Trumpism Is A Cult, Stop Pretending It’s Not

I’m tired of the much of the blogosphere, mainstream media, pundits, and political apparatus collectively holding its breath about Donald Trump.

Maybe he’s got a strategy?

Maybe he won’t be so bad?

In private, he’s thoughtful (that came from Ben Carson, who Trump called a child molester and “pathological”).

Speaker Paul Ryan (who drew boos at a Trump rally in his Wisconsin hometown of Janesville) is sitting back and criticizing Trump’s utterances without getting to the heart of the matter.

The Speaker hasn’t hesitated to condemn Mr. Trump’s bad ideas on the merits as they arise, including his Muslim travel ban. But Mr. Ryan also has other obligations, not least protecting the GOP from larger damage this election year.

No, no, no, no, no.

They are beginning to wake up to the fact that Trumpism is a cult, with Donald the object of their worship.

Ross Douthat disagreed with Ryan’s stoicism.

But Trump isn’t just a random demagogue promoting bigotry in some haphazard way. He has an agenda and a message, and it’s a dagger aimed directly at Ryan’s vision for the party. On issue after issue, from trade to immigration to entitlement reform, a Trumpized party would simply bury Ryanism/Kempism under white identity politics, and swing as far from Kemp’s enthusiastic minority outreach as the G.O.P. could get.

Jonathan Chait woke up two weeks ago, penning the truth in New York Magazine.

[Trump] is spreading poisons throughout the system that could linger beyond his defeat. Anybody who cares about the health of American democracy should hope for its end as swiftly as possible.

Ruth Marcus, no fan of Cruz, reversed herself in the Washington Post.

Of the Republican speaker of the House, Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), Trump said menacingly, on the night of his Super Tuesday victories, “I’m sure I’m going to get along great with him, and if I don’t, he’s going to pay a big price.”

Space precludes going through all of the outrageous things Trump has said or proposed, or his predilection for flat-out lying when called on these offenses. Suffice it to say that, if Trump is elected, Ryan isn’t the only American who might have to pay a price.

David French at National Review, which has in many ways led the effort to illuminate Trumpism’s effects, nailed it.

I didn’t always believe this way about Trump. I was wrong. I’ve explained why I changed my mind and vowed #NeverTrump, and — as I said – I’ve even come to believe Trump is so bad that he’s no better than Clinton. The man is dangerous, and I believe he’ll stain for a generation any party that adopts him as its standard-bearer. Making that case helps stop him now, and — if he wins the nomination — it helps rebuild the conservative movement later.

People are waking up to the fact that Trump is that bad.

He has damaged the conservative movement in incalculable ways. Worse than that, a Trump presidency is an insult to American government. A man with no regard for laws; who makes statements off the cuff which have lasting effects (women seeking abortion will be punished?); who endorses and defends actual violence; who lies without remorse; who speaks with pretense; who practices literal fraud, duplicity, hypocrisy, and mendacity; he must not become president.

Not ever.

The reason Trump is so popular is that he practices (and has his whole life) persuasion techniques. He is so practiced at this that it occurs almost without thought–it’s integrated into his personality.

I’ve done some research on cults. Look at these signs someone is in a cult and compare them to Trumpism.

  1. All your friends believe like you do
  2. Nobody questions authority
  3. The source of authority is vested in a person
  4. There is no independent evidence of that person’s authority
  5. Doctrine must not be questioned
  6. Secrecy and excommunication

Talk to any Trumpkin and you’ll find most of these in play. They won’t change their mind, no matter what. They’ll sacrifice friendships. They are bound to Trump in a very personal way. The only evidence of Trump’s greatness is Trump. You cannot question Trump’s statements, even when they contradict reality or other statements. There is a massive conspiracy to defeat Trump wrapped in secrecy, and there’s secrecy in Trump’s plans (because he has none).

Even his most ardent supporters are beginning to see this.

Yes, we’re all to blame for this mushroom cloud of anger and the man who detonated it. But no, we can’t just pick out the nastiest bits to condemn anymore. Every Trump supporter should be ostracized–especially those in politics, the media, and leadership. Failing to stop the cult of personality is as bad as swearing allegiance to it.

Those who play for influence, cater to the Trumpkin crowd to acknowledge their anger, or otherwise make nice with the budding despot must be shunned and called for what they are: cult-enablers. Those who support Trump must be treated as cultists.

Sure, doing that will fill email boxes with hateful venom. Sure, it will generate death threats. Yes, it will lead to all kinds of poisonous evil spewing forth (but hasn’t it anyway?). But that’s more of a reason to press the point home. If a Trump primary campaign is marked with this much terror, how much more would a Trump general election? Or a Trump presidency?

Donald Trump, as a cult leader, could do more damage to America than any president in our history. It’s time to stop pretending.

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