There’s a caveat I must begin with. “Cult” isn’t necessarily bad. For the times, Jesus was the leader of what would have been considered a “cult.” That “cult” was wrongfully considered by Roman and Jewish authorities to be dangerous.
But I do believe our two party-based system has become too cult-like in the worst ways…
Compared to, let’s say, the Gnostic gospels, there’s a fairly recent alternative view of the events leading up to the crucifixion. Jesus was supposed to survive after being treated with healing herbs. In one thousands of years old Gnostic gospel Judas was a hero: doing what Jesus wanted, what needed to be done. Of course, after that, Jesus would return and offer up God’s wrath like some vengeful waitress at the Final Judgement Cafe. Locusts and brimstone would be available in the Serves You Right souvenir shop.
Politics and religion were pretty much inseparable back then, though the Romans tried to keep them somewhat separate by cruelly punishing believers perceived to be challenging Roman rule. The cult-ish concept that made sacrificing even the truest of believers for the cause remains, and has become part of politics.
I suppose some political cults we have today might be relatively tame, but I do consider the very concept of political movements turned cult rotten to the core: one that can undermine and destroy a free; truly representative, society. Sometimes a society has so many forceful special interests, demanding movements, that over reaction becomes the standard. For example: much like those who challenged Rome, or those who deposed Julius Caesar, we go beyond destroying the leader, but also family members and those politically incorrect souls who don’t go out of their way to demonize them. This has become common sport… destroying at all costs: even the common good. Anything that president proposes is also opposed, demonized. If we were Pompeii Republicans and Dems would be found at each others throats in the ashes rather than considering a common held desire to evacuate when proposed by only one side.
People back then didn’t know better when it came to such predicable disasters and problems. We do, but so often would rather go down in flames than give a centimeter.
I know in the days of Limbaugh and Surandon this may seem “quaint,” but having a system where politicians had to appeal to a wider base than “us vs. them” might help, I suppose.
Are you becoming part of a political cult rather than a movement, or a party? The following 10 suggestions might help you tell the difference. Apologies if sometimes it’s a tad too Jeff Foxworthy-ish…
1. Following a candidate means he, or she, isn’t perfect. They’re just who you consider the best “hire” for the job. If you think whomever you support is perfect you could be a cultist.
2. Likening any candidate to holy men, or women, could be a danger sign you’re involved in a cult.
3. Other candidates aren’t necessarily evil. They’re just not the best choice… in your opinion.
4. If your candidate isn’t chosen and they throw their support behind another they aren’t Judas, they haven’t “betrayed” you.
5. If you are unable to respectfully, somewhat objectively, discuss an election with those who support other candidates you most likely are a cultist: no matter whom you support.
6. You can vote for, support, whomever you wish… or not. But demanding others follow your lead means your stance is more cult-like than political.
7. Supporters come in many flavors. Some will vote for that one candidate, no one else. Some will vote for someone else, but never their candidate’s main opponent. Some will never vote for those who haven’t a chance of winning, but will choose the least objectionable among the two left standing due to the system we have. All those choices are yours to make. No single one is the only appropriate one for all.
8. Accusation and guilt are not the same. Often accusation is the man made fog of political warfare. If you eager to ready to accept any accusation, yet reject all that apply to your candidate, you may be a cultist.
9. Assaulting anyone considered “not one of us” means you may be a cultist. This includes constant ad hominem-based verbal assaults absent any content other than name calling.
10. You find even considering these suggestions offensive means you could be a cultist.
OK, excuse me for a second…. blabobbbbbzzzzzzzzzzzbeep…. There, I just shook off being possessed by the sometimes annoying spirit of Mr. Foxworthy. Now he can go back to making equally annoying ads for that great foodie icon that enables obesity so well: Golden Corral.
I am curious what’s going to happen the next few weeks during what could be considered the biggest political cult gatherings in the country: conventions. With all the serious dump on Trump rhetoric in his own party, will 99% line up to drink the Kool Aid, or not? The same question applies for the Dems, especially after some of the anti-Hillary rhetoric from a few Bernie supporters.
I must admit, I have mixed feelings. I have no desire to witness implosion, but I also find partisans suddenly turning into support the party no matter what zombies equally disturbing. Guess I’m no fan of that political delicacy of extreme compromise: eating your own brains.
We stand at a rather odd intersection in America where the left may swing equally radical to counter the ever shifting rightward Republicans. It’s refreshing, in a way, but is it good for a two party nation to leave those more in the middle far behind unless they buy everything cult A, or cult B, has to sell? Is it really best to leave every square peg in the partisan dust strewn by the biggest round a-holes in each movement who demand political purity?
In the end, cults: political or not, usually specialize in elevating themselves and demonizing all others
We desperately need something like run off voting so we’re no longer stuck, not just voting for twiddly dee, or twiddly dumber, but far worse; those who only have little more than hate, fear and supposed political purity to sell. It’s no way to run a free nation, or any nation for that matter. And it does qualify as some of the worst cult-like behavior.
Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 40 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks, and into the unseen cracks and crevasses, that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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