What’s The Deal With Trump Followers?

Five years ago when Donald Trump rode that escalator and announced his candidacy, everyone including most people who are now Trump-for-lifers, believed it was a stunt, and he was clearly unqualified. In the subsequent year-and-a-half of the campaign, one-by-one candidates dropped until one candidate remained, The Donald. Along the way, he gained a loyal following, and in the final months of the 2016 election, even many Republicans who previously mocked him were now onboard, even some people who proclaimed themselves to be “Never Trumpers.”

So, what’s the deal with Trump followers? I do call them followers for a reason, because his base of support is cult-like. It doesn’t matter what he does or says, they are with him until the end, whatever end that may be. How is this possible? How does a human being become so enamored with another human being who they hardly know, and certainly don’t know personally?

This is the question I’ve ruminated on for the past five years because it’s simply incompatible with my cognitive functions. I don’t understand the level of hero worship required to make one hear Trump’s violent and appalling words and think they are virtuous and worth cheerleading. How can you idolize someone who treats others so badly?

But there it is.

Who is the target of Trump’s vitriol? It’s Democrats. It’s liberals. It’s Nancy Pelosi. It’s Joe Biden. It’s those “others” in society who are, in his words, tearing down what makes America great. For his flock, what will “Make America Great Again” is a more authoritarian, more Christian, and more white society, or at least a society where “others” continue to be second-class citizens.

For many Trump followers, it’s not about policy. It’s not about less taxes. It’s not about healthcare. It’s not about making lives better. Hell, it’s not even about the Supreme Court. No, for many Trump followers, their fetishization of their leader is due to one simple thing. Trump hates who they hate. Trump mocks who they mock. Trump spews toxic energy in the direction of the people who his followers believe are un-American. But why do they so despise so many fellow Americans?

One look at Trump’s base reveals a largely white, middle-age or older populace who believe America is being ripped from their grasp by a less white, socially and racially inclusive populace, who in their view is ungodly.

In other words, it’s fear, with a heaping serving of racism and xenophobia.

We should have seen this coming. In fact, for a while now I’ve had this thought that the slowly but surely declining white majority would go “supernova” before they relinquished their authoritarian need to control people’s lives, particularly people who do not look like them. This sentiment has existed for as long as we’ve strived to make this country live up to it’s founding, not just for white people, but for all people. Trump’s 2016 candidacy and election triumph was the catalyst needed to give the white-aggrieved among us their much desired excuse to show us their true colors. They no longer needed to hide in the shadows. They no longer needed to hold their tongue. Its now a no holds barred quest for white, Christian authoritarian rule.

2020 is when we must send a decisive message to the regressive movement in this country that we will no longer reward bad behavior. We will no longer tolerate their intolerance. There is no redeeming quality, excuse, or argument left to gift another four years to Donald Trump.

Ensuring Trump is a one-term president by electing Joe Biden in November, will not suddenly repair all that ails this country, but I’m afraid if we give Trump four more years, this country might be beyond repair.