Guest op-ed: Appreciate moral courage
The secretary of the Weber County Republicans lost her job, in part because she “lamented the ‘cult of Trump’ within the county party” (22 Oct. 2021).
The reality of the Trump cult is not debatable.
Trump — not his enemies — told the nation there was a Trump cult when he boldly proclaimed, “I could stand in the middle of 5th avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters.”
Wasn’t Trump indicating he could violate and transgress the most serious moral imperatives and his disciples would be unaffected? Wasn’t Trump saying that regardless of his crimes his supporters would give him a level of support comparable to what cult leader Charles Manson received from his acolytes?
Fortunately, the Trump Cult is not as strong as the media portrays or as Washington suggests. In Washington, it appears as if Trump has monolithic support; less than 10% of the aspiring and politically ambitious Washington Republicans will dare criticize or utter truth about Trump for fear of being primaried by a pro-Trump candidate. Thus, the treatment Liz Cheney receives resembles the Salem witch trials in which jurors were afraid to inject common sense for fear of being sympathetic with accused witches.
Yet these Republicans, who are actuated by fear of being primaried, are not typical Republicans in this state or elsewhere. In the motions to censure Mitt Romney at both the Weber County and Utah State Republican conventions, the split was about 55% to 45% (Mitt won at the state but lost in Weber). Thus, neither convention showed the lopsided cult-like cravenness of the cowardly Washington Republicans. The attorneys, teachers, medical workers, etc. who attended those conventions will not have their lives or political careers derailed if Trump is ejected from the party. Those conventions suggest that about half of Utah Republicans do not have a blind attachment to a man who very correctly claims to have a cult.
Although the Trump cult comprises only about half of Trump voters — which have never been a majority — the cult’s existence is concerning. Since cult beliefs lack an evidentiary basis, they are spread with pressure, threats or even violence. (Recall how Trump threatened to discontinue being Mike Pence’s friend, or the death threats made against election officials.)
The situation illustrates: Politically ambitious and aspiring Republicans are less secure, more fearful and prone to cult-like behavior since they are more dependent on their leader than non-aspiring Republicans who don’t need a series of events to favorably fall in line. Therefore, the moral courage displayed by any Republican official is as deeply appreciated as it is rare.
Rick Jones is a retired adjunct teacher of economics from Weber State.