Hassan seems torn between his desire to prove that Trump has brainwashed millions of Americans and his understanding that you do not change people’s minds by attacking their beliefs ... Hassan wants to believe that candid, empathetic conversations between friends (or ex-friends) can nudge Trump supporters back to who they were before the fateful ride down the Trump Tower escalator. Curiously, Hassan never says that he’s tried this method on anyone or that it has worked ... Hassan is eager to diagnose the president (and his opponents, who he says often suffer from Trump Anxiety Disorder) ... But what if the most helpful analogy to explain Trumpism isn’t medical but rather political? ... Nobody got deprogrammed. They just moved on.
The author’s dark likening of Trump’s followers to those who drank poison at Jonestown is, let us hope, hyperbolic. An argument that, though seemingly from the fringe, bears consideration as the next election cycle heats up.
...[an] overwrought jeremiad ... Hassan’s concept of cultic mind control is so promiscuous...that virtually everything politicians normally do could qualify, and his caricature of brainwashed Trump voters doesn’t engage with their substantive policy concerns. Readers hoping for an illuminating analysis of Trump’s appeal will have to look elsewhere.