"Donald Trump is Satan. The Satan in question is perhaps the greatest literary character in the finest epic poem in the English language, John Milton’s Paradise Lost. .. Trump as Satan: you might think it’s absurdly over-the-top, or want to celebrate it as a (literally) epic takedown, but this is not a political statement hurling invective. It’s an analytical statement describing what is happening – what will happen – and why, aided by the Miltonic intervention. Great literature helps us understand the world. Both politicians and literary critics do their jobs best when they’re willing to use literature to think about life."- Jeffrey R. Wilson, Spectator USA, June, 2020
What the hell is it that has so many millions of Americans willing to slobber over a loser, traitor and human garbage named Trump? Have they all lost their collective senses, or spines, or both? The latest news that Georgia lawmakers are ready to change the state constitution to protect Trump from a grand jury investigation over his meddling in the state vote count has Janice nearly apoplectic. What the hell is it with this man? Why are so many willing to bend over for him!?
Then there are all the GOP state legislatures now on the warpath for Trump ready to censure each Rep or Senator who voted to impeach his sorry ass. Senators like Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Ben Sasse of Nebraska. What's with that? These people put their sacred oaths to the Constitution before obeisance to a walking piece of human sewage and they get censured? Has the whole nation lost its mind, its moral bearings?
If you wanted a snapshot of what the Republican Party has become under Donald Trump, you need look no farther than this letter, penned by a cousin of Kinzinger and signed by several members of the congressman’s own family. The actual screwball that wrote it (Karen Otto, Kinzinger's cousin) claimed he had "joined the devil's army" simply because he was one of the House Republicans to vote to remove the feral orange maggot from office. The main letter writer went on to spout:
“Oh my, what a disappointment you are to us and to God! You have embarrassed the Kinzinger family name!”
'Oh my' ? Are you kidding me? "Joined the devil's army"? Trump is the fucking devil! As for a "disappointment to God", YOU are the disappointment, Karen - assuming there is a deity. On the other hand, any such deity on seeing this crazy codswallop would at once realize the need for retroactive abortion.
Evidently this moron kook paid $7 to send it by certified mail to Kinzinger’s father — to make sure the congressman would see it. Which he did. But as I asked Janice, What manner of brain- disabled looneytune goes to all that trouble for a crass schwein hund like Donald Trump?
Of course, Trump isn't the first powerful authoritarian figure to have subservient masses ready to walk off cliffs for him, do his bidding. Jim Jones, for example, lives on in infamy because he did just that with his establishment of Jonestown in Guyana. He had his American slaves calling him "Father" and literally asking permission to take a dump. By the time of of the mass suicide in November, 1978, hundreds had been abused by him after sacrificing their brains, their will, and their individuality.
But then Jim Jones commanded just a minimal cult of about a thousand, not a teeming mass of millions who salivate over every word as they watch him on TV or on social media. Also, Jones had only limited power. It wasn't like he had an entire political party by the balls - such that he could steer it any way he wanted- including such a large faction as to threaten our nation's democracy with his lies, sedition.
Here's the skinny: Whatever critics’ opinions of him, Trump continues to monopolize national attention- this even after leaving nearly a half million dead from the virus, losing the 2020 election and then being repudiated in a 57-43 pro-conviction vote in the Senate. And this after being directly tied to inciting an insurrection, the first storming of the Capitol in over 200 years. So again, what gives? Why do so many millions still worship this loathsome maggot?
Perhaps the best comprehensive take was offered by Jeff Sharlet in a Vanity Fair piece last year ('He's The Chosen One To Run America: Inside The Cult of Trump, His Rallies Are Church And He Is The Gospel') See e.g.
As every day brings fresh cycles of media coverage and new accounts of those ready to defend or protect him, I sought out my Psych post doc niece Shayl's take. Her thesis, after all, was based on the use of social media and its adverse effects. I asked: Why are so many willing to line up with this waste of space, this forlorn lowlife loser and ass clown? Have they no sense, no shame, not even a menial intellect to see through him?
Her answer surprised me: "They have grievances, and a lot of aggression that they can discharge best through social media and using Trump - as their avatar".
Huh? She went on:
"Look, uncle Phil, the pandemic has addled the brains of millions, depressed other millions. They're stuck in limited home cages all day, their kids are home driving them nuts, plus they have to listen and watch liberal eggheads telling them to mask up, social distance, stay locked down and do this and do that. Even after losing their jobs and having to scrounge to survive.
In this condition, lies and what you call 'conspiracy ideations' acquire enormous purchase. Also, they are able to spread like wildfire with algorithms such as on Facebook. All they needed was a consummate liar in chief to pump them up and provide confirmation bias. Add to that the need for a big, powerful daddy figure , especially one who will take it to the libs, own the science eggheads, make 'em cry. This is what it's all about! This is why they cling to Trump, because he gives them a powerful vicarious identity they lack in their own lives."
Well, I could scarcely believe what I was hearing but it did make a kind of hyperbolic sense. But could it explain why so many MILLIONS had taken the kool aid?
