The Republican De-Evolution: From Political Party to Cult

johnboehnerFor a while now, I’ve called the Republican Party a cult more often than I have a political party or ideology.  The emergence of the Tea Party only solidified this belief.

Scientific research (not that science means much of anything to many Republicans) distinguishes 5 characteristics of a cult:

  1. People are put in physical or emotionally distressing situations
  2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized
  3. They receive what seems to be unconditional love, acceptance and attention from a charismatic leader or group
  4. They get a new identity based on the group
  5. They are subject to entrapment and their access to information is severely controlled

I’ll tackle these one by one.

1)  Any rational person who’s subjected themselves to a decent amount of right-wing media (I have, it comes with the job) would find it hard to deny that these individuals often thrive on fear, paranoia and anger.  Anyone who has ever objectively watched Fox News, listened to Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, has probably lost count of the references to apocalyptic destruction of our country even in just one broadcast.  Even after the death of Osama Bin Ladin, something that should have been celebrated by every American, Fox News perpetuated the idea that President Obama was someone who proved that he has no issues going into a country without authorization, to kill whoever he wants—whenever he wants.  Really?  You take what should be an apolitical event and turn it into a means at which to paint Obama as some kind of tyrant who will stop at nothing to kill whoever he wants.  It was simply ridiculous.

Even long after the “death panel” myth has been soundly debunked, many Republican still fear “death panels” in the Affordable Care Act.  They’ve been conditioned to believe Obama is some kind of gay rights supporting, foreign-born, radical Muslim socialist set on destroying “traditional American values,” yet can’t pinpoint a time when we had those—for everyone.  Hell, they can’t even comprehend that for someone to be a socialist, a radical Muslim and support homosexuality is nearly an endless line of contradictions that no one person could ever singularly encompass.

They’re told by most of their media sources to be afraid.  These bad men are out to bankrupt your grandchildren, create panels deciding who lives and dies, and turn this country into some socialistic style of governing.  You can’t constantly be bombarded with this kind of intensely negative and hate filled information and not come out emotionally compromised.

2)  I’ve always said Republicans are all about simple thoughts and vanilla ideas, I call it bumper sticker politics.  They create catch phrases like “Obamacare” or “job creators” because it’s easier to peddle to their followers.  Their party is essentially based on 3 main ideas: God, taxes and guns.  It’s simple and easy to repeat.

I always say the liberal strengths and weaknesses are the very same things.  Our ability to be diverse and think differently, while still fundamentally agreeing upon an issue, makes liberals more well-rounded.  On the contrast, that same diverse nature makes us seem weaker and far less organized.  Republicans aren’t this way.  If Fox News or other right-wing media sources push an idea, I’ll almost instantly see Republicans repeating those same exact ideas—practically verbatim.

No matter their argument, be it about taxes, Obama, terrorism, the Constitution—whatever the right-wing media tells them to believe, they will.  Then they’ll repeat them over and over, indoctrinating their audience until it becomes second nature to repeat the exact same response anytime they’re faced with that issue from the opposing side.  Want proof?  Ask a random Republican the real name of “Obamacare.”  Heck, Republicans won’t even say rich or wealthy anymore.  If you are rich or wealthy you’re now a “job creator”—even if you don’t create a single job.

3)  While I wouldn’t call it unconditional love, it is shocking whenever I see Fox, Beck or Rush disagree with anything Republicans are doing.  These outlets make Republicans feel good and justified for their hatred and fear of anything and everything not like them.

They perpetuated the notion that, “While the “liberal media” may bash you, and Democrats may call you ignorant—who cares?.  Those people are the enemy, they tell you what you don’t want to hear.  But if you listen to us, the “fair and balanced” media, we’ll spoon feed you exactly what you do want to hear.  You’re not bad Christians!  Sure you may hate homosexuals, call the poor lazy moochers of our welfare system, then cheer executions—but you’re a devout member of your church!  You volunteer in the choir and tithe 10% of your income each month.  You’re a fantastic Christian American—don’t you let anyone tell you otherwise.”

