Why Do People Love 45?

Drew Angerer/ Getty Images

No matter what he says or does, 40 percent of Americans still worship the ground he walks on. He exhales lies instead of carbon dioxide, and they love him. Not just any lies, but vicious, hateful, demented lies that are light years removed from the real world. And they love him. He constantly stokes the flames of hatred and division, and incites violence. And they love him. He snuggles up to dictators and terrorists. And they love him. He pays off porn stars, engages in tax fraud, and commits treason. And they love him. He behaves like a spoiled six-year old addicted to cocaine. And they love him. He speaks in rambling disjointed quasi-sentences that betray illiteracy, total ignorance and an utter lack of sanity, logic, or decency. And they love him. He covers up a deadly pandemic for political advantage, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. And they love him. As someone so astutely observed, he could wipe his ass on the American flag, and they would gush about how patriotic his toilet paper is.

Is there anything that could possibly break the spell he has on his cult following? Alas, that’s not very likely. And in order to see why, we should try to understand why they admire him in the first place.

The explanations that his cultists themselves often give are nonsensical, delusional — and verbatim repetitions of soundbites that have been fed into them. He’s “making America great”. He’s “draining the swamp”. He’s “putting America first”. He’s “telling it like it is”. All of these slogans, of course, are as far apart from reality as you can possibly get — not just 180 degrees, but 180 degrees squared. So obviously they are not the real reasons why his cultists are so loyal — although the cultists themselves may believe they are.

Another explanation you often hear is that many people simply voted for him because they wanted to shake things up. They were tired of business as usual in Washington, so they wanted to throw a grenade into the whole mess and start over from the ground up. Well, there’s no doubt some truth to this theory, and the man they voted for is certainly a grenade — no, more of a nuclear warhead. But he’s already devastated Washington. And the media. And the economy. And the census. And the Postal Service. And the judicial system. And the environment. And America’s respectable standing on the globe. And everything else he’s ever touched. And as always, he’s managed to stuff his own pockets from the ruins.

But while this massive havoc might explain why some people were willing to support him the first time around, that doesn’t really explain why anyone with an anti-establishment bent would still be sticking with him. He now is the establishment. He ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp”, but he’s just made it much deeper than it ever was. Anyone who wants to see radical change in Washington would run from him like one of his trophy wives after getting the divorce papers signed. Yet his support level has remained consistently in the low forties throughout his rein.

One meme making the rounds suggests that the reason he appeals to some people is simply that he hates the same people they do. Yes, that’s absolutely valid. The members of his cult are certainly united in their hatred (and fear) of immigrants, gays, Muslims, secularists and above all “liberals”. They will do absolutely anything, even stick their own genitals in a meat grinder, to “own the libs”. Indeed, some people have suggested (again quite accurately) that it goes beyond hatred and fear to an absolute delight in cruelty. The cultists don’t back him in spite of all the suffering he causes; they back him because of it.

There is a certain perverse strain running through the psyche of a great many individuals that takes delight in, and derives a feeling of superiority from, the misfortunes of others — the same mentality that causes some computer whizzes to devote their time and talent to unleashing malicious viruses and worms into cyberspace rather than trying to help people solve their problems. And he’s the official poster boy for that mentality. He rips kids away from their parents, locks them in cages, mocks disabled journalists (along with everyone else) and does anything else he can think of that will give him a feeling of power over the powerless and disadvantaged.

To bolster this superiority complex they have crafted the narrative that “the left” is easily offended — a populace of “snowflakes” who are quickly “triggered”. In fact, one of the White House Occupant’s vile spawn wrote a book called Triggered, which purports to show just that. When it was released around Thanksgiving in 2019, Junior offered a free copy of the book to his fans who could post the best photo or video of a liberal relative being “triggered” at Thanksgiving dinner by right-wing antagonism. Imagine being such such a miserable excuse for a human being — and being so proud of it.

Here, by the way, are some of the folks who try to brand leftists as triggered snowflakes.

