Donald Trump supporters come in many stripes. There are the Republican voters who simply long for victory, who think that he who cuts deepest has the best shot at winning, no matter his negatives. There are the single-issue voters who think Trump will close the borders and preserve the current demographics of the country, thereby preserving the possibility of a more conservative president in the future. There are dispossessed blue collar voters who long for high tariffs, and the angry white Americans who see Trump as the necessary politically incorrect pushback to the anti-white racism of the Obama administration.
Then there are the Trump Children.
The Trump Children comprise a far smaller subset within all of these groups. They’re looking for a father figure, someone to protect them from threat, provide for them, threaten violence against their enemies. They defend Trump’s foibles with the passionate but misguided loyalty of the offspring of deadbeat fathers. Trump can do no wrong.
The Trump Children themselves see the Allfather in a variety of ways.
Trump, The Patriarch. In an interview with the Jewish Chronicle Online, Michael Cohen, Trump’s Special Counsel and Executive Vice President, Cohen stated, “Over the years I have been offered very lucrative employment opportunities, which I summarily dismissed. To those of us who are close to Mr. Trump, he is more than our boss. He is our patriarch.” This is a constant refrain for a certain subset of father-seeking loyalists; there’s a reason that Trump’s most ardent fan, Milo Yiannopoulos, labels Trump “Daddy.” Trump fills a gap. He’s a powerful figure in a time when men have become shriveled shadows of themselves. He offers the gift of wealth, luxury, and strength. Trump is the font of power from which all true success springs. Loyalty to Daddy means a shot at both his love and the inheritance.
Trump, The King. “You can always tell when the king is here,” Trump’s longtime butler, Anthony Senecal, recently told The New York Times. Here’s Senecal:
[Y]ears ago he received an urgent warning from Mr. Trump’s soon-to-land plane that the mogul was in a sour mood. Mr. Senecal quickly hired a bugler to play “Hail to the Chief” as Mr. Trump stepped out of his limousine to enter Mar-a-Lago… Mr. Trump would emerge hours later, in khakis, a white golf shirt and baseball cap. If the cap was white, the staff noticed, the boss was in a good mood. If it was red, it was best to stay away. On Sundays, Mr. Trump would drive himself to his nearby golf course, alternating each year between his black Bentley and his white Bentley.
The King is entitled to his mythology, too. As Senecal explained:
In the early years, Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka slept in the same children’s suite that Dina Merrill, an actress and a daughter of Mrs. Post, occupied in the 1930s. Mr. Trump liked to tell guests that the nursery rhyme-themed tiles in the room were made by a young Walt Disney. “You don’t like that, do you?” Mr. Trump would say when he caught Mr. Senecal rolling his eyes. The house historian would protest that it was not true. “Who cares?” Mr. Trump would respond with a laugh.
There are many Trump followers who love these sorts of stories. They reinforce the notion of Trump as king of his realm – a king who promises all good things if they bow the knee. Talk of the Trump Train is no different than talk of the Pharoah’s Chariot. The King must have total power to bestow pearls upon his subjects.
Trump, The Godfather. There’s no question that Trump plays the part of Don Corleone well. Many of his worshipful supporters love this about him:
Reader email: “I view Mr. Trump as a young Vito Corleone… He has earned my vote.”
— Molly Ball (@mollyesque) March 18, 2016
He channels Joe Pesci in The Goodfellas, breaking balls and busting heads. He speaks the language of the tough guy – and best of all, he can dispense with the pussycat in favor of his own magnificent coif. Trump’s relations with the mob enhance his reputation with a certain group of people. That’s because Trump offers protection, so long as you offer him loyalty. He threatens those who refuse him with a horse’s head in the bed – or, more specifically, the implicit possibility of violence in the streets if he loses the nomination.
There’s something of the Bonasera in the current Republican establishment which has gone along with Trump. They may protest that they love America, but they don’t trust America – and so they’ll turn to the strongest hand. All Trump asks in return is that they call him Godfather, too.
In truth, of course, Trump is none of these things. He’s nobody’s father. He’s no patriarch – the real patriarch of the Trump fortune is the man who handed him that fortune. He’s no king; he’s a second-rate Charles Foster Kane knockoff, whiling away his hours at his personal Xanadu while longing after some long-forgotten Rosebud that has driven him into constant motion. He’s no godfather, either – at least the Corleones offered protection, where Trump offers empty promises.
He’s closest to a drunken deadbeat father, because like most drunken deadbeat fathers, he cares more about himself than the people who rely on him. The saddest group of Trump Children are those who see Trump for what he is, but lie to themselves that he’s something different. These are the voters who know that Trump lies routinely, that he has a history of betraying promises, that he will likely go off on another policy bender and abandon them for the next political skirt that catches his eye. But like abused children, they long for his loving touch, and they insist with fiery rage that he will come back home eventually. While Trump may not have done anything for them so far, they know deep in their hearts, where they cherish their most secret dreams, that he will hold them to him eventually.
He won’t, of course.
America has become a country of people longing for a father. Long ago, we neglected God as our father figure, and replaced Him with bureaucratic government; bureaucratic government has failed us, and so now we replace bureaucracy with authoritarianism. But there is no political Allfather, as Trump’s supporters are about to discover. There are just liars who play the part, and Children who follow them.