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The Demagogue's Formula: How Trump Creates An Eternal Bond With His Base

If anything, the fourth indictment leveled against former U.S. President Donald Trump will only increase the fervor among his diehard fans.

Supporters of Donald J. Trump holding a "Trump 2024" banner.

Supporters of Donald J. Trump gather outside the Courthouse prior to the arrival of former US President Donald J. Trump.

Rod Lamkey/CNP/ZUMA
Ron Stagg

People around the world — including many Americans — cannot understand why a sizeable portion of the United States population continues to support Donald Trump, despite an ever-increasing list of charges against him, including the latest indictments in Georgia.

Before the newest charges were announced, Trump was running neck and neck against President Joe Biden in a hypothetical rematch. It seems unlikely the Georgia indictments, pertaining to alleged attempts to interfere with the 2020 presidential election results, will erode the former president’s support.

This shocks people because strong backing of a man who lies, cheats and threatens the U.S. Constitution has no precedent in national politics. However, there is a precedent in state politics which almost reached the presidential level, and some comparable situations in other countries.

You can always get what you want?

Those who support Trump unconditionally have not varied much since the last election. This support encompasses numerous groups with numerous reasons, but, for most, there is one overriding concern. They believe that he will get them results on the issues that they feel are the most important in the country.

Evangelical Christians who support him do so because he appointed conservative justices, leading to — among other outcomes — the overturning of Roe v. Wade. His extra-marital affairs pale in comparison to this long-term goal of the Christian right.

Getting what they want is more important than worrying about Trump’s marital indiscretions.

Some disenchanted Democratic voters have joined the Trump bandwagon. They include blue-collar workers and small business people who see jobs being sent overseas, as well as some Latino voters who regard Trump as acting in concert with their Catholic morality by appointing justices who are more conservative. They also like his opposition to illegal immigration.

The tens of thousands of potential immigrants struggling to illegally cross the U.S.-Mexico border frighten those worried that they will lose the non-skilled jobs still remaining in the U.S., and those in rural areas who see the values of what they consider traditional white America under threat.

For all of these supporters, getting what they want is more important than worrying about Trump’s marital indiscretions, purloined government documents or whether he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election or encouraged the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021.

Donald J. Trump points his finger in the air to supporters.

Donald J. Trump points his finger in the air to supporters.

Kyle Mazza/SOPA Images/ZUMA

Lies become the truth

Of course, there is more to Trump’s appeal than simply promising to Make America Great Again. He is a true demagogue who repeats his simple message over and over again, often loudly and with great emphasis. He repeatedly and relentlessly demeans his detractors and lies about the 2020 election.

A quote attributed to Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, translates roughly as: “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”

The effect of social media in Trump’s allure shouldn’t be dismissed.

Trump uses this technique very effectively with his supporters, including those on the far-right fringe, who respond well to his implied message to “make America white again.” A substantial portion of the Republican Party reinforces Trump’s lies by either agreeing with his claims of election fraud, or being careful not to comment on them or to criticize Trump.

The effect of social media in Trump’s allure shouldn’t be dismissed. There you will find “proof” of Trump’s claims — plots by the “Deep State” and by Democratic justice officials to persecute the winner of the 2020 election. These allegations are highly effective with citizens who have turned away from mainstream media because of its criticism of the man who is working for them.

While there is no other presidential candidate who has used this demagoguery and appeal to prejudice so brazenly, there is a partial parallel in Huey Long, governor of Louisiana from 1928 to 1932 and a U.S. senator from 1932 to 1935.

A supporter of the poor, a harsh critic of banks and a believer in authoritarian government, he was famous for his rousing speeches. A controversial figure, he was dogged by accusations of political corruption but nonetheless loved by many. He was planning to run for president but was assassinated in 1935.

Trump's Brazilian doppleganger

For a modern parallel, one must look outside the United States.

The most obvious parallel is in Brazil, where strongman Jair Bolsonaro ruled from 2018 to 2023. He is a man Trump admires, claiming that Bolsonaro “fights hard for, and loves, the people of Brazil — just like I do for the people of the United States.”

Bolsonaro believed in cutting taxes, defending “family values” and was opposed to gun control and immigration from places like Haiti and the Middle East. Considered racist, sexist and homophobic by some, his fiery speeches often incited violence, particularly against political opponents, criminals and “reds.”

He dismissed COVID-19 as a fantasy, resulting in Brazil having one of the highest rates of infection in the world. Defeated in 2022, he did not acknowledge the defeat, but said that he would abide by the country’s constitution.

He left the country rather than acknowledge his defeat, but his supporters stormed the Supreme Court, the congress building and the presidential palace to try to overturn the election. Unlike Trump, he’s been barred from running for office until 2030 because of his refusal to accept his defeat, and prosecuted for election fraud.

The coming months will reveal whether the charges against Trump will erode his support or instead encourage his supporters to continue donating millions of dollars to support his election bid and his legal fees. So far, those supporters are showing no signs of turning against him.The Conversation

Ron Stagg, Professor of History, Toronto Metropolitan University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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