Separate and apart from mainstream America’s appropriate expression of its disinclination to endure a second term of the perversely unprecedented Presidency of Donald J. Trump, there appears to exist, nevertheless, an unmarked underlying threat to our Republican Democracy. The nature of this profound threat is found in a perceived analysis of the perilous character of the slightly less than fifty- percent of America’s voters, who voted for him. Noticeably and ominously they did so in lockstep and as a solid bloc, determinatively undeterred, by the many undeniably visible demonstrations of Trump’s obvious incapability and blatant immorality, and would doubtless, vote for him again if given the opportunity to do so. Our concern, and, indeed, the thematic basis of this writing is the discerned existential threat to democratic governance, by the rise of a pernicious new dynamic in that part of the voting population.
We had previously struggled with the troubling conundrum concerning the ascertainment of an acceptable rationale for Trump’s popular support by millions of Americans, in light of his demonstrated incompetence, ignorance and systemic immorality; and we have been left with a disturbing conclusion. On an empirical basis, in view of Trump’s evidently poor performance, it would seem impossible, other than such considered conclusion, to rationally comprehend the inclination of those many millions of Americans who cast their vote for him and seemingly, still support him.
We had, in past writings, ascribed such undeserved support to causes such as, unsophisticated vulnerability to Trump’s demagogic assertions of “ a better life,” and factors as, insecurity motivated tribalism and “groupthink,” to nihilism (especially regarding the subjects of learning and education), to projection and attribution of discontent with life to Washington, compared with tactically misleading misrepresentations that Trump is a crusading outsider, to bigotry and to unsophisticated reductionism.
It may well be that some, or all of our previous attributions have merit, and yet, we have recently come to see another (irrational) basis for his support, which, if true would be, by far, the most concerning. Trump’s incapacity, dishonesty and immorality, apparently, seems irrelevant to his irrational and devoted supporters. We have concluded that the diagnosis of this pathology is otherwise, far reaching and more dangerous.
It would appear that the bizarre and unprecedented phenomenon is not confined to that part of the population which we have often described as inadequately educated or non- informed, “flat earth” reductionists. It is shocking to learn that more U. S. Senators have COVID-19 than have been willing to acknowledge that Trump has lost, and Biden has won the election, irrespective of that empirically confirmed truth. America has never experienced such a bizarre, wide-spread denial of the universally reported and accepted results of a Presidential Election; the diagnosis must be owed to an alternative, more serious and markedly different basis from that of our previous attribution.
We would argue that the concept and dynamics of “cultism” has reared its eerie, pathological head in our National Presidential politics. We see no alternative explanation for so great a dedicated support for an objectively shown, low- class persona as Donald Trump. Despite every rational and empirical indications to the contrary, he is irrationally viewed, by his followers, with true charismatic devotion as a leader, imbued with the power to ameliorate all problems and who possesses the ultimate answers to our National and personal issues. One can, safely, rule out the recent record of his four- years of demonstrated malpractice, ignorance, and criminal behavior, and proven serial mendacity might only, we conclude, be acceptable by the irrational, self-deprecating phenomenon of cultism; with his millions of sycophants, respectively motivated by any one, or another, of a variety of nuanced neurotic needs.
We are not in possession of a sufficient educational background, regarding the phenomenon of cultism, except to empirically observe that this aberrant and bizarre facet of neurotic behavior has proven to be far from conducive to society, nor, in any way, useful or acceptable behavior. By its communal context, it minimizes the worth of the demeaned individual and has often resulted in tragic endings. The academic study of cults would properly involve the disciplines of psychology, anthropology, sociology and theology. For illustration, we would cite a few: “The Manson Family,” “Branch Davidians,” Heaven’s Gate,” and, “People’s Temple”(Jones). More relevant here, may be the historically dangerous cults, involving autocratic heads of State, including, Mussolini, Hitler, Franco, Mao-Tse Tung and Fidel Castro.
We have, as layman observers, noticed that some of the relevant factors may be, general dissatisfaction with life, a neurotic need for a belief system, and, as well, as the existence of certain diagnosable personality disorders. These troubled people surely comprise some fertile ground for the implantation of cultism. However, we would earnestly hope that, in the interest of preserving our democracy, the aberrative behavior of such a large mass of these apparently “hypnotized” eternal worshipers of the disgraceful and egotistical, Donald Trump, will, sooner than later, be looked at by those whose education has focused on the dangerous and unhealthy phenomenon of cultism.
If our deeply concerned diagnosis of cultism is accurate, the imminent danger to our republican democracy is no less than tragically existential. Unless such diagnosed pathology is summarily recognized and dealt with, educationally, legally or otherwise, the Nation’s historic aspiration toward a truly representative, democratic government, (by and for the people) and expressly so construed in the architecture of our Constitution, will otherwise be completely frustrated and entirely undermined.
Perhaps one possibly useful solution would be (as posited in our prior writings on various subjects) the legislation of a prerequisite requirement that all candidates for Presidential nomination, undergo a non-political examination as to capability and societally acceptable persona. The considerations requisite to acceptability for the elevation to, arguably, the World’s highest position, the President of The United States, and leader of the free world is, inarguably, at least as necessary as the regularly required job interview mandated for applicants for more mundane employment.