For the first time in American history, the office of President of the United States has been vacant for an extended time. Instead there sits an image machine, devoted exclusively to a cult-of-personality base. And woe to the independent thinker within that minority contingent. Any whisper of intellectual autonomy will earn him a headline (and political future) similar to this from FoxNews.com: "Trump-basher Mark Sanford, who president called 'nothing but trouble,' ousted in key South Carolina primary."
Not only does Trump's media mouthpiece inaccurately describe Sanford as a "Trump-basher," it belittles him even more wrongfully as that worst of all epithets to the cultists — a Never Trumper — while confirming the splendor of Trump's reign.
"Incumbent Republican South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford … was ousted in Tuesday night's primary by state Rep. Katie Arrington," writes Fox News editor Gregg Re. "The results in South Carolina were an unmistakably positive referendum on President Trump's tenure … [and] a dramatic rebuke of Sanford's heated "Never Trump"-style rhetoric and scandal-pocked career. It signaled that the president's base in the state remains solidly behind him ahead of November's midterm elections."
While it's true that Sanford opposes Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs — also true, they'll be "disastrous," says the congressman — and he has objectively "called the president intolerant and untrustworthy," he has emphasized that "I'm neither for nor against Trump. I'm for ideas that I've long stood for of the entirety of my carer in politics based on limited government…. I stand by every one of those decisions to disagree with the president." Any principled stand of opposition, however, is frightful anathema to the cultists. The independent thinker must be banished.
What's particularly noteworthy about Trump's delicate base is that they're the hardhat types who still cling, along with their guns and religion, to the fabled notion of American rugged individualism. In addition to its overt meaning of independence from government assistance, "rugged individualism" carries, as well, a definitional undercurrent of independence in thought, as displayed almost heroically by Rep. Sanford.
But rather than being ruggedly individualistic, Trump's supporters are the very definition of weak-minded conformists. Any independence of thought that squares not with regime-approved dogma is swiftly condemned by the Trumpian mob, even the mildest dissenters are brutally ostracized, and the conforming cultists then applaud themselves for their spunky solidarity. This, though, is but the pathetic solidarity of American Stalinists in the 1930s, or the striking conformity of the reputedly nonconforming, 1960s America Left.
The Trumpeteers will never see themselves for what they are, because self-examination, independence of thought and freedom from idol-worship are simply not elements of the cultist personality. They praise themselves as the toughest among us, but these are the weakest Americans. Without Trump to do their "thinking" for them, they would do no thinking at all.