One of the mysteries of the rise of Hitler was how the average German, as opposed to the die hard Nazi, could follow the cult of a madman. A new report by Jeremy W. Peters at the New York Times is shedding light on the psychology of regular people losing sight of their own humanity in order to follow the cult of Donald Trump. These are not necessarily rabid white nationalists. Some of them are just average white Republican voters who, in their desperation to remain relevant, are caught in a spiral of self-justifying insanity.
In interviews across the country over the last few days, dozens of Trump voters, as well as pollsters and strategists, described something like a bonding experience with the president that happens each time Republicans have to answer a now-familiar question: “How can you possibly still support this man?”
Republican voters repeatedly described an instinctive, protective response to the president, and their support has grown in recent months: Mr. Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is now about 90 percent.
This is true cult mentality. Their leader is under attack and they respond by shielding him. It literally does not matter what it is he does at this point because it's all white noise (no pun intended):
Yet many Trump voters said that they no longer had the patience or interest to listen to what they see as another hysterical outburst by Democrats, Republican “Never Trumpers” and the media.
“It’s kind of like when you experience a sensation over and over and over again,” said Daniel Arnold, 32, a warehouse manager from Leesburg, Va., about an hour outside Washington. “A sensation is no longer a sensation. It’s just, ‘Oh, here we are again.’”
Fox News, AM Hate Radio, and right wing hate sites play a role, of course. By playing the soothing pro-Trump sounds they need to hear, they put Trump's followers to sleep . Propaganda is always important to provide an alternative narrative to reality. But even without it, it's very possible that Trump's supporters would just tune out anyway. Rejecting dissonant information is a necessary survival skill for the cult member.
17 months. That's all it took
Trump was sworn in January of 2017. In less than 18 months, he has so manipulated his base that they either didn't care that children were being torn from their mothers and put into cages or they actively cheered for it. That's a dizzying fall for the Christian "pro-life" party of "family values". True, their claims to the moral high ground were always laughable. Still, the speed with which they've abandoned even the pretense of being anything but white nationalists is terrifying.
One of the ways atrocities happen is that the monsters in charge desensitize their followers. They stage small outrage after small outrage until they're numb. Each step makes the next one easier until it doesn't seem like a bad thing to tear babies away from their mothers. Next, it won't be wrong to sterilize them. Then why not euthanize them? They're not really people anyway. They're an infestation. Donald Trump said so and the leader is never wrong.
Millions of Americans have sworn their allegiance, not to America or its constitution, but to Trump. Our only saving grace is that Trump is both incredibly lazy. Also, for all of his natural ability to manipulate desperate bigots, he's incredibly incompetent. If he'd been a gifted administrator, or even capable of hiring one, the country would be in a lot worse shape. As it is, Trump still has two and half years left to mold his cult into a machine of violence. They're already willing to torture children in under 18 months; what atrocities will they be willing to commit 18 months from now?