The Cult of Trump

Thanks to Facebook, I frequently get to see posts from “the other side” no not the physically dead, just the spiritually dead. One person that I frequently see posts from is a retired Liberal relative of my wife. Since she’s family, I normally show restraint and don’t respond—except on two occasions. Over the weekend I saw a post that I thought deserves rebuttal. Instead of doing it on Facebook and giving her the satisfaction that she hit a nerve, I thought I would respond here instead.

As it turns out, the article is three years old anyway. That’s another gripe I have with Facebook, you don’t know if the post is fresh or years old. It just shows up in your feed. This gem is from GQ Magazine. Before getting into the details, I have two thoughts. First, why is this in a magazine that is supposedly, Gentlemen’s Quarterly (GQ)? Second, it’s written by a woman saying disparaging things about a successful businessman. Am I the only one finding this ironic and counter to the stated purpose of the publication?

The article in question is The Cult of Trump: Can’t understand why a loved one would vote for Donald Trump? Let the experts who spend their lives studying cults help break it down.

The article invokes as proof, a fellow named Rick Alan Ross. Ross is identified in the article as “America’s leading cult expert.” Sorry Mr. Ross, but I’ve never heard of you so I’m having doubts about your credentials. As a diligent guy, I did what any enterprising fellow would do, I looked you up on Wikipedia.

Ross’ first dust-up with a cult (as he defines it) was with a group of Messianic Jews. Being that Bob Dylan is also a Messianic Jew, I’m not seeing the offense that he took to these folks. I guess Jews trying to convince other Jews that Jesus is their Messiah is offensive to a Jew that rejects Jesus. Ross identifies as Jewish but in my experience such identification is often more cultural than religious. Oh, Ross is described as having “a personal hatred for all religious cults.” He also was a prominent figure in the government’s treatment and subsequent assault on the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas.

Wikipedia: Rick Alan Ross

Using Ross as their source, GQ identifies three marks of the Cult of Trump.

Sign I: His campaign is fueled by charisma.

For his followers, the appeal of Trump is Trump himself: his take-no-bullshit attitude, his (greatly embellished) only-in-America success story, his apparent business savvy. His policies, which are largely vague or nonexistent, aren’t the main draw (his 180 on immigration, one of the defining issues of his campaign, doesn’t appear to bother his supporters). And that’s where he perfectly fits the cult archetype.

“The single most salient feature of a cult is a person who has become, essentially, an object of worship,” Ross says. They’re the “defining element of the group,” the heart of the movement.

This is the first of several prima facia arguments put forth to bolster this narrative. Every successful person in politics has some measure of charisma. I guess compared to Hillary Clinton, Trump would win in that category.

But Trump an object of worship? Really? Heck no. Do I want him to be successful? Yes, but worship?

Ross and the GQ author don’t define a cult in terms of theology but power and control. I see nothing on his website condemning Communism or Socialism, if control is an identifying mark of a cult or false religion then both these political systems should qualify in spades.

Why is it that Liberals think we are all a bunch of mind-numbed robots that hang on someone’s every syllable? Did it ever occur to Ross that Trump says the things that we already feel and believe? This article was written after Trump was made the nominee at the Republican convention but before the General election. Our hope at the time, which has generally been true since he took office, is that Trump would be disruptive to the good old boy system in Washington and that he would undo the attacks on Christianity and traditional American values perpetrated by Barack Obama.

Trump is trying to do things differently. Do I always agree with him? No, generally I support him and want him to be successful. Frankly, I’m more interested in what he actually does and not so much what he says. However, I do enjoy that he confronts Democrats on Twitter and irritates the snot out of them. Prior to Trump, Democrats did whatever they wanted, and Republicans would cower in the corner in fear of what the media would say if they responded. Trump has shown what we always knew about Democrats, they have no morals, principles, or backbone. Their ideology is without foundation and is only one slogan thick. They can’t stand it when someone pushes back at them. Which brings us to the second point.

Sign II: He’s a raging narcissist.

“Cult leaders are most often narcissists,” Ross explains. “They see themselves as the center of the known universe, and everyone revolves around them.” Trump, he says, fits the warning signs of narcissistic personality disorder—an exaggerated sense of self-importance, preoccupation with success, power and brilliance, behaving in an arrogant or haughty manner—to a T (for Trump, probably). Lest we forget, Trump says he went to the “best school in the world,” has “the world’s greatest memory,” and will be “the greatest jobs president God has ever created.”

Trump has a big ego, but so does everybody in politics. Humble people don’t run for office. It is true that Trump doesn’t care what his opponents think. It is on this point that comparisons to Donald Trump diverge from Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold caved completely but Trump has stood tall in the face of assault after assault.

If you want a raging narcissist, look no further that Barack Obama. The man can’t give a speech without using, “I”, “me”, “my” at least a hundred times in 20 minutes; even if its at someone’s funeral. Everything he said and did was about himself.

