Is The Republican Party America’s Newest Cult?

by Brian Moniz

Photo c/o Reza Aslan

From the beginning of time, mankind has always wanted to “belong,” to “feel accepted” and be “a part of something bigger.” It feels great to be a part of a community and have friends and family who believe in the same things you do. We draw strength and self-purpose from belonging to a group or club, but at what price are we paying when the club we’ve chosen to belong to costs us our dignity, our ability to think freely, and our money. The Republican Party of the United States of America possess every single major tenant of a standard cult.

Before you read into the Republican party, I want to spotlight one very famous cult almost everyone has heard of…

From the 1950’s through the 1970’s, Jim Jones founded and led a cult, Peoples Temple, which relocated members from Utah, Los Angeles, and parts of San Francisco to South America where he was worshiped as a god. When New West Magazine published an expose of Jim Jones’ cult, Congressman Leo Ryan flew out to Guyana, South America to investigate. In front of their leader, followers would inform Ryan that everything in their community was fine and everyone was happy, but when Jones was out of sight followers would slip Ryan notes saying things like “Help us” or “Save my family.” Upon his flight back to the United States, Jones’ bodyguards shot down Ryan’s airplane, killing him and everyone else on board. Knowing there would be swift retaliation from the United States military, Jones gathered his people and forced them to drink a poison mixture of cyanide and Kool-Aid. Over 900 people were killed. To this day, People’s Temple and Jim Jones are infamously known as one of the most dangerous cults ever.

Let’s go through the major tenets of any cult.

The first thing a cult needs is a charismatic leader, someone who is perfect, and I do mean “perfect.” He or she can do no wrong, has no flaws, is right about everything, and they know how to pluck your heart strings and charm you into their way of thinking. Donald Trump conveys this image to…a…T. For a decade before running, America knew Donald Trump as the billionaire boss on the hit TV show, The Apprentice, that back history of being a successful reality TV star gave him a platform to run on with fans by his side wanting to see what he would do next. At every speech he gave, Trump would look straight into the camera and give a warm half-smile, wink at his supporters, laugh with them during a funny story, and point at voters in the front row and give them a thumbs-up. He knew how to connect to people and make them feel special, as all con-artists do. He knows exactly what to do and what to say to fire up the right people he needed on his side. He is someone who vulnerable, misinformed people (not an insult) could look up to.

The second thing a cult needs is a strong message, in this case: Make America Great Again. This is something that hits a nerve in people and gets them fired up and excited to rally behind. From Day 1, Donald Trump claimed he would “make America great again.” The scary thing about messages from cult leaders is that they come from a place of danger — being so focused on your goal at hand no matter who you hurt and what damage you cause. Trump promised that everyone who followed him would get “better [health] coverage, at a fraction of the price, and that’s going to take place immediately after we go in…immediately, fast, quick!” He claimed “Our country is going to hell! Our infrastructure is going to hell! And that “I, alone, can fix it!” Every time anyone, whether it be a Democrat, an interviewer, or a debate moderator challenged him to back up anything he says with facts, he would always just say, “Believe me! Believe me!”

After a charming, charismatic leader establishes the base of the cult, he/she will then need secondary/sub leaders, or “false prophets.” These would be people like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Jeanine Pirro, Tucker Carlson, Jesse Waters, and other conservative, right-wing talk show hosts who disguise themselves as real journalists. A secondary, or “sub-leader” acts as the cult leader’s right hand, and their only job is to reinforce anything and everything the cult leader, in this case, Trump, says or does no matter how outlandish, ridiculous, dangerous, racist, sexist, or harmful. Cults have priests, priestesses, “fathers”, “mothers”, and other titles given to these sub-leaders who are there to spread the message of the true leader when he or she is not around.

A great place for messages to be spread and drilled into people minds is a church or temple where the supreme leader and his sub-leaders can spread their word directly to their followers, this is where Trump rallies come into play. Donald Trump doesn’t have a church or building where his followers can meet, but he does have rallies and his own major cable “news” network.

