Hoffer wrote, “For men to plunge headlong into an undertaking of vast change, they must be intensely discontented yet not destitute.” They must also have “an extravagant conception of the prospects and potentialities of the future” and “be wholly ignorant of the difficulties involved in their vast undertaking. Experience is a handicap.”
Much of Trump’s campaign was based on promises of vast change, such as the immediate repeal of Obamacare. These promises never took into account the great difficulties of radical change. Indeed, in late February 2017, Trump acknowledged, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” And, of course, Trump had no political or public sector experience to inform his most controversial decisions. Yet he masterfully parlayed this shortcoming into the virtue of being an “outsider” battling an entrenched Washington establishment.
Hoffer viewed “true believers” as craving “a new life – a rebirth – or, failing this, a chance to acquire new elements of pride, confidence, hope, a sense of purpose and worth by an identification with a holy cause.”