When a gay soldier was booed at a GOP debate, not a single candidate there reprimanded the audience for doing so.  At another debate a hypothetical man without health insurance was presented to Ron Paul in which he concluded let him die, which was cheered by the audience.  This, the party who clings to the Bible and calls themselves the “moral majority.”  But it was alright, because Fox News said it was.  They perpetuate this idea that “While the rest of the world may be against you, we love you and it’s perfectly acceptable to believe the way you do—they are the enemy, we are your friends.”

4)  Republicans are no longer a political party.  Not anymore.  It’s a faith, similar to any religion.  Republicans wear their party as proudly as they do their religion.  Ideology should always be up for adjustment or debate.  Facts should be considered the basis for which you build your political system of beliefs.  For many Republicans, they’re born and bred to be a conservative.  Granted, liberals are this way in a lot of aspects, but liberals are typically more diverse and open to progressive and changing ideas.  Republicans cling to the same talking points they have for decades.

I am a liberal and I think differently, very differently on a lot of occasions, than many of my liberal friends.  Republicans aren’t this way.  In fact, if you’re not essentially 100% committed to their ideas from the top to bottom they have a title for you with a nice little acronym to match.  You’re a R.I.N.O. (Republican In Name Only).  Sure, they’ll accept your vote and support, but do you think gay marriage is acceptable?  Do you think we should raise taxes?  If the answer is yes, then I’m sorry— but you’re not really “one of us.”

Now it’s not just being a Republican, it’s being a “Tea Party Republican”—which means you’re a “true conservative,” not just your average conservative.  You can’t simply have a set of political ideologies, debate them and be diverse.  You have to be the alpha Republican, all or nothing.  Otherwise you’re really not a true Republican.

5) And my favorite.  Access to information is highly controlled.  Currently, the Republican answer to anything is, “If a Fox approved media source didn’t report it, then it is all a part of the liberally bias media, thus a part of the whole conspiracy against the truth.”

I’ve said for a while now, facts have become objective statements.  I can provide links to simple, factual ideas such as Reagan raised taxes 11 times, but most Republicans either don’t care or won’t believe it.  Tell them Reagan (the messiah of “conservatism”) quadrupled our deficit and they aren’t even phased.  Many Republicans, especially Tea Party Republicans, cling to Reagan’s legend as the epitome of Republican values, despite the fact Reagan is closer to being a Democrat than a Tea Party Republican in today’s right-wing world.

It’s the classic case of trying to argue with a conspiracy theorist.  Essentially you can never win the argument as it’s almost an impossible task.  To someone who buys into a conspiracy, all evidence opposed to that conspiracy is just part of the conspiracy.  That’s how Republicans are right now.  Any economic or political evidence showing the obvious hypocritical and contradicting beliefs they currently value is simply the liberal media trying to push their agenda.

Suddenly global warming is a hoax, homosexuality is a choice, green energy is bad because it requires about 1/1000th the fossil fuels we use today (it still needs oil for lubrication—that one always makes me laugh), Reagan never raised taxes, etc..

Honestly, I could go on and on about the ridiculous statements I’ve heard Republicans make, simply because Fox News and their buddies decided to push that particular agenda.

Now I know this doesn’t include “all Republicans”.  Nor am I saying Republicans are bad people.  But to say it’s a simple political ideology now days is simply not true.  The dogma of “Republican” has turned into a full-fledged cult following.

The next time you talk politics with a Republican ask them to provide you with an example of a strong economic country where the government is weak, taxes are low, and the welfare of the country’s economic future is put into the hands of the rich and powerful—just one historical example.  I already know their answer because there isn’t one.  In fact, the closest resemblance to any nation that has a weak government,  little or no taxes and the powerful are left to do what they wish are Third World countries like Somalia.  That still doesn’t change the fact they believe in the ideology that supports this style of governing.

Or just simply ask them not to tell you what they believe, but provide examples of where it’s worked.  Republicans have mastered the art of repeating their talking points and political rhetoric, but when you ask them to provide actual information on where their ideology has worked, they typically come up lacking any evidence to support their argument.

Ask them not to tell you why you’re wrong, but to prove to you why they’re right.  It can’t be done.

About Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

  • Dissenter13a

    Having attended several Republican conventions at the state level, the best description I can come to is that they are a cross between a tent revival and Orwell’s Two-Minutes’ Hate.