What you need to understand is that when you listen to people in Trump's cult and it feels like they live in an alternate reality, it's only because they actually DO live in an alternate reality.

It's Trump's reality and he has used it and maintained it for his entire life.

Biographers of Steve Jobs referred to a "reality distortion field" that Jobs projected in which everyone around him had to accept his version of events or could be wrapped into it.

This is common with successful people, and Trump's distortion field is particularly strong.

With the pandemic, Trump is actively pushing for the death numbers to be pushed down because HE FEELS like they should be lower.

That's him pressing his reality on the country and he will literally change the very nature of this tragedy if he's allowed.

An example of this reality distortion is the inauguration, in which we all saw his embarrassingly small crowd.

That couldn't have been the case though. For Trump, it had to have been the largest ever, and he has pushed that for the entirety of his presidency.

This is why Sean Spicer had to be marched out to push this alternate reality where the inauguration was well attended. Trump had to reconcile his version of reality with the public perception.

He had to distort the very nature of reality to keep his own intact.

Trump learned this personal reality distortion from a man named Norman Vincent Peale, a "preacher" who pushed a Christianity based on person wealth and power, the so-called Prosperity Gospel.

Trump studied under him and took his "positive thinking" as his only ideology.

Norman Vincent Peale's bestselling book The Power of Positive Thinking pushed the idea that God rewarded those with the most faith and belief in themselves with power and profit.

This "religion" was a religion of capitalism that created a twisted American reality.

Peale's "religion" was made possible by southern preachers like Jerry Falwell who preached a Neo-Confederate Christian faith that worshiped the Christian God of the Confederate States of America and held as its tenets the belief in power and wealth as markers of God's favor.

As I've documented, Falwell's Neo-Confederate, white supremacist christianity was a response to MLK's use of Christ's social justice sermons to help in Civil Rights.

Falwell said white supremacy was God's law, and moved the church away from Christ's teachings to pure racism

Though Falwell claimed the Evangelical Right was primarily just pro-life (although the pandemic has shown that to be a total farce) the truth is that this church found its footing in pro-segregation preaching that worshiped power, wealth, and white supremacy.

Norman Vincent Peale found a happy home in this Neo-Confederate faith, preaching that social justice and social programs were ungodly and that God would grant his faithful with money, riches, and power.

Donald Trump was listening and learning.

Although Trump isn't "religious," he attended Peale's sermons. Peale actually conducted his first marriage.

Peale's church attracted Trump because it put the individual, or in this case Trump, at the center of the universe, like a mortal god, and in control of fate.

Falwell's white supremacist faith and Peale's religion of holy capitalism appealed to Ronald Reagan and the burgeoning conservative revolution.

It took prejudice and capitalism and white supremacy and transformed it into unimpeachable religion instead of politics.

With Reagan's help, what I've come to call the Cult of the Shining City became a secular and national religion, Christianity but with an American bent that took the capitalist system and gave it a holy sheen.

Anyone who lived through the 1980's understands this.

The 80's became a time of conspicuous consumption, but tinged with a satanic air in the culture. Crime was seen as proof of evil and poverty as proof of sinfulness.

To take Peale's doctrine, the people who were failing and hurting deserved their failing and hurt.

Meanwhile, men like Trump showed their wealth and power like secular popes. They behaved like gods among men, even while they accrued more and more debt and destroyed lives.

It was the realization of the religion of capitalism and white supremacy and it grew in power.

Anyone who knows Trump's actual history, however, knows it was a facade. Trump inherited his money and lost it continually. He was a total failure.

But by using Peale's Positive Thinking, he projected an illusion of success that made him, strangely enough, a success.

Trump has had to admit this a few times, that his sense of self worth and financial success depends on his own feelings, that he can inflate his wealth or shrink it based on what he thinks.

This subjectivity is the reality distortion that we're all experiencing now.

Though Trump has been a total failure as a businessman, a person, and a president, Peale's teachings have pushed him to believe he is an infallible god and that the world around him fails him.

He is literally the center of his own religion and his own universe.

This is how Trump became a messiah for his cult and how he became a god in his own universe. It is the realization of Norman Vincent Peale's religious teachings.

And what happens is, when you become that god, you find followers and acolytes. Unfortunately, we live with them

The Qanon conspiracy theory cult is a religious sect that has fed off Trump's reality distortion field and created their own alternate reality wherein Trump is infallible and so every event must be spun into this alternate reality.

It is incredibly sad.

Relatedly, the Plandemic conspiracy theory is the same. They see Trump as infallible, so they must create a giant, toxic conspiracy against him, which mirrors the New World Order conspiracy that supposedly troubles white supremacy.

It is the same Cult of the Shining City.

All of it is interwoven, and it all comes from the same source. A Neo-Confederate, white supremacist religious cult that was founded in the 1960's and put in place to continue white rule.

Trump didn't create it, but he is the inheritor and believes himself a god within it.

Norman Vincent Peale taught Trump well. He installed in him a belief to never let his own belief in himself as a white supremacist/capitalist god falter or else he might lose the grace of the Neo-Confederate god himself.

Trump can't let that facade falter, even for a moment

In the inauguration and in the pandemic, Trump has to push against any empirical evidence that doesn't fit within his own religion of himself.

He will fight it because to allow himself to be defeated would mean the end of the religion of himself and that would mean death.

This is deeply, deeply installed in Trump and central to his life, his career, and his failed presidency. He will sacrifice us to save his own religion of himself.

He will subject us to hundreds of thousands of undocumented deaths to make himself feel better.

Make no mistake though, Trump will destroy everything and everyone to maintain the worship of himself.

This is who he is. It's how he operates and governs. He'll hide every death and scuttle every plan just to save his own image.

It's what cult leaders do.

You can follow @JYSexton.
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