If this accusation was true of Trump, trust me, the media would be all over it. Trump has a big ego, but he doesn’t talk in terms of himself but what he thinks is best for America. That is a huge difference.

Sign III: What he says is always right. Even when it’s not.

“You just can’t put that material in front of a true believer and it has any effect,” Ortega says. “And I think people are seeing the same thing with Trump. Trump creates this sort of field, this bubble, that the people inside of it are just incapable of seeing these things as those on the outside.”

That reality distortion field is in full force with Trump’s supporters. Despite his bankruptcies and spectacular business failings (Trump Vodka, anyone? No?), the notion that he’s a successful businessman who would bring the same acuity to running the country is one of the pillars of his campaign. And though nearly 80 percent of the things he says are outright lies, he manages to pin the blame on the “dishonest” and “biased” media. Many of his followers, already distrustful of mainstream news outlets, accept whatever rationalization he provides, no matter how outlandish.

Talk about irony. This point is where any attempts to portray Trump supporters as cultists hits the wall and explodes. Liberals are nonresponsive to facts and information. They can only argue from emotion and claim that facts are different than truth. (If I have my way, Joe Biden will never live down that claim.)

The biggest shocker to folks in Washington was that after he was inaugurated, Trump began to implement the things he promised in his campaign. What he said is what he tried to do. Granted, he has met with much resistance, but he has followed through where he could.

I don’t get the meme that everything Trump says is a lie. I can understand if Liberals don’t like 80 percent of what he wants to do but… this lie thing is without substance. I tried to look up so called “fact check” stuff on Trump and the one thing I noticed was they kept moving the goal posts and making false equivalences. Trump shoots from the hip quite often but generally his recall is good; compared to Joe Biden, Trump is a genius in this department.

Liberals have a preset template that they use to filter anything Trump, they won’t consider anything contrary to their presuppositions. Thus, they reject any evidence contrary to what they want to be true. As previously documented here, the repeated accusation that Trump is a racist is exhibit one in this regard. It is untrue but they keep saying it anyway.

Conservatives care about a man’s character not their skin color. Liberals would think that since I like Trump and I happen to have pale skin that I must be a racist. This is untrue and intellectually lazy. In fact, such a statement is racist not me.

Ok want an example. I’ll give you two.

Meghan Markle—the babe that married Prince Harry
I had no interest in her racial make-up. Why would I? I know she is attractive and had some interest in being in movies. I have previously blogged about her and the false conversion into Anglicanism not because she trusted in Christ but to please the Queen mother. It never occurred to me that she might be all or partly black until I read it in some British tabloid. My reaction was oh, that’s interesting trivia, as I wondered why it mattered. For some reason, its a big deal in England.

Kamala Harris
Another nice-looking babe, but I don’t like her because of her politics. She has “San Francisco values” and was a horrible Attorney General in California. As AG, she refused to enforce the laws that she personally didn’t like. In the Senate, she was no upgrade from Barbara Boxer. She is all in on rainbow people and murdering the unborn thru all nine months of pregnancy and expects my tax dollars to pay for it. It never occurred to me to inquire about her race. I really don’t care. It wasn’t until I read articles about former Assembly Speaker and ex-SF Mayor Willie Brown fornicating with her in exchange for boosting her political career that I ever read anything about her skin color. Again, prior to this year, it never occurred to me to inquire on her race. It was her character that I disagreed with. She is wrong on policy.

I believe this is true of most people including President Trump. Only Democrats look at people in terms of their group membership not as individuals.

Mr. Ross and the author are wrong that followers of Donald Trump are cultists. We want a change in the direction of the country, especially after the destruction wrought to the Republic by Barack Obama. Trump is a supporter of the First Amendment, the Second Amendment (for the most part), and will give us better judges on the Supreme Court than anyone else in either Party. So, what he says may be entertaining but we support him for what he has done. He has done his best to keep his campaign promises because he meant what he said, that is both rare and refreshing in politics.

Oh, on his website, Mr. Ross has a copy of the GQ article with a disclaimer at the bottom.

[Note: Historically, a destructive cult leader, such as Jim Jones, David Koresh or Charles Manson has no meaningful accountability. Destructive cult leaders are typically not elected and therefore not subject to the checks and balances of a democracy, such as the judicial and congressional branches of government. For this reason an elected President of the United States (POTUS) cannot be seen as a destructive cult leader. Donald Trump may have a cult-like following and possess certain character traits similar to a cult leader, but he cannot be seen simply as a cult leader, without careful qualification. Donald Trump was elected and must be reelected to continue as POTUS and as POTUS he is accountable to the American people, our elected government and the Constitution of the United States, which he publicly swore to uphold at his inauguration. — Rick Alan Ross]

Ross’ copy of the article and disclaimer can be found here.
Typical Internet Meme citing Ross’s website as proof that Trump supporters are cultists.
A claim Ross is unwilling to make.

So in the end, even Ross thinks calling Trump supporters cultists is a bridge too far, even though he clearly has no love for them.