Deprogramming the Cultists

cult of Trump

Alexander Hurst, Escape from the Trump Cult

A long, discursive, instructive, but not fully conclusive reflection on how progressives should deal with Trump cultists. The author concludes,

We all feel the fatigue of merely existing in the Trump era, the rapid-fire assault on all of our political and social senses. We want immediate solutions to the Trump problem. We want to beat reason into his followers, until they recognize how wrong they are, or at the very least, submit. We want to blame them—justifiably—for perpetuating his sham.

I want these things. I want them in my gut. But I also know that the cult’s pull is so powerful that it risks destroying its opponents, by eliciting a counterproductive reaction to it. If we want to bring members of the Trump cult back into the mainstream of American life—and there will be plenty of those who say we should move on without them—resistance means not only resisting the lure of the cult and exposing its lies, but also resisting the temptation to punish its followers.

“When the cultic behavior is on a national scale, [breaking it up] is going to take a national movement,” Lalich says. Such an approach promises no immediate gratification. But it also might be the only way to move forward, rather than continue a dangerous downward spiral. Andrés Miguel Rondón, a Venezuelan economist who fled to Spain, wrote this of his own country’s experience of being caught up in an authoritarian’s fraudulent promises: “[W]hat can really win them over is not to prove that you are right. It is to show that you care. Only then will they believe what you say.”

Something’s Gotta Give

Let’s sum it up.

Finding themselves in tax-cutting, deregulatory Ayn Rand heaven, the Republican establishment has gleefully embraced the Cult of Trump.

Meanwhile, previous Trump supporters of the female persuasion are handing in their Cult membership cards in droves.

At the same time, the law enforcement and national security establishment, led by Trump appointees, vehemently rejects a central theme of the Cult of Trump: that claims of Russian interference are a witch hunt.

And, while the Cult of Trump is doing very well in some quarters, the object of its veneration, the Dear Leader himself, is doing badly. Soon, no one who bears the slightest resemblance to a minimally competent person—let alone the slightest resemblance to a qualified and morally upright person—will be left in the White House. The Dear Leader will be alone in his pajamas, cell phone in hand, tweeting madly.

The institution of the White House, at the core of our government, will have become entirely dysfunctional.

Taken together, these circumstances produce what Marx and Mao called “contradictions.”

Something’s Gotta Give.