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.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • When I see the Speaker of the House with a drink in hand how can I trust his judgement

    • Dissenter13a

      Winston Churchill drank like a fish.

      • Duncan McNeil

        Yes but Winston Churchill was a fish. He said it himself:

        “I am a fish.”

  • Genghis Gandhi

    You should never argue with an idiot. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.
    Also, bystanders may not be able to discern a difference…

    • I always argue with Idiots. What are they gonna do about it, one does need to learn how to fight.

  • gailillly

    Boehner is nothing but a drunk. He should be impeached. And the rest of the slime and scum should be voted out come 2014.

  • Kathleen Kinkel

    They should be institutionalized…they have never grown up…….For damn sure they should not be running our country into the ground!!!

    • It’s hard to tell from your comment which side you are on. It’s been spewed by both sides.

  • mooondog

    You have basically described both R’s and D’s. congrats.

  • OMG what r u talking about. Obama is the biggest fear monger. Both sides r run by idiots. The liberal media is way worse. This has to be the funniest work of fiction I have every read. I wanna know where he got his political degree? A Cracker Jack box?

    • drdarke

      Ah, and I see between @facebook-1723636374:disqus and @disqus_ydMWxzoo7P:disqus that the Teabag Contingent of Reich Wing scumbags has entered the fray!

    • The same talking points , give us an example ! Blame Blame ! Example Greg!

      • Yeah, how bout an example….greg

      • suburbancuurmudgeon

        He can’t give you one. The right promotes their own opinions as facts.

      • EXARMY

        All I have to say is FAST and FURIOUS! Obama used his Presidential powers to keep the records away from Congress after they were requested.

      • proud2beDem

        And your fast and furious Point is ? Still no example from Greg !

    • A very good response! An apt illustration of the author’s point! (An argument, rife with substantive examples, and credible attributions, constructed and presented competently is practically NEVER seen, coming from the right…)

    • A lot of unsubstantiated name-calling and schoolyard logic – every sentence (except the punch-line) was a disjointed non-sequitur – otherwise, a pretty literate assessment of whatever it was you were assessing…

    • Nick Demasky

      ” I wanna know where he got his political degree?”

      Wow, you must really be a moron dude.

  • serena blackcat

    This writer has a major blind spot. The far left and the far right are about the same when it comes to treating ideologies like religion. People spout the pre-written ideology of their choice, because it makes them feel intellectual, without having to give it independent thought. Ideology, like religion, takes away those grey areas and makes life easier. Leftists have also oversimplified things (you’ve never seen liberal bumperstickers?) and come up with bogus terms (like “Islamophobia”) that serve the same purpose: giving dissenting opinions a big scary label to silence them. The republican party, in trying to “rebrand” itself, has shown it isn’t so unified either. For decades it’s been comprised of fiscal conservatives, religious conservatives, and war enthusiasts, whose interests are sometimes in conflict with each other.

    • how is creating opportunity for all, not just the wealthy, gun-loving god fearing citizens a democratic ideology? and if that is ideology, sounds pretty good.

    • I think that the right’s descent is especially pronounced, but your response got my interest. I know that there are still a few right-leaning centrists, and I agree that there is a far left fringe that practically worships their own ideology. You lost me when you called Islamophobia bogus, though. If you were just trying to say that accusations of it are applied too often, there might be a point there, but you surely can’t deny that an irrational fear exists at all, given clear cases of unprovoked hate crimes and of extreme discrimination I’m also confused by your sudden jump from the thesis that there is in general too little independent thought into argument about lack of party unity.

    • suburbancuurmudgeon

      Republicans want to “rebrand themselves” to get more voters by trying to change HOW they say things, not WHAT they say.

      And when was the last time we had nonstop coverage of stupid things the far left says?

      • Newt

        Not real often, because as been observed here, the “far left” is an endangered species, confined to special reserves like San Fran, Greenwich, and Grateful Dead cover band shows.

    • True the far left is as bad as the far right. The difference being the far left is still the FAR left, the extreme edge of the party that most democracy will agree are kinda loony Where-as the far right has taken over the republican party to the point that it is now the more moderate conservatives that are on the fringe. There is even a derogatory name for moderate conservatives “R.H.I.N.O.” or “Republican In Name Only” because today if you don’t believe every single thing that Glenn Beck Rush says, you are not a real republican.

      • Please provide me one name of a single far left lawmaker I can name several extreme right wingers

      • Tilghman Lesher

        Dennis Kucinich, although technically he’s no longer a lawmaker, having lost his seat in the last round of redistricting, was the quintessential far left lawmaker. There really aren’t any others left, though.

      • Jason Tadd Jackson

        Please reread my post. My point was that there aren’t any far left politicians because the democratic party does not embrace them the way the right embraces the far right. While the GOP designs there policies to cater to the far right dems do not.

      • Newt

        “True the far left is as bad as the far right.”

        No, we’re not. Not even close.

    • JerryBallew

      Damn. Those same precepts you listed also cover the CONs. Goes to show ignorance really is universal.

    • Newt

      I disagree with your disagreement. Part of the far left left “ideology” that you accuse us of embracing like it’s religion, is that ideology and religion are bad – you’re basically accusing a political movement *that prizes critical thinking above almost all else* of not thinking critically, and I call shenanigans.

      I’d also like to point out that the ratio of mindless right-wing bumper stickers to leftist ones on the road is about 20:1. I also fail to see how “islamaphobia” isn’t completely legit – although since Republicans are also afraid of Mexicans, Canadians, Europeans, asians, Russians, Chinese, Indians, and just about everyone else, I agree that “xenophobia” might be a better catch all.

      Basically you’re slamming the Left on minor BS and excusing the Right of major horrors in order to establish some false equivalency… proving once & for all that nobody likes a fence-sitter.

  • nobody

    This article could have easily been written in such a way, that you might think it was coming from a right wing blogger. A few things need changing, such as turning some of the references, maybe a rewrite of paragraph or two to fit a more conservative feel and certainly changing Fox News to MSNBC.

    We are all caught in confusion, being led like sheep to blame others who
    disagree with our ideology, whether it be left of right, there is no denying
    that a major cult like mentality that has swept over America. I only hope some
    of you have open enough minds to realize that this “cult” problem is not just a
    “rightwing” problem.

    • Fantastic reply. That’s exactly what I felt when I read the article .Both MSNBC and Fox news just bash each other. Both put their spin on what they call news. I just listed to Maddow bashing republicans for 20 minutes. I’m sure Fox is busy bashing some democrats. There is no news here. During Vietnam we had reports from in country. Now if I want to see what’s going on in Syria, I have to turn to BBC, Al Jazeera or Russia today.

  • > 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.

    If the radical Muslim is a leftist there is no contradiction.

    • there are no left radical muslims. point is moot.

  • Mel

    Screw all this BULLSHIT and stop fucking talking shit about each other. America is the worse when it comes to black and white. I am sick of all your dam fucking political trash. Shut the fuck up and do your dam job. WTF are you folks talking about?

  • I think they should go back to that 9-9-9 guy. At least their ignorance was cute then…

    • He was a joke, on the republican party… That was all a great and mighty drama piece.

  • Humanity. Must have love for one’s neighbor. I’m not leftist by choice, I’m leftist because I don’t like a fear monger pumping my head and my child’s head full of baseless, ignorant, and intolerant hate. Falwell had my high school picketed by westboro baptist types when the city school board disallowed his request to force us to read the bible as literature. To each his own…but once something is forced upon us it is no longer OK. Once a human can see past color, past religious difference, can see their neighbor as human, too, then they can free themselves from the perpetual up and down rollercoaster of fear our news provides us. People kill people, but the gun does all the dirty work. Mass stabbings? Nope, too personal and too much of a risk for the coward doing the act to get caught and beat down.

    • EXARMY

      Once something is forced upon you it is no longer ok? Your government has forced a lot upon you lately has it not? That seems to be perfectly ok. The list of what is forced upon you is only going to get longer.

  • Al72

    Actually, That photo isn’t real. It’s actually Steve Carell from “The Office” With Boners face planted on it.

  • Awesome! Great article.

  • I’m always amused by the fake moral equivalency used by the right to justify their insanity. Recently I pointed out that on a conservative website a third of ALL comments (and about half from conservatives) called for the summary execution of Hillary Clinton and/or the President. The BEST response from a rightie was that “liberals” hated Bush. I pointed out that even the wildest “liberal” called for Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld to be put on trial. This is the best example of the differences. “Liberals” (anyone not infected by the delusional, paranoid, hatemongering of the mainstream Republican/Tea Party) call for their extreme measures within the law. The cultists see a gun, violence, and hate for the solution and not the Constitution they cynically pretend to adore.

    • EXARMY

      Excuse me sir. I believe absolutely in the Constitution of the United States of America! I do not wish any harm on anyone but I do believe our government is very intrusive on my life and it is trying to become more intrusive.

      • MyLovelyNose

        Exactly how so? How has the government intruded on YOUR life lately? Some regulation? The ACA, is that your bugaboo? Has the government forced you to say Happy Holidays?

  • 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.

  • Guest

    My Opinion: The Republican Party has ALWAYS been cult like and that is exactly why I was a Democrat. I rebel against anything that attempts to conform me to a one-sided way of thinking. BUT NOW – Both Democrats and Republicans are cult like. If you even try to introduce any common sense to either party, they all gang up and turn against you. Now, I have been known to kick three asses at a time lololol But when on the internet, I just leave them behind to their total stupidity because typing aint my way of fighting haha I am not a keyboard commando. I much prefer to just punch you in the face!

    Both parties are now cults and they are both demonic and set up for the Anti-Christ

  • Guest

    My Opinion: The Republican Party has ALWAYS been cult like and that is
    exactly why I was a Democrat. I rebel against anything that attempts to
    conform me to a one-sided way of thinking. BUT NOW – Both Democrats and
    Republicans are cult like. If you even try to introduce any common sense
    to either party, they all gang up and turn against you.

    Both parties are now cults and they are both demonic and set up for the Anti-Christ

  • Cherry Bobbery

    My Opinion: The Republican Party has ALWAYS been cult like and that is
    exactly why I was a Democrat. I rebel against anything that attempts to
    conform me to a one-sided way of thinking. BUT NOW – Both Democrats and
    Republicans are cult like. If you even try to introduce any common sense
    to either party, they all gang up and turn against you. Both parties are now cults and they are both demonic and set up for the Anti-Christ.

  • MyLovelyNose

    At first it’s just a great fun game, bashing Democrats and being politically incorrect. But if you’re in a gang of such believers, you can’t change. Especially if you live in some bumfuck rural dirtburg where one or two families run everything. Then you have to “go along to get along,” and if you don’t chime in regularly you’ll get the side-eye–which means you can be completely ostracized and lose your livelihood.