Fox News is State TV for Donald Trump, with many of his false-prophets each trying to outdo each other in who can kiss the leader’s butt the most. We learned last year that Trump literally calls Sean Hannity and other Fox News hosts before their shows to tell them what to say, and then Trump tweets it back out. Trump will say something ridiculous in the morning, and then every single anchor or host on Fox will reinforce it. When you hear the same thing being repeated over and over from many different voices on completely different shows, you slowly begin to believe it no matter how far fetched or untrue it is. “If that many people are saying it, then it must be true!” Every single one of these people with power of press or TV use it to keep the followers uneducated, misinformed, and in line, and are always doing it to stuff their own bank accounts.

When Paul Ryan failed to get a vote for repealing Obamacare, Trump tweeted for America to watch Jeanine Pirro’s show that night. As soon as it aired, the first thing Pirro, a failed TV judge who wanted to be the next Judge Judy, began spewing out was, “Paul Ryan needs to step down!” She then went on a rant claiming it was Ryan’s fault the vote failed, he didn’t get enough votes, he didn’t create a better plan that more people would like, he’s weak, etc. It could not have been more obvious that Trump called her and told her what to say. “You spread my message, I’ll tell my followers to watch your show, your ratings will skyrocket, and you will make more money.” These hosts aren’t loyal to Trump, they are loyal to money. They know he’s terrible, but if they can ride his coattails to rob his supporters of their money through books and t-shirts and coffee mugs, they are all for it no matter how dirty or un-American it makes them. Sub-leaders of a cult may not fully believe in their leader, but if worshiping them increases their own personal power and wealth, they will keep up the charade.

When Trump announced his running for President back in 2015, as soon as he gave his infamous “Mexicans are rapists” speech and talked about building a wall, it took no time before Ann Coulter pumped out a book, timely titled, Adios America!: The Left’s Plan to Turn Our Country Into a Third World Hellhole. When Donald Trump finally won the Republican Nomination, Coulter quickly slopped together another novel titled, In Trump We Trust: E. Pluribus Awesome, which was just more of the same old recycled rhetoric about how god-like and perfect Trump is, exactly what she knew his base wanted to read.

When Trump began to make up conspiracies about “The Deep State” and how Liberals are plotting against him because they are unpatriotic, Jeanine Pirro released a book titled, Liars, Leakers, and Liberals: The Case Against the Anti-Trump Conspiracy, and never forgets to shamelessly promote that book on her own show.

Memorial Day is always supposed to be a day of remembrance and a huge thank-you to our veterans and troops around the nation. Everyone from Barack Obama to John McCain to Mitt Romney to Bernie Sanders all posted tweets honoring our troops, alive and fallen, and giving them the love and support they deserve. Obama tweeted his continued support out:

“We can never truly repay the debt we owe our fallen heroes. But we can remember them, honor their sacrifice, and affirm in our own lives those enduring ideals of justice, equality, and opportunity for which generations of Americans have given that last full measure of devotion.”

Donald Trump took Memorial Day as another chance to make it about him, tweeting:

“Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!”

He went a step even further, capitalizing on Memorial Day by posting on his Twitter and emailing Americans a link to his online Make America Great Again merchandise store, informing us that in honor the holiday, all MAGA merchandise is 25% off with the code word: REMEMBER.

One very important trait that every cult in history has in common with each other is reinforcing the belief that, “We are the only ones who have the truth, and everyone else is lying to you. Do not listen to outsiders.” A more perfect timely representation of this is when Trump said earlier this month, “Journalists are the enemy of the people!” and then held a rally last week and literally said, “Don’t believe what you see or hear,” sparking a viral comparison to George Orwell’s novel 1984.

When Trump met with Russian Leader Vladimir Putin earlier this month, the rest of the world got to see first-hand what the other 60% of the country who aren’t blind Trump supporters got to see — Putin owns Trump. When the meeting finished, every major country on the planet published newspapers and magazines in shock and horror to how obvious now it is that Trump is afraid of Putin, Putin has blackmail on Trump, and how Putin is using Trump to do his bidding by fighting with our allies and break up NATO. However, back on Fox News all they would report is “Look at how hysterical the Left is!” while nervously fake-laughing to distract you and make this all seem like just something liberals are blowing out of proportion.

