How to talk about Trump with a MAGA cult member Skip to content

How to talk about Trump with a MAGA cult member

Don’t make the mistake we all make by talking about Trump as a fascist wannabe dictator. Instead, do this.

6 min read
(Caricature of Donald Trump by DonkeyHotey via Flickr)

Progressives, corporate Democrats, and moderates deal with the danger that is Donald Trump by decrying that he is a fascist wannabe dictator. That’s true, of course, but it’s not helping your cause. For real MAGA cult members, that’s a feature, not a bug. If you aren’t into persecuting Black and Brown people and thrilled by authoritarianism, you wouldn’t be a cult member. So that won’t ever work. If anything, as with any bully, it increases their endorphin levels to think that you’re scared.

No, no, no. What you need to point out is something else that’s true, but they’re in denial about: the 77-year-old Donald Trump is senile and losing it.

Never seem frightened about Trump’s authoritarianism. It’s OK to sadly shake your head and say, “Donald Trump keeps violating the U.S. Constitution. He says that he’s got total immunity to ignore any part of it that keeps him from power. Why does he hate America so much?” Then you’re arguing about whether Orange Mussolini hates America or not — that is, you’re arguing on your own home ground.

While speculation about Trump’s decline is skyrocketing, some have been wondering about the disgraced former president’s cognitive ability for years. Trump biographer Tim O’Brien says he’s long been noticing that Trump is “much less cognitively better now” than 20 years ago, when O’Brien wrote Trump Nation. Alyssa Farah Griffin, a former White House staffer turned View cohost, says the staff watched Trump decline: “He is not as sharp as he was in 2016, and many of us would argue that he wasn’t that sharp then. You see a real decline in him.” Some folks were wondering about Trump’s brain as far back as 2017, as you can see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Just three years younger than President Joe Biden, Trump is unable to ride a bicycle, eat healthy, walk down a ramp, or lose weight. Riding around on a golf cart appears to be Trump’s only form of exercise. He’s so out of shape that in 2017, when the G-7 met in Sicily, the other G-7 leaders walked together for 700 feet, but Trump had to follow in a golf cart to transverse the same distance. The boy couldn’t walk 700 feet! Sad! Trump’s poor lifestyle choices make it more likely that he’s in worse shape than the physically fit Joe Biden.

Better to shake your head and say, “Man! Donald Trump has really gone downhill in the last four to five years. We started to see it in his last year in office and maybe the year before. Whew!”

Then give some examples:

  • Most recently Trump referred to banks de-banking his loyal acolytes and then promised “…we’re going to de-bank.” What???
  • As everyone but loyal Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN viewers know, Trump confused Nikki Haley with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when speaking about 1/6.
  • Trump accused President Joe Biden of being likely to unleash World War II. I can’t figure out if he forgot that World War II ended 78 years ago, or if he thinks Joe Biden has a time machine. Pretty bad either way.
  • Over and over, Trump has claimed the repeatedly debunked claim that Pelosi rejected Trump’s offer 10,000 National Guard troops. Sure, Trump is a colossal liar. Indeed, The Washington Post numbered 30,573 false or misleading statements — just during his presidency, not counting before or after! Wow!

