Author’s note: For the indefinite future, all my digital articles will be short and shorter. Why? Because I have gotten myself ensnared in writing another book – a book that will appear after the next one. My next book – to be published in September by Cambridge University Press – is co-authored with Todd Pittinsky. It is titled, Leaders Who Lust: Power, Money, Sex, Success, Legitimacy, Legacy.
Already followers trumped Trump. They got him to change the date of his rally in Tulsa, originally scheduled for June 19th. But since that’s Juneteenth – the holiday commemorating the end of slavery – which the president’s schedulers knew or not, Trump retreated. He announced that he would postpone his rally by one day, “out of respect for this holiday.” So much for Round #1.
Now what? Will Trump go ahead and hold his indoor rally on Saturday – despite screaming and yelling in protest from everyone who is anyone? From public health officials – who regularly reiterate what a miserable idea right now to cram 19,000 people into an indoor space – to local authorities, Tulsa officials, who dread a spike in Covid cases. Or will Trump pivot, maybe hold the event outdoors, in fear of what might happen if he proceeds as planned?
Those who attend the rally will be required to sign a statement saying that if they get ill as a result, they will not hold the president, or anyone associated with him, responsible. And yet. And yet we know that whatever the risks, whatever the costs, Donald Trump will retain his base, followers who follow where he leads.
Exactly why his base remains in his thrall remains to many a mystery. But President Trump is not the first bad leader to appeal to followers, sometimes millions of followers who have what they deem their own good reasons for remaining loyal to a leader whose virtues escape the rest of us entirely.