A new poll from respected pollster Monmouth University proves what many of us have suspected for a long time — the MAGA crowd is a cult. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. It’s literally a cult, and there’s finally empirical data from a credible organization to prove it.
So what’s this evidence you speak of?
The poll, which was released this week, surveyed a sample of 805 American adults between August 10 and August 14, which means that participants gave their responses to pollsters’ questions both before and after white supremacists carried out a domestic terror attack in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend that killed one person and injured dozens of others.
Respondents were asked whether or not there was anything 45* could do to change how they feel about him. Remarkably, 60 percent of participants who approve of 45’s job performance said there was nothing 45 could ever do that would change how they feel about him. Those who disapproved of 45’s job performance were a little more forgiving, with approximately 40 percent of respondents saying they’d be willing to give him a chance if he showed significant changes:
A Marist poll released on Wednesday found that only 35 percent of Americans approve of 45’s performance as president, which is a record low for the 210 days he’s held the office. If Monmouth’s polling is correct, that means roughly one-fifth of the country is ride-or-die for the current administration no matter what.
To give 45 credit, he does know his base well. The Monmouth and Marist polling results are in line with what 45, as a candidate, said of his supporters on the campaign trail, when he told a crowd in Iowa that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” without losing support. He doubled down on the comment in an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation the following weekend.
“These are people that just won’t leave, they will not leave. I love my people. And it’s a great thing. I mean, it’s a great thing,” the blustery candidate said. “Far greater loyalty than any other candidate by double, triple, quadruple, and I love my people.”
Yeah, but a cult? That seems a little far-fetched.
It isn’t inappropriate to classify the fanatical followers of a charismatic leader like 45 as a cult. Dictionary.com defines a “cult” as “an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested in a body of admirers.” Another definition offered by Dictionary.com is “a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.”
Even though 45 may not be an effective president when it comes to signing major legislative accomplishments into law, it goes without saying that, as a former reality TV star, he’s certainly got charisma in spades. And while 45’s base isn’t necessarily living on a farm in Guyana drinking cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, they do live outside of conventional society, given their utter rejection of facts when asked to do so by their charismatic leader.
For example, take into consideration the deep polarization behind the ongoing Russia investigation led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. Even though multiple U.S. intelligence agencies have said that Russia attempted to influence the 2016 election, and even though Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out a screenshot of an email chain showing he was interested in taking a meeting with a Kremlin-connected attorney who promised dirt on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, and even though 45 himself admitted that his son took the meeting for that exact reason, a full third of 45’s supporters say the news of Trump Jr. attending the meeting is fake news.
Only 45% of Trump voters believe Donald Trump Jr. met with Russians, 32% say it didn't happen, 24% not sure: https://t.co/FX9sYGiFNc
— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) July 18, 2017
Wow. That’s terrifying. So what does this mean for the country?
It isn’t hard to look around and see that 45’s supporters are escalating acts of political violence the more his presidency wears on, although to be fair, this was a problem long before Charlottesville. In the months between November 9, 2016 (the day after the presidential election) and February 7, 2017, the Southern Poverty Law Center and ProPublica documented almost 1,400 hate crimes and bias incidents. In roughly the same time frame, ThinkProgress counted 261 hate incidents in which specific individuals and communities were targeted. And of those 261 incidents, 42 percent of those directly invoked 45’s name, his election, or his policies.
But this doesn’t mean that all of 45’s followers are prone to violence. If there’s any hope to be had in all this, it’s that one by one, 45’s top advisors and confidants are all being fired or leaving, isolating 45 into obscurity. A photo tweeted by New York Magazine’s Yashar Ali went viral on Twitter following the departure (firing? resignation?) of Chief White House Strategist Steve Bannon, pointing out that all of the men in the Oval Office with 45 and Vice President Mike Pence have either resigned (Sean Spicer) or been fired (Reince Priebus, Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon).
All of the men surrounding VP Pence are now gone. pic.twitter.com/KVousMN08C
— Yashar Ali (@yashar) August 18, 2017
While it’s anyone guess what will ultimately happen, the near-universal condemnation of 45 by Republicans following his off-kilter Tuesday press conference in which he sympathized with neo-Nazis could mean that a 25th Amendment coup is in the works — especially given the fact that Senator Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), who was once in talks to be a potential running mate during the 2016 presidential campaign, is now suggesting 45 may lack the “stability” and “competence” needed to be President of the United States. If anything were to return the MAGA cult back to reality, it could be their dear leader being the first-ever president to be ousted by his own party, using the Constitution as the primary tool to actually remove him.
(*EDITOR’S NOTE: GritPost.com is now exclusively referring to Donald Trump as “45.” Please read our official statement on Twitter explaining the decision.)
Jordan Shaw is a New Jersey-based writer and commentator specializing in national and state government issues for Grit Post. When he’s not writing, you can find him volunteering in Camden, New Jersey, or hiking the Wissahickon Valley Park.