One has been caught making remarks that are intolerant and sexist. He’s facing multiple criminal prosecutions.
The other has similarly gotten into trouble for words and behaviour that are sexist and racist – and he’s been found guilty of violating two federal statutes while in power.
We are speaking, of course, about Donald Trump in the first instance, and Justin Trudeau in the second. And what is remarkable isn’t that both men committed misogynistic and racist acts — and broken the rules.
What’s remarkable is that their partisans — MAGA with Trump, TruAnon with Trudeau — have stayed with them. Even when both have revealed themselves to be the worst kind of politician.
Regrettably, politicians are regularly caught doing awful things: Racism, sexism, breaking the law. Happens all the time. It’s been happening since Jesus was a little fella, in fact.
But why — why, why, why? — does a segment of voters stick with two men who are so clearly unfit for any public office? Why do TruAnon and MAGA forgive every sin committed by their cult leaders?
It is bizarre and frustrating, to be sure. Most of us don’t understand it.
In Trudeau’s case, a majority voted against him in 2019 and 2021. In Trump’s case, a larger number of Americans also voted against him.
But their hard-core supporters remain stubbornly committed to Trudeau and Trump, arguably more than ever before. Despite the overwhelming evidence that has been marshalled against them.
Paradoxically, it is that evidence — allegedly breaking the law, breaking moral and ethical codes — that seems to have strengthened, not diminished, the loyalty of Trump and Trudeau’s partisans.
The very things that have pushed the majority away from Trump and Trudeau are the same things that have consolidated their grip on their respective parties. How can that be?
One, scandals have little to no impact on many voters these days. We in the media and other politicos are mainly to blame. Citizens have seen the media — and political adversaries — cry “scandal” far too often. And, as in the parable about the boy who cried wolf, that cry just doesn’t change many minds anymore.
Unless Trudeau and Trump’s core see their man led away to a cell, wearing an orange pantsuit and handcuffs, they don’t believe what they’re hearing. Even if the evidence is overwhelming.
Two, social media. In the good old days, before Twitter and Facebook — which, in the latter case, is now actively censoring any Canadian news — it was harder to identify and organize partisans. It was hard work.
In the social media era, however, hardcore Trump or Trudeau fanatics can find each other — instantaneously, for free — just by typing in a hashtag. When they do, the committed partisans tend to stay within their own echo chamber, disregarding any evidence that is critical of their leader.
They start to regard disagreement as treason. They start to believe in conspiracies. And they see those on the other side as the literal enemy, who must be destroyed at all costs.
Three, and finally, Trudeau and Trump lead movements, not political parties. Trump has literally called MAGA a movement — and Trudeau has repeatedly called his TruAnon base the same thing.
In real political parties, control comes from the bottom up. In a movement, power comes from the top down. And, so, the leader at the top needs to be defended at all costs.
Which is why Canada and the United States remain saddled with Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump.
And it’s why both men — despite the evidence, despite what the majority think — aren’t disappearing anytime soon.