When we think of a cult, we think of brainwashing. The members have been brainwashed to believe what the leader wants them to believe. Whatever it is, it’s the opposite of their personal self-interest. Dependency is critical to the success of the leader, reinforced and cultivated in all the messaging to sustain the leader’s power and control.
I won’t deny the current GOP has cult features, but it’s not so much an ideology as a theology. It’s a political philosophy rooted deeply in religious views. Its elected members certainly fear and are dependent on Donald Trump. And it’s also clear the non-elected members holding administration positions, including his children, must also mouth fealty or expect to be quickly shuffled to the curb. And fealty, in this case, includes being willing to break the law without reservation or complaint.
But brainwashed? I don’t think so. To repeat the favored explanation for falling into line no-matter-what due to abject fear of Trump is too simplistic. In fact, it lets the GOP off the hook. No, their allegiance is to something else. They may fear him, but they also admire him. Why? Because he’s doing what they have only dreamed of doing themselves.
Since he’s doing it for them, they’re only too happy to give him unlimited rein to overstep any boundary, test any convention and obstruct any interference. They are completely in his thrall, slack-jawed at his capacity to thumb his nose at anyone in his way.
They want more of that.
All of them, every last one (and barely excepting Mitt Romney in the Senate), including the ones in the House, Kevin McCarthy, Steve Scalise, Doug Collins, Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, every one, is an authoritarian down to their shoes. Those who don’t have any qualms about expressing that preference either find themselves in leadership positions or becoming mouthpieces for the president.
They don’t have any reservations about lying or helping the president lie. Their deep desire to control everything and everyone, to undermine or destroy democratic institutions, silence the opposition or tolerate and participate in the rising wave of fascism for the sake of retaining control is on display every day now, and has been for some time.
Is someone controlling Lindsey Graham? I don’t buy it. His true personality has been unleashed by Trump. And consider, anyone not willing to entertain this possibility is clinging to a fantasy, holding out hope for the hopeless.
The impeachment trial simply gave them all a bigger platform. Now that it’s passed, they will happily exercise the punitive inclinations of their collective personality disorder. They are the strict disciplinarians, vengeful gods, and the rest of us are the children to be silenced and led by the nose. Those who stray from the fold must be punished. Trump is sicker than even that, of course, but they are the most useful tools of his disorder he could ask for.
Joe Biden has repeated his belief that there are Republicans he can work with. Except that every day we are witnessing how delusional that position really is. Now the voters are having a chance to let Biden know, among other important reasons, how great is the folly of his clinging to this idea. The DNC also continues to clutch at the idea of a Biden nomination. Even greater folly.
Another Trump personality feature hammering the pleasure centers in the brains of his followers is his victimhood. He excels at being wronged, lost in the woes of enduring the slings and arrows fired upon him from all sides. I can imagine his allies secretly chuckling to themselves at how relentlessly he feigns the embattled saint, elevating the pedestrian victimhood of the Obama-era GOP to high art. Victimhood on steroids. They’re also thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Trump is such a shocking character in so many ways, the fact that he was always a caricature of himself, even more so now, has flown right over the heads of so many, particularly in the media. They just can’t bring themselves to take him seriously—I mean really seriously, treating him like the Wizard but never willing to draw the curtain.
In this CAT 5 hurricane of self-imposed blindness, the constitution barely stands a chance.
Gary I think we went to school together. Duke U class of 1969. I ‘m a physician in Colorado Springs, CO. I have been reading your notes with great interest.