Wikipedia defines the word cult as a “social group that is defined by its unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs and rituals, or its common interest in a particular personality, object, or goal.” It is usually a pejorative. Affiliates of a cult often trade their individuality for membership, valuing the whole over the parts. It’s the sine qua non of right wing religious nationalism.
It is also what the hardcore followers of Donald Trump are. That has been true now for years and is nothing new. What is new is what happened at Trump’s Nuremberg-style rally in Youngstown, Ohio, on Saturday.
There a piece of copyright-free music was played that is virtually indistinguishable from the QAnon organization’s adopted anthem “Wwg1wga,” which stands for “Where we go one we go all.” While the piece was being played, a large portion of the crowd gave a spine chilling Nazi-like salute to Trump consisting of their right hands raised with their index fingers pointing upwards.
It was arguably the most visible display to date of Trump’s growing alignment to nationalistic fanaticism. It was a public and symbolic embrace of the violent mob of his supporters who overran the Capitol during the 6 January insurrection. Commentator Keith Obermann put it this way, “it is time to use the real words. Trump has stopped pretending, and embraced QAnon, Christofascism, and Violent Revolution. He is America’s Hitler, and he must be stopped while we still have any capacity to do so.”
It was encouraging to note that Trump’s Youngstown rally was small. Looking at it from the sidelines you can see that the attendees were crammed into one part of the stadium, while most of the rest of the venue stood empty.
While Trump’s supporters become more crack-brained their numbers clearly are shrinking. One reason for this could be that the SCOTUS repeal of Roe has taken a sizable bite out of the Trump apple. Another could be that Trump’s message of the stolen 2020 election is growing stale with rightwing voters. The year 2020 is starting to feel more and more like ancient history, and Trump’s continued obsession with it in subservience to his fragile ego is looking more and more pitiful.
Nevertheless, eternal vigilance remains the price of democracy. We can’t afford to let the cult of Trumpism grow. It may be too late for Trump to lead another dark revolution, but it is not too late for some of his younger supporters to carry on with his disrupting program of evil. The cult of Trumpism is concerning, but if we keep our message clear and our resolve strong — and we vote — we can defeat his festering cult of hate. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.