The definition of the word “cult”: an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers.
From the perspective of existential psychology, the Messiah phenomenon can be understood as part of the eternal and universal search for the “ultimate rescuer”: an omnipotent and omniscient force or being that loves and protects us. The ultimate rescuer saves us from our existential aloneness, freedom, anxiety, responsibility to think for ourselves and decide on our own behaviour and provides hope and meaning to counteract our lack of purpose in life and despair.(Stephen A Diamond, The psychology of Terrorists (Pt.3): The Messiah Syndrome, Psychology Today, Posted September 29, 2014)
Strip away all the religious references to salvation, re-birth, enthusiastic hymn-singing, and even speaking in tongues from church services, and what is left in Trump events is a perceived vacuum of personal power, a perceived vacuum of national power, personal despair and the “quick-fix” rescuer from all those pains and anxieties, The Donald.
And there is a degree of immunity or even impunity that accompanies the drama playing out on what amounts to a world stage: feeding as it does on the viral and venomous bile of attack, this monster, like some creature of the movie “animateurs,” plows through all the threatening “swamps” of integrity, decency, honour, credibility, hope, and especially truth.
It is as if not only The Donald, but “The-Donald-and-throngs” comprise an avatar: a representative “thing” filling the empty picture of the nation they all purport to imagine they want. Stripped of all responsibility for dealing with the complex nature of reality (the economy, the state of relations between nations on the planet, racism, homophobia, income inequality, an atrophying environment), the latest “heroic” comic-book version of vaunted and frenetically desired, even demanded, conquest of all the enemies both within and without (without the slightest recognition or acceptance of the fairy-tale the avatar requires even to exist) is so seductive to some that the non-prescription drug consumption of the voracious national appetite for escape looks like a mild case of the flu.
We have all become, without our consent, or even our formal acknowledgement, players in a greek tragedy fueled by the various greeds and needs of the candidate, the media, the political system, the economic system, the military system, the environmental system and the psychic systems inhabiting our individual and our collective conscious and unconscious. And the outcome, should we refuse to waken and exit the stage, the theatre and the screens where the faux-campaign is being conducted, is so dangerous as to make “Wag the Dog” (the movie) look like a Sunday School picnic.
When the complete and total effort is directed to inflate the power and the reputation of the single “leader” as it currently is in the United States, what is the difference between that and Putin’s bringing home the fighter jets from Syria, following a faux-battle, waged under highly suspect pretext, for the single purpose of inflating the reputation and the power of Putin himself. Throwing flowers on the military personnel, wrapping them in personal/national hugs and kisses, for the cameras to capture in their sycophant adulation, is just another example of the manipulation of the truth and the people by those with their hands on the levers of propaganda....just as Trump does in the United States.
And as Beelzebub does in Milton’s underworld, puff up his legions through manipulation of their empty ego’s, so too does Trump inflate the feelings of faux-potency among his dupes, his loyalists. I love _______, the name of every state he has ‘won’; I love the educated, I really love the uneducated; I love the.....(fill in the blanks).... a litany of fawning patronizing of the most brazen kind! And, sadly, those in the ‘house’ drink his patronizing as if it were the magic elixir that will fix everything that is, or they believe to be, wrong with their lives.
The truth is the enemy of the angels of the deep in Milton’s underworld, just as it is to the demons at the microphone and in the back-rooms of the Trump sales pitch. And portraying the truth as “evil” (get’em out’a here!), whenever words or actions in disagreement find enough courage and opportunity to express themselves, Trump betrays his own hollow and empty existence, as if he is living out, before the world’s ubiquitous eyes and ears, his own “existential moment” (that moment when an individual becomes conscious of his own meaninglessness). Most of us have faced that moment as part either of our adolescence or our early adulthood; however, infantilized as Trump demands his gangs to be, he inflicts his own emptiness on theirs, in a blind and corrupt dance of the Shadows.
