Authoritarianism Expert Highlights 'Saddest Part' Of Donald Trump Cult

MSNBC’s Ayman Mohyeldin asked authoritarian expert Ruth Ben-Ghiat to explain why Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are “going out of their way to kiss the ring” of Donald Trump with their endorsements of the former president in the 2024 election.

“Have you ever seen loyalty like this that doesn’t come at the barrel of a gun?” Mohyeldin asked Ben-Ghiat, a history professor at New York University and author of “Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present.”

“That’s actually the saddest thing about this, is that in many regimes, if you criticize the leader even if he’s no longer in office, you go to jail or you’re shot,” Ben-Ghiat replied.

In the GOP, however, it is loss of office or reputations that are at stake, she said.

“For those who are very wealthy or wealthy through marriage, like Mitch McConnell, and this is also true of foreign dictatorships where the cronies are very wealthy, you can’t really buy people off so what you do is you threaten to shame them and uncover their secrets, and that’s called kompromat,” Ben-Ghiat explained.

“Trump is an expert” at kompromat and also uses ritual humiliation “to keep people in line,” she added.

Elsewhere in the interview, Ben-Ghiat said Trump’s ability to play the victim “does not get enough attention in that it makes his followers feel protective of him.” “Anything else that happens to him is just confirmation of this belief that he is a victim being persecuted,” she said.

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