Posted in: Op-edPolitics
Published:
February 7, 2020 7:27 PM UTC

Trump’s GOP Is a Cult – But Not for the Reason Joe Walsh Thinks

Joe Walsh torched the Donald Trump-led Republican Party. He's absolutely right that the GOP is a cult, but he's wrong about why.
  • Conservative talk radio host Joe Walsh has officially ended his bid to primary President Donald Trump.
  • The “Never Trumper” says the president “can’t be stopped” within the GOP. That’s because the Republican Party “has become a cult.”
  • But there’s nothing extraordinary about the Trump GOP. According to cult experts, both political parties resemble cults in important respects.

Joe Walsh is exasperated. The one-term Republican congressman and talk radio host tried to primary a sitting president and failed. What did he expect?

Walsh says there’s no point in continuing to challenge Trump within the GOP. He’s just too popular with Republicans. He finds their devotion cult-like.

In a CNN interview Friday, he lamented:

He can’t be stopped within the Republican Party. Nobody can beat him. It’s Trump’s party, John. It’s not a party, it’s a cult… the party has become a cult…

But this is not really different from the GOP of presidents past.

Nor is it any different from the Democratic Party.

Both political factions share many characteristics that experts have documented in cults. This was already true long before Donald Trump, and it will be true long after he’s gone.

How Political Parties Are Like Cults

Dr. Michael D. Langone is the Executive Director of the International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA). He is an American counseling psychologist. And he has helped hundreds of former cult members and their families.

Langone developed a checklist of “Characteristics Associated with Cultic Groups.” It’s a tool for people to evaluate groups and relationships they’re in.

Do any of these remind you of Trump supporters and Obama supporters?

The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and… regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.

Check and check.

Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.

Like how Trump reacted to Rep. Justin Amash for supporting impeachment. But Obama did the same when Rep. Peter DeFazio voted against his stimulus bill.

The Cults of Trump and Obama

Mind-altering practices (such as meditation, chanting, speaking in tongues, denunciation sessions, and debilitating work routines) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).

“Four more years!” “Yes we can!” “Lock her up!” “Drill baby drill!”

The parties use chants and mantras excessively.

And endless denunciation sessions of the other side have led to the hyper-polarization of partisan politics. The negativity was unusually bad in 2016. But it cut both ways.

[T]he leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity.

The successful presidential candidates are the ones most effective at branding themselves this way. Donald Trump presented himself to Americans as a transformational savior figure. But Obama certainly did too.

The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality…

Isn’t that the entire point of political parties?

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.

This article was edited by Josiah Wilmoth.

W. E. Messamore @thehuli

Markets Contributor for CCN living in Nashville, Tennessee. Bachelor of Business Administration from Belmont University in 2009 (majored in Entrepreneurship). Organized Senator Rand Paul's first and second online fundraisers in 2009. Correctly predicted the bitcoin bull market of 2019. Roving editor for the Independent Voter Network since 2013. Email me | Follow Me on Twitter (followed by: fmr Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), fmr NM Gov. Gary Johnson, and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY))