Understanding MAGA – Chapter 72

I have been diligently trying to understand the rationale that some folks have in praising Trump. One of those efforts was to read a book entitled In Defense Of Elitism by Joel Stein. The author was recently interviewed on the PBS Newshour of which I am a regular viewer. Some points I gleaned from the book is what this post is all about.

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I don’t like labels but there is a “but” in that statement for me. We need to understand just why the major conflicts arise in our world and then be able to see who is causing them. We can no longer afford a general “Us vs Them” mentality. If that keeps up it will eventually destroy us. Without knowing who “Them” is or what percentage of the population they represent we may just go down in ashes. That is what this post is all about.

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The Department of Irony

Department of Irony: Republicans can’t stop howling about socialism. But nobody makes capitalism look worse than Donald Trump.

I think I found a new mentor when it comes to life inside the beltway. She is Gail Collins, who is a fellow Opinion Columnist to my other mentor in this area David Brooks at the New York Times. The words above are from one of her recent articles. The words get my brain spinning with possibilities.

If the MAGA folks hate socialism so much and love capitalism, why have they latched onto someone who makes capitalism look so bad? He has declared bankruptcy eleven times and almost no bank in the world will give him money for other ventures except Deutche Bank. I know he has admitted in the past that he gets most of his resources from Russian “business men” and doesn’t really need any from US banks, but since he lies about most everything else I have absolutely no trust about anything he says.

I think the GOP in general and MAGA in particular are, as usual, very misinformed about the strategy of demonizing anything with a whiff of socialism. The tide, like in so many other things they hang on to, is going in the opposite direction. They have been trying for almost a hundred years not to shut down Social Security and just can’t seem to realize that the vast majority of us see it as a good thing.

Over the years, I have gotten into it with seniors who parrot most GOP thoughts when they rant on about Social Security. The first I ask them is “I assume, since you are so much against it you are not getting checks from Social Security?” I have yet to hear a positive response to that question. Most often I hear that they have paid into the system so they want their money back. Of course, I also ask about Medicare as they are just as against that socialism program. Like the first question, I have never heard one say he is not using Medicare.

Going back to the bucking the trends idea, it seems that many in the “under 40” generations are now embracing socialist trends. They see countries like Sweden, or Denmark, or dozens of other socialist democracies and what they provide their citizens and want the same thing for themselves.

Eventually, that is when we finally purge congress of all us Baby Boomer, we will very likely embrace the socialist democracy concept and shed ourselves of the dog-eat-dog version of capitalism we are now mired in. Given how inequality is becoming so top heavy recently that might be the only way our country will survive.

Is MAGA A Cult?

This post is about the possibility that all those who are avid MAGA followers are actually trapped in a cult? Let’s start off with some of the things that cults have in common. The article from which these quotes were taken was written almost ten years ago in the Guardian by Rick Ross who is an authority in the field of cults.

1. A charismatic leader, who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose power. That is a living leader, who has no meaningful accountability and becomes the single most defining element of the group and its source of power and authority.
2. A process [of indoctrination or education is in use that can be seen as] coercive persuasion or thought reform [commonly called “brainwashing”].
The culmination of this process can be seen by members of the group often doing things that are not in their own best interest, but consistently in the best interest of the group and its leader.
Lifton’s seminal book Thought Reform and Psychology of Totalism explains this process in considerable detail.
3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie.

Source: The Guardian (2009)

All of this sounds uncannily like what is happening today, doesn’t it? But since the article was written almost ten years ago, it is impossible to claim it was tarnished by today’s circumstances.

  • 1) a charismatic leader who demands worship/loyalty – Yep
  • 2) Doing things against their own self-interest – Yep
  • 3) Economic exploitation – Yep

If this short description isn’t enough, let’s look at the 10 warning signs of a cult leader as further described by Mr. Ross:

Here are 10 warning signs …
• Absolute authoritarianism without meaningful accountability.
• No tolerance for questions or critical inquiry.
• No meaningful financial disclosure regarding budget or expenses, such as an independently audited financial statement.
• Unreasonable fear about the outside world, such as impending catastrophe, evil conspiracies and persecutions.
• There is no legitimate reason to leave, former followers are always wrong in leaving, negative or even evil.
• Former members often relate the same stories of abuse and reflect a similar pattern of grievances.
• There are records, books, news articles, or broadcast reports that document the abuses of the group/leader.
• Followers feel they can never be “good enough”.
• The group/leader is always right.
• The group/leader is the exclusive means of knowing “truth” or receiving validation, no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

I guess I should have bolded what maybe didn’t apply to the MAGA movement instead of what does apply. It is almost eerie to see how all of this so accurately describes the MAGA cult leader, isn’t it? This article was written at a time when Trump was no more than a background nuisance, so you can’t argue that he is just picking on your president as you may think so many others do.

Coming to a conclusion here, It very much seems that the MAGA folks are entwined into a cult to one degree or another. So, if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it must be…

I gotta study this some more. The one thing I do know is that those trapped in a cult almost never recognize that they are trapped in a cult. I want to learn how we can prevent something like this from happening again? More on that later…