Here’s a hypothesis about which I’d love to hear your comments: The basis for the Trumpista’s dedication in spite of his bizarre statements and actions is summed up in one word: God. Their support of Trump is pure faith. The same faith that they have in Jesus if they are Christians, or in whoever their religious patron is. It is unshakable, unreasonable, unreasoned, and undiluted.
That’s why they ignore or write off actions and words that they would not tolerate in their household. It is why they blindly follow him and believe what he says no matter how much they are hurt by it. (See Borowitz’s satire about how disappointed they were that he let them keep their heath care…https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/trump-supporters-furious-that-they-still-have-health-care) But most important, they are blind to any argument. They are “Trump Fundamentalists.”
I’ll give you an example of the reality distortion field that this religion creates. Someone I know sent me a video of a Nigerian in America reacting to the statement about shithole countries. He echoed it: “we are a shithole country. The infrastructure is failing, the government is corrupt, the educational system is a mess, etc’ [this is a paraphrase, try the link for the actual language. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fSRTQ4Sc4k ] My response was to say that when Trump called it a shithole country, what he really meant was that Nigerians are shithole people who we don’t want in America. If it was about the infrastructure then Nigerians would be welcome as good, entrepreneurial prospective citizens. My respondent said he didn’t see it that way. His inability to read the meaning behind the words doesn’t mark him a racist, it makes him an acolyte.
The implication of this is that you can’t sway the faithful with argument. Eric Hoffer has some ideas about the nature of mass movements and why they are effective. There might be some gold there. My sense is that the only way is to convince people that he is a false god, a devil. Or that there is a better god. The path he is leading you down does not lead to salvation but to eternal hellfire. Stuff like that.
Now our next trick has to be framing and propagating that message.