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Trump, like the populist authoritarians before and around him, has also understood (or, at least, instinctually grasped) how indispensable his own individual persona is to his ultimate goal of grasping and maintaining power. Amidst his string of business failures, Trump’s singular talent has been that of any con man: the incredible ability to cultivate a public image. Of course, Trump did not build his cult of followers—his in-group—ex nihilo; in many ways, the stage was set for his entrance. America had already split into two political identities by the time he announced his campaign for president in 2015, not just in terms of the information we consume, but down to the brands we prefer and the stores we frequent. And so with particularly American bombast and a reality TV star’s penchant for manipulating the media, Trump tore pages from the us-against-them playbook of the European far right and presented them to a segment of the American public already primed to receive it with religious fervor.

In an interview with Pacific Standard, Janja Lalich, a sociologist who specializes in cults, identified four characteristics of a totalistic cult and applied them to Trumpism: an all-encompassing belief system, extreme devotion to the leader, reluctance to acknowledge criticism of the group or its leader, and a disdain for nonmembers. Eileen Barker, another sociologist of cults, has written that, together, cult leaders and followers create and maintain their movement by proclaiming shared beliefs and identifying themselves as a distinguishable unit; behaving in ways that reinforce the group as a social entity, like closing themselves off to conflicting information; and stoking division and fear of enemies, real or perceived.

Does Trump tick off the boxes? The hatchet job he has made of Republican ideology and the sway he holds over what is now his party suggest he does not lack for devotion. His nearly 90 percent approval rating among Republicans is the more remarkable for his having shifted Republican views on a range of issues, from trade, to NATO, to Putin, to even the NFL. Then there are the endless rallies that smack of a noxious sort of revivalism, complete with a loyalty “pledge” during the 2016 campaign; a steady stream of sycophantic fealty (at least in public) from aides in the administration and its congressional Republican allies; and an almost universal unwillingness by Republican congressional leadership to check or thwart Trump’s worst instincts in any substantive way.

Man, when TNR calls out a Republican, you know it's serious. Of course, the cultists on this board will call it fake news, or ignore it, or post a stupid meme.

Because they're cult members.


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Subject Views Written By Posted
New Republic: Trumpers are in a cult 210 Jock 16-Dec-18 21:53
Re: New Republic: Trumpers are in a cult 66 drrayeye 17-Dec-18 00:01
Re: New Republic: Trumpers are in a cult 64 Archaic 17-Dec-18 00:20
Canadian Trumpers 63 drrayeye 17-Dec-18 00:57
Re: Canadian Trumpers 62 Archaic 17-Dec-18 01:10
"The problem isn't party. It's your dying ideology." 113 eli stills 17-Dec-18 02:08
Re: New Republic: Trumpers are in a cult 70 Jock 17-Dec-18 01:07
Re: New Republic: Trumpers are in a cult 62 Archaic 17-Dec-18 01:11

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