In the United States starting in 2015, Donald J. Trump came onto the political scene and enthralled a large section of the American electorate with grand promises and brash speeches. He appealed to many as an outsider entering a system that was clearly broken, with a Congress that had a Gallup approval rate of just 17% nationally at the time.
He held large rallies and turned his campaign into a business venture, with foreign-made campaign signage and apparel, to spread his brand all across the United States.
During his campaign in 2016, he began demanding loyalty from his supporters, although he paused that when the pledge looked more like a Nazi salute. His rhetoric and campaign slogans eventually won over the voters in the Republican Party as he won the nomination and scored an upset in the presidential election.
He made similar loyalty demands to those he hired for his administration once elected. It wasn't loyalty to the country he was asking for, it was fealty to him he desired and requested. As people who stood up for the rule of law and the Constitution made themselves known by their actions, Trump would have them removed from their jobs within his government and appoint people that were sycophants in their stead.
As this was apparent, you saw a push back from the American voter in 2018 who turned the House of Representatives to a Democratic majority as a check on the power-grabs of this president, and ultimately led to his impeachment for his conduct pertaining to Ukraine.
Led by a corrupt media platform in Fox News that has a news segment that gets drowned out by opinion personalities that excuse Trump's lawlessness at every turn, the Republican Party has been swallowed up by Trump.
That became abundantly clear in the year 2020.
Despite clear evidence of misconduct, the GOP Senate refuses to convict an impeached Trump
The year started out with multiple Republican Senators noting that what Trump did in withholding military funds approved by Congress for Ukraine until they announced (not actually conducted) an investigation into Trump's likely 2020 election opponent, Joe Biden, was wrong.
Senator Lamar Alexander said, “I think he shouldn’t have done it — I think it was wrong." Senator Joni Ernst called Trump's actions “not what I would have done.” Senator Rob Portman added "some of Mr. Trump’s actions were wrong and inappropriate” followed by Marco Rubio saying, “just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office.”
In embarrassing themselves further, John Bolton, Trump's former National Security Advisor at the time of the inappropriate action, offered his pertinent testimony to the Senate but the Republicans stood together in denying him the opportunity to be heard on the matter - the first time the Senate refused to hear from witnesses in an impeachment trial.
Only one Republican Senator, Mitt Romney, crossed over and voted to convict Trump for his clearly improper behavior pertaining to the 2020 election.
Maine Senator Susan Collins even excused the criminality as a lesson saying, "I believe that the president has learned from this case," she told Norah O'Donnell of CBS News. "The president has been impeached. That's a pretty big lesson."
How many times have criminals had a trial and been acquitted despite the evidence showing they committed the crime, but had the jury use the reasoning that being charged was enough of a lesson? That's not how the law is supposed to work unless you are subject to the whims of Trump's cultish base of voters.
Willing to accept his failures pertaining to Covid-19
In a separate article, I have noted all the ways that Trump and his administration have failed the American public in regards to Covid-19. From ignoring the initial warnings in mid-January, to downplaying the severity of the virus, to undermining Governors and the experts at the CDC, to halting work on a national testing program for political reasons, to pushing for the country to reopen before it was safe, to ignoring social distancing and mask guidelines that his own experts were putting out, Trump failed this country during this crisis.
What's truly amazing about the Trump cult's views are that in the face of a death toll approaching 200,000 Americans in the country, a CBS News-YouGov poll was taken and determined that 57% of Republicans said that number was acceptable. Members of the Trump cult are willing to accept a failure of leadership that has led to more Americans dying than in World War I and Vietnam combined.
And worse, some cult members are willing to try his suggestions for treatments for the virus
Not previously mentioned in Trump's failures in regards to Covid-19 are his public treatment prescriptions for the virus. He has been pushing a drug in hydroxychloroquine since April and then suggested people inject disinfectants and Ultraviolent rays into the body.
This led to a spike in people listening to his advice and misusing these recommendations, with someone in Arizona actually losing their life for mistaking fish tank cleaner for what the Trump noted.
Time compared the data from 2019 to 2020 and noted that accidental poisonings due to household disinfectants were up 121% in 2020 after Trump's comments. This is the equivalent to people drinking the Kool Aid at the Jonestown Massacre in the 1970's.
Willing to accept 2016 Trump Campaign collusion with Russia
In August of 2020, the Senate Intelligence Committee that has Republican members Rubio, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton and John Cornyn, issued a report on the 2016 election interference by Russia.
In that report, they confirmed that Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort had coordinated with Russian Intelligence and shared internal polling data with members of their government.
But not wanting to upset their cult leader, even as the report landed, the committee’s acting chairman, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), sought to downplay, if not directly contradict, those findings.
Rubio joined in a statement with five other committee Republicans in asserting something the report does not — that “the Committee found no evidence that then-candidate Donald Trump or his campaign colluded with the Russian government.” Rubio added in his personal statement that he could say this “without any hesitation.”
So in summary, the members of Trump's cult find no issue with Russia helping to elect someone that would be sympathetic to their country. And we have seen this play out when Trump sided with Putin over his own intelligence agencies about the 2016 election hacking. He also committed ten acts of obstruction of justice pertaining to the Russia Investigation conducted by Robert Mueller. He failed to call out Russia when intelligence confirmed they were offering bounties on our troops. And recently, Trump has brushed off criticism of a clear assassination attempt of a Putin critic.
Willing to accept that Trump was not investigated as a counterintelligence threat
All of the examples above show how Trump favors, and maybe even is beholden to Russia or Putin himself. At the end of August, the New York Times reported that Rod Rosenstein, when in charge of the purview of the Mueller Investigation, limited that to where Trump was not investigated as a counterintelligence threat to the United States.
