I was just watching political commentators from yesterday talking about how they believe Trump’s defense is short-sighted.
His legal team in the Senate trial claims that there was no quid pro quo and that everyone who talked directly to the president knew that. We of course already know that this is false. But additionally, they were repeating this claim on the same day that news broke regarding John Bolton’s upcoming book, in which he as a first-hand eyewitness clearly says the opposite.
The CNN commentators seem to think that Trump’s defense should have mentioned this and taken it into account. They say that this mistake will come back to bite him in the end.
But I don’t think they understand how the Trump ecosystem works. The current Republican party is a political fundamentalist cult, and Trump is its god. His defenders are not trying to make a cogent argument for his innocence. That’s not their job. Rather, they are apologists. Their function is to recite the apologetic narratives that the true believers within the party are expected to recite, to themselves and to each other and to the world, in order to justify Trump’s malfeasance.
They are not addressing the reasoned voter or the impartial juror, any more than a religious apologist is addressing the rational skeptic. They aren’t expressing a reasonable defense any more than William Lane Craig is expressing a reasonable faith. That’s not their job. Rather, they are speaking to the true believer, to the party loyalist. Their job is to recite the marching orders for the loyal Republican. Their message is: This is the rationalization that you will use to defend the party position.
And as it is for a religious fundamentalist, anyone who fails to toe the party line is going to be branded a heretic (or a traitor) and excommunicated. There is no room for honest disagreement over dogma within a fundamentalist religion. God is good. God is all-knowing and all-powerful. We worship God, always and only, and we never shine the spotlight of truth upon his misdeeds or seriously question the lies our religion tells us. Because God is always right.
And to the current Republican party, so is Trump.
Addendum: As the Senate trial is currently ongoing, you can take this post as a prediction. Take it as a scientific hypothesis, which could be disproven by future events. Let’s see how this actually plays out.
I am not a Democrat. I am fiercely independent. But I’m also pessimistic, because I recognize the signs of cult behavior, as have cult experts. I would be overjoyed if Republican Senators were to prove me wrong. More than anything else, I want them to make a fool of me by their actions on this point.