Jordan Rhodes is a senior English major who writes "Shepard’s Corner" for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper. Write to Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the past few weeks and days, I have looked at the recent government shutdown, the division it has caused and I can’t help but notice the blatant disregard for facts, logic and reality. I am not a fan of President Trump, but this goes far beyond that.
This goes for his supporters.
Before President Trump and this alt-right movement that has manifested itself in the past few years, I believed in the decency of humanity. When Donald Trump was elected, I honestly believed if he went too far and became too extreme, his supporters would leave him and keep in him check.
I used to believe that his supporters were reasonable, and the unreasonable ones were few and far between.
Now, I think a significant portion of his core supporters have entered a fascist realm, and at this point there’s no going back. A , I believe, has arisen around President Trump, and his supporters have essentially rejected anything factual in favor of what supports him and his regime.
If you’re still supporting President Trump after these past two years, then there’s nothing more I or anyone can do to try and pull you back to reality. You are part of this cult and it’s time for the people who still have a grasp on reality to give up on you or risk falling into the gaslighting ourselves.
Cults of personality have always formed around people losing grip on their own reality due to the charisma or general personality of a particular individual. Charles Manson is an infamous example, but Jonestown and Waco, Texas, are both relevant historical examples of people losing all sense of reality in order to serve a leader seen as all powerful.
At the core of every cult of personality is gaslighting. The leader latches on to some sort of internal desire, for Charles Manson it was this Messianic role he played in promising his people they were the elite and could solve all the world’s problems under his wing. This decree that they were “better” than everyone else was enticing. So enticing that they would follow him to the ends of the earth and even murder on his behalf.
Granted, it didn’t help that Charles Manson was certifiably insane, and I’m certainly not arguing President Trump is insane. But both were/are master manipulators. All it really takes is charisma and manipulation for people to buy anything you sell. Advertisers do it for a living, and President Trump himself is a businessman, so he comes from a similar fold.
His supporters, specifically those I know personally, will go to ridiculous lengths to protect and defend him at every turn, even some I know who didn’t vote for him.
Most conversations I have with supporters and apologists go along the lines of:
Oh that’s not what he meant!
When he said Mexico would pay for the wall, he didn’t actually mean ‘Mexico would pay for the wall.’ He meant he would strike a new continental trade deal that would save us money that would have initially gone to Mexico.
Blah blah blah, whatever. He lied to you, and if you can’t see that at this point, I don’t know what else to do or say.
Mexico was never going to pay for the wall, the American taxpayer always was. How was Mexico going to be forced to pay for it? What was he actually going to do? Seems far more likely it was a political stunt to antagonize Mexico as “the enemy,” which adds fervor to his nationalist base and acts as evidence of his authoritarianism as well as the whole idea of a cult of personality.
President Trump’s lying isn’t new; it's been going on for his whole presidency and even before in his campaign.
There’s an entire online fact checking site called that keeps a collection of every his lies. Outlets like and have whole sections dedicated to fact checking the president and other people in D.C.
All of the lying President Trump does is a classic, authoritarian tactic. As a result, members of the cult of personality have drifted too far away from reality that their bias keeps them tethered to their precious ideas. There is no way opposition can pull them back out of that proverbial cave and into the light.
At the root cause of his support is . He’s been shifting the reality of his supporters to one of his own invention by gaining their trust by telling them what they want to hear and then, after gaining their absolute trust, he lies about the reality of our world.
The scary part is that they believe him.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, however. Many of his supporters are the same people who eat up the baseless conspiracy theories of “Infowars” and Alex Jones, who called and then his supporters harassed the parents of the murdered children. Sean Hannity is another peddler of lies, who that “642,000 crimes recently committed against Texans by illegal immigrants.”
Hannity’s statement is just a plain and straight lie. The data, according to the same previously referenced, is based on a myriad of false or misleading information from 2014 that Hannity used to carry a political talking point.
But it’s not just Jones and Hannity, it’s the entire culture of President Trump’s supporters and the president himself. He lied about U.S. Steel opening “six new steel mills.” that’s not the case and there’s no way the president would know if they were.
But his supporters, who have come to absolutely trust him on everything, hear this rhetoric and will take it literally.
Fascism itself is caused by a cult of personality. It’s first implementation was in Italy with Il Duce Benito Mussolini. Mussolini preyed on ultra-nationalist sentiments and a disaffected population dissatisfied with the status quo in Italy to seize power of the government in 1922.
How he did so was by promising he was the only one who could fix the economic crisis in Italy following World War I. It appealed to the people so much that the King of Italy offered Mussolini the authority to rebuild the government, in which he dismantled democracy and installed himself as absolute dictator.
Mussolini, like Donald Trump, also created a cult of personality around himself, promising to bring Italy to greatness and even reform the ancient Roman Empire.
Sound familiar? “Make Italy Great Again,” if you will.
As a history minor, it’s often scary to me how history repeats itself.
It’s startling that, no matter what President Trump does, even reasonable conservatives will jump to his defense and call liberal bias like screeching eagles. Some of my own relatives partake in it.
Then you have the die-hard supporters. I know firsthand the degree of “Share if you support President Trump” or “Mueller is a witch-hunt!” post that flood Facebook from elderly white people every day. I see it every day and it’s likely you do too.
The man over his border wall during this recent government shutdown, that is only temporarily over by the way, and largely blames Democrats for his own inability to govern efficiently. But his supporters eat it up because their president told them to.
It was President Trump who said “” in similar words to Benito Mussolini, at his acceptance of the Republican nomination for president. They absolutely bought in to it and ate it up. If that doesn’t make it clear that more than two years ago he was crafting a cult of personality, and more importantly that it’s working, then I don’t know what will.
Because of all of this, I’m done playing playing patty-cake with his supporters and his apologists.
Hopefully, we will find a day when this cult of personality burns out entirely before it fires up into a real national, fascist movement. But the way I see it, even if Robert Mueller indicts President Trump, they will believe the president over anyone else. When he says he didn’t do it, they’ll still believe him, all the way to his prison cell if they have to. All we can do now is hope this disease doesn’t spread.
As previously stated, I never had faith in President Trump, but I did have faith in people. I had faith in humanity. After all of this, though, I can see clearly now that I was always wrong. Those that remain on his side and in his base are, in fact, too far gone.