Copyright: Joseph Sohm

Are you voting out of fear or out of sincere support for your candidate? A vote for Trump means membership to the worst mass movement in this election says Jaqueline Villalpa Arroyo

Today, the United States is facing a presidential election with a divided nation. With two completely opposite candidates and the extremism of constituents growing in opposition against the challengers of their preferred nominee, negative attitudes have fabricated the perfect environment for mass movements to arise.

While many will argue that this election has not created mass movements in an attempt to discredit their opponent’s legitimacy, various characteristics of mass movements prove otherwise. Many of these characteristics are included in Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, which uses a combination of history, psychology, and sociology to explain how mass movements arise, endure, succeed and/or fail.

“Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil” (page 65).  

Ultimately, supporters of one political party make the opposing party out to be the adversary.  Donald Trump, the Republican Party nominee, for example, spoke hatefully against his opponent, Hillary Clinton, saying, “She’s the devil!”  

While Clinton is more careful with her words, she, too, makes Trump out to be the most wicked of enemies. But, can either be blamed? Trump, unlike, Clinton, has spoken in a bigoted, xenophobic, and jingoistic way about several minority groups in the United States. Trump has incited and encouraged violence at his rallies— behavior that does not exactly suggest him to be angelic in any way. Likewise, with conspiracy theories and FBI investigations surrounding her campaign, Hillary Clinton is portrayed as a horrible person, and, in Trump and his followers’ eyes, the devil itself.

Hoffer also adds that, “The radical and the reactionary loathe the present… If a stable and healthy society is to be established, it must be patterned after the proven models of the past.  He [a true believer] sees the future as a glorious restoration rather than an unprecedented innovation” (page 52).

In other words, an effective doctrine loathes the present, worships the future, and (sometimes) glorifies the past. This desire for change is evident in both the Republican and Democratic parties’ presidential campaigns. Trump’s followers aspire to bring an end to a corrupt government run by career politicians, like Hillary Clinton, while Hillary’s followers pursue change in economic, healthcare, and immigration reforms that change the stagnancy in those issues. Moreover, Trump’s rhetoric exemplifies the glorification of the past mentioned by Hoffer.

“Make America Great Again” is Trump’s slogan. But, what does he mean by “Again?” With just a word, Trump has and is continuously glorifying the restoration of a time in the past.

A True Believer Must Have Intellectual Sterility

For Trump, a candidate who has possibly made all unpresidential-like comments anyone could think of, obtaining the Republican Party’s nomination was an incredible milestone. However, he could not have made it this far without his blindly obedient voters.

Hoffer includes in The True Believer that “The blindness of the fanatic is a source of strength (he sees no obstacles), but it is the cause of intellectual sterility and emotional monotony” (pg 118). A month ago at a Trump rally, a television network sent out a reporter to ask Trump’s supporters a few questions. One of those questions asked people their opinion of President Barack Obama to which a specific woman responded: “Barack Obama is a muslim. He is a terrorist, and no one will ever tell me different.” After being asked about what specific evidence she had for these accusations, she responded: “Do I have proof?  No.  Do I have articles?  No… My mind is made up.” This specific Trump supporter blindly follows the leader of a mass movement that has ignored an abundance of facts. If Trump’s followers were not so “intellectually sterile,” his movement would not have even risen to existence.

“[The Leader} can operate on the sound theory that all men are cowards, treat them accordingly and get results.”

Furthermore, Donald Trump has fueled fear with his fear-mongering rhetoric. Almost every group he references he labels as a criminal group. Refugees?  They are terrorists. Immigrants?  They are criminals and rapists. Black people?  They are thugs.  While these groups do have internal problems, Donald Trump exploits the negativity surrounding such a small percentage of those groups’ population.

In The True Believer, Hoffer states that “Where, as in an active mass movement, the leader can exact blind obedience, he can operate on the sound theory that all men are cowards, treat them accordingly and get results” (page 95). Arguably, Trump’s followers are cowards.

Trump has instilled so much fear in some people that many of them feel that only he can protect them.  

A Vote for Trump is Membership to the Worst Mass Movement in this Election

For the first time, I may actually agree with Donald Trump; His political campaign is a movement. But don’t be fooled; bad mass movements DO exist. Certainly, everyone is entitled to their own vote, but, as election day approaches, ask yourself: Are you voting for actual change, or the restoration of past? Are you well informed about who you’ll be voting for and what policies they are suggesting? Are you voting out of fear or out of sincere support for your candidate?

However you vote, JUST DO IT.

Jaqueline Villalpa Arroyo is a Donaghey Scholar at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where she is pursuing Systems Engineering, French, and Journalism as possible fields of study. Jaqueline is...

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