Trumpism: A Death Cult…
“The (Republican) party is his. It doesn’t belong to anybody else.” QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)
Whom are you not allowed to criticize?
Following the dynamics of the Trump Impeachment – not only the Impeachment itself but also the events that led to it – is at the same time depressing and infuriating. I’m not going to review the Impeachment Trial here. Most, if not all, of you saw it yourselves. Those who didn’t see it as it happened can pull it up online –and it will be reviewed and analyzed repeatedly on cable news programs.
What is clear, as the QAnon Congresswoman cited above correctly notes, is that what used to be the Republican Party now belongs to Donald Trump. The so-called Grand Old Party of old, a traditional political party whose purpose it was to win elections in pursuit of a policy agenda, is no more. Trump has reconfigured the party such that its foundation is raw fear coupled with mendacity and cowardice.
The party’s sole purpose is to serve Trump. The Republican representatives and senators (with the exception of the ten who voted to impeach and the seven who voted to convict Trump) are scared to their very core of saying or doing anything that would upset former – and disgraced – president Trump. Even before the Impeachment Trial began, the great majority of Republican senators declared they were going to vote to acquit Trump. And to their everlasting shame, they did.
To Trump’s political minions it is of no consequence that Trump is no longer in office and is bereft of the awesome powers of the office or that Twitter, his political weapon of choice, has been taken away from him They still fear him viscerally. They dare not say anything even remotely critical of Trump. Take, for example, one of the most shameful of Trump’s minions: Texas Senator Ted Cruz. During the 2016 primary campaign, Trump publicly called Cruz’s wife ugly and falsely accused Cruz’s father of murder. Instead of standing up for his family, Cruz chose to be one of the most prolific Trump bootlickers. And, during the current Impeachment Trial, Cruz, a juror who swore an oath to be impartial, helped the Trump defense team strategize. These Republican minions personify perfectly French historian-philosopher Voltaire’s observation: “If you want to know who controls you, look at whom you are not allowed to criticize.”
To be sure, the bricks of the wall of fear of Trump are cowardice and lack of morals, but its foundation is plain selfishness. Today’s Republicans care only about their reelection – or election, in the case of those who may want to seek a higher office. Period. Nothing else matters to them. They don’t care about you, about us. They don’t care about their constituents. They don’t even care about their congressional colleagues and staff who were terrorized, some of whom would have been murdered if they had been found by the mob. Because Trump has convinced them that their reelection or election relies solely on his support, they will do anything, no matter how indecent, how evil, in order to be reelected or elected to higher office in the future. But as English poet William Cowper noted, “Glory, built on selfish principles, is shame and guilt.”
Trumpism is a cult…
But let’s be clear about this: Trumpism is not a political ideology. It is not a political movement. It is not a life, or political, philosophy. Trumpism is nothing more than a personality cult, and as we’ll see, a deadly one. In his book, “The Cult of Trump,” cult expert Steven Hassan (a former member of the “Moonies” cult) categorizes Trumpism as an unethical cult. These are based on authoritarian pyramid structures: they have someone at the top who claims to have total power and wisdom and who claims to be the only one who can save the world (in this case, the country) and the only one who has access to the truth. And they use deception to recruit members. The victims think they are buying into a movement of lofty ideals, etc., when in reality they are being used solely to bolster the leader’s ego and power. (Sean Illing, “Is Trumpism a cult?,”VOX, January 26, 2020) You can’t get a better description of Donald Trump’s perspective of life than that.
Over the last four years we have seen how Trump used – actually, misused – the power of the office he held for his benefit. And in the face of over 24,000 Trump lies documented by the Washington Post, he claimed to be the sole possessor of truth. In 2018, at a veterans convention, he said: “Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening … Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” (Rob Tornoe, “Trump to veterans: Don’t believe what you’re reading or seeing,” The Philadelphia Examiner, Jul 25, 2018) An overt, public, prolific liar the sole possessor of truth? How stupid or brainwashed must one be to believe that?
What the above description of Trump omits is cruelty. There are many examples of Trump’s cruelty, but one stands out from the others. Trump tore thousands of children from the arms of their mothers and fathers and put them in cages, depriving them of basic necessities such as blankets. Many of these children and youngsters have been subjected to physical and sexual abuse by staff members of the quasi-prisons they were herded into. This is not speculation. Several of the perpetrators were taken to court, prosecuted, and convicted. At least six of these children have died. This goes beyond cruel – it is plain evil.
There was a time…
All over the country, I’m sure there are people – including Democrats – who wistfully recall the “old” Republican Party. For, there was a time when Republicans who held moderate to liberal views on domestic and cultural issues were not only not demonized, they commanded national constituencies and were part of the party leadership. Some of these high-profile Republicans included New York Governor and U.S. Vice President Nelson Rockefeller and his brother Winthrop, Governor of Arkansas; Pennsylvania Governor Raymond P. Shafer; Pennsylvania Senator Hugh Scott; Illinois Senator Charles H. Percy; Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield; New York Senator Jacob Javits, and Massachusetts Senator Edward W. Brooke, the nation’s first African-American U.S. Senator elected by popular vote. In the 1960s, Brooke was one of the major champions of civil rights and lobbied his Republican colleagues to support the Voting Rights Act. These Republicans were very much pro-business but yet supported labor unions. They favored balanced budgets and did not hesitate to promote raising taxes in order to achieve them. And they viewed environmentalism, health care, and higher education as positive things.
And people remember the summer of 1974, when Republicans Barry Goldwater (U.S. Senator), John Rhodes (House Minority Leader) Hugh Scott (Senate Minority Leader) trekked over to the White House to advise President Nixon that he faced certain impeachment, conviction, and removal from office – on a bipartisan basis – in connection with the Watergate scandal. Nixon resigned the following day.
Those who believe lies…
Today’s Republican Party has surrendered its principles, its values, to the Trump cult. After he and the majority of Senate Republicans voted to acquit Trump, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell admitted openly that the House Impeachment Managers had proven their case, viz.: That Donald Trump indeed inspired the white nationalist, antisemitic insurrectionist mob that invaded the Capitol on January 6, 2021. That the insurrectionists caused the deaths of seven people – one the outright murder of a Capitol police officer – as they terrorized everyone in the building (senators, representatives, staff, police) as they sought out Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence to murder them.
The mob did this because, as McConnell admitted (and the House Managers proved), they believed Trump’s big lie that he had won the 2020 election by a landslide but that the election was rigged” – a sad manifestation of Voltaire’s observation that “Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices.” Murder is the gravest injustice.
The cowardly Republicans who endorsed the sacking of the Capitol, the murder of a police officer, the terrorizing of innocent workers, and all that went on in the Capitol on January 6, 2020 chose Trump over country, Trump over the Constitution, Trump over decency. By any measure of decency, Trump is evil. Trumpism is evil. As Martin Luther King, Jr. noted, those who passively accept evil, who do not stand up to evil, are cooperating with evil. Sadly for our country, the Republican Party has chosen to not only accept evil but to embrace and reward it. c/s