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‘Drinking the Orange Kool-Aid’: Cult expert says Trump is like Rev. Jim Jones — but far more dangerous

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America’s foremost expert on cults says that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s followers are eerily similar to a group of brainwashed cult adherents and that Trump himself has many of the qualities associated with cult leaders like Scientology’s L. Ron Hubbard and Rev. Jim Jones — whose followers committed suicide en masse in Guyana.

In an essay for GQ magazine, Rebecca Nelson outlined on a point-by-point basis how — by the estimation of cult expert Rick Alan Ross — Trump is like a cult leader.

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For Ross, the realization struck during Trump’s convention speech in Cleveland at the peak of the Republican National Convention. Trump told the audience that the world is a nightmare of danger and chaos and then positioned himself as the only antidote to world destruction.

Ross is the executive director of the Cult Education Institute and a lifelong Republican. However, as he listened to Trump say, “I alone can fix it” to the crowd gathered in Cleveland, something from his training as a “deprogrammer” of cult victims clicked into place.

“That kind of pronouncement is typical of many cult leaders, who say that ‘my way is the only way, I am the only one,’” Ross told Nelson. “That was a very defining moment.”

Nelson asked Ross straight out, “Is Trump a cult leader?”

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Ross replied with a number of emails and voice messages mounting up similarities between Trump and notorious cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh. Nelson dug deep into the material and arrived at a list of signs.

Sign I: His campaign is fueled by charisma.

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Trump’s admirers, like Tania Vojvodic of Texas say that they admire the candidate’s image as a “handsome, smart, successful” business leader. Everything he touches, Vojvodic said, “turns to gold.” She said that his bestselling manifesto, The Art of the Deal, changed her life.

“I’ve lived by the Trump ideology since I was 15,” Vojvodic said. “That ideology has helped me to be successful in almost everything that I do. And I adore Mr. Trump.”

She is now a top coordinator for the campaign’s volunteer network and a Trump true believer.

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Many Trump supporters share the same kind of pie-eyed admiration for the former reality TV star. His policies are immaterial to them. They’re drawn in by his attitude and his personal myth, much as devotees admire a cult leader.

“The single most salient feature of a cult is a person who has become, essentially, an object of worship,” explained Ross, the “defining element of the group.”

Sign II: He’s a raging narcissist.

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“Cult leaders are most often narcissists,” said Ross. “They see themselves as the center of the known universe, and everyone revolves around them.”

On multiple occasions, Trump has taken to social media in the wake of terrible tragedies — the Pulse massacre in Orlando, the shooting death of NBA player Dwyane Wade’s cousin — to declare that the deaths only prove how smart he is. “VOTE TRUMP!” he declared in his tweet about Wade.

His co-author on The Art of the Deal gone on the record saying that Trump is shallow, unstable and obsessed only with things that have to do with himself, his brand and his personal greatness.

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Trump is “a living black hole,” said Tony Schwartz. “It’s impossible to keep him focused on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes.”

Former Raw Story executive editor and expert on Scientology Tony Ortega told GQ, “Scientology is a bully. If somebody speaks up against Scientology, Scientology will set private investigators on them to destroy them. It could be just a small person that decided not to take it anymore. And I think people see that in Trump.”

Sign III: What he says is always right. Even when it’s not.

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Trump’s followers and surrogates have shown an astonishing capacity to shake off whatever previous facts they know about him and replace them with whatever today’s campaign spin portrays him as. Confronting them with facts and documentation makes no difference.

Ortega said, “You just can’t put that material in front of a true believer and it has any effect. And I think people are seeing the same thing with Trump. Trump creates this sort of field, this bubble, that the people inside of it are just incapable of seeing these things as those on the outside.”

Nelson wrote, “And though nearly 80 percent of the things he says are outright lies, he manages to pin the blame on the ‘dishonest’ and ‘biased’ media. Many of his followers, already distrustful of mainstream news outlets, accept whatever rationalization he provides, no matter how outