As an avid viewer of investigative cult documentaries, I’ve come to learn several universal truths that seem to define every fanatical group leader. The individual in charge (usually a white dude) is never allowed to be questioned on his grandiose stance and beliefs. If you find yourself at odds with a leader’s abusive behavior, you are considered an enemy-at-large. And by the time you actually realize you are knee-deep in a cult, your boss’s tactics will have made it damn near impossible to jump ship.
I’ve watched the past four years brutally unfold with our resident human trainwreck, Donald J. Trump, holding the highest leadership position our country has to offer. And it’s hard not to see him as a cult leader of sorts these days. He inspires his most diehard rally goers to turn his baseless arguments into whacked out chants, donate money that they naively believe will go to helping him slay the invisible “voter fraud” dragon, gobble up every erroneous sentence on his Twitter account, and dedicate themselves to defending him no matter what he does.
As our newly fired president manages to keep his legions of fans on a tight leash of unquestioning loyalty, I find myself barely noticing any difference between a faithful Trump supporter and a cult member.
Even more disturbing is the fact that some psychologists have now determined that our bully-in-chief does indeed lean into this terrifying kind of leadership. But instead of spouting unorthodox religious views or eccentric principles for self-improvement, our president has been mimicking dictators like Hitler with his chaotic verbiage, polarizing beliefs, incitements to violence, and divisive policy measures. In other words, Trump lures his steady base of followers in by saying out loud what many agree with deep down. He’s a highly publicized fan of racism, ridicule, xenophobia, shaming others, reactive confrontation, bigotry, fear-mongering, and misogyny.
And if you voted for Donald Trump, you have presented yourself to be one as well. Which is not surprising, but is certainly so fucking disappointing to be reminded of. Because it’s not like any of you are showing the country something novel here. White supremacy, bigotry, and the patriarchy have existed for generations. Donald Trump is just a random white man who reflects it back to the rest of us with the biggest, gaudiest, most obscene mirror he has — himself. And for some wacky reason, all of you keep looking into that mirror and only see him looking back.
But your support for Trump, whether silent or passionate, is your complacency and complicity in action — and that goes for each and every one of you who filled in that dot next to his name on November 3rd.
A colossal 72,741,954 Americans voted for a narcissistic, gaslighting, racist asshole this year. And the rest of us who didn’t? We all know that you did. We see you for what you truly stand for, and what you’re completely okay with disregarding. You were offered the divine moment to actively vote out a corrupt, abusive politician, and you stubbornly refused to do it. By rejecting the opportunity at hand, you sent us all a direct message — that you are either obnoxiously putting your overt hate for marginalized communities on full display, or you are totally cool with hiding it in plain sight due to some shit Trump did that happened to benefit you and you alone.
Or worse — you voted for Trump because of a few policies that exclusively serve you, and actively chose to ignore the extensively long list of egregious and ongoing human rights violations he has committed as our commander-in-chief.
If you’re reading my words as someone who threw our shitty president a lifeline during this election, you might not be thinking that you’re the one who is individually doing any damage to our country. You see the racially-discriminating, LGBTQIA-hating bigots who champion Trump’s entire agenda, and you just can’t fathom a world where you appear to be aligned with them in any way, shape, or form. I understand why you might assume that. Because I’ve borne first-hand witness to the people in my life who feel the same way you do.
But the huge-ass difference between you, a Trump voter, and me, a Biden voter, is that I saw this as an opportunity to take a single action to help lead our country away from Donald Trump’s America. You didn’t. I knew it wasn’t going to be a cure-all for racism and hate, but it was a solid choice, at the very least, to make an example out of the racist, hateful president who has gotten away with too much bullshit for far too long. You didn’t. I saw a moment in our nation that required me to take a stand that wasn’t in favor of allowing Trump to legitimize division and hostility while also tearing down the basic rights of so many marginalized people. You didn’t. I took that chance, that tangible chance, to do one simple thing to ensure that we no longer have a leader telling hate-groups like the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” You didn’t.
You could be a proud MAGA-hat wearer who laps up Tucker Carlson like he’s cold water on a hot day or someone who believes in “policies over character,”and you are still just as culpable of perpetuating hate, inequality, and racially unjust violence as those Proud Boys who are still standing by for him. You’re culpable when you pretend like it’s no big deal that Trump threw a bunch of kids in cages and indefinitely separated them from their parents. You’re culpable after turning your back on Muslims and Syrian refugees when he banned them from visiting our country. You are culpable when you give the cold shoulder to transgender individuals who he prohibited from serving in our military. And you are most definitely culpable when you stay quiet about a president who has incited hate crimes against Asian-Americans for repeatedly calling COVID-19 the “Kung Flu” while hundreds of thousands of Americans die under his careless watch.
