Donald Trump’s approval ratings are at an all-time low. But despite the statistics, he will never lose his most ardent supporters. For them, his cruelty towards people they hate and fear makes him the ideal President. For the past few years, we’ve watched President Trump hold these big rallies where he goes after his perceived enemies while the audiences cheer. These events serve as big ego boosts for the president, but they also serve as community-building exercises, where the president tells his biggest fans who they should hate and why. So as you can see in this clip, this is the President mocking New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has a disability, and you can see the audience enjoys it. They’re laughing. And there are a lot of clips like this. You can go and you can see the clip of the President encouraging the police to abuse suspects, and you can see police laughing in the background. I used to think these were mostly events meant to feed the president’s need for affirmation. But something else became clear to me in October, when the president had a rally in Mississippi where he mocked Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who came forward saying she had been assaulted by Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. She told Congress that the thing she remembered most about the encounter was the laughter— and then the president held her up, before the eyes of the nation, as an object of ridicule and scorn. Even if you thought Ford was lying, the president’s mockery stands to deter future survivors of sexual assault from coming forward— including, almost certainly, people that the attendees at these rallies love and care about. joking about police abusing suspects, mocking the women of the MeToo movement, It was then that I realized the cruelty is a big part of Trump’s appeal for many of his strongest supporters. Separating children from their families at the border, leaving Puerto Rico to its fate after Hurricane Maria, revoking protections for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, joking about police abusing suspects, mocking the women of the MeToo movement, or attacking football players for protesting police brutality: Trump’s fiercest backers enjoy his cruelty towards people they have decided deserve it. For them, the cruelty is the point. Taking pleasure in cruelty isn’t unique to Trump supporters. For example, kids often gang up on other kids and tease them, in the process making it clear where the lines between “us” and “them” are. But what Trump has done has taken this human impulse toward cruelty, and elevate it to a political virtue. Trump has invited his supporters to feel joy in the suffering of those they blame for their problems, an act that binds them to each other and to the president himself. And that sense of belonging, of community, forged by this cruelty will ensure that the president’s most committed supporters will never abandon him, no matter what he does.