Why We Know Trump's MAGA Is A Toxic Cult, Not A Political Movement

@LucianKTruscott
Why We Know Trump's MAGA Is A Toxic Cult, Not A Political Movement

Do you remember at the Republican National Convention in 2020, they didn’t bother with a platform? It had never happened before in either major political party. Platforms are one of those things political parties do. It is a quadrennial statement of what the party stands for, what policies they want to implement, what sort of foreign policy they’ll pursue, what they think are the problems for which they have the best solutions.

Not in 2020. What the Republican Party did at its convention was point at Donald Trump and say, we’re for whatever he’s for. We believe in whatever he believes in. We stand for whatever he stands for.

One of the things that made the Republican Party’s capitulation to Trump so remarkable was the fact that it was done by party professionals, people who had spent their lives working their way up through Republican ranks until finally they got appointed to the “Platform Committee,” traditionally one of the real plums of party politics, the select few who got to set the agenda for the party for the next four years.

Now, after the vote in Iowa, I think we can see that it’s not just the party pros who have given up their lives and their membership in the Republican Party to become Trump’s true believers, it’s his voters. Not all Republican voters, but Trump’s voters, the ones who turned out in the freezing cold for the caucuses and gave their votes to the man Republicans may as well start calling Dear Leader.

It's not about them, the voters. It’s not about issues. It’s not about policies. It’s about him. It’s always about the “him” in a cult. Nothing else matters. Whatever he says, they listen. Whatever he tells them to believe, they believe. Whatever he says is true, they accept.

Trump stood up at a rally on January 8 in Sioux City, Iowa, and told a crowd that countries all over the world are sending military-age young men across the southern border of this country in some kind of imagined invasion to…what? Buy guns and kill people in the street? Rape women? Steal babies? Like a good cult leader, all he had to do was deliver the setup and leave the rest to their imaginations. Listen to how he introduced his remarks to his adoring followers in Sioux City:

(Pointing to a young man in the crowd) “They happen to be about the age of this gentleman right here, around 24, perfect age, in his early 20s. Just perfect for the military, isn’t it, huh? 27,000 people from China. All males, all between 20 and 25. Perfect for the military. I wonder what that’s all about. So, it’s a pretty scary thing. We have them coming in from Russia, the same thing. They all seem to be between 19 and 24 or 25. I wonder why that is. We’re going to be paying a price, but we’ll take care of it. If we get in, we’re going to be taking care of it. We’re going to have no choice but to take care of it. We’re not going to have a country.”

What the hell was that about? We’ll never know, because we’ve reached a point in our politics where what goes on inside the Trump movement stays in the Trump movement. I decided I would read one of his rally speeches just to see what he told his believers in Iowa that garnered him 51 percent of the Republican vote. I discovered that he’s been out there at his rallies saying all manner of things, nearly every one of them lies, and he does it at great length. His speech that night took an hour and 46 minutes to deliver. He was on his feet the entire time. You can say a lot about Donald Trump, but you can’t say he’s not indefatigable.

Because we should all know what he’s doing out there at his rallies – and he’s holding them day after day after day -- here are a few of the morsels he threw out to his believers in Sioux City:

“Now they are persecuting Catholics in particular. I don’t know what’s going on with the Catholics. You guys are Catholic. What’s going on with Catholics? Why are they doing this with Catholics? Something’s happening. But they’re doing it with Christians, and they’re doing it with parents, and they’re doing it with a lot of people. And you explain that one, ‘Let’s go and get the parents at the school board meetings,’ right? It’s ridiculous.”

(Doesn’t get a bib rise, turns quickly to the subject of Biden.)

“What he’s done to this country is unthinkable. Biden’s record is an unbroken streak of weakness, incompetence, corruption, and failure. Other than that, he’s doing quite well, isn’t he? Don’t you? That’s a hell of a list. That’s a hell of a list, right? That’s why crooked Joe is staging his pathetic, fear-mongering campaign event in Pennsylvania today. Did you see him? He was stuttering through the whole thing. He’s going, ‘He’s a threat to democracy. I’m a… They’ve weaponized government.’”

(Crowd interrupts with extended cheers.)

“Wow. Couldn’t read the word, ‘He’s a threat to democracy.’ You know how bad the press is? You know what they do? They take me saying that like that, and they say, ‘Trump couldn’t say the word democracy. Look.’”

(More cheers.)

“They had me, the other day I was imitating Biden because he can’t walk offstage, right? No, he can never find the exit. So, they had me turning around and looking for… He can never find… I mean, these stages have a lot of stairs on them. Some of them are four or five stairs, and he did. He had so many stairs, he couldn’t find it, and they showed me that I couldn’t find the way off the stage. In other words, they said, ‘He couldn’t find the way off the stage,’ and it’s just terrible. They’re so bad.”

(Points at media enclosure at back of venue.)

“You guys are so dishonest. You’re so pathetic.”

(Cheers from delighted crowd.)

“I mean, we won twice, and we’re going to win a third time. We’re going to win by more. Now they say we’re going to win by more in terms of November. We’re going to win by more than we did even the first two times that we won nicely. We won very nice. Look, I did get you $28 billion dollars, in all fairness, right? Who the hell else would get you $28 billion from China? The farmers of America.”

(Cheers.)

(Turns to immigration and the border): “Last month, they set a record, hundreds of thousands of people, bigger than practically any city in your great state, I think bigger just about than any city came in just last month. They pretend like it’s under control. It’s not under control. It’s totally out of control. Part of the reason they want them to come in is, in my opinion, because look, they’re not stupid. Anybody that can cheat on an election like that is not stupid because they’re professionals at cheating. But anybody that can cheat like that, they’re not stupid people. So, there’s two things and then a third. Number one, they’re stupid. Number two, they hate our country. And number three, they want those people to vote. And that’s a bad one. That’s the one that scares us most. I’m telling you, they’re signing people. That’s what they’re doing. I believe now that that’s why they’re allowing these people to come in. People that don’t speak our language, they’re signing them up to vote. I believe that’s why you’re having millions of people pour into our country, and it could very well affect the next election. I believe that’s why they’re doing it because they know what they’re doing.”

Folks, he said that at the 36-minute mark. He went on for another hour and 10 minutes, the crowd cheering every lie, every exaggeration, every appeal to racism and xenophobia and religious bigotry. He was interrupted again and again by cheers and “We love Trump! We love Trump!”

Close to the end, with maybe 20 minutes to go, here’s the way he begins wrapping it up: “I will end Biden’s inflation nightmare, save our nation from debt and economic despair, and we will, right from day one, we’re going to drill, drill, drill, drill baby, drill. An oilman told me, and he’s a great guy, a very successful guy, they say he looks at a piece of land, he takes a straw. Now it has to be a paper straw, so maybe it doesn’t work. The paper straws come wrapped in cellophane, do you ever see this? I mean, what’s going on? You got paper straws, they’re wrapped in cellophane. This country’s gone wild. But this man, he’s such a great oilman, a really amazing guy. He takes a straw and he puts it into the ground and oil comes out. The big companies go out, they spend billions looking for oil. This guy looks just like this, just a straw, and the oil comes out.”

Donald Trump, very successful guy, really amazing guy, he doesn’t make any sense, he doesn’t believe in anything beyond the end of his own nose, he tells lies the way other people breathe, he takes a cellophane wrapped paper straw, and he sticks it in his supporters’ ears, and cheers come out, “We love Trump! We love Trump!”

He is the leader of a cult. This election is about how many there are of them, and how many there are of us, and who will turn out and vote.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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