Musing about law, books, and politics

Trump’s cult of leadership is crumbling

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Yesterday, I made this comment:

I should have added Trump won’t succeed in derailing the investigation. (I’ve also been saying that, though, right?)

In fact, right now, we are watching in real time as Trump’s cult of leadership is crumbling.

1/ Until now, Trump’s strategy of playing to the “base” was working. His “base” is the approximately 35% of the population that embraces right wing authoritarianism (RWA) and wants a strongman.

2/ Because of the realignment of the parties after the Civil Rights movement, the RWAs ended up concentrated in the GOP.

Even though Trump’s base is a minority, controlling them has given Trump enormous power.

3/ This is partly because RWAs have built-in advantages. They fall in line. Plus rural areas have an electoral college and Senate advantage. Liberals embrace diversity. They’re comfortable with nuance. By definition they splinter into groups.

4/ Also, RWAs are willing to cheat and break rules. Trump established his cult by virtue of being a “strongman.” He breaks rules! He destroys people in his way! This was attractive to RWAs.

5/ Trump backed himself into a corner with the government shutdown. He evidently thought Pelosi and the Democrats would cave. When they didn’t, his base splintered (RWA groups don’t often splinter).

Many of them wanted Trump to continue his strongman tactics (from The Conservative Review):

6/ They told him: Don’t be weak! Never be weak! They told him to refuse to compromise on “principle.”

The problem was that other members of the base were hurting because of the shutdown.

7. During the shutdown, the Leaders were telling the RWAs that their suffering “wasn’t that bad,” or that they were “willing” to sacrifice for the larger cause.

They knew it wasn’t true. Reality collided with Trump’s version of the Truth.

8/ In a cult of leadership, people believe that the leader’s “instincts” are superior to the rational logic used by “elites.” They believe his version of the Truth.

Cults break when reality comes up against the “Truth” espoused by the Leader.

Trump found himself between a rock and a hard place. Part of his base admonished him to be strong.

9/ Another vital part wanted the shutdown to end.

When your power depends on 35% of the population, you can’t afford for your base to splinter.

10/ Trump caved. Ann Coulter led the charge against him by letting loose her fury at his “weakness.”

And that, my friends, is how leadership cults crumble.

11/ I’ve often thought the question was this: When will Trump’s crimes be too heavy for the GOP to bear?

Instead the question is: When will Trump’s version of the Truth no longer hold up to reality.

12/ This morning, Trump promised a wall in 3 weeks.

What happens in 3 weeks when there is no wall? ( I’ve written about how Trump supporters believe any lie he tells, here.)

When it becomes impossible for his followers to continue believing his lies, the Trump cult will die.