Say what you will, Trump has succeeded magnificently at building a personality cult of the kind that generations of authoritarian leaders have used to maintain their popularity, keeping elite and grass-roots followers loyal to them no matter what they say or do. Understanding how personality cults work is essential to any assessment of the Trump presidency, starting with his ability to win 11 million more votes in 2020 than in 2016, despite spiraling coronavirus infection rates and economic hardship.
In the case of Trump, much of the indiscriminate slobbering and worship is what Jeff Sharlet in his piece calls, "divinity disguised as earthly provocation". Thus, Trump emerges as a demigod to be adored and whose every word and gesture is interpreted. This is also, curiously, the trick to how Jim Jones ruled his smaller masses in Guyana. Divinity disguised as provocation. Hitler used the same template.
A willingness to grab pussies? To rile a mob? Yes, provocation, but Trump's "divinity" is working beneath the surface to trip up the Satanic- worshipping Dems, their "abortion mills" and their plans to take 'Murica down.
For over 100 years, strongman leaders like Trump and Hitler have found favor at moments of transition, when traditional parties, beliefs and political systems no longer seem adequate and progress toward racial and gender equality leaves many unsettled.
Often coming from outside politics, these figures (like Hitler) forged whatever alliances were convenient and necessary to grab power and keep it. Hitler did it using the Enabling Act which basically dissolved the seat of Weimar democracy, the Reichstag. Trump tried to do it by using an insurrection to halt the certification of electoral votes for Biden.
Also, as Shayl pointed out, the demagogues' amoral and opportunistic attitudes explained why they ended up with an improbable mix of supporters, i.e. religious authorities, criminals, business elites and homemakers prominent in their bases. Essentially - as part showmen- they could target pitches and cons to particular subgroups and thereby get all of them in line. For Hitler, the radio provided the means, for Trump it was his Twitter account.
Once established. often by blizzards of lies and propaganda, personality cults helped the strongman be whatever his followers needed him to be at that moment. Be a gadfly or bully to the libs? No problem! Beat up on Mitch Mc Connell for castigating Trump - again no problem!
While authoritarian rulers are often weak and paranoid characters- like Trump, Hitler and Mobutu - their acumen at using the available communication media is key to sustaining the illusion of strength, of power - including to take down critics. Thus, having a direct communication channel with the public is key to maintaining a personality cult. Trump also profited because the mainstream media, like during his 4 year reign, treated every tweet as some profound policy pronouncement. As opposed to chiding him for not holding traditional press conferences.
Meanwhile, the propaganda strategies used, like rallies, have stayed remarkably the same, even as information mediums have changed. Mussolini used newsreels, Hitler used radio, and Trump had used Twitter, with his misspelled words and grade-school vocabulary playing into his “everyman” persona.
Over a century, a central paradoxical truth seems to hold: The more skilled the leader is at mediacentric politics, the more his admirers see him as authentic, as real. This also opens the door to swallowing his lies especially if repeated often enough. ('This is just another witch hunt and hoax!'). The more feedback reinforced in social media, the greater the power given to this authenticity and the more the lies acquire legitimacy. In this way a parallel universe of "alternative facts" is formed.
Trump worked hard to build his cult and then used it like a malignant cancer to take over the GOP. Given that success with so many in the party- as well as his vast base- ready to keep sucking his balls, it’s doubtful he will let it languish, or cede power to anyone else. . More likely, he will refresh it with a declaration of a 2024 presidential candidacy, allowing him to act as a shadow leader for his deranged base. This will also allow the continued use of rallies and other social media tools to advance his public persona.
The aim would be to keep him in the spotlight, preventing younger, more competent figures in the GOP from emerging as rivals. And also keep the Republican party as a personality cult heading for oblivion on account of its Trump addiction.
The Reeps had the chance to alter that outcome by voting for his conviction - thereby preventing him holding any public office- but they punked out. They signed whatever 'souls' and direction over to Trump ensuring more political division, mayhem and surreal conspiracy beliefs in the GOP masses. In other words, they established an unstable condition for our nation for the indefinite future.
Will it ever end? Well, consider Shayl's words - channeling me: "Maybe if Trump croaks, say from a nasty Covid variant."
by Robert Reich | February 16, 2021 - 8:01am | permalink
The bare-bones doctrine of the cult is as follows.
(1) Trump is not a normal politician but a man chosen by God, as shown by his public praise for the Bible and his dramatic display of the Bible in his famous walk across the tear-gas cleared Lafayette Square to St. John’s Church June 1, 2020. He may not quote the Bible or show much interest in it but he’s definitely the leader of the Christians in this country, against the godless Democrats.
(2) Trump’s victory in 2016 was a turning point in “making America great again.” All the progress of his term—making the world respect us, again; keeping out Muslim terrorists; building a wall to keep out immigrants; signing brilliant new trade deals; appointing ultra-conservative judges; bringing back Christmas—is now under threat as Biden promises to make America weak again.
(3) Trump won the 2020 election in a landslide. But the Democrats—who had attacked him unfairly after his election in 2016, as a Russian puppet who’d won with Russian support—challenged his second win. It is thus fair for Trump to question the legitimacy of Biden as the Democrats had questioned his.
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