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Inside the minds of Trump's true believers

By anonymous following x   2017 Jul 12, 4:00am 1,094 views   6 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    

When Donald Trump gave the commencement address at Liberty University this spring, he told the graduates that “America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers.” Trump argued that, in America, “we don’t worship government; we worship God.”

I suspect the president was unaware that the term “true believer” was made famous more than 65 years ago in Eric Hoffer’s 1951 book, “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements.” Hoffer had no academic training, having worked mainly as a longshoreman. He wrote “The True Believer” in reaction to the rise of fascism, Nazism and communism. Against all odds, the book became a best-seller.

Hoffer shrewdly analyzed the forces that spark nationalist and totalitarian movements. The irony of Trump’s “true believers” remark probably escaped both the president and his audience.

As a psychiatrist, I’m interested in how vulnerable groups can be manipulated by misleading rhetoric. I believe there are striking parallels between Trump’s rhetoric and the factors Hoffer explored.

Targeting the true believer

Hoffer wrote, “For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute.” They must also have “an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future” and “be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap.”

Much of Trump’s campaign was based on promises of vast change, such as the immediate repeal of Obamacare. These promises never took into account the great difficulties of radical change. Indeed, in late February 2017, Trump acknowledged, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” And, of course, Trump had no political or public sector experience to inform his most controversial decisions. Yet he masterfully parlayed this shortcoming into the virtue of being an “outsider” battling an entrenched Washington establishment.

Hoffer viewed “true believers” as craving “a new life – a rebirth – or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause.” Trump’s repeated promise to “make America great again” spoke to such a longing among disaffected voters. This message was often fused with appeals to evangelical Christians. Indeed, writing in The New Republic, Sarah Posner observed that “Trump effectively played to the religious right’s own roots in white supremacy.”

Hoffer understood that the true believer is rarely concerned with facts. He wrote, “It is futile to judge the viability of a new movement by the truth of its doctrine and the feasibility of its promises.”

Trump’s rhetoric was based on what Senior Adviser Kellyanne Conway famously called “alternative facts.” And Trump repeatedly made promises that most experts considered anything but feasible. He proclaimed, for example, “I will build a great wall … on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Hoffer recognized that “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.” Furthermore, “the ideal devil is a foreigner…[and] a domestic enemy must be given a foreign ancestry.”

True to form, Trump’s campaign rhetoric repeatedly invoked anti-immigrant themes, often disparaging Muslims and Mexicans. Trump famously characterized Judge Gonzalo Curiel as a “hater” and a “Mexican” when Curiel was presiding over lawsuits against Trump University – despite the fact that Curiel was born in Indiana.

Finally, Hoffer described the “true believer” as someone willing to die for “the cause.” It’s not clear how many of Trump’s supporters would fit that description. But Trump himself may have characterized his most fervid followers when he said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Eric Hoffer might well have called those voters Trump’s “true believers.”


#Trump #TrueBelievers #FactsDontMatter

1   Tenpoundbass   ignore (13)   2017 Jul 12, 6:24am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Mental evaluation is passe in a world that has gone completely mad.

The Idiots calling us Mad has no affect on our unwavering support for President Donald Trump.

3   Rew   ignore (0)   2017 Jul 12, 10:01am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

The Trump administration, and followers, do still believe they are doing the right thing. They believe they are fighting corruption in the government and division in the country. But they became the ultimate example of what they were fighting long ago.

Who doesn't understand now, Trump moving to protect the people closest to him: his family? That humanizes Trump like he has never been able to do himself.

Are we surprised that Comey was a chosen target for the backlash by this faith? No. He always was, and always will be when this ball really got set in motion.

I'm not unsympathetic and unfeeling about what comes now. We should be very careful not to "drink their tears" along the way. Does that mean we are not resolute in what must come? No. Our duty as a country will now be to do the hard things that we must do.

The trick after will be finding unity. Only a unifying cause and commonality can really stop the American fall. I hope that unifying cause is not a war. Can we find something strong enough? Can we find something to inoculate ourselves against falling to propaganda and division because we "want to win on the internet"?

Trump actually could be the greatest healing moment for the country .... ever! Nothing in me believes Trump has the capacity to produce a message of: apology, stepping down, and demanding that America come together, lest we make the same mistake. Complete surrender for the strength of the country? Sacrificing everything personal, all for the public? It's not going to happen, but that ... that would shock the American people and world. Maybe it wouldn't last, but it would knock the air out of everyone's lungs.

4   HEY YOU   ignore (7)   2017 Jul 12, 1:44pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

How does anyone know what's in their minds when they have lost their minds?Tenpoundbass says

President Donald Trump.

Address your president properly: president DRAFT DODGER donald trump

5   BlueSardine   ignore (3)   2017 Jul 14, 6:06am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote   flag        

Why do you hate closing open windows on March afternoons?

HEY YOU says

Address your president properly: president DRAFT DODGER donald trump

6   Tenpoundbass   ignore (13)   2017 Jul 14, 6:10am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote   flag        

Don't ever Fuck with Dilbert!

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