This morning (3/29/20), as has become my habit, before looking at any other emails, I read Heather Cox Richardson’s most recent newsletter. I continue to be impressed by her ongoing wisdom and level-headed perception of current events.
In this particular issue, she wrote something that aroused my curiosity:
Key to Trump’s popularity has been a rhetorical strategy identified in 1951 by political philosopher Eric Hoffer in a book called The True Believer.
She then went on and compared some of Hoffer’s perspectives to the current POTUS. Since I had never heard of Eric Hoffer or his book, I decided to do some research.
Of course, the first place I looked was Amazon for a content description and to investigate cost (Kindle version $8.99; Free to Kindle Unlimited members; Hardcopy $169.14!). Unfortunately, the only write-up on Amazon was related to the author so I had to extend my search.
This led me to Google Play where I found a “free sample” and copied the following from the Preface.
All mass movements generate in their adherents a readiness to die and a proclivity for united action; all of them, irrespective of the doctrine they preach and the program they project, breed fanaticism, enthusiasm, fervent hope, hatred and intolerance; all of them are capable of releasing a powerful flow of activity in certain departments of life; all of them allegiance.
Many of us have wondered how and why so many people continue to cling to and defend Trump, no matter what he says or does. Heather put it all together when she wrote:
Trump has mastered this technique. He has kept his base firmly behind him by demonizing immigrants, the media, and, increasingly, Democrats, deflecting his own shortcomings in office by blaming these groups for undermining him.
She references Hoffer and further writes:
[S]o long as they are unified against an enemy, true believers will support their leader no matter how outrageous his behavior gets. Indeed, their loyalty will only get stronger as his behavior gets more and more extreme.
However, as many of us have noticed, cracks are beginning to appear. The coronavirus crisis is making it harder and harder for Trump to maintain his hold on his devoted followers.
Nevertheless, he will continue to play the game. No matter who it hurts because for him, it’s all about winning. Staying on top. And most of all, being idolized as the “only one” who can MAGA.
Yet, for all his bluster, there is one thing Trump cannot ignore. COVID-19 has loyalty to no one. Insults, threats, and blustering will not change its course. And as has been shown thus far, it is no respecter of persons.
Although the invincibility of Trump has astounded many of us on (too) many occasions, perhaps in this instance he has met his match. Only time– and the coronavirus–will tell.
Image courtesy of Mark Grayson Invincible Image Comics