What Won’t a Cultist Swallow?

I recently noted the psychological projection demonstrated by “New Trumper” cultists like Roger Kimball and Dennis Prager, who wonder aloud how much greater Donald Trump has to make America before the “NeverTrumpers” finally come around and acknowledge him as the Second Coming, or perhaps something even more unique than that. Let’s turn the question back on them, where it belongs: How many ways does Trump have to vindicate the NeverTrumpers before his cultists finally start to face the fact that they have been taken in by the biggest fraud in U.S. political history?

Since becoming President of the United States, Trump could not possibly have done more to live down to the lowest expectations of his conservative critics than he has done. And I say that with ironic joie de vivre, knowing full well that he will prove me wrong tomorrow by indeed doing even more.

Just within the past few days, he has fired up his cult (i.e., “base”) by pretending to be the man they voted for, killing Barack Obama’s DACA policy for illegal immigrant “Dreamers” — only to turn around and demand that Congress produce a bill to entrench a bigger, better DACA, out of his “love” for the dreamers; and then fired up said cult once more by again pretending to be the man they voted for, rejecting the GOP establishment on the debt ceiling — in order to jump in bed with his old friends Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer (a gross image to be sure, but all the more apt for the indecency of the situation).

Let’s take stock then, shall we? The Republican Party and its all too willing mass of “alt-right” dupes have foisted upon the American people a president who hates free trade; has an attitude on illegal immigration similar to the “Gang of Eight,” and campaigned on a “wall”-veiled touchback amnesty proposal previously supported by the New York Times; believes socialized medicine is the ideal health care system, and led the fight not to fulfill the GOP’s longstanding promise to repeal ObamaCare; is personally, financially, and historically closer to Pelosi, Schumer, and Mitch McConnell than to any other members of Congress; greatly admires Vladimir Putin; exploited The National Enquirer and Alex Jones to smear his opponents during the primaries; and promised his cult he would put his old friend and beneficiary Hillary Clinton behind bars, only to announce, immediately upon his election, that he would do no such thing.

“Oh, but Gorsuch!” I know, I know.

“But Hillary in the White House!” Yes, I know that too.

Those are not only non sequiturs, but lame ones at that. For the question is not “Which Republican candidate could have beaten Hillary Clinton and appointed a relatively conservative-seeming supreme court justice?” Almost any GOP candidate could and would have done those things.

The questions are, “When are the cultists going to see that Trump has crossed every anti-republican line they would never have allowed a “normal” Republican to cross? When are they going to concede that he has no master plan, but is flailing wildly from day to day, with no moral or political compass to guide him? When will they grant that in actual results, he has been the elite insiders’ dream, accomplishing nothing of significance to upset any applecarts, while occasionally, at just the right moment, saying something sufficiently “conservative” to appease those who are prepared to follow the GOP off a cliff rather than accept the hard work of building a new party that is not part of Washington’s bipartisan progressive establishment? When will they notice that what passes for substance in Donald Trump’s political mind is just watered down left-progressivism with a veneer of meaningless GOP talking points? When will they grasp that all his mean girl tweets, followed by all his bleeding heart blather, are not symptoms of an alpha male about to “burn it down,” but rather of an unprincipled flatterer and self-promoter desperate for love and attention? When will they acknowledge that insofar as Trump’s administration is anything coherent at all, it is a makeshift GOP establishment life raft about as likely to keep the American republic afloat as any of the rafts the Skipper and Professor devised to escape from Gilligan’s Island? When will they accept that they’ve been had by the likes of Steve Bannon and Fox News, mere semi-respectable masks for the true core of the cult’s brain trust, pseudo-rebel establishment shills like Roger Stone and Ann Coulter?”

In short, when will they realize that behind all Trump’s reality TV vulgarity, which appealed to them on the surface as a poor man’s substitute for real political incorrectness, in practical fact they have actually joined the Mitch McConnell Fan Club?

For my part, I’m now inclined to answer “Never.” I used to half-believe, or at least hope, that a significant portion of the original cultists, along with those “New Trumpers” who joined late and have expended so much energy trying to prove their worth to those who condemned them before they leapt on board, would finally realize they’d been duped, get angry, and come back to reason at last. I’ve now resigned myself to the likelihood that this will never happen. For just as Roger Kimball and Dennis Prager are convinced that anyone who has not fallen in love with Trump yet must be lost forever, so I have concluded the opposite about them and their fellow cultists: There is nothing Trump could fail to do, no promise he could break, no fraud in which he could be exposed, that would mean anything to the true believers now.

I’d love to be proved wrong. Just once. By even one of them. But I don’t expect it.

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