On Halloween of 2017, Donald Trump Jr’s emails were exposed revealing a back-and-forth talk between ex-Russian spies who were trying to help Trump win the election. Instead of turning those emails over to the FBI right away, Donald Trump Jr. engaged with the Russians and replied with, “I love it!” Of course, this made big news all over national television, but not on Fox. Fox News didn’t even cover the Trump Tower meeting or Trump Jr’s emails, but instead their top story was “What is the most popular emoji people use on their phones,” and later on Sean Hannity’s show, his major talking point that day was, “We found new damaging information on Hillary Clinton’s emails!” Again, it’s all about distracting you with “Look this way, don’t listen to the outside world, only believe what we report and tell you to believe,” and when all else fails, just take more swipes at an easy target that you know your base loves to hate on like Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. Donald Trump could nuke Canada and Fox News will report, “Barack Obama ate chocolate ice cream at the beach with his family earlier today! Why not vanilla? Is he racist to white people?! Does he hate you, our viewers?! You decide!”

Some Republican senators and TV personalities have turned on Trump, only to find out the wrath of what happens when you stop believing in the supreme leader. They learned the hard way that, as many cults have shown us before, if you step out of line, or even question the leader, you are cast out! At his last State of the Union address, Trump insisted that people clap for him and if they don’t, they are “treasonous.” John McCain voted down Trump’s repeal and replace bill that would have kicked twenty-four million people off their healthcare, and rather than taking the loss like a man, Trump held a rally in McCain’s home state of Arizona and bad-mouthed the war veteran. What kind of political party can say they love the troops when they cheer for a draft-dodger like Trump and boo a veteran like McCain?

Any right-wing senator, governor, judge, mayor, or delegate that doesn’t do absolutely everything Trump wants them to do gets ripped to shreds on Twitter by Trump himself, calling for his or her firing or to be voted out. A judge once denied Trump’s Muslim travel-ban, and Trump immediately went to Twitter and called him a “so-called judge.”

Today, in every election, the Republicans don’t even fight over policy or credibility, they just have one goal and that is to show Trump who is more willing to be his pet than the other. After seeing who massages his ego better, Trump will tweet voters in that state or district who they should vote for and close it with his message of “Make America Great Again!” Now every Republican politician has the message: If you step out of line or don’t vote for everything Trump suggests, you will lose your job and commit social-suicide. If you keep your head down and mouth shut, you will keep your job.

Trump ran as a populist, with talk of fighting for the little guy, helping small businesses and working-class people, yet he appointed the richest cabinet in the history of America, made up of oil tycoons and Wall Street wolves, gave big tax breaks to major corporations and billionaires, adding $1,500,000,000,000 to the debt in less than six months, and posted tariffs that hurt farmers and small business in the very small towns that he said he’d fight for. Even after being hurt by his policies and stupid mistakes, his voters still support him.

If you still don’t think Trump is a cult leader and trying to be America’s first dictator, then let me show you a list of ten things all world dictators have in common. As of today, Donald Trump has nine of these ten.

  1. You’re a narcissist who likes putting your face and name on billboards and buildings.
  2. You hold rallies often.
  3. You appoint family members to positions of power.
  4. You hate the press and journalists and use your own media outlet.
  5. You use the office for your own financial gain.
  6. You hold missile parades.
  7. You like and enjoy being with other dictators and strongmen.
  8. You claim minorities are the cause of every problem in the country.
  9. You lie so freely that your voters don’t even know what the truth is anymore.
  10. Military costume.

When he completes this list and comes out of the White House wearing a head-to-toe military outfit, that’s when I’m stepping off the computer and buying a one-way ticket to Canada.

If nothing else scares you about Trump’s behavior, then let me end by saying that a few months back, Trump suggested he should get four terms like FDR did, and when he learned that President Xi of China made himself President for life, Trump publicly said, “President for life? Huh, we should try that sometime!” His supporters say he’s just kidding, but maybe when he says he wants to be President for life…it’s because he wants to be President for life.

PS: If Donald Trump is defeated in 2020 and Fox News starts advertising a new Make America Great Again brand of Kool Aid, please don’t drink it!

About the Author:

Brian Moniz is a 29-year-old man from San Jose, Calif. He studied filmmaking and writing at San Jose State University from 2010–2013 and got his bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film. Throughout his high school and college years, he worked as a music and movie journalist and critic. Having only recently come out of the closet himself in 2014, Brian enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues. His only regret when it comes to his sexuality is that he didn’t come out sooner. Read more by Brian here.