The Deep Story of Trumpism

Thinking about the Republican Party like a political psychiatrist


The Atlantic: As a white house resident, President Donald Trump is a goner. But his stranglehold on the GOP seems as tight as ever: Three in four Republicans say they believe their man won the 2020 election.

Can the GOP channel the energy of his most fervent supporters and advance a sort of Trumpism without Trump? The answer depends on what Trumpism is—a populist prototype, a personality cult, or something stranger.

To some, Trumpism marks the beginning of a new Republican Party. Four years ago, Trump created a coalition that was more blue-collar and less white than the GOP vote in previous elections by combining an anti-immigration and protectionist message with a call to dismantle the sclerotic and corrupt bureaucracy.

In 2020, he expanded his working-class base by winning significantly more Latinos, especially in south Texas and Florida. “You can see the foundation of a possible after-Trump conservative majority that is multiethnic and middle class and populist,” the columnist Ross Douthat wrote in The New York Times.

But the UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild believes that Trumpism is intimately tied—for now at least—to its namesake, because it exists beyond the logic of policy. It exists in the dreampolitik realm of feelings.

“If there’s one thing I think the mainstream press still gets wrong about Trump, it’s that they are comfortable talking about economics and personality, but they don’t give a primacy to feelings,” Hochschild told me. “To understand the future of the Republican Party, we have to act like political psychiatrists.

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  1. My analysis is, a very effective type of subtle hypnosis has been implemented. Particular topics invoke a righteous anger not seen in other topic discussions with the same people. It is beyond an echo chamber effect, and this capability has been long known, but tools to implement it on such a broad scale only recently available.

  2. Trumpsters have for the most part left the building, mentally. Much of the Republican Party has devolved into being a personality cult. Their only hope at this point is for Israel to pull off another 9/11, this time blamed on Iran. That would shake up the deck and enable Trump to enact near-dictatorial powers under the USA Patriot Act. May Heaven help us all.

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