Trump supporters resemble a cult


Some Trump supporters believes somehow Donald J. Trump was “sent from above” and “sent here for a reason” to be the president of the United States.

Nefsa'Hyatt Brown, Editor-in-Chief

In a Youtube video titled “Trump Supporters are in a cult” by The Young Turks, a reporter spoke to Trump supporters of various ages and nationalities, asking them if they believed that Donald Trump is God’s chosen candidate, to which they all answered “yes” in some form or fashion. Scarily, each of these Trump supporters believes somehow Donald J. Trump was “sent from above” and “sent here for a reason” to be the president of the United States. Looking at Trump as a savior and the 2016 election was an example of divine intervention, many of his supporters have an unwavering love and support for Trump, similar to that of a God. Leading me to question, are Trump supporters in a cult?

Noting it as a provocative claim in his article “Is Trumpism a cult?” Sean Illing believes calling Trumpism a cult is a simplistic way to avoid the scarier truth that Trump “is not all that exceptional.” In the same article, he discusses if Trump can truly be called a cult leader with cult expert Steven Hassan, who wrote The Cult of Trump. In this book, he writes explicitly that the president “employs many of the same techniques as prominent cult leaders and displays many of the same personality traits.” As interesting as their conversation was, I find it hard to come to a definite stance on whether or not Trumpism is a cult. If anything, I believe Trump has just successfully manipulated a group of people who subscribe to an already cult-like ideology, Christianity. However, in that same breath, I think Trump supporters do have cult-like behavior, making the argument more about the supporters spurring on the idea that Trumpism is a cult rather than Trump himself cultivating this cult-like following.

A cult, as defined by Hassan, is a continuum of ethical or unethical influence. The ethical cults are where people know what they are getting themselves into, have access to alternative opinions and can leave without threats. Unethical cults are based on authoritarian pyramid structures, usually with somebody at the top that claims to have total power and wisdom using deception to recruit. From these definitions, I think it is safe to say that Trump supporters are in an ethical cult with unethical tendencies.

In terms of ethics, Trump supporters are in no way being coerced into supporting him. Despite his ongoing battle between the media claiming that any negative information released about him is “fake news,” most Trump supporters have access to alternate opinions. Given that Google is free and multiple news stories work tirelessly to report the truth, it seems that Trump supporters have convinced themselves that if Trump did not say it himself, it must not be accurate. This blatant disregard for not only truth but alternative opinions has created a mindless cult-like following. Furthermore, as Hassan described, most people who are a part of cults do not believe that they are even in one. As a sense of mind control is crucial to gaining a cult following, most people believe that the work they are doing on behalf of the cult is a conscious decision they made themselves. In terms of Trump supporters, many of them think by supporting Trump, they are not only saving the country but are working on behalf of God, as Trump is God’s chosen candidate.

From this perspective, the fear of Trump supporters behaving like a cult eventually boils down that many of his supporters have cultivated entire personalities around one man solely out of his hatred of others. Beginning with Trump’s promise to build a wall, alt-right radicals immediately took a liking to him, believing that he would work overtime to keep “them” (Mexicans and other people of color) out of their country. Quickly acknowledging them as his base audience, Trump amped up the rhetoric that Mexicans are rapists and criminals who come to our country and take our jobs while terrorizing our women. Extending that same hateful ideology to Middle Eastern people and the LGBTQ+ community, “trumpies” believe that Trump is their savior. Believing he will save them from the liberal agenda, Trump’s indoctrination tactics have empowered an entire group of people to run rampant in the streets, promoting this hateful rhetoric. Terrifyingly enough, his supporters and their violent tactics have not once been condemned by Trump himself. If anything, he has openly supported them in their efforts encouraging them to wait for his signal before making any more moves. Furthermore, Trump has taken to the same tactics as Adolf Hitler in targeting the youth to ensure that his agenda lives on.

It is easy to compare Trump to a dictator, given his blatant disregard for democracy throughout most of his presidency. However, the terrifying byproduct of this is that he has created a following of people who no longer support him just as the president. They have bought into his messages and believe no matter what position he is in, he will continue to address them and guide them into making America great again.