None — zero, zip, zilch — of these atrocities are excusable. And neither is being peachy keen with a leader who committed them.
As a queer and bisexual mom, I’ve had loved ones I deeply care about listen to my worries and concerns about Trump’s exhausting amount of LGBTQIA rollbacks and dangerous policy enactments. I’ve begged them to see the blatant racism that Donald Trump condones and the necessity of embracing the Black Lives Matter movement as a vital path to racial equality rather than believing the unfounded lies that Fox News spouts about its motives. I’ve implored them to think beyond themselves when they go to their local polling spot and consider those whose very livelihoods Trump has diminished. And what do you think they did?
They still, of course, voted for him.
These are folks who I consider to be rational, intelligent, and kind people, and I genuinely care for them. But they didn’t listen to me at a time when I really needed them to. Even with clear evidence of Trump’s policy rollbacks and hateful influence, proof that would make another four years of him so very painful for me and many others, they still voted for Donald fucking Trump.
In September, FBI director Christopher Wray confirmed that white supremacists are the greatest national terrorist threat to our country right now. Which means that on top of everything else, over 72 MILLION Americans also showed their unwavering support for the largest sector of domestic terrorism our country has encountered in modern history. Because no matter how much or little you oppose abhorrent bullshit like white supremacy, a vote for Donald Trump only preserves abhorrent bullshit like white supremacy.
Don’t think my arguments against Trump and his supporters hold any water? Then allow me to share a little insight from Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, a distinguished professor and psychohistorian who publicly urged the American Psychiatric Association to officially speak out about our almost-finished president’s shaky mental health.
“Nobody can fully explain Republican supporters,” Lifton tells journalist Igor Derysh in a September interview with Salon. “They share Trump’s responsibility for this criminality in the way in which American lives are taken by their policies. They vary in their attraction to Trump, and I would give a few ideas. There is a base of white supremacy. That doesn’t mean that all his followers are white supremacists, but they are a dominant group in his base and they follow him and have no complaint against his policies. There is also a cult-like quality to Trump’s hold on many followers. Some of the most extreme have a cult-like relationship to him, in which they give themselves to the cult-like leader — offer their lives and their views to him.”
So on top of condoning violence, discrimination, and oppression, you’re also the unofficial members of a cult called MAGA. Whether you want to be or not, you are linked to this man in reprehensible ways. And the worst part is that he doesn’t give a shit about any of you. He doesn’t. I don’t know why you ever thought he did in the first place. But he doesn’t. He doesn’t care about anyone but his ratings, his fortune, his status, and himself.
So — and I sincerely say this with all the love I can possibly muster — please get your head out of your ass and get used to the idea of a Biden presidency, because there is zero validity to Trump’s “I won big!” claims. Stop donating to a man who has literally made it clear in the fine print that he’s taking your money and sneakily paying off his debts with it. Turn Fox News off for a hot second and try another channel, because you’re starting to sound like Sean Hannity (and that’s not a good thing). Quit following that random QAnon group on Facebook, because it’s fucked up. And for goodness sake, de-activate your Parler account — don’t even get me started on that ridiculous can of worms.
Now, with your newly freed up time, why don’t you start examining your own racial bias, your self-serving political and religious views, your allowance of bigotry in leadership, and your lack of trust in the media that is largely showing you the legitimate fucking truth about the president-for-two-more-months. And maybe, just maybe, ask yourself how you can have folks you love in your life who aren’t white and straight and still be able to look them in the eye with that love after you voted against their very rights to exist as safely and freely as you.
All of us Biden-voting Americans are going to need you to process this unsavory information first before you go on some absurd rant about how Trump is a refreshingly un-politician-like politician who just “tells it like it is.” I hate to break it to you, but he’s just another asshole politician who has used his presidency to enrich himself and his corporate buddies while successfully managing to barf up a whopping 20,000 lies and counting while in office — lies which your darling news network anchors at Fox happily continue to peddle to the right-winged masses.
And do not — I repeat — do not expect us to all join in your Kumbaya circle, chanting “we love our neighbors, no matter who they voted for,” because it’s not happening right now for many of us whose human rights, freedom, and safety you decided weren’t as important as your own. Instead, we’re going to request that you push your comfort aside, really sit with what you’ve done, and most importantly, ask yourself why you did it.
And in case you’re wondering, there is absolutely nothing to fucking debate here.
Because human rights are not debatable.
They never have been, and they never will be — no matter what a cult leader-in-the-making like Trump tries to tell you.
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