Trump supporters believe he is an almighty and unconditional healer
It’s depressing that Roy Moore almost won the election in Alabama, but not surprising. Nine women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including a woman who said Moore molested her when she was 14 years old. And yet, President Trump — also accused of sexual misconduct — fully endorsed an accused pedophile. This is the state of politics in America. The line of morality and common civility has been blurred in the pursuit of a political and religious agenda called Trumpism.
Allegiance to Trumpism has taken priority over critical thinking and sound decision making. Trump is the demagogue of our generation. 43 million Twitter followers believe he is an almighty and unconditional healer of all the problems in the United States, including their own. They have bought into his infomercial — hook line and sinker. His followers will vote for candidates he supports even if it hurts them in the end — evidenced by the recent tax reform bill that will affect the working class that voted him into office.
What makes a person vote for someone who has been accused of sexual assault and pedophilia? The same kind of person who killed Yitzchak Rabin because he was told to? The same people who packed up and moved to Guyana and “drank the “Kool-Aid” for their leader Jim Jones? The same people who would sign a billion-year contract to join Sea Org and pledge their allegiance to Scientology? Stockholm Syndrome?
Growing up Orthodox Jewish I understand the default position of submission, even if it’s uncomfortable or it contradicts your true feelings and thoughts. When I was given a bris at eight days old, I was stuffed into a box of passivity and resignation. I was always afraid that God or my rabbis would seek retribution if I didn’t listen to their commandments. So I stayed hidden. I didn’t know how to think for myself. I didn’t know how to make decisions. It felt like I was walking around in the world with a gun pressed against my head. I knew that if I made one wrong move, God or one of my rabbis would pull the trigger.
My rabbis told me that Jews were the chosen people, and I believed them. My rabbis told me to wait six hours in between consuming dairy and meat. So I did. My rabbis also told me to hate black people and anyone else who wasn’t Jewish. I did that, too. We lived our life based on the Old Testament and what our local leaders deemed the correct decision, including whom to vote for because it was what was best for the Jewish community.
Roy Moore has denied all the accusations against him. So has Trump. Denial was good enough for Trump to be elected, and it was almost enough for Moore. Trump couldn’t stop saying, “believe me” at his rallies, and he still can’t avoid using that phrase in his speeches today because it’s effective.
My parents believed Trump. They both voted for him. They may cite policies, but I believe it’s another reason. When they were young and lost, they turned to religion and became Orthodox Jewish. Religion isn’t a practical decision; it’s an emotional one.
Trump supporters felt alienated by Hillary Clinton (understandably so), so they gravitated toward Trump who praised them and promised security and prosperity. They believed him. So when your leader instructs you to vote for someone even though there are glaring red flags about said person because he will help lead you to the promised land, who do you think voters will choose?
I left the fold when I was 16 and transferred to public school and the secular world where I had the opportunity to create a life that I wanted without having to rely on the decisions God and my rabbis would make for me. Never did I expect that secular life — complete with free choice, multiculturalism, and free thought — would one day remind me of the very extremist community I escaped.
Someone once said that the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits. We need a reformation for the stupidity of Trumpism to find its limit. And before 2020. Believe me.
Moshe Schulman is a New York-based writer and recently completed a memoir about leaving the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of Monsey, N.Y.