If you are surrounded by friends and family or are otherwise well-adjusted, this probably won’t resonate. But if you are lonely and marginalized (or think you are, like so many of today’s MAGA fans), it will resonate. There’s a reason vulnerable people are drawn to street gangs. There’s a reason Charles Manson preyed upon teenage runaways, and there’s a reason why so many poor Black women died in Jonestown. When you are down-and-out and lonely, you cling to the people who care enough to give you hope.
This helps explain why friends and family who want to stage an intervention—who try to turn off Fox News or OAN or Newsmax—are so impotent. This explains why media outlets that try to fact-check Trump’s claims are really just wasting their time, at least when it comes to the cult. As conservative writer David French puts it, “you can’t fact-check, plead, or argue a person out of a conspiracy, because you’re trying to fact-check, plead, and argue them out of their community.”
The saying, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it,” suggests that materialism drives us. It’s even harder to get a man to understand something, when his community and identity depends on his not understanding it. It would be a mistake to think that this phenomenon applies only to people who attended numerous Trump rallies. While I have no doubt this is most acute among the front-row Joes, more casual fans who weren’t on the rally circuit are (to a lesser extent) part of a Trump larger “community,” deriving daily purpose, identity, and entertainment by following him virtually.