The Cult of Donald Trump

Bill Kristol thinks Trump is a confidence man, kind of like the Music Man coming to River City, Iowa, selling the gullible townsfolk on the idea of a marching band to be led by 76 trombones.  But I think he’s more like the leader of a cult.  A cult built around his identity as an irresistible force, a commercial genius, and a speaker of hard truths.  He doesn’t have supporters, he has believers.

And he believes in them, for their total belief in him is completely justified. He told a crowd in Iowa today that he could walk down 5th Avenue and shoot someone, and it wouldn’t affect his standing.  That’s how strong the cult is, in his mind.

Another sign of how his mind is working is the closing line of one of his ads.  After promising jobs, prosperity and bringing America back, he looks into the camera and closes by saying, “And I will make you happy.”

He’s getting weird.  And it’s going to hurt him.  Not everyone who likes his program is part of the cult.  If he keeps up this bizarre behavior he’ll start slipping.

If he wins Iowa it won’t be because of the cult. It will be the Iowans who vote their pocketbooks.  In the Almanac of American Politics, Michael Barone thinks as many as 50,000 jobs in Iowa are directly or indirectly tied to ethanol.  For an economy the size of Iowa, that’s a whole lot of jobs, many of them paying very well.  Thousands of hard working men and women of Iowa support their families working for Big Corn.  The economic impact on the entire state of shutting that industry down would be tough to take.  And without the federal mandate, and federal subsidies, I don’t see how it survives.  There’s no demand for this stuff.

People generally vote in their own self interest, and just about everyone that’s part of Big Corn will oppose Cruz.  The key is everybody else.  Even if they aren’t affected directly, property values could go down, friends and neighbors lose work, and the whole state has to undergo a painful economic adjustment.

But at the same time a lot of these people  –37%, to be exact, according to Ann Selzer’s numbers — know damn full and well that ethanol is a giant boondoggle.  It’s the kind of thing that’s destroying this country, and propelling us toward national bankruptcy.  It’s a big scam, and these people know it.  Cruz is the only guy with the guts to come into Iowa and tell the truth.  I think he gets rewarded.

I think Cruz will win by a healthy margin a week from Monday.  I don’t think I’ve seen his campaign screw anything up, and I’m sure his turnout operation is all fired up and raring to go.  These kids are having the times of their lives.  They’ve got a winner, they’re making history, and life is good.

I’m a little jealous.  It wasn’t like that back in ’64 with Goldwater.  We knew we couldn’t beat Johnson.  But kicking Nelson Rockefeller’s ass was fun, and Barry was a truly great guy that we all liked a lot.  And we were all introduced to the Gipper.

A woman named Katie Packer has formed Our Principles PAC to do attacks on Trump.  It looks as though her thinking is along the same lines I’ve been suggesting.  She looks legit.  They don’t have a website, so I guess they’re not looking for donations from the public.  This is promising.

I could be all wrong, and Trump wins Iowa.  As long as Cruz is a close second, he can count himself a winner as well.  While he couldn’t beat Big Corn, he alone was willing to fight it, and thanks to the thousands who did vote for him, he proved that his message of fighting the special interests and the Washington cartel resonates.

And he won’t have to fight Big Corn in New Hampshire.  Rather, he can bare the scars he suffered at its hands.

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