by Shelton Bumgarner
I am winning myself no friends amongst the people I went to high school with when I call the people who still support Trump cult members. But as every day brings with it new scandals and revelations, there doesn’t seem to be any other answer but that.
Trump’s base is a cult.
What gets me is otherwise normal well-informed, educated people have succumb to this cult in such a way that they rationalize anything Trump does out of existence. In the end, it’s all rather chilling because it’s the people with logical explanations for why they can continue defend Trump that really bother me.
I was on a vacation of sorts and off the grid when it broke, but this whole Rob Porter debacle is a prime example of what I’m talking about. There is a lot going on with all of this. Something about Trump, in essence, poo-pooing domestic assault, added to his usual grab bag of misogyny, racism and bigotry is something of the last straw. I simply can’t brook such bizarre illogical behavior. How someone could possibly support a public figure who attempts to mitigate viable claims of domestic abuse is really beyond me. It is staggering that anyone could, at this point, continue to support Trump. I take violence towards women very seriously and the at best tepid response on the part of Trump to this fetid imbroglio leave much to be desired, to say the least. I find myself getting angry just thinking about it.
Ranting on Facebook about all of this doesn’t seem to matter. The Trump supporters I like on a personal level, while the ones I don’t like stick around and are oddly silent. The few times I do talk directly to my Trump supporting Facebook friends, it’s like talking to someone at Jonestown as they cruise towards the koolaid stand. They have so invested in the cancerous growth that is Trump that they’re a political zombie. They have reached a level of sheepdom that I don’t quite know what to do. They talk in a political language that is so surreal, so detached from my own personal reality that it’s literally like we’re on two different political planets.
I give then proof that Trump is a racist, they say he’s “tough on crime.” I give them any number of different reasons why they shouldn’t have voted for Trump in the first place, and they tell me Hillary Clinton was worse. This boggles my mind. I was no big Hillary Clinton supporter, but to me Clinton was a flaming pile of poop compared to the alien facehugger of Trump. I was right in 2016 and I’m right now.
The tragedy of all of this is that Trump supporters do, in fact, have any number of legitimate reasons to be furious at the established liberal order. But they got conned. They got conned by snake oil salesman who apparently put some potent mind-control substance in his elixir. My biggest fear is that Trump’s constant playing to the base, will, for various quirky reasons, actually work. It seems as though the Republican Party is hell bent on near-permanent power and if they do, they will reshape America in some pretty significant — and dystopian — ways.
It goes without saying that Trump’s victory laid bare the problems with the American body politic. I’m enough of a student of history to know that given the ebb and flow of presidential politics, it was inevitable that the situation we find ourselves in would happen. What makes it unique is Trump’s lack of an ideology and complete incompetence. Add to that his extremely ill-suited temperament and you have the makings of a pretty disastrous moment in American history.
Italy’s former prime minster Silvio Berlusconi is a lot like Trump and the only way he was extracted from power was his connection to an underage prostitution ring. I get upset and tell Trump supporters that Trump could literally strangle someone live on FOX News and they wouldn’t care, and they just chuckle and say it depended on who he strangled. Thus, at this point I honestly don’t see how Trump doesn’t serve out two terms. Trump is shaping up to be much like Reagan in how he defines his moment. The only thing that might, just might cause Trump not to be able to pick a successor — President Tom Cotton, anyone? — is, if anything, we’ve seen that by the end of a president’s second term, people grow tired and want change.
Before you get your hopes up, though, remember, Democrats were out of power on the presidential level for 12 years. It took them that long to find a new vision — the famous Third Way — that was so successful in the guise of Bill Clinton. So, it’s very possible we’re in for about 12 years of this insanity before someone bubbles up to the political surface and fixes things. Though, just as Reagan changed everything, I suspect for a lot of Trump’s changes in our political environment, there’s no going back.
You can’t screw things up this bad without changing things long-term. This doesn’t even begin to address the significant risk of continued Russian — or Chinese! — meddling in our politics for many, many years to come. It could be decades before we straiten things out and things begin to sort themselves out.
The ultimate tragedy is while liberals like me are distracted by the near daily outrages of the Trump Administration, Trump is pulling an epic fast one on us. He’s changing our government and some basic assumptions we have about the social contract in ways we simply aren’t going to be able to understand for generations to come. But, like said, this was inevitable. Trump is just putting his own bizarre spin on things.