    But, like some dementia patients, could he be misremembering the past? After all, when Trump wanted a photo-op with a Bible he didn’t own in front of a church he didn’t attend, he was able to get the Justice Department to move up a plan to clear Lafayette Square of peaceful protestors. Somehow, in June 2020, Trump managed to get the National Guard to use tear gas to quickly dispel the crowds. Could it be that, in the ensuing seven months, Trump forgot how he did that? That’s what I’m inclined to believe.
  • Trump — probably due to former President Barak Obama living rent-free in his head for more than a decade at this point — keeps thinking that Obama is president right now. With a petty, jealous narcissist, how could it have ended any other way?
  • The man with “the very, very large brain” frequently confuses words (e.g., oranges for origins, furniture for future) or can’t pronounce common words. The great Mehdi Hassan compiled a greatest hits of — well, I don’t know what to call it. You’re welcome!
  • Just recently, Trump’s sentences have begun to devolve into complete gibberish. Here’s an example from Jan. 21, when he was discussing the death penalty for drug dealers: “The simplest of problems we can no longer solve. We can’t do anything. We are an institute in a powerful death penalty. We will put this on.” That came after some serious slurring of words. What the hell was he talking about? Anyone’s guess.
  • In 2018, Trump claimed that Americans need to present a form of identification to buy groceries. He repeated his bizarro claim a year later. In September, Trump said that you needed an ID to buy bread. Did he mean it’s now only bread that requires a photo ID? Or was he using bread as an example, while still meaning all groceries? Who cares? It’s clearly ridiculous either way. The real question is why his children aren’t intervening with Grandpa. Don’t they love him at all? OK, Eric and Donny Jr. can’t say anything for fear Daddy will stop the gravy train, but Ivanka’s got all that Saudi money going to her husband. She could literally afford to at the very least point out to Daddy Dearest that the grocery ID thing is going to hurt his credibility and get him to a specialist.
  • This example proves so ironic that I can’t help but smile as I type it. Trump cannot seem to remember what was on the cognitive test he was administered in 2018. Now, some think he’s lying again, exaggerating the difficulty of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to pump up his fragile little ego. Perhaps. But isn’t it more likely that, if then-White House doctor Ronny Jackson felt that he needed to give Trump a MoCA test in the first place, Jackson was concerned that the boss was acting weird? The fact that Jackson, a Rear Admiral-turned-White House doctor, who had served Obama and Junior Bush before him, was obviously concerned (why else give Trump the MoCA?) means that Trump’s confusion about the MoCA is more likely to be cognitive decline rather than simple lying.
  • In the wee hours of May 31, 2017, Trump tweeted out “Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” Some thought that Trump had meant coverage. But then, why not finish the sentence? Then White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer didn’t say what would have been the smart thing: that it was a mere typo. Instead, I presume the man who claims he’s never wrong couldn’t admit to even a typo. Instead, Spicer said at a press conference: “No, I think — the president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” That he had a very tiny stroke that led to the misspelling and his being unable to finish the tweet? I’m in the small group of people who think that!
    (By the way, covfefe has its own Wikipedia entry, a longish one. I kid you not!)
  • And my personal favorite: Trump lauding the time that General George Washington and his Revolutionary Army successfully defended the airports. Is that one your favorite, too? Please tell me your favorite in the comments section.

Trump, like venereal diseases, is the gift that keeps on giving! You have so much ammunition! I typed “Trump confusion” into Google and got 96,700,000 hits! And you can bet there will be new examples every week, if not every day! By November, there will be probably three to four times as many as we have now. Me, I’m here for it!

But one caveat: Do not yourself confuse Trump’s cognitive degeneration with his abject stupidity, which goes back decades. For examples, the very stable genius kept accusing China of manipulating currencies. He advocated injecting bleach as a rapidly acting treatment for COVID-19. Trump didn’t know that abolitionist icon Frederick Douglass was dead. That isn’t dementia. That’s just a red flag that President Dunce has no idea about currency or science or history. It’s best to pick one lane: either stick with the cognitive collapse or his being a moron. I wouldn’t combine both, as an idiocy argument would undercut your cognitive decline argument. (“Hey, he’s always been stupid! It’s not Alzheimer’s disease.”)

And I get it, I get it. How can someone know whether a gaffe is stupidity or the onset of dementia? For example, Trump referred to the country formerly known as Siam as Thigh-land. Moron or senile? Hard to make the call, but, as he eventually corrected himself, I’m leaning toward senile.

The most important part is to always maintain a solemn, sorrowful mien, sighing at the thought that anyone — even a dissolute, womanizing, narcissistic white-collar criminal — should meet such a miserable end. Shake your head a lot, too. Whatever you do, control the inevitable desire to burst out laughing. That would give away the game.


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Ivonne Rovira

Ivonne is the research director for Save Our Schools Kentucky. She previously worked for The Miami Herald, the Miami News, and The Associated Press. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)