We are witnessing the real-time unraveling of the Donald Trump presidency. It’s become entertainment done for the benefit of his adoring base. This is a man who thinks of ratings and green rooms. It is a show for the base, which increasingly feels like a death cult. This death cult, like others in the past, is willing to die for the leader. This is the ultimate way to show loyalty in any authoritarian government. The fight against the wearing of face mask is the latest exhibition of fealty
The president refuses to wear a mask, even made a point of it. He told us, “this was not for me.” Never mind there is a virus on the loose in the West Wing, which is a messaging problem for the president, not public health. After weeks of no pressers, he came to the Rose Garden as his usual combative self, trying to get into fights with the media. This is part of the show intended for a base that hates reporters, and I am hardly the first to notice this. His battles are based on racism, conspiracy, and lies.
Trump needs the show, the green room, the backstage as well. It’s the oxygen that he needs, which a lack of rallies is not filling. This is why he went back on stage at the Rose Garden. This is but one reason he wants things to go back to what he understands as normal. That is also coming back to the adulation of his fans. Never mind that many of his fans will die from the virus since they resist the public health measures designed to keep them safe. Remember a death cult is loyal to the leader, and this leader does not model good behavior. It’s crazy, but Trump does not seem to understand that this virus is destroying his presidency. The face mask is admitting to the failure, and how deadly this “invisible enemy” is.
Trump needs the adulation to make up for his insecurity. This is why he sees the wearing of masks as a weakness with people who cannot resist the virus. He believes that he is of superior genetic stock, meaning he can fight this better than anybody else. If you have listened to Donald Trump at any point, this will not be a surprise. He believes he is superior to most humans, which is part of his narcissism. It is also why his far-right base follows his clownish example because
they share the same exact believes. Whites are genetically superior and can survive disease better than anybody else.
This is white supremacy on steroids, and no, the virus does not see race, creed, genes, or anything else that we humans at times believe in. A human is a host, and as such, one to invade, and use to reproduce. This way more viruses can escape, swarm if you will, and invade new hosts. This is about the legs the virus needs to spread. We provide the cells for the machinery of this edge of life, and the means to move around.
But people of color are dying at higher numbers? Of course, they have less structural access to health care. There is more poverty as well, especially in urban cores, and less access to food and exercise opportunities. This was also an observation of the 1918 epidemic. Black sailors died at higher numbers, as the US Navy noted. Immigrants in tenements also died in higher numbers. We now understand that people with less access to healthcare and a safety net-fare worse in time of the pandemic. No, it is not the same to social distance in a nice property out in the country, with trails and fresh air, than in the inner city in very cramped conditions. Why those living in multigenerational homes tend to die at higher numbers. The virus loves that. Or to be precise, the virus will take advantage as there are more hosts to invade, infect and some of them will die. Social distance works because you and I cut down the opportunities to invade a new host, and then spread to others.
The president though sees himself as a great actor on the world stage. Why wearing a face mask is a sign of weakness. Real men do not hide from a virus, because real men are not subject to the rules of biology. He believes this. Strong nations also do not need to shut down for the virus. Why he keeps pushing to open the economy. This was the single re-election point. It’s gone now. He hopes that if everything opens, the economy will roar back to life. The fact that the West Wing is a locus of infection hurts this goal. It’s no realistic goal and reopening without care will hurt any trust in the process. Death in massive numbers will keep people at home, and chiefly not shopping. Or if they do, it will continue to be delivered. Empty but open shops are a very real possibility.
Real men do not follow advice from experts. And yes, it is men, not women. Trump is part of this toxic masculinity that infects proto-fascist movements. MAGA is one, and Trump is one. This is why he knows more than the experts. Why testing is also a symbol of failure.
He is also in the process of making COVID political instead of a matter of public health. He also is blaming people of the other party for not moving fast enough in reopening the economy. He is questioning their manhood at this point. This is well beyond just that they are Democrats. Real men face adversity and go to work. Only effeminate men resist and listen to experts. This is why the Governor of Arizona fires the experts. Being cavalier is part of it.
There are serious consequences to what Trump is doing. He is not just a toxic narcissist that needs his rallies like a drug addict needs his fix. He is also playing into a very toxic form of masculinity on the far right. In most toxic forms it is part of the Involuntary Celibate movement that has come to be in the last ten years. It is also part of far-right gun culture and run of the mill white supremacy. We have seen this in mass demonstrations over the last few weeks with his base. If you can call a few hundred people a mass demonstration. They have come out with flags, and where legal…guns, at the beck and call of puppet masters serving the president and their cause. They are part of the same phenomena that led to the Tea party and some observers have dubbed it Tea Party 2.0. These people are calling to “liberate” states from the tyranny of health orders, and now threaten the safety of state governors who are trying to keep them alive, with the rest of us. Michigan is a good example of this, where they have vowed to kill the female governor in a variety of ways. Metrotimes reported this with access to Facebook groups.
Assassinating Whitmer is a common theme among members of the groups. Dozens of people have called for her to be hanged.
“We need a good old fashioned lynch mob to storm the Capitol, drag her tyrannical ass out onto the street and string her up as our forefathers would have,” John Campbell Sr. wrote in a group called “People of Michigan vs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer,” which had nearly 9,000 members as of Monday morning.
Steve Doxsie had the same idea: “Drag that tyrant governor out to the front lawn. Fit her for a noose.”
“Either President Trump sends in the troops or there is going to be a midnight lynching in Lansing soon,” Michael Smith chimed in.
Part of the toxic reaction is the fact that she is a woman. Toxic males are threatened by strong, intelligent, women. The president has encouraged this as well. Perhaps it could be seen as encouraging sedition since they have responded with weapons. But the president activates these people in spades because he is one of them. After he loses in November, they could be the backbone for a revolt, if Trump decides to go there.
Do we need to ask if the president will call for this army to take to the streets on his behalf? They are not that different from Black Shirts in Italy, or Brown Shirts in Germany. They come from the same exact social strata as well. They are aggrieved and see their way of life-ending. Their anger with the system is very real. So is their need for revenge. As to Governor Whitmer, women do not belong outside the kitchen. They believe in this, and that makes them very dangerous.
The president knows what he is doing. He is a showman, but one has to wonder if he will be able to control his fans, who do have a very real desire to die for their leader.