Governors and state leaders across the country are faced with the decision of whether to lift their stay-at-home orders or extend them for public safety. Conservatives and Trump supporters are getting antsy and have started a movement to resist social distancing orders. Their resistance has sparked protests around the nation, reports the Daily Beast.
President Donald Trump’s tangent on how he could force governors to reopen their economies seems to be a jumping-off point for conservatives. They cling to whatever the president says, no matter how many expert officials disagree. Trumpism is a dangerous method of thought and ideology - bringing people to defy logic to support their candidate even when it puts them at risk.
This is showcased perfectly in the statements of Ashley Smith, who founded an anti-social distancing group called “ReopenNC”. She supports reopening the economy despite the fact that it will put herself and others in mortal danger:
“When it’s my time to go, God’s going to call me home,” Smith said. “I think that to live is inherently to take risks. I’m not concerned about this virus any more than I am about the flu.”
“We are not promised a pathogen-free existence,” she continued, “We do not have a constitutional right to not get a virus.”
In Michigan, hundreds rallied on the Capitol to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders. The chaos of the scene - horns honking, flags flying, people yelling - was eye-opening.
“I saw someone handing out candy to little kids barehanded,” governor Whitmer told reporters. “People are flying the Confederate flag, and untold numbers who gassed up on the way here or grabbed a bite on the way home. We know that this rally endangered people. This kind of activity will put more people at risk and, sadly, it could prolong the amount of time we have to be in this posture.”
Protests will likely continue as the anti-social distancing sentiment continues to spread. Trump’s statements during his 2016 presidential campaign show an eerie foreshadowing.
"I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose voters," he said. Though it sounded ridiculous at the time, it seems to be proving true. Trump is insisting that we open the U.S. economy by May 1, even though those in his inner circle confess that the president knows how risky that would be.
Smith is the poster child for Trumpsters all over who are railing against public health orders. Many others are echoing these statements when faced with questions on public safety.
Jesse Kelly, a right-wing internet commentator, tweeted that “If given the choice between dying and plunging the country I love into a Great Depression, I’d happily die.”
Glenn Beck on Wednesday said he would risk his life for the stock market.
Fox News personality Steve Hilton said that social distancing was a huge issue, stating that “the cure is worse than the disease. You think it is just the coronavirus that kills people? This total economic shutdown will kill people.”
Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick stated that ”as a senior citizen” he was “all in and willing to take a chance on [my] survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves.”
The list goes on. This new religion is centered on worshiping the economy, with Trump as the supposed messiah. Some experts on deadly cults liken Trump’s following to other famous cults, like the cult that followed Jim Jones. The charismatic Jones convinced his following to drink poisoned Flavor-Aid, killing hundreds. Trump and Jones don’t have much in common as far as ideology, but their raptured followers show the same hypnotized mental state.
Susie Meister, a reporter for the Medium, spoke with Jones' son, Stephan, about the parallels between his father and Trump:
“I see so many parallels [between Donald Trump and Jim Jones], it’s ridiculous” Stephan Jones told me. He believes that, like his father, President Trump is a narcissist and relies on similar manipulation tactics. Mr Jones said, “My dad would meet someone, quickly read what you feared most and what you wanted most, and convince you that he was the one to save you from one and give you the other.”
Mother Jones reporter Ali Breland spoke with cult experts earlier this month, and they offered similar assessments.
Formal experts on destructive cults agreed with [former FBI agent Ali] Soufan’s diagnosis of Trump and his base’s support for letting some die. When I reached him via a Zoom video call, Steve Hassan, a mental health professional and cult expert, started nodding immediately when I asked if he saw parallels between, say, the Jonestown Massacre and Trump’s willingness to put the elderly on a near literal chopping block. Ben Zeller, a professor at Lake Forest University who focuses on new religions and Daniel Shaw, a New York-based psychoanalyst who has helped counsel people who have left cult religions, agreed with almost no hesitation.
“Saying that older people should be ready to die for the sake of the economy… Kill grandpa for the Dow,” Shaw said. “The fact that this is getting amplified. How does that not evoke memories of people lining up to drink cyanide-laced Kool-Aid at Jim Jones’ compound?”