We’ve heard the narrative ever since Donald Trump took that escalator ride in June 2015 to announce he was running for president — that his supporters are nothing but a bunch of uneducated and genetically stupid racist rednecks.
But when Trump gained such traction that he united the Republican Party more so than at any time in history — with his supporters including prominent politicians whose intelligence is beyond reproach, from Ted Cruz to Newt Gingrich to Lindsey Graham — the haters began referring to Trump’s following as a “cult.”
Apparently, cult members drink their Dear Leader’s Kool-Aid and do his bidding without taking even a nanosecond to question its wisdom.
Those of us who were strong Trump proponents from the start knew that we didn’t support Trump’s ideas because of Trump; we supported Trump because of his ideas.
The reason we so rarely disagreed with him was not that he had us brainwashed whereby we were conditioned to respond like Pavlov’s dogs, but that what he said made abundant sense to us, again and again and again.
But not always.
I spent most of Trump’s presidency vigorously defending him, but that’s because my interlocutors usually started the conversation with “Donald Trump is the worst president ever!” Had they simply asked me, “Is there anything that Trump has done with which you disagree?” they probably would’ve been surprised to hear a much lengthier response than they might have imagined.
Far from Trump supporters being a cult, I have long maintained that they — as the embodiment of independent thinkers — are actually an anticult.
That notion is fortified by the phenomenon that so many of those who are hesitant to receive the vaccine for COVID are Trump supporters, despite the fact that Trump has been such a consistent and staunch advocate for the vaccine, created and implemented Operation Warp Speed, and, in recommending vaccination, takes credit for how quickly the vaccine was developed and distributed and how many lives it has saved.
If Trump’s supporters do his bidding without thinking twice, why aren’t they following him to the nearest vaccination center, like rats drawn to the Pied Piper’s tune in Hamelin?
Conversely, it’s Trump-bashers — whether Democrats, whose Trump Derangement Syndrome is ubiquitous and differs only in matter of degree, or NeverTrump Republicans, who still can’t grasp how he knocked them off their perch to become king of the GOP mountain — who are more likely to conform to the establishment’s edicts without exercising independent thought.
They’re the ones who will often immediately and unequivocally accept information fed to them, and they tend to trust authority figures, from scientists to election boards, to a greater extent than Trump supporters do.
That shouldn’t be surprising.
Given that most Trump supporters are Republicans, and that Republicans are typically skeptical of government whereas Democrats tend to embrace it, there’s no doubt that Trump supporters are less likely than their counterparts to accept the first conclusion they hear from the Beltway as infallible doctrine.
That said, too much mistrust isn’t a good thing, either. Many who won’t trust anything the government tells them are often irrational conspiracy theorists who would sooner believe a message written in enormous, black-and-red bold font from an obscure website with the title: “Quick, read this, before the government takes it down!”
The degree to which the government and its appointed experts are to be trusted is in the eye of the beholder.
The purpose of this piece is not to decide what information is right or wrong. Rather, it is to underscore that we Trumpians are so strongly united in our support of him not because we’re immersed in mindless groupthink, but despite the fact that we are not.
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