Political ‘kool aid’ while there may be no chemical or biological evidence of its addictive qualities, nevertheless, acts as a testosterone ‘hit’ for the primarily male audience. There are some women who show up, probably in the hope that through their endorsement of the candidate’s bravado, their lives may be somehow transformed from malignant dependence to indifference. Some prospect!
Hollywood, along with the television crime and military and investigative mystery industry, have churned out miles of film and videotape written and produced for the express purpose of selling tickets, winning awards and generating profits for their producers. The profit motive lies at the heart of the “deal” and the national commitment to “get rich” the specific goal of the current front-runner of the Republican party’s campaign for the presidency of the United States. Never has the allure of more money, both for the ‘trumper’ of the deal and for the dark angels who throng to his choir, more endangered those in obsessive pursuit of that ‘richness’ than in the current ‘state of the union’. This is just another lottery on steroids! And the chances of “winning” are about as remote as in the most dollar-crushed lottery!
And, to a considerable degree, the venomous element of racism underlies this ugly quest and pursuit. Balanced, moderate and moderating, reasoned and nuanced are all words legitimately used to describe the current occupant of the White House. Another of the appropriate words is “intellectual”.
And, at its core, the trump campaign is at war with all of those adjectives, clustered in and emblemized by the current president. He is both better than the trump crowd deserves, and more than they can handle although they are loath to inflict the pejorative “racist” upon themselves either directly or indirectly. “Weakness” is their word for Obama. “No balls” would likely be the phrase they would prefer. When, conversely, the president has stared down more enemies, real enemies of the country, than all of the trump crowd will do individually and collectively in their lifetimes.
And it is precisely the epithet “pathological liar” pinned on Trump by Bernie Sanders, that seems to undergird the whole effort to wrest the presidency from legitimate contenders. The leader of this insurgency (and it is nothing if not an insurgency, verging on terror without the bullets and the bombs, yet) is out of touch with reality and the truth, just as reality television shows of which he is the epitome and huckster are so far removed from reality as to be laughable. As children, we all heard sales pitches for the latest professional wrestling match in the local arena. At ten, we all knew that the spectacle was both a fraud and a farce. Gladiators fake-punching each other, fake-tossing each other to the mat, fake ripping each other’s arms from their sockets, fake twisting bodies into pretzels....all for the chance to earn a fake reputation and a few shekels, before putting their tails between their legs and shuffling off to the next town, and the next crowd of “suckers” who purchased tickets.
Now we are faced with the prospect of a serial (and too often failed) huckster, wrestler, circus-hawker, and snake-oil salesman. And the snake oil he is peddling, lest we forget, is his own belleek ego, so fragile that it threatens its own demise everytime he takes the podium. And the whole world can and does see the epic stupidity of his game and the even more epic stupidity of the throngs of bedazzled supporters.....when will America wake up to their own (and potentially the rest of the world’s) undoing. There is an eerie echo in his flying in to towns and cities across the country in his own Trump-jet, evocative as it is of the image of Hitler’s biplane shadow played out on the commercial buildings as he flew into Nuremburg in 1934 for the Nazi meeting, as depicted in Lein Reifenstahl’s propaganda movie extolling the Fuhrer’s power (and virtue)
Modestly condemning the vulgarity and the division inherent in the trump campaign, as Obama and others have done, and then cozying up to the possibility of his winning the nomination, as several leading Republicans are doing, only identifies those Republicans as spineless and themselves dangerous for failing to denounce his candidacy, months, if not years ago. Trump is no messiah, except perhaps in his own mind and in the minds of his millions of minions, and his promise to rescue the nation from its current “ignominy” of defeat and denigration is little more than Barnum and Bailey’s huckstering outside the circus tent. The only freak in this picture is the huckster himself, certainly no the nation he wishes to lead. Only difference between his campaign and a circus: should he win both the nomination and the election, imagine world in which both Putin and Trump both have their hands and fingers on the nuclear buttons.And should that transpire, we will all breath much more fitfully; and our grandchildren will legitimately ask of us, “What were you thinking?”