When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President on June 16, 2015, he tapped into a side of America that many citizens had no idea existed. A fear-based underbelly where there’s no such thing as compromise, where tribalism is the status quo, and where one’s every action is based on the tenet of Us vs. Them.
What started as a fervent fan club of a Presidential candidate has evolved into an entire belief system. It’s the stylish new religion that everybody who’s anybody is talking about!
Trump was elected in 2016 on promises of “draining the swamp,” vowing that he wasn’t like other political candidates, that he was in fact not even a politician. Conservatives loved it — including, amazingly, Christians. Finally there was a candidate who would stand up for them, cut their taxes, repeal-and-replace that godawful Obamacare, restore capitalism in all its glory, prevent a person’s race or sexual preference from giving them an advantage in life, and keep out the boogeyman from south of the border. Republicans may have craved this stuff, but the Religious Right wanted it even more.
There was a kind of innocence to his early followers that can no longer be claimed. Now, the entire world has witnessed his corruption, his lies, and his failures. He never drained the swamp. He never cut middle class taxes; he cut the taxes of the hated 1% instead. He never overturned Obamacare — though to be fair, not for lack of trying — and never replaced it with a better system. The truth is, he has no system waiting in the wings to replace anything. What he’s done for capitalism is debatable, with so many mom-and-pop businesses going under thanks to COVID, which we’ll get back to. He’s stood against providing equal rights to ethnic groups, LGBTQ communities, and even women.
Then there was his plan to erect a “big, beautiful” 2,000-mile-long concrete wall along the Mexican border. It hasn’t exactly been the slam dunk he hoped for. To date, he’s built little more than 350 miles of a kind of see-through steel fencing — not the impenetrable concrete he promised. Several examples of that steel fence collapsing or bending under mild stress have been documented.
Trump’s religion — and don’t kid yourself, that’s what it is — makes it perfectly okay to give in to your darkest impulses. Want to be secretly (or not-so-secretly) racist against black people? Do it. Want to hate immigrants, especially Hispanics? Trumpism practically requires it, so knock yourself out. Want to hate every single good thing Obama did purely because it came from Obama? Have at it. Want permission to utterly despise Democrats, harass them, make their lives miserable, and ultimately destroy them in every conceivable way? Boy, have you come to the right place.
Trumpists believe in the simple things, albeit things that follow Trump’s example. Lie. Cheat. Steal. Misappropriate resources. Never admit that you’re wrong about anything; never take responsibility for anything. Declare yourself above the law. Make juvenile nicknames for your opponents and use them constantly. Cheer on police officers who use unnecessary roughness or outright murder black people. Spend spend spend.
Never, ever give up on Hillary’s emails!
Decency, character, morality — these are academic concepts that hold no importance. Leave them in the rear-view, and focus on mowing down your enemies. Those are uncomfortable Christian principles that they’d rather not dwell on.
A potentially surprising key truth about Trumpism is that it’s not based on the actions and successes of its namesake. Whether Trump serves as President for more than four years or not, he’s mainstreamed a divisive belief system that was already quietly brewing. He could die tomorrow and Trumpism would live on. He let the monster out of its cage.
What Trumpists worship is strength and power. They want to dominate Washington, they want full control of everything, so they can shape the United States into the Christian-y utopia they believe they can build. They want this power at the expense of all else, including common sense.
Which brings us to the common sense of science — and COVID-19. Trump’s mismanagement of America’s response to the pandemic is criminal. His devotees beliefs that life-saving measures like face masks and social distancing are pointless, is just as bad. They’re causing the unnecessary loss of American lives. One need look only at the rising daily count of Coronavirus cases in the United States, and compare it to literally any other country in the world, for evidence.
The loss of any one life is a painful tragedy that never leaves you. That precious life can never be replaced. Writing off the loss of 200,000 lives and counting as “it is what it is” is nothing less than villainous.
But adherents to Trumpism accept this and are willing to sacrifice the weak in order to bolster the strong. Trumpism advocates survival of the fittest — which may or may not include the worthy or the righteous. Meh, whatever. It is what it is.
Lastly, followers of Trumpism accept no responsibility for their actions. Do what you have to do to survive, to destroy those reprobate Democrats, and especially to create your own reality. Facts are malleable and only acceptable when they favor you. Everything else is fake and can be changed at will. So feel free to create a bubble of reality around you that keeps you satisfied, no matter if it comes at the expense of someone else’s happiness or survival.
Ladies and gentlemen, that’s Trumpism in a nutshell. Regardless of what happens to Mr. Trump himself, this religion and its zealous disciples are here to stay.