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Trump grifts MAGA supporters for their money and vote

Jun 19, 2023

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Former President Donald Trump’s campaign has claimed it has raised $6.6 million in the days after his second indictment and reportedly raised another $15 million in the two weeks that followed. It’s a surprising achievement by any standards and reminiscent of the $4 million he raised in the 24 hours after his first indictment. According to some, Trump has used his indictments as fundraising opportunities.

Straight Arrow News contributor David Pakman explains why he thinks Trump’s MAGA supporters are so willing to donate to his campaign after learning Trump is in even more legal hot water.

For years now, I’ve been explaining to my audience that Trump cares about his supporters only insofar as they are useful to him. The reality is that a large share of Trump voters are the very people that Trump, as a rich guy from Manhattan and Queens, spent his life trying to be isolated from. These aren’t people Trump actually likes or values or wants to be around. He values them for their ability to vote, or for their ability to donate. And when those abilities have been temporarily suspended, you see that Trump’s regard for these people and respect for these people goes down dramatically. And the incident at Versailles actually gives us both, in one venue.

Usually it’s they voted for Trump at the ballot box and then Trump just comes back and grifts them for money even though they already voted for the guy.

This all happened at Versailles. At the restaurant Versailles, they did the cult stuff that made Trump smile and feel good. They sang him “Happy Birthday.” They prayed over him, putting hands on him, etc. And then at that very place, Trump promises food for everyone to get the cheer and to get the adulation and the devotion. And then before you know it, the guy’s gone.

And it is representative of and emblematic of how Trump — and quite frankly, of how many Republicans — and some Democrats, I’m not here to defend Democrats either; I’m not a Democrat at the end of the day … this is actually all too common in American politics.

So do I feel bad that nobody got their free food? No, it’s not about that. It’s about understanding that at every level this has always been a grift for Trump. And he doesn’t actually care about doing things for people that are good for them because it’s good on its merits. It’s all about if “I do something for you that’s good, then what do I get in exchange for it politically?”

That’s the transactional nature which infects a lot of politics. With Trump it’s even more overtly a disgusting grift.

All right, I’m going to take sort of like a silly side story and try to make it relevant to a bigger and very important political story about MAGA Trumpism. On the day that Donald Trump was arrested for the second time — this was in Miami, Florida, where he turned himself in, charged with 37 felony counts related to mishandling of and obstruction relating to those classified documents that he had at Mar a Lago, Bedminster, etc., you know the story. That’s not the main thing today. After leaving the courthouse, where Donald Trump looked glum, and had his arms crossed, he went to a Cuban restaurant in Miami called Versailles. And at that restaurant, it was a real, it was a real cult center, it was a cult, meaning you really saw the cult that is MAGA Trumpism. 

 

And while “cultism” isn’t the main sort of point of this story, it’s important to remember that they have this leader who is the ultimate source of truth, they signal their devotion with signs and symbols, including MAGA hats. Anybody who dissents is considered an enemy or a traitor. 

 

Like you, if you look at scholarship on cults, you see that Trumpism basically has all of the, all of the traits. And at this Miami restaurant, Versailles, they sang Happy Birthday to Trump. Trump’s second arrest was the day before his birthday. They had so-called faith leaders praying over Trump, I mean, all cult stuff. And one of the things Trump did, and there’s video of it, is he said, “How about this — food for everyone” and everybody cheered on the understanding that Donald Trump is buying everybody in the restaurant whatever they want to thank them for their loyalty and blah blah blah. 

 

When I played that video, on The David Pakman Show, I immediately said, “I really hope the restaurant grabbed a credit card from Trump, before they extended anybody credit, before they gave anyone even one little cafecito because Trump is known for not paying debts. 

 

Trump is known for not paying his lawyers and he’s known for — you all, you all know about it. And two days after that incident, the Miami New Times reported that Trump paid for nothing for anyone, that after saying it and getting the cheer, Trump left. Now we could chalk this up most innocently to “he just had to go, he had every intention of paying for people, but yet to go.” We can chalk it up more realistically to Trump regularly doesn’t pay for people or for things or debts that he owes. But it’s not a deliberate grift or a deliberate lack of regard for his supporters. But I believe that neither of those more benign explanations would be true. 

 

This is MAGA Trumpism. And this is Trump as well. For years now, I’ve been explaining to my audience that Trump cares about his supporters only insofar as they are useful to him. The reality is that a large share of Trump voters are the very people that Trump as a rich guy from Manhattan and Queens spent his life trying to be isolated from. These aren’t people Trump actually likes or values or wants to be around. 

 

He values them for their ability to vote, or for their ability to donate. And when those abilities have been temporarily suspended, you see that Trump’s regard for these people and respect for these people, goes down dramatically. And the incident at Versailles actually gives us both in one venue. Usually it’s “they voted for Trump at the ballot box.” And then Trump just comes back and grifts them for money even though they already voted for the guy. This all happened at Versailles, at the restaurant Versailles, they did the cult stuff that made Trump’s smile and feel good. They sang him Happy Birthday. They prayed over him, putting hands on him, etc. And then at that very place, Trump promises food for everyone to get the cheer and to get the adulation and the devotion. And then before you know it, the guy’s gone. And it is representative of and emblematic of how Trump — and quite frankly, of how many Republicans and some Democrats, I’m not here to defend Democrats either; I’m not a Democrat at the end of the day — this is actually all too common in American politics. So do I feel bad that nobody got their free food? No, it’s not about that. It’s about understanding that at every level, this has always been a grift for Trump. And he doesn’t actually care about doing things for people that are good for them because it’s good on its merits. It’s all about if I do something for you that’s good, then what do I get in exchange for it politically? That’s the transactional nature which infects a lot of politics. 

With Trump it’s even more overtly a disgusting grift.

 

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