I once put this up on my Whatsapp status: “I heart Trump fans. They are good for the heart. You know what else is good for the heart?… Laughter! (laughing emoji)” You may be able to guess that this Whatsapp post was some light-hearted sarcasm aimed at a number of my contacts on the app. Yeah, I was being petty, but I couldn’t resist the urge!
Pettiness aside, if, out of a peculiar interest in human behaviour (“peculiar”, because some of us derive some not-necessarily-healthy pleasure in understanding people, their personalities and their underlying motivations), you have been interested enough to give thoughtful observation to Trump’s antics and to Trump’s fans, you may have come to the conclusion, as I have, that Trump’s fans fall into few and predictable categories. So, why should this be of interest to me or you? Well, read on, you’ll find why for yourself! And you’ll be entertained too. It should however be noted that I use the word ‘fan’ – as opposed to the more inclusive word, ‘supporter’ – to describe those who are, deep down, actual fans of Trump; those, in and outside the US, who cheer for Trump because they actually believe that he represents what they want or aspire to. Based on this distinction, I will not be writing much about conservative politicians, Christian religio-political leaders or exaggerating right-wing media outlets, as I am yet to be convinced that this lot honestly believe in Trump.
The first category of people I have observed who tend to be unapologetic (I am trying to avoid using the word ‘blind’ because it sounds unaccommodating, perhaps even disrespectful) Trump fans: people with a tendency towards religious extremes. In Trump’s case, these tend to mostly be conservative Christians. I have a friend who said, and I kid you not, that one reason he is a fan of Trump is because Trump’s administration does not discriminate against Christians… unlike Obama’s administration. I was astounded at how strongly the “Trump and Conservatives are for Christianity, Obama and Liberals are against Christianity!” message had come to be propagated, so much so that Africans in Africa are getting wind of it. Thankfully however, in the case of my friend, although he is ‘expressively’ religious, his words and actions, most of the time, indicate a conscious effort to be tolerant of other religious (or areligious) views – an attribute I am tempted to believe is not present enough among the ilk of expressively religious folk who tend to be Trump fans.
But that’s it, people! There are thousands out there, especially in the US, who are fans of Trump primarily because he is “the Christians’ candidate”. Every other rationalization from them for supporting Trump is basically, I believe, an attempt to cover up, or at least polish up, their primary sentiment that Trump is the Christian candidate – a man appointed by and being used by God. Their sentiment thrives, even in the face of scandalous behaviour that stands starkly and unrepentantly at odds with decency, behaviour that would possibly have made Jesus and the apostles wince (at least in public). If you are like me, you probably find it hard holding this category accountable: some tend to be not particularly exposed and so are, understandably, limited in perspective and argument; others simply lack the will to think for themselves and so are, understandably, unable to logically probe the arguments they are being fed. So, why bother! The buck, I believe, rests mostly with their religio-political leaders – the ones, I imagine, with a bit more insight – who, for whatever reasons they have, feed the faithful with pro-Trump dogma. To paraphrase the perspective of Bill Maher, an American social/political satirist: one definite good thing that Trump has done is to expose the hypocrisy and double standards of some religious folk.
(May be Continued).
(Originally written on 15th of September 2020, inspired by the build-up to the 2020 US presidential elections.)
Photo by C. Drying on Unsplash