to be.

As for the topic of this thread: there are definite cult-like issues with Trump. But he was really using the cult-like aspects of that alt-right and hard right.

I will once again link the Alt-right Playbook, a well researched set of video essays on the topic. This time I’ll link to the one that is about radicalization, and how it works.

You may also be interested in a more academic talk he did to try and reach the more academic crowd:

Both should link the full playlist. I really think that, if we’re going to discuss this sort of thing in an informed manner, everyone needs to be aware of the information it contains. Yes, I know that video is not the preferred format for many of you, but I do wish you’d power through it.

In all fairness, Obama also had a strong cult following. His followers would cry when they heard him speak. But his cult was nowhere near as strong, dangerous, or delusional as the Trump cult.

I’ve heard this claim from the right, but I’ve never seen it. Even his most fervent supporters would accept that he was fallible, and would not wait on him to tell them what to do. They weren’t ready to excuse any and all wrongs, or deny reality, saying it was all a conspiracy by the Republicans.

It makes sense: the left tends to question authority. They don’t tend to have a religious devotion to their politics or politicians. I’d say one of our biggest problems is how much we try to eat our own instead of coming together.

Teenage girls used to scream when they saw the Beatles, but they weren’t in a cult. They were just fans. Obama had fans and admirers, but to call them a cult would stretch the word beyond its meaning. We didn’t see Obama’s admirers abandon reason or become violent or willfully shun medical science.

Cultists are identified by their acceptance of an obvious non-fact. The John Birchers believed that President Eisenhower was a Communist. The Trumpists believe that their Donald won the election. Obama’s followers were too rational for that.

We never got a test if Obama had a significant cult following. He never told or implied or incited his supporters to do anything other than vote. He never said something obviously false and than insisted, over and over again, that it was true. He never did or said anything nuts, in other words.

Well, yeah, because the Deep State still had things arranged so he didn’t have to but if he had they sure would have rioted. Just because Dear Leader Trump had to do those things to get Amerika right again doesn’t make him a bad person!!1!

And Beau Biden!
And emails!
And – and Benghazi!!

Now excuse me while I wipe this foam from my mouth.

Of course he does things for others. He just wants something in return. The same goes for Clinton, Obama, Biden, Bush, and others.

I don’t know what you mean by factual analysis: are you looking for leaked information, psychological analyses of politicians, or sociological studies of their admirers? Also, are you aware that all of the sources I’ve shared are not from conspiracy theory sites but from mainstream media?

Are you looking for something like this?

If so, then would you also like to consider another article from the same magazine from a few years earlier?

Of course, sociopaths and psychopaths are not the same, but the points are notable:

In this presidential election season where, as usual, the fur is flying and name-calling is in full swing, one invective seems to be gaining currency – psychopath. A web search for “Romney” or “Obama” and “psychopath” (or, more generally, “politician” and “psychopath”) yields millions of hits. While it’s tempting to dismiss this phenomenon as mere venting by angry voters, the rantings of conspiracy theorists, or even bloggers trying to drive traffic, it is worth at least asking the question: could they be right? If these pundits mean that the targeted office-seekers are evil or “crazy,” probably not. But if they are pointing out that politicians and psychopaths share certain characteristics, they could be on to something.

Here’s the punchline:

There is more at work than just the drive to seek office, though; psychopaths may have some peculiar talents for it, as well. Research has shown that disorder may confer certain advantages that make psychopaths particularly suited to a life on the public stage and able to handle high-pressure situations: psychopaths score low on measures of stress reactivity, anxiety and depression, and high on measures of competitive achievement, positive impressions on first encounters, and fearlessness. Sound like the description of a successful politician and leader?

Now, I can study this matter even more, but I’m certain you can do that by yourself. My only point is to show you that what I’m sharing is not exactly based on conspiracy theories. At least that’s what sources ranging from The Atlantic to personalities like Noam Chomsky have been stating: we’re looking at not just a “cult of Trump” but cults of personalities: either authoritarian or compassionate, but all colluding with those who are in actual power, if not with each other.

Still don’t believe me? Take a look at U.S. history for the past seven decades, especially the relationship between the country and others, especially weaker ones, and see for yourself.

One more thing: in case you’re wondering where my initial points came from, they’re from Michael Moore.

I don’t know who specifically you are referirng to since you don’t include a cite, but many people who cried when Obama spoke didn’t do so because of him, but because of what he represented. They were crying because after hundreds of years of slavery and oppression a black man was elevated to the highest position in our nation. That’s not cultism that’s freedom.

I’d actually argue that a large part of the most inner circle are probably NOT worshippers; they’re probably very cynical people who know Trump’s a dangerous ass, but feel like they stand to gain in some way by propping him up / propagating the cultic events/mythology. These would be the megachurch preachers, some other politicians, the political operatives (i.e. Steve Bannon, et al.) and so forth.

Outside of that, I think that you’re mostly on the money, and there are indistinct boundaries between fans and worshippers and supporters- a gradient, not 3 distinct classes. So there are definitely people out there who think he’s literally anointed by God to save the US and so forth, there are a LOT of people who don’t buy into that nonsense, but still are fans of his, because he sticks it to the libs, says the things they want to say, doesn’t “talk like a politician”, and so forth. And then at the very outside, there are people who voted for him, because they don’t like the Democratic party and/or the specific candidates they ran in 2016 and 2020, but who aren’t into all the Trump personality cult BS. These folks are not really Trumpers in my mind, except in the most technical sense of having voted for him instead of for Clinton or Biden. Lots of these people who voted for him in 2016 did not vote for him in 2020, because he turned out to be so personally odious.

Absolutely. Obama is a phenomenally good speaker and speechwriter, one of the best political speechifiers we’ve had in years. His sonorous voice and soaring rhetoric definitely inspired emotions in people.

But “Leader put an 18 in charisma” isn’t on any cult checklist I’ve ever seen.

That’s your standard for being in a cult?

Hell, I cry whenever I hear Trump speaking. And I guarantee you I do not support that jerk.

Obama’s most fervent supporters, or at least the white ones, thought he was a moderate, and considered that a big defect. I remember posting this and being told it was all wrong.