One might be tempted to show these people the kind of empathy they are incapable of experiencing themselves, and cut them some slack on the assumption that they’re just plain stupid, and can’t help it. But the thing is, they can help it. Nobody is forcing them to adopt the beliefs and values they maintain; they would not fall for the con job of the world’s most successful conman if they weren’t already inclined to be on the same wavelength. He appeals to the very worst aspects of human nature; and those who adore him, no matter what redeeming qualities they may have (and he himself has absolutely none) also possess that despicable disposition.

Of course, it is true that the cult is none too bright, though the cultists’ stupidity is largely deliberate and entirely under their control; all too typical among them is the fellow at a MAGA rally who said he hoped someone would get to the bottom of why President Obama was not in the Oval Office during the 9-11 attack. Anti-intellectualism has always been with us, and it’s always been an influential dynamic in American society. But today it’s stronger, more calculated, and better organized than ever; the Internet, which has the potential to keep the public much better informed than at any time in history, is also a festering hive of conspiracy theories and rumors. It’s easy to find a massive support network if you choose to believe global warming is a hoax, homosexuality can be “cured”, the earth was created 6000 years ago, and vaccinations caused Hillary’s emails to Hunter Biden in Benghazi.

And those who favor magical thinking over rationality have found a perfect figurehead in the Forty-Fifth White House Occupant — a man who knows nothing about history, government, law, science, economics or anything else, and has absolutely no interest in learning. For him, as for his fans, knowledge is not only unnecessary but undesirable — and scientists, academics and intellectuals are viewed as the enemy. Hillary Clinton’s reference to them as “deplorables” was the last straw with them, if they needed one. It convinced them that she looked down on people who wallow in the muck; but on the other hand, they became convinced that the know-nothing billionaire in Manhattan who’d never done an honest day’s work in his life, was one of them, and was sympathetic to their lifestyle.

This is a man, in short, who can get away with absolutely anything. And that, perhaps, is the real key to his appeal. He represents what his admirers wish they could be: completely powerful, and utterly without accountability. It is a part of the American Dream (or at least the American Delusion) to believe that anyone can accomplish anything. And unfortunately, the dark corollary of this is the belief that you can do absolutely anything without paying the price. For a handful of people who have the right connections, that is indeed a possibility. And the MAGA cultists have unflagging adulation for this person who was born into such a position. And they will bow down before him forever — even if their own lives are destroyed in the process.

One comment

  1. Fascism has always been about people who had some median level of power and success but feel that they have had it taken away from them. They dream of vengeance heaped upon those who helped keep them down, ridiculed or ignored them. These are not people with a lot of intellectual horsepower, well practised skills, or impressive talents. Their powers lay in their work-a-day willingness to work hard and suffer discomfort to get payback for their grievances. The movie is titled “The Triumph of the Will” not the artistic application of skill and talent.

    Their other strength is expressed in the simple fact that Hitler typically wore only one medal : the good conduct metal. They show up to vote and have good attendance.

    These are people who wish to impose their will upon others. To beat up weaker opponents just because they can. They wish to dominate and to demonstrate their domination upon people who cannot fight back. They force others to do what they don’t want to do. You force parents to give up their babies. Vegans to eat meat. Jews to eat pork.

    This was also the attraction of Rush Limbaugh’s show. It was structured to have people who all agreed, many who were paid and scripted, call in and add to the ‘nail soup’ of fun. Always leavened just a bit by people who were tricked into disagreeing were made to look foolish. There was very little organic to it with much of it scripted and prearranged to create the perfect fascist world where hero always made his point, always got the last laugh, and he brought the audience along and inside of the jokes.

    Hours a day lonely, isolated, angry white guys who feel thwarted would nod along to all the standard party lines and catch phrases. It was a safe zone where they could nurse their grievances, blame the others, indulge their fantasy of power and revenge, and never ever have to deal with their essential inadequacies.

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