Political cults are evil…
“I’m not crying because of you … I’m crying because my delusion of who you were was shattered by the truth of who you are.” – Steve Maraboli Author, motivational speaker
As I survey today’s political landscape, the following thoughts percolate up to my consciousness:
Politics can often bring out the best in people. One example of this that comes to mind is when Lyndon Johnson, in the mid-1960s, took on the southern Democrats (aka “Dixiecrats”) and championed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. This was a huge blow to the Dixiecrats, so much so that it led them to change their registration to Republican and make their respective states Republican strongholds. Similar local examples of politics bringing out the best in people exist in every community.
Conversely, politics can also bring out the worst in people. There’s no better example of this than the Republican Party’s conversion to a Trump cult, which revolves around a person whose native language is lying and whose perspective is solely selfish and narcissistic. I’m not going to belabor what that cult is doing. You can go to any credible news source – Associated Press, CBS, ABC, NBC, New York Times, NPR, MSNBC, Washington Post, PBS, etc. – for the latest, re: the Trump cult.
But political cults are not just national in scope, and they are not exclusively Republican – at the local level there are Democratic political cults. These revolve around a local político – a Mayor, a Congressman/woman, a County Commissioner, etc. – who, like Trump, is interested only in power and his or her desires. At the end of the day, except for scale, there is no qualitative difference between the local Democratic cults and the Trump-Republican cult.
Political cults are evil…
Political cults – be they Democratic or Republican, local or national – have no redeeming social value. They are evil. Some examples of what political cults do:
One of the cult’s most dastardly acts is that they deprive people – who won’t kiss the cult leader’s ring (or other anatomical part) and are thus designated as “enemies” – of a livelihood by blacklisting them and / or by getting them fired from their jobs. In instances where the cult’s victim has children the cult’s actions amount to taking food out of the mouths of children.
The cults also do everything they can to destroy the reputation of its “enemies.” They make up and purvey vicious rumors about people the cult leader and his / her minions perceive as enemies. Inexcusably, the cults often go after the children of the cult’s victims.
The political cults deprive communities of principled political leadership. Just as vampires fear sunshine and wooden stakes, political cults fear principled leadership. They work hard to defeat non-cult candidates, including – and sometimes especially – incumbents who, true to their oath, are working hard and effectively in behalf of their constituents. And all too often the political cults-machines promote candidates who have a record of working against our community’s interests.
The cult layers…
There are three layers to these political cults. One is the inner circle, comprised of individuals who know the cult leader is a profligate liar and who participate in the planning and execution of the cult’s nefarious acts, such as blacklisting and defamation of people deemed to be “enemies” of the cult.
A second layer is comprised of people who know what the cult does, but other considerations override that knowledge. Some have a personal agenda such as aspirations of running for office or keeping their present elected position and want the cult machine’s support. Others revel in being around what they perceive as power circles – it bolsters their weak and fragile egos.
A third layer is comprised of rank-and-file voters, decent and principled people who are purposely kept in the dark about what the cult is doing. I believe that if they knew what the cult and its machine did (blacklisting, rumor mongering, etc.) they would be outraged.
They vote for the cult leader and her/his machine’s candidates because (1) they rely on the propaganda fed them in mailers and other campaign material, (2) the cult leader and her/his machine’s candidates say they support issues important to the rank-and-file voters, or (3) they rely on the cult leader’s and her/his machine’s candidates’ participation in organizations and/or movements the rank-and-file voters have a favorable view of. In a very real sense, the rank-and-file voters are victims of the cult and its machine. For, they are lied to and manipulated.
Check your principles at the door…
An absolute requisite to join a political cult is that one must check his/her principles at the door. A good example of the abandonment of principles in the service of a political cult are the Evangelicals. Evangelicals take their name from the Greek term for “the good news” or the “gospel.” They focus on the “good news” of salvation, that is, love and peace enunciated by Jesus Christ.
Thus, it is an absolute truism that one cannot simultaneously be a genuine Christian and a racist … or hate immigrants … or celebrate the tearing of children from their mothers … or stand with and enable the purveyors of weapons of war that are used to slaughter children and other innocents … or – well, you get the point. Yet, about 80% of the evangelicals in the U.S. support Trump, i.e., are part of the Trump cult.
Mohandas Gandhi could have been talking about today’s Evangelicals and their Republican friends when he said: “I like your Christ (but) your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Like the Republican Evangelicals, those who join the local Democratic cult – a.k.a. machine – in their community betray their principles. One cannot simultaneously be a person of principle and support the blacklisting or the firing of people who refuse to kiss the cult leader’s ring … or work to destroy the reputation of people by making up and purveying vicious rumors about them … or target the children of people the cult leader doesn’t like … or – you get the point.
But the good news is…
Political cult-machines are not invincible. There comes a point when the question posited in Bob Dylan’s 1962 song, “Blowing in the wind” percolates up to the collective consciousness: “How many times must a man (or woman) turn his (her) head and pretend that he (she) just doesn’t see?”
In 2017, Heather Hyer was murdered by a white supremacist in Charlottsville, Virginia as she protested white supremacy. At her memorial service, her mother challenged the mourners to honor Heather by confronting evil straight on: “If you see evil, don’t look away … look it in the eye and ask yourself—what can I do to change this?”
Over the years, fueled by principle, courage, and love of democracy, our community has done just that and has taken political machines on. And we are better for it. I wrote about this a while back. You can read that blog HERE. We have beaten the political cults-machines before. In the ultimate analysis, regardless of the numbers at the end of a particular campaign, anytime we take on a political cult-machine, we win. c/s
Copyright 2023 by Salomon Baldenegro. All images are in the public domain. To ontact Sal write: firstname.lastname@example.org