“That’s why I’m easy, easy like Sunday morning.”
— Lionel Richie
A disgruntled contributor to this newspaper’s Squawkbox feature, obviously not a fan of our president, referred to the commander-in-chief and his loyal supporters as “the cult of Trump.”
And while we generally think of cult figures more in the vein of a Charles Manson or Jim Jones, the unshakable loyalty of the president’s core supporters and their penchant for supporting or making excuses for all of his actions could be described as cult-like.
But while the majority of us seems to want to make support of a person’s quest for elected office or his or her platform an issue of partisan politics, I think such blind loyalty goes much deeper. I believe we’ve entered an “Age of Easy.” As in it’s much easier to put all our faith in one person or group and let them handle it rather than doing anything for ourselves.
The fact that we’re willing to, let’s just say “adjust,” our core values and beliefs to make room for unsavory action by some person or group because it’s much easier to just accept the status quo is a strong indication that we’re allowing what makes us Americans to slowly dissipate.
Yes, it is much easier to take the path of least resistance — it’s easier to have someone pick out our groceries and deliver them to our door ... easier to order stuff online (which never seems to fit quite right, but still) than to go to a retail outlet and try the item on ... easier to spread our displeasure on Facebook than to actually attend a government meeting and confront the elected officials who are supposed to be working on our behalf to solve issues.
If you do a little background reading on the people who inspire cult-level devotion, you find that what they’re looking for when they recruit followers are people who are pliable, people who can be easily led. When such malaise infects an overwhelming majority of a population, you have the perfect recipe for an Adolf Hitler to gain control.
Some of the people I know and love are proud members of the so-called cult of Trump. The smarter of them say, simply, “I don’t like him as a person or for the many things he’s said and done that are disgusting, but he’s been good for the economy, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Point well-taken. But when I press them about some of the abhorrent comments and actions attributed to the president, they simply say, “I don’t support him because he’s a Boy Scout.”
It’s just easier, it seems, to overlook the president’s well-documented faults and focus on what he’s done that benefits us. It seems that we’ll accept the former in favor of the latter because doing so takes no effort. Rather than demanding that the president — or any other politician or elected leader — maintain some level of integrity, we’ll just accept that part of his personality and move on.
I don’t believe America will follow any one person down a rabbit hole to destruction, no matter how personable and charming that person is. At some point, when the house of cards built by such people starts crumbling down around them, Americans have shown an affinity for picking themselves up and moving on. That’s why people like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and, yes, Donald Trump, while unnerving, do not take my level of concern far past the here and now. Because I know Americans are too proud and independent a people to fall under the thrall of a true cult leader.
But if a growing number of us continues to take the easy way out and stand idly by while our chosen leaders chip away at the foundations of our democracy, there are indeed cult-like leaders of enemy countries that would love nothing more than to take their shot at what they see as a weakened nation.