The leader-follower relationship is a feedback loop of emotions, ideas, thoughts, values, beliefs and actions. A healthy leader and movement that is trying to create a better more just democratic society is empowered by their relationship towards positive ends. An unhealthy leader and movement can cause great harm to society, through outcomes that are much more pernicious and damaging than any one leader could likely achieve by themselves. Donald Trump and his MAGA movement are decidedly in the second category.
Political scientists, social psychologists, and other researchers have repeatedly shown that Trump's followers are deeply attracted to his lawbreaking and general contempt for democracy and social norms because they see such antisocial behavior as an example of a "strong leader" who "will fight for people like them." This is a defining feature of the conservative-authoritarian political personality type.
"Trump cannot deal with any divergence from his perspective. The reception he received in New York on Tuesday must have been disconcerting, to say the least, for the boy in the partisan bubble."
As we have seen throughout modern history (and before) fascism and other forms of illiberal politics corrupt the ethics and morals of the people who are attracted to such political projects; sick leaders attract sick followers; sick societies produce sick leaders and sick movements.
Since his arrest and indictment in Manhattan, Trump has escalated his threats and incitements to destruction, terrorism, civil war, white supremacy, antisemitism, paranoid delusions, and other evil. Instead of pushing Trump's loyal followers and cultists away from him, such negative and pathological behavior is bringing them all closer together in what they see as an apocalyptic existential struggle against the left.
In a conversation last with Salon last week, Dr. Justin Frank, who is one of the country's leading mental health experts and author of the book "Trump on the Couch," issued the following ominous warning about the traitor ex-president's apparent state of mind in the aftermath of his being arrested and indicted in Manhattan:
[T]rump is dominated by the death instinct which includes pleasure in being destructive. A person who has that temperament is going to manage his anxieties and fears and other stress by escalating fantasies of destructiveness. In Trump's mind, he is visualizing burning things and blowing them up. He is fantasizing about hurting other people. Those fantasies of harm and destruction bring him great pleasure. A person like Trump may be fantasizing about committing acts of mass murder.
If Trump were a mafia boss, he would get his consiglieres to act on his behalf. For Trump to truly be calm and at peace he would need to rule the world, to dominate everyone and everything around him. Trump lives to make other people scared. He will also not let himself feel dependent on, or need, other human beings.
In the days since that conversation, Donald Trump's public mental decompensation and violent acting out and other terroristic threats have greatly escalated. Last Sunday, Trump "celebrated" Easter by issuing the following proclamation on his Truth Social disinformation platform:
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL, INCLUDING THOSE THAT DREAM ENDLESSLY OF DESTROYING OUR COUNTRY BECAUSE THEY ARE INCAPABLE OF DREAMING ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE, THOSE THAT ARE SO INCOMPETENT THEY DON'T REALIZE THAT HAVING A BORDER AND POWERFUL WALL IS A GOOD THING, & HAVING VOTER I.D., ALL PAPER BALLOTS, & SAME DAY VOTING WILL QUICKLY END MASSIVE VOTER FRAUD, & TO ALL OF THOSE WEAK & PATHETIC RINOS, RADICAL LEFT DEMOCRATS, SOCIALISTS MARXISTS, & COMMUNISTS WHO ARE KILLING OUR NATION, REMEMBER, WE WILL BE BACK!
On Easter, Trump also threatened "World War III."
Perverted joe Biden is a treasonous traitor trying to overthrow the United States of America and our constitution. That makes him and democrats public enemy .They will pay for crimes against humanity and treason.
This is not the first time that Donald Trump has either directly or indirectly threatened the lives and safety of President Biden and other leading Democrats. But because it is so unseemly and disturbing, the American mainstream news media and larger political class have incorrectly and irresponsibly decided to largely ignore or downplay such acts of stochastic terrorism and other verbal bomb-throwing.
Via email, Dr. Frank shared these concerns and warnings about Trump's deteriorating mental health and behavior:
Now that Trump is back in his lair at Mar-a-Lago, he feels free to write and say what he wants without pesky fact-checkers getting in the way or disbelievers sliding into his DMs. He can give stirring speeches to a handful of unquestioning, hand-picked sycophants who know when to cheer and boo. This is because Trump cannot deal with any divergence from his perspective. The reception he received in New York on Tuesday must have been disconcerting, to say the least, for the boy in the partisan bubble.
His projection is there for all to see – "those that dream endlessly of destroying our country because they are incapable of dreaming anything else." This is the most autobiographical of all his projections over the years. They come straight from his unconscious. He is like the child who says his brother pushed him down the stairs, neglecting to mention the fact that he provoked it. To anyone paying attention, Trump's outbursts are transparent.
He gives permission to unstable people to carry out their grievances at a murderous level. This is not just because violent people love Trump, but because they are following Trump's stated practice of striking back "ten times as hard" with any means available when he feels wronged.
I'm beginning to think a warning, or even a gag order is not sufficient. He needs to be secured where nobody can hear his genuinely dangerous outpourings. And it needs to be now.
Fascism and other forms of authoritarian and anti-human politics take hold over society through normalization. The normalization process is accelerated by how a society's leaders and other influentials – especially among the political class and media – come to see such aberrant behavior as somehow a new type of "normal" or convince themselves that ignoring fascist and other anti-democratic leaders and movements will somehow make them go away. Even more dangerous is when institutional political parties such as the Democrats convince themselves that they can negotiate or compromise with neofascists, authoritarians, and other malign actors such as today's Republican Party in order to find "consensus" and "common ground." Such an approach is a practical endorsement of and surrender to fascism and authoritarianism.
Although Joe Biden may be president, the Age of Trump and ascendant neofascism are continuing to spread across the country – largely unchecked. The Age of Trump is a form of malignant normality that the American people are far from escaping.
To wit. Polls show that if the 2024 presidential election were held today that President Biden and Donald Trump would be in a tie. Biden, for whatever his faults, is a good human being and a dedicated public servant who believes in democracy. Trump, on the other hand, is a naked fascist, demagogue, and an enemy of the common good.
Dr. Frank highlighted the differences between the two men in the following way:
Compare his behavior with President Biden's Easter message: Today, we hold close the Easter message that nothing—not even death—can match the power of faith, hope, and love. And we remember Jesus' sacrifice and recommit ourselves to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves, embracing His call to treat one another with compassion. To complete the picture, Trump also posted in capital letters, "WORLD WAR III."
A healthy society would not have elected Trump in the first place. A healthy society – or one that wanted to get better – would certainly not put him in a position to repeat, in an even worse way, his reign of terror and destruction.
As Donald Trump faces more serious legal consequences for his political crime spree and the 2024 Election grows closer, he will only become more dangerous, violent, and out of control. For the safety of the country, Trump must be contained and stopped. Will the American people and law enforcement have the courage to do so? We will soon find out and the answer will determine the future of the country and its democracy and society.