Trumptown: The President as Cult Leader

Even if Trump fires Mueller or leads us into war, his supporters will still obey his every word.

In the entertainment world, there is shock over the arrest of actress Allison Mack, best known for her role on the popular 2000s TV show Smallville, stemming from her alleged role in a sex-trafficking cult. Fans of the program, and fans of Mack in particular, are stunned that Mack could have would up in such a bizarre group.

However, we shouldn’t be surprised by how easily folks end up in cults. 62 million of our fellow Americans joined such a cult less than two years ago.

The members of this cult cannot be deprogrammed. It’s a grim assessment, but not a false one. If they question their loyalty for a second, all their leader has to do is point to a perceived enemy–the “Deep State,” his opponent in the 2016 presidential election, Mexicans, Muslims, politically outspoken African-American athletes–and those members will fall back in line.

A good cult leader knows how to exploit gullibility–and Trump is a dark genius in this regard. Think of how many of our fellow Americans still believe the Central Park Five were guilty because Trump said so. Think of how many Americans still believe that undocumented immigrants are virtually all gangbangers and rapists. Think of how many Americans actually believe James Comey is a left-wing liar.

This is the sick power of the cult leader. He can convince so many that wrong is right, decency is despicable, logic is illogic. The members of this cult believe that every tweet from Trump is the truth; this thought process constitutes an intellectual wasteland that could lead to a very real wasteland.

Think of how many of these folks actually believe Trump’s efforts have led to lasting peace with North Korea. So many of our fellow citizens actually believe Trump’s boasts about this matter:

What will the cult members say when the Trump-Kim Jong Un summit inevitably fails? What will they say when Trump–egged on by the execrable John Bolton–actually strikes North Korea…and North Korea strikes back?

Forty years ago this November, another deranged cult leader caused over 900 deaths in Jonestown, Guyana. One cannot fathom the level of death that would occur if the deranged cult leader in the White House leads us to nuclear war. The members of Trump’s cult never think about that prospect.

Last night, the Washington Post reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to leave his job if Trump fires Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Maybe. One thing’s for sure: if Trump fires Rosenstein, Trump’s cult will not care. They’ll turn out in force if he runs for re-election in 2020. They’ll obey his every word. They’ll never change. Like those who perished in Jonestown–like the 79 who perished 25 years ago this week at the conclusion of the Waco siege–they’ll go down with their leader.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.