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True Believers and Donald Trump

True Believers with absolute faith in another human being may be disillusioned

If someone calls you a “True Believer,” are you pleased or insulted?

This term, which can be used to compliment or criticize, refers to a person who feels passionately dedicated to the absolute truth of his/her beliefs.

True Believers (TB’s) can harbor strong beliefs in extreme ideologies (“-isms”) in politics (Communism, Fascism), fundamentalist religion (any), or personality cults (Rev. Sun Moon, David Koresh, Donald Trump).

Used as a compliment, a TB might be praised for his/her strong beliefs in a code of ethics, and who acts accordingly, with respect, tolerance, integrity and benevolence.

Used (much more commonly) as a criticism, TB’s are derided for having uninformed “blind faith” in a rigid -ism and intolerance of those who don’t agree. They have “all the answers" to life's conundrums, and certainty about the validity and supremacy of their beliefs, in spite of evidence to the contrary.

For TB’s, there is only correct path, with no nuances. If they are religious, they might believe that only they have "God on their side" (to quote Bob Dylan). They often irk moderates by proselytizing, who label them as ‘zealots’.

Contrary to what many critics say, however, TB’s are not necessarily ignorant yahoos (or “deplorables”). Many come to their firm credos and convictions by virtue of their thinking about issues which affect them.

They might have been swayed by extremist leaders or fundamentalist texts which give credibility to their thoughts. Their beliefs make rational sense to them, and they’re not dissuaded by what they see as “false truths.” The charismatic leader who inspires the TB's worship is often imbued with remarkable personality traits and powers.

Equally important is the accompanying emotional or “feeling” component of their beliefs. When life feels uncertain, especially if there is a sense of fear or danger, they feel unsettled and vulnerable. Ambient “noise” in society like incivility and political conflict also increases their stress, as do incendiary statements from leaders who generate anger and fear.

People need certainty and security in their lives. When these are threatened, persistent inner turmoil compromises health, happiness and quality of life, and increases vulnerability. Susceptible TB’s are swayed by hyperbolic promises of better times, more opportunities, higher wages, reduced crime at home and enemies deterred abroad.

When there is perceived ‘triumph’ for their beliefs, TB’s are thrilled, buoyed with certainty that life’s travails and problems will evaporate and existential quandaries will be alleviated.

Their confidence and elevated spirits are accompanied by positive emotional and visceral sensations of joy and fulfillment. These are frequently accompanied by anger at the labeled “causes” of their tribulations, like elites, academics, immigrants, alternate genders, non-believers, and other favorite 'bêtes noires'.

We are now witnessing this very phenomenon:

Exaggerated promises for dramatic improvement in people’s lives were made by a vitriolic presidential candidate who fomented fear and anger. His words about perceived problems and enemies, and his avowed predictions to “Make America Great Again” swayed millions of vulnerable TB’s.

His upset victory caused a groundswell of elation among his devotees. They were convinced that the answers to their woes had finally arrived in the person of their chosen political savior.

After a few short weeks, however, many of his acolytes realize that their “True Beliefs” were actually “False Truths.” They recognize that their “knight in shining armor” is in reality an “emperor with no clothes.” Their avowed idol has always been a bloviating, belligerent, ill-informed, mendacious, narcissistic and inept man.

Alas, disappointment and disillusionment is the fate of zealous True Believers who put their absolute faith in a living demigod.

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