Thursday, June 14, 2018


I agree with Charlie Pierce: The "cult" behavior on the right that so many people are suddenly denouncing is not really new.
... on MSNBC, this is what Joe Scarborough had to say on the subject.

“It has devolved into a cult. Primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult.”

That’s a word that’s getting tossed around a lot these days. Retiring Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, opined that his party is in the thrall of “cult-like behavior,” while longtime Republican activist and cable TV megastar Rick Wilson says that the word cult “isn’t strong enough” to describe what’s going on....

... We are seeing politics on one side of the aisle turning into a cult, but, alas, that cult is modern Republicanism. Trumpism is merely one breakaway sect of it, and, truth be told, it hasn’t broken away all that far. After all, Corey Stewart got nominated for the U.S. Senate from Virginia not because of his loyalty to the president*, but as an adherent to a far older cult with which the GOP was quite content to be a part of over the previous four decades: the cult of the Confederate States of America.

Another example: as the results were rolling in Tuesday night, Congressman Steve King, the Republican crackpot who represents the Fourth Congressional District of Iowa, took it upon himself to retweet a famous British neo-Nazi named Mark Collett.
And so on. If Republican behavior seems different now, it's for a simple reason: Party loyalty has long been driven by rabble-rousers stirring up rage, but the Trump era is the first time in this century that the most effective rabble-rouser is the head of the party.

Until Trump ran for president, the formula was this: Talk radio hosts, Fox News pundits, Internet crazies, and GOP back-benchers were responsible for the bulk of the demagoguery and demonization that kept the voter base loyal. Other bunco artists -- "journalist" James O'Keefe, "documentarian" Dinesh D'Souza, the "grassroots" Tea Party -- fanned the flames.

But at least in the post-Newt Gingrich era, the party heads were always "respectable." Certainly all of the presidential candidates were. They may have tossed out a goodly amount of red meat on the campaign trail, but they were house-trained. They could appear dignified on television or, if the party got lucky, taking the oath of office. They tried to conduct themselves with a certain amount of decorum. They paid lip service to the notion that political opponents aren't enemies of the state.

The party faithful campaigned and voted for these candidates, but responded better to the scorched-earth Republicans who weren't party leaders. That changed with Trump. Now the man at the top is a man who shares (and fuels) the voters' rage. He's the Rabble-Rouser in Chief.

The Republican Party has been a rage cult for years. Now it's a rage personality cult.

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