MAGA bottom line: Less about grievance, policy or values than know-it-all, esteem-buoying Trumpian absolutism

Trump steps up Nixonian arrogance (“if a president does it, that makes it legal”) into imperial privilege – if Trump the genius says it, that makes it true.

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Confirmation bias rules, whether justification by faith, self-serving vanities, or garbled, cherry-picked scriptures 

I have puzzled when engaging Trumpers that infamous media claims on “grievances” or strident racism, even anti-government outrage, are not center stage. All feel victimized and fearful, even abused, and hate their wild distortion of Democrats. Yes, they reject mushy, centrist Republicans willing to make deals with demon Dems. But MAGA loves government when it stops abortion, pays Medicare/Social Security and unemployment, cuts taxes, delivers disaster relief, repairs broken bridges, beefs up militarism, or plasters the Ten Commandments across school rooms. 

Bottom line: “It’s the certainty dogma, stupid”—behind which the unjustified, constantly embarrassed “superiority complex.” What drives the Trump crowd crazy is being bluntly told (or proved) they’re wrong – whether blasting their reactionary world-views, perversion of Americanism, scorn for scientific realities or the complexities of history, culture and democratic decision-making. Further, MAGA gags that liberal government levels the playing field, funneling “their” tax money to undesirables, namely urban minorities, leftists, gender-diverse, immigrants, people of color, and uppity women. In short, they can’t stomach catering to “undeserving underlings” that might rip off their jobs. Behind the clamor of superiority simmer the trembling opposite.

This compensation deeply explains hypnotic loyalty for Trump. In fact, the MAGA brand was never about real-world gains for the base but to buoy up wobbly self-esteem by pumping out certitude. That demands pontificating with utter absolutism about whatever topic strikes Trump’s fancy (or thinks will sell). Trumpers don’t expect life improvements from Trump—and his WH tenure confirmed low expectations, with insignificant gains in family economics or jobs (so much for now-forgotten, anti-outsourcing blather). He did make (dishonest)  noise about universal tax relief, deferred handcuffing gun ownership (with horrendous outcomes re mass shootings), and delivered on anti-abortion promises (even life-threatening bans). In fact, signature Trump presidential moves, besides dreadful COVID responses (with unspeakable casualties), were huge tax breaks for the rich, cost-saving deregulation of corporate safety and environmental standards, and crude tariff bumps that upped inflation while saving (less competitive) American producers and farmers. All in all, bupkis for the base.

Triumph of certainty over reality

So, rather than deliverables, what keeps Trump the cult leader is his pandering swagger and gloat– and his fascistic style over substance cocksureness about everything, despite staggering ignorance on whatever topic he just mauled. “Never in doubt” describes his absolutist rhetorical con, driving smug derangement that he’s smarter than all his generals on tactics, or medical/scientific experts belittled on health and climate, or any official or adviser (especially disloyal traitors) blocking his way (or correcting blunders). That guarantees his mouthy calumny against foes.

Dogmatic fixations detonate when defending his career law-breaking, pugnacious that no can tell him what to do. Never wrong and innocent of all charges, thus his spitting overconfidence. His Big Lie was exceptional only in gall and magnitude: reality be damned, Trump knew in his gut that his non-existent victory was purposely stolen by still invisible villains. That he sticks irrationally to this absurdity today speaks not only to stupidity and that it worked, suckering MAGA, but cocksureness that his repeated declarations (transparent  wishful thinking) are worth pitching to the gullible. Trump steps up Nixonian arrogance (“if a president does it, that makes it legal”) into imperial privilege—if Trump the genius says it, that makes it true. 

That’s how he corrals evangelical true believers on abortion for they share the same faith-alone dogmatism (however lacking any Biblical support, on the way back Christian fundamentalist burner until Reagan). Like a deity, whatever Trump declaims comes in absolute terms—not only about being the sole redeemer but that immigrants are nothing more than transplanted criminals or that militant Nazi/fascist extremists are just as legitimate (and admirable) as liberal protesters. His gun ownership gang is equally never in doubt, convinced their forced  Constitutional misreading stops the government from touching, let alone limiting private arsenals. 

Finally, who’s more dogmatic about the glories of unregulated capitalism (a fantasy notion) than billionaire Trump backers? They share his laughable absolutism that world-shaking business giants should only be served BY government, never impeded from profits, development, or exploitation of resources. Only sissies need crutches, they claim, while pocketing federal stimulus checks like famished dogs consume bones.

Divinely-ordained capitalism

Right-wing billionaires are equally convinced that big risks and costs (infrastructure, education, medical and technology research, defense) should be socialized by taxpayers (juiced up by investment tax breaks, subsidies, loopholes, credits for losses and deductible mitigation) while ordained net profits should be captured by private corporations and individuals. Thus the rich get richer—and stock markets soar. It’s only God’s will, that the spoils go to the savviest few. If foreign militarism opens up or expands new markets, or protects the flow of oil, so much the better—a destined payoff for stupendous military budgets. 

Trump never apologizes because that’s never what domineering (mainly white, older), self-important, male supermen do. When you know everything, untouched by doubt or reservation, supermen are (and should be) beyond the niceties of the law, with the “freedom” to violate any rules that stand in their way. Thus criminal convictions buoy up Trump, speaking to the arrogant need to break the system in order to save it. Thus, never compromise with weaklings, never admit the other guy is right—and crush whatever alleged “rights” inferiors claim.

How comforting to know that finally here’s a free-wheeling MAGA politician undeterred by other people’s reality while eviscerating complexity, scoffing at intellectuals, and scorning expertise that over-complicates bold actions. Skepticism is the enemy that only gums up the wheels of predatory profits. Just accept the authoritarian world view, and its root authoritarian view of knowledge: the strongman knows what counts, what’s beyond question, and what saves America. Thus does Trump personify his fan-base mindset—but not because he cares about them, or shares their religious fables or lust for firearms, let alone understandable economic insecurities – as long as they obey his commandments and feed his legal defense funds. What titan of industry wastes his own money?

That makes Trump the alpha and omega 

Thus the MAGA crowd ingests from Trump what in their heart of heart they feel they need: unswerving assurance their minority dogmatism (and low awareness) are politically and morally justified. Whether coming from faith-alone rigidity (as the disintegrating world is corrupt), or laughable victimization by phantom threats, or terror about their own lives and future, MAGA urgency seeks the “perfect” messianic figure who guarantees the promised land—at bargain prices. It is a vile con worthy of the world’s greatest con artist. 

Trump’s dogmatic certainty so mesmerizes the MAGA crowd they accept his upside reality: criminality is what now separates him from mere candidates—and magically enhances his presidential resume. Only celebrity braggadocio counts when the world is going to hell and evil politicians take power. So embrace the leader who forever reinvents a far more heart-warming future. If the end is absolute, that justifies using any (post-Constitutional) means to get there. In short, Trump guarantees deliverance of heaven on earth for his true believers. Jesus for earnest Christians takes care of eternal life, but in the meantime faith in Trump offers the best shot to defeat earthly  enemies and prosper. That’s a wrap!

FALL FUNDRAISER

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For over a decade, Robert S. Becker's independent, rebel-rousing essays on politics and culture analyze overall trends, history, implications, messaging and frameworks. He has been published widely, aside from Nation of Change and RSN, with extensive credits from OpEdNews (as senior editor), Alternet, Salon, Truthdig, Smirking Chimp, Dandelion Salad, Beyond Chron, and the SF Chronicle. Educated at Rutgers College, N.J. (B.A. English) and U.C. Berkeley (Ph.D. English), Becker left university teaching (Northwestern, then U. Chicago) for business, founding SOTA Industries, a top American high end audio company he ran from '80 to '92. From '92-02, he was an anti-gravel mining activist while doing marketing, business and writing consulting. Since then, he seeks out insight, even wit in the shadows, without ideology or righteousness across the current mayhem of American politics.

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