Another scathing anti-Trump editorial in the Washington Post Tuesday, entitled “Enablers of Constitutional Degradation,” warns that the Trump presidency is “entering a dangerous new phase” based on the effective removal over time of anyone working for it who would push back on their boss’ worst impulses.
Trump has now surrounded himself with “courtiers without scruples” whose chief requirement is a personal loyalty to him, “who has shown himself to be without scruple, decency or respect for the Constitution” resulting in a “progressive erosion of core institutions.” Now, the editorial adds, Trump “seems to have found courtiers who neither look to mitigate his worst instincts nor have the courage to tell him when he is wrong.”
In the same edition, conservative columnist Michael Gerson, a former George W. Bush speechwriter who has proven over time to be one of the more articulate critics of everything Trump, extends this sycophant phenomenon beyond Trump’s White House circle to include “politicians such as (Rep. John N.) Kennedy” who “must know the truth…but still choose to suck up to the president by reflecting his mania and sharpening his blind spots.” He adds, “Loyalty to Trump among Republicans is proved by the loosening of all other loyalties — to truth, to honesty and to the national good.”
Yes, it’s these Republican sycophants in Congress who are the principal enablers of Trump’s sociopathic disregard for any notion of Constitutional propriety, and one can presume they do it out of fear, fear of the price Trump will make them pay in the next election.
But there can be no justification for this fear, which is akin to the fear of a battered spouse that results in codependency.
U.S. society has been very slow to appreciate the dynamic of this kind of fear that results in a victim’s loyal obedience and defense of an offending brute. Society’s blindness is grounded in a false, radical notion of free will, that everyone is a free agent and responsible for all his or her life decisions.
It is why, in the 1970s, the courts refused to exonerate Patty Hearst despite overwhelming evidence that she’d been coerced, by extreme mind control methods, to participate in the crimes of her captors as if she’d willfully joined their cause.
It’s also why in this very troubling time, the contribution of one of the nation’s foremost experts on destructive cults and their mind control methods is so important for grasping and acting on what Trump is up to.
Steven Hassan is the author of “The Cult of Trump” that I’ve pointed to previously in this column because it delivers a message that our society is slow to pick up on. Hassan’s expertise has gradually gained traction in the U.S. media, with an appearance on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” show last weekend and a lengthy interview by me which is available on YouTube.
He is 100 percent correct that the parameters of the Trump phenomenon fit all the core elements of a destructive cult, and it is informed by his personal experience of being sucked into such a dizzying experience, himself, by way of a couple years in the Moonies in the 1970s where he encountered first hand the way in which his own mind was manipulated. I’d experienced the same thing, myself, with a different cult such that I can appreciate what he’s talking about.
The destructive cult mind control experience involves the insistence on an alternative reality requiring the trashing of traditional sources of truth and the substitution of a different reality altogether. It seeks to shut off followers from access to their normal relationships, including family, and constant reinforcement of the special “truth” that only their infallible leader propounds.
The confession by former Energy Secretary Rick Perry this week that Trump is “the chosen one sent by God,” is reflective of a profoundly degraded mind, by the same manner many so-called evangelical leaders convince their congregations. “He is president, so God wants it that way,” they preach, therefore to oppose him is to oppose God.
A nasty suspension of truth is required to achieve this, one that is rooted in a deep fear of violating God’s will.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.