Is it a Cult?

For those of us who tried for over a year to use reason and facts to fight the Trump phenomenon, there is only one explanation remaining that makes any sense at all. A candidate who lies -- and is unchallenged -- 71% of the time isn't normal. A candidate who promises to fix things, but offers no plans to do so, can't possibly be trusted. A candidate who encourages violence against peaceful protesters should be rejected.

Any sane person, we suppose, could see through his bombastic ramblings and realize there's nothing there but self-gratification. And yet, he has adoring crowds who trumpet his name and chant his baseless claims. He's clearly popular with a large number of Americans. Like many, I don't get it. He inspires only revulsion for me. Yet, there's something going on. Has he become more of a cult leader than a political one? 

Here are some of the cult characteristics copied from the International Cultic Studies Association. The examples given below each one are linked to verifying sources.

The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
"I alone can fix it."

Huge, adoring crowds -- potentially as many as one million total.

Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
 Repeated violence against protesters
Mind-altering practices (such as chanting) are used in excess and serve to suppress doubts about the group and its leader(s).
Chants: "Built the Wall", "Lock her up", "Drain the Swamp"
The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members (for example, the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar for the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity).
 Followers that describe him as "like a god"

 He believes in his superior bloodline, comparing his genetic inheritance to breeding racehorses
The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
The treatment of all opponents as the enemy, including endangering members of the press at his rallies.
The leader is not accountable to any authorities (unlike, for example, teachers, military commanders or ministers, priests, monks, and rabbis of mainstream religious denominations).
"I could shoot someone in Times Square and I wouldn't lose any followers."

Lies that don't bother followers.
Offenses make him more powerful in followers' eyes

The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group.
Violence at his rallies is a feature, not an anomaly

Clearly not every Trump voter was an adoring cultist. But many may have been. And the others? With eyes open, they were willing to ignore all of the red flags and cast their votes for him anyway. That is a sad commentary on the value Americans place on our 230 year old democracy.


  1. Trump has his cultists: people inside the Fox-Breitbart-talk radio bubble. Look at the AM radio dial. There are two sports-talk stations, one Spanish language station, two conservative talk radio stations, one NPR station. Those exist because there is an audience. People inside that audience demographic hear one basic reinforcing message. That is the cult.

    There are other people who voted Trump because they are familiar with cheering for their team, the GOP. They voted for Bush then McCain then Romney. Trump was Republican-enough for most people (pro gun, anti-abortion, anti-Hillary, and said he would appoint a conservative judge). That was enough. Otherwise he reversed the polarity of GOP politics, going from conservative to nativist-populist. The tens of millions of people who voted for Trump in this category are not cultists. They are brand loyalists, I think. Not crazy. Fully aware that Trump is flawed, but they don't care about the flaws that much. Like the Beach Boy song said, Be True to Your School.

    I write about stuff like this, and Citizen Speaking's observation gives me an insight I will use. Thanks.

    Peter Sage, Medford, Oregon


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