It is believed that might have been a reason behind the firing of Andrew McCabe and the harsh treatment to undermine him in the media. Apparently, the Trump cult has no interest in knowing whether Trump's ties to Russia, of which there are suspected money laundering crimes, would be a national security threat to our country.
The GOP Announces a platform of just supporting Trump during the Republican National Convention
At the end of August, just prior to the Republican National Convention, the GOP made it official when they declined to publish a new platform. Instead, they stated 'that the Republican Party has and will continue to enthusiastically support the President’s America-first agenda.'
They go on to say 'that the 2020 Republican National Convention calls on the media to engage in accurate and unbiased reporting, especially as it relates to the strong support of the RNC for President Trump and his Administration.' As cult members, it's important to undermine the media just as the cult leader does.
Followers are now committing acts of violence based on his angry rhetoric
Trump has been using angry and violent rhetoric since early in his campaign. An ABC News report from May 2020 was able to identify at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
Recently, a 17-year old Trump supporter who had been seen in the front row at one of his rallies traveled across state lines to Kenosha illegally carrying a long gun he was not of age to be wielding and ended up shooting multiple people, killing two. The first, according to witnesses, threw a plastic bag at him. The second people he shot were trying to apprehend him after the first shooting and video made it appear as self-defense, if you can ignore the fact that he had already shot someone, as President Trump publicly did in defending this underage vigilante.
Then in early September, the FBI arrested two more Trump supporters who had traveled to Kenosha from MIssouri to see the president, heavily armed, after they announced they planned to loot and 'pick off' protesters.
Trump's angry rhetoric that there is wide-spread mobs was recently debunked by a study done that shows well over ninety percent of the social justice protests are peaceful. Trump likes to use what's called the Fallacy of Composition where he stereotypes entire groups based on the fringe conduct of the few. It's the same strategy he's using in trying to paint a very moderate Joe Biden as some kind of socialist.
In this case, Trump is selling to his very armed and dangerous base, that they need to act to thwart the looting and destruction of property in the cities where protests are taking place. Even Mike Pence joined in on the cult behavior when he noted the security guard killed in one of the cities where protests were occurring during his speech at the Republican National Convention. Pence conveniently left out that the guard was killed by a member of the Boogaloo Boys, a group more likely to be supporting Trump in the upcoming election.
Willing to accept systemic racism in the United States
On Trump's visit to Kenosha after protests rose up following an incident where a policeman shot an unarmed black man seven times in the back as he was trying to get into his car, he made it clear he was there to support law enforcement. He did acknowledge that this shooting was likely a mistake, like when a golfer chokes on a short putt.
But, in the same visit, he denied there was a systemic racism problem in the United States, despite the multiple incidents that have occurred in recent months from Breona Taylor to George Floyd to Ahmaud Arbery.
Days after returning to the White House, Trump removed federal racial diversity training, claiming it is divisive and Anti-American propaganda. Like his 'ignore it and hopefully it just goes away' strategy he uses for Covid-19 and climate change, Trump is in full denial that there are social justice issues that need addressing in this country.
And his cult spews that same ignorance while also claiming that the man who cannot acknowledge the innocence of the Central Park Five, or thinks minority Congresswomen from the United States should 'go back' to where they came from, and thinks that a Mexican judge cannot aptly do his job because of his heritage is not a racist. Many in the cult are not racists, but they are willing to overlook and deny that racism exists in their leader and in their country, that's for sure.
Willing to allow the disparagement of our military
The latest example of cultish behavior has to do with published remarks made by Trump that denigrated our fallen soldiers. Trump, who dodged the draft with a phony note from his doctor pertaining to bone spurs, was quoted as referring to fallen heroes as losers and suckers.
There was also an example of Trump standing with John Kelly at his sons grave and not understanding why someone would want to serve their country. Add to this that Trump was thought to skip a memorial service because he feared getting his hair wet while leaders from other nations made the forty minute drive to attend.
In the worst rebuke, his propaganda network confirmed the details of the story, forcing Trump to publicly ask for that reporter's firing (ouster from the cult). The reporter had a great comeback, noting that her sources were 'unimpeachable' about the matter. Ouch.
But, of course, the opinion side of Fox News had to defend the cult leader and undermined their own news reporting, prompting many to come to the very professional reporter's defense, including a GOP Senator. It didn't stop many Trump supporters from just convincing themselves that this was all just a Democratic scheme to undermine their cult leader - even when his own preferred propaganda network confirmed the story.
Some of those final examples really go to show how accepting of whatever reality Trump's base (cult) truly is. Even when members of a conservative news network confirm the details, they can talk themselves into believing something entirely different. Even members of a Senate Committee can publicly convince themselves that the conclusions they just published are not what they meant to say in order to not offend the voting bloc they lost to Trump as a cult leader.
For a while now, Trump supporters have been living in a different reality than Democrats and many independents. From the impeachment, to Trump failures (they think he's done a great job) on Covid-19, to his lawlessness (which they all deny ever occurred), they can ignore the economic ruin, the loss of life, and the racial divisions currently tearing the country apart.
The Trump cult has been susceptible to conspiracy theories such as Trump's racist Birtherism theory and Pizzagate, and now Qanon's garbage that they spew, for a long time and many are in denial about the many achievements that occurred under the past presidency. They give all the credit for smallish gains under Trump while ignoring huge drops, in the unemployment rate for example, under Obama and Biden.
The only way past this will be to vote out their cult leader and try and begin to rebuild the country. Hopefully the cult will eventually return to the same reality as the rest of us, something closer to a partisan middle. Both sides have moved too far to the fringes, that's for sure.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.