Making People Believe

As many of my regular readers know, I’m a big fan of Heather Cox Richardson’s daily newsletter. She provides considerable facts and figures that many of us probably would never know about because we don’t do the in-depth reading and research that she does.

But I also like that she writes from a factual perspective — and provides numerous source links to back up her reporting.

In her most recent newsletter (9/25/20), she pinpoints how the Trump administration (and most particularly Trump himself) is doing all it can to influence voters in the upcoming election. Of course, many of us are familiar with these maneuverings, but sometimes putting them all together in one place can be very revealing.

Consider her thoughts in this paragraph from the referenced issue:

Trump and his cronies are trying to create their own reality. They are trying to make people believe that the coronavirus is not real, that it has not killed more than 200,000 of our neighbors, that the economy is fine, that our cities are in flames, that Black Lives Matter protesters are anarchists, and that putting Democrats in office will usher in radical socialism. None of these things is true. Similarly, Trump is trying to convince people that he can deploy the power of the government to remain in power even if we want him to leave, creating uncertainly and fear. By talking about it, he is willing that situation into existence. It is a lie, and we do not have to accept it. 

I emphasized those first three words of that last sentence for those who see Trump as the Savior of America which, according to the video below, many people do.

When I first watched this video, my immediate reaction was how much Trump’s followers resemble people who belong to a cult! They are totally convinced that anything and everything their Leader says is Truth. Even when, as shown in the video, they are confronted with facts and evidence, they continue to believe their Revered Leader.


Trumpism can be understood as right-wing political extremism transformed into a cult. This is not just a metaphor. Trump’s lies, his assault on reality, his threats of violence, his cruelty, his demand of absolute loyalty, his manipulation of willing subjects who choose to escape empirical reality, and his shared state of collective narcissism with his followers all fit the definition of a cult.

What is truly scary is how difficult it is to deprogram cult members …

23 thoughts on “Making People Believe

  1. Nice piece and interesting video. I was of course born and raised in an actual cult, and yes, there’s an analogous dynamic at play. My viewpoint is that while all people have vulnerabilities to the cult dynamic, a lot of the people involved have unusual predispositions to them. My folks have fallen in with a series of bad ideas over the years. They leave one error to fall into another. And a Trumpers are largely the predisposed type, IMO. Can’t save them from themselves. Wish I could. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    • That paradox has always been part of the reality of the US. Much of the country is very advanced, but much of it is mired in incredible ignorance and religious backwardness. It’s always been that way. American movies and TV rarely go into the backward areas and foreign visitors rarely travel to them, so people in other countries don’t realize what it’s like.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Every country has ’em, trust me. Look at my country, South Africa, for goodness sake; another Prime Example. Yet just when one thinks: ”It’s nice that we don’t beat women over the head with a club and drag them back to our caves any more,” up pop fecking eejits like these clowns …. ye haw!

        Liked by 1 person

        • I guess South Africa resembles the US in some ways. It’s a pretty large country, meaning a lot of people live far from the nearest big city and thus more culturally isolated. And the original settlers from Europe were highly religious and passed it on to their descendants while Europe itself became more secular.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I have totally given up on trying to change any trump supporter’s minds. It cannot be done. And I’ve also read that more conservative people are more prone to conspiracy theories and are more fearful of others not like them and any change in the status quo. It’s a sad way to live, I think.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Fear is DumpystiltOrangeskin’s most fearsome weapon of choice! He is too cowardly to shoot someone on 5th Ave, but even cowards can wield the sword of fear. It cannot stab him in the back!


  3. I too found Heather Cox Richardson’s newsletter poignant and disturbing Nan. Yet her article honestly reflects the sad, desperate times Americans find themselves today and over these miserable, divided, polarized, undemocratic, and mislead last four years! This also during an unprecedented pandemic—whose impact could’ve been greatly lessened by intelligent, factually informed federal/state leadership—and a clearly psychological Narcissist in our White House threatening to forcibly stay in office, dismantle 200+ years of our Constitutional election process and a totally representative government of the people, by the people, and FOR THE PEOPLE not the President or one political Party! Never in my 5+ decades of life as an American, as a civically responsible voter, and one quite familiar with American history and American state/federal government and how our entire governing system functions (supposedly) according to our Constitution’s precepts and over two centuries of sociopolitical history…did I dream I would be saying or writing those above conditions about my native USA!!! Simply unbelievable we find ourselves here!

    What is truly scary is how difficult it is to deprogram cult members …

    So very, very true Nan. From a lengthy, extensive 2016 study by a large group of psychiatrists on “Cult membership: What factors contribute to joining or leaving?” the study highlights three major factors making “deprogramming” so difficult for a (Trump) cult member. Two of them are quite pertinent to your above closing sentence:

    • The presence of sects in the members’ entourage is a vulnerability factor for commitment to the cult.

    • The social precariousness of the members after membership is a vulnerability factor for staying in the cult.*

    In other words, very similar (identical?) to Keith Raniere’s NXIVM Cult, founded in 1998 in Albany, NY, once members get deeply committed into the narcissistic leader’s rules, guidelines, entrapments, and therefore forced loyalty via social fear and shaming… that severe vulnerability makes it near unsurmountable to exit the cult. As a result, this fuels more increased radical attempts at creating and rewriting their own reality as Heather precisely points out.

    Trump’s cult members are essentially no different than all of history’s most dangerous and disastrous cults and cult leaders, bringing down their blind followers to most inhumane, miserable, or impoverished demises.

    Thanks for sharing Heather’s article Nan. A refreshing, but disturbing dose of reality. 😦

    * — Source:!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Nan, it is imperative that Democrats and like-minded independents get out and vote. The Republicans have handed the Democrats the biggest differentiation issue with pushing for a new Supreme Court justice – health care. The Dems should pound this drum loudly.

    The first week after the election, SCOTUS will be hearing a court case pushed by Republican led Attorney Generals to declare the ACA unconstitutional. The White House is choosing not to defend the law. The Republicans decided in a budget vote (not needing a supermajority) to eliminate the coverage mandate. Now, these AGs are arguing the mandate absence makes the premium subsidy unconstitutional.

    As a retired benefits consultant, manager and former actuary, the GOP has sabotaged and nay-sayed the ACA since its inception. Ironically, it is largely based on a Republican idea that Gov. Mitt Romney used in Massachusetts, but that is beside the point. Donald Trump stripped a subsidy to insurers in 2017 to pay them for copays and deductibles for members making less than 2 1/2 times the poverty limit – then he lied about it. The end result is premiums increased as does the deficit per the CBO.

    Senator Marco Rubio led a GOP effort to strip 89% of funding to insurers for initial adverse selection (an approach used with Bush’s Medicare Part D plan), then bragged on it. In essence, it screwed Americans with higher premiums all to win a political argument. The same can be said of Trump’s change, but the equation is more subtle.

    Trump said in 2016 he had a plan for health care. He lied. He still does not have one and what he did this week was just talk. Trump and GOP actions have shown they do not want Americans to have access to affordable care. What John McCain thankfully voted down before he died in 2017, was a God-awful attempt by the GOP at some form of replacement plan for the ACA that would have harmed Americans.

    Plus, this is about more than the 20 million in the exchanges. The ACA added requirements of guaranteed renewability and ignoring pre-existing conditions (plus other features) on all employer plans. Now, we are talking over 100 million Americans. Pre-existing conditions get the fanfare, but guaranteed renewability is a huge benefit meaning your coverage must be continued even if you get a bad illness.

    And, most Americans do not know the GOP is screwing with their health care. There are even a few Republicans who do not know this is not good for them. People in Kentucky, do not know Ky-Nect is the state’s name for the ACA, eg. So, beat on this drum loudly. Use this drum to drum Trump out of office, but a few senators to boot. Frankly, they deserve this exit. With Trump already revealing he will cheat, he must be defeated soundly.


    Liked by 3 people

  5. I read Nan’s newsletter everyday & lots of other blogs as well. I think it is obvious that Trump is trying to create a situation where most everyone other than his cult thinks that it’s a waste of time to vote … because the ballots will be lost in the mail or discounted or he’s going to cheat or he won’t leave the WH anyway. I am a survivor of DV relationships & my attitude is FU … I’m gonna vote anyway. Ya know, I might not have because I am no big fan of Biden’s but I’ll vote for him just to say FU Trump. Biden should really run with that ball … “A Vote for me is a FU Trump”.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “Intelligence officials in the briefing responded that that was not consistent with any of the intelligence our government possesses to which the president replied, ‘I don’t care. I believe Putin,'” McCabe told host Scott Pelley in an interview with “60 Minutes” released Sunday.

    The Politico article has a picture of a Trump campaign. The looks of pure admiration are obvious. Matt Barsotti may recognize the older lady in the middle. This is the look I used to see in church when they ‘got in the spirit’. Rapture. The guy with the ailing dog may have thought it was a healing service. “If I could but touch the hem…”

    We watch the news. We all see live reporting in real-time the very same thing. Yet some are titillated and others depressed. They know his relationship with Putin and his lack of a relationship with our democracy. There has to be some mental and emotional gymnastics to accept his lies.

    Once the mind has been saturated with those visions of a future heaven, it is hard for reality to root it out. Like the men in the video, self-deceit is the most difficult thing to overcome.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Bruce Plante has a good cartoon today on heroes cartoons.

    “I can see a lot better with this stuff.:
    The typical MAGAhat trumpster holding up a bottle of “Trump Snake Oil”.


  8. I live in a community where people largely abide by CDC guidelines and so far, I don’t anyone who has had Covid. Today, however, my niece-in-law told me her aunt contracted Covid 45 days ago. I’ve met the aunt but don’t really know her. According to my niece, the aunt and her husband are Trump supporters. They once poo-pooed Covid concerns until they actually contracted the virus. Both in their 50s, the husband was hospitalized a few times and is still on blood thinners in the hopes of eliminating a blood clot that was discovered in his lungs. The aunt is also still suffering from post-Covid side effects that sound pretty serious. Two days ago she was briefly unable to use her arms and legs and was also unable to speak, according to my niece. Preliminary tests say she is Covid free but her immune system has remained in over-drive and is causing the problems she now faces. This long-winded comment is only intended to say that some people are learning the hard way.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Well, let me say this to you. Since Trump, myself, and “Q” of Qanon fame have been breaking into pizza parlor basements and stopping liberals and democrats from having sex with and then eating small children, the US has been a much safer place to live. At least now we can take our children outside without living in fear of liberals capturing them, dragging them into a pizza parlor basement and eating them. Without Trump and “Q”, where, oh, where, would we truly be?

    Liked by 1 person

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