Tue | Jan 28, 2020

Norris McDonald | Personality cult, religion and Donald Trump’s dystopian world

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:34 AM
Norris McDonald
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“What a terrible era in which idiots govern the blind!”

-William Shakespeare

President Donald ‘The Great’ Trump’s shambolic rule has brought chaos, not just to Americans, but to the entire world. Just surviving Trumpian craziness is like surviving a frightening ‘awake intubation ordeal’ in a hospital emergency room.

Lies, politics, religion, and wholesale and retail social-media marketing have become a very dangerous mix to create, what I would call, a ‘personality cult’ around Donald ‘The Great’ Trump.

‘The Trump personality cult’ has been, and remains, a sine qua non – an absolutely necessary essential condition – to fool poor people to accept his political corruption and other antisocial, extremist political behaviour.

Don’t be shocked!

What is very strange is the reality that people are worse off under Donald ‘The Great’ Trump, yet he still has a hardcore support of 40 per cent of the American electorate.

The bulk of Trump support comes from the lower-income, white working class. Many of his supporters are Southern White Evangelicals.

Reverend Franklin Graham is the president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association. He views Trump’s critics as being “under the influence of demonic forces”, arguing that the fight to defend Trump is “a spiritual battle”. ( The Atlantic , November 25, 2019) .

Trump backers, especially white evangelicals, have managed to manipulate the poor white working class into zombified state, a ‘false consciousness’ that Donald Trump is like ‘God’s new messiah’.

Trump’s crowd-pleasing histrionics also help to create a delusional mass psychosis. This mass psychosis, in my opinion, is the best way to explain the distorted Trumpian world.

What we have, in my opinion, is ‘a potent witch-brew’ of lies, politics, religion, and social-media marketing to create this ‘personality cult’. Added to that is Trump’s own mesmerising, theatrical performances at mass rallies that appear more like ‘The Ringling Brothers Clown show’.

STOCK MARKET HUSTLE

Trump boasts that he is “better than Barack Obama for small savers who put money into their 401K Retirement Savings Plans”.

This claim is not true.

While the stock market appears higher under Trump, with the Standard and Poor’s 500 showing it up 35 per cent since 2016; in actual reality, small retirement savers were a lot better off under Democratic Party presidents Bill Clinton and Obama.

Since 2016 under Trump, 401K has been averaging a bottom-scraping 27.6 per cent return. On the other hand, President Bill Clinton’s first term produced the rate of return at 28.5 per cent. In his second term, 401K profits jumped to a whopping 71.7 per cent.

Obama’s first term produced 34.2 per cent growth on 401k, and 41.1 per cent growth in the second term.

Ka-Ching!

Retirement income savers had a better return on their 401K savings plan under President Herbert Walker Bush than under Trump. Only President George Bush gave the worse return to savers.

Another way to test Trump’s false claim is by looking at how US$1 invested over time would accrue a fair return to savers.

This method is called the Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). Adjusting for inflation, if someone had invested US$1 in 2010, that dollar had an annualised return of 9.83 per cent by 2018.

Using a CAGR analysis, although the stock market was higher, when adjusted for inflation, people lost money in 2018.

In 2013, under Obama, they had 30.50 per cent return on their money. Guess what happened under Trump? They are losing their profits with a negative investment return money (-6.25 per cent) in 2018.

In summary, the stock market is high, but 401K Retirement Savings Plans are losing value.

Also, real national income per capita is the lowest it has been in almost six years. At present, it is two per cent under Trump, as against five per cent in 2014 under Barack Obama.

‘PICK-POCKET ECONOMICS’

The stress of bankruptcy and suicide is actually worse now under Trump than all previous years, Chuck Jones of Forbes Magazine says. Many family farmers have been ruined by the trade war with China.

In addition:

Increased prices, from the America-China trade war, cost the average Wal-Mart shoppers US$1,000 more per year to buy groceries.

Donald Trump’s ‘Opportunity Zone’ money, for poor neighbourhoods, is a three-card trick. Jim Tankersley of The New York Times says that in one low-income Long Island, New York, area, there are “properties owned by the family of Mr Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and a White House adviser.” (December 12, 2018).

Trump’s tax plan reduced by US$1,500 lower-income earners’ expected income-tax return.

TRUMP’S DYSTOPIAN WORLD

Call it brainwashing, cult of the personality, or religious fanaticism: Trump’s people are immune to any truth. The only thing that they believe in is their own alternate reality, their delusional, Dystopian, Trump World.

This Dystopian World is based on pathological lying, abuse of power, political corruption, abuse of racial minorities and immigrants and the corrupt enrichment of family and friends.

Given religious distortions, Trump plays on the religious mentality of the 77 per cent of White Evangelical voters who are his staunchest supporters.

On August 21, 2019, Donald Trump retweeted a claim that people love him “like he was the second coming of god”.

This act of ‘deification’ was added when Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that Donald Trump was the ‘The Chosen One’ sent by God.

Donald ‘The Chosen One’ Trump or Donald ‘The Great’ Trump?

Coin toss … Heads or Heads?

It must be a two-headed, bogus coin, since anyway we flip it, we get the Trump personality cult.

What is sad is the fact that in this pitiful, soulless Trump World, there lies buried hopes, pain, dreams, and religious aspirations of millions of poor people who are merely seeking a better way of life.

That is just the bitta truth.

n Norris McDonald is an economic journalist, social researcher and political analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and miaminorris@yahoo.com.