Whatever Trump personally decides to do about his political future, the fact that GOP lawmakers continue to perform their loyalty acts to him on television bodes nothing good for the health of our democracy. — Ruth Ben-Ghiat, New York University historian and expert on facism
Whatever Trump personally decides to do about his political future, the fact that GOP lawmakers continue to perform their loyalty acts to him on television bodes nothing good for the health of our democracy. — Ruth Ben-Ghiat, New York University historian and expert on facism
Republicans have built a cult of personality around Trump that glosses over his disgraced presidency
  • The GOP has fomented a personality cult around Trump, similar to authoritarian regimes.
  • The party is defined by Trump worship instead of distancing from him after the fatal Jan. 6 riot.
  • '"Getting away with it' has always been at the center of Trump's brand," an expert told Insider.
The GOP of 2021 is increasingly defined by worshipping Donald Trump, as the party builds a cult of personality around a former president who left the White House in disgrace less than two months ago. Experts warn it poses an ongoing threat to democracy in the US — as evidenced by the Capitol attack he stoked.

Trump became the GOP's supreme leader five years ago. The GOP did not even bother to issue a new party platform in 2020, instead pledging to "enthusiastically" support Trump. But Trump's personality cult has endured past his disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic that killed more than 400,000 during his time in office, the economic crisis and job losses that came with it, and his 2020 election loss.

"Whatever Trump personally decides to do about his political future, the fact that GOP lawmakers continue to perform their loyalty acts to him on television bodes nothing good for the health of our democracy," Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University historian and expert on facism, told Insider.

... The Republican party is no longer the party of Lincoln — a party that advocates smaller government and few constraints on free enterprise and civil liberties — it's now the party of Trump. That's the general message from top GOP lawmakers recently. Trump may have been a one-term president who lost the GOP the White House, House, and Senate in just four years, but the party's loudest voices still see him as their best hope.

... "It makes no sense why anybody thinks embracing a disgraced, twice impeached president is the path forward for the party," former GOP Rep. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania said March 1 on CNN. "The fringe elements of the party have too large a voice ... it's a cult of personality."


... Though Trump lost in 2020, he still earned more votes (74.2 million) than any presidential candidate in US history other than Joe Biden. He was an unpolished leader, but that was a large part of his appeal for many Americans turned off by establishment politics — they liked that he wasn't a traditional politician.

That said, Trump's unabashed racism and xenophobia also drove many voters away from him while fostering controversial policies that diminished America's global reputation. Moreover, his bungled handling of the pandemic revealed Trump as incapable or unwilling to lead the country through the crisis. Trump deliberately downplayed the threat of COVID-19 — a virus he contracted and was hospitalized for as president — and America became the epicenter of the pandemic under his watch.

Cult of personality is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a situation in which a public figure (such as a political leader) is deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved."

The concept is often associated with the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Stalinism, as well as leaders like China's communist founder Mao Zedong. Both were portrayed as larger-than-life figures with all of the answers.

In the present day, despots like North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continue this tradition, in which they essentially mandate the public worship their every move. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also sought to build a personality cult during his roughly two decades in power, painting himself as a macho figure with annual, shirtless (and heavily photographed) excursions in Siberia.

Experts and historians like Ben-Ghiat repeatedly pointed to stark parallels between such leaders and Trump while he was still in office, and now warn that the Capitol attack helped elevate his personality cult even further.

"Many Republicans embrace former president Trump because of, not in spite of, his incitement of violence on January 6th," Ben-Ghiat said. '"Getting away with it' has always been at the center of Trump's brand, and he diffused a culture of lawlessness within and around the GOP that fueled January 6th and raised his status as a cult figure after."
Read the full article: https://www.businessinsider.com/republicans-have-built-a-cult-of-personalty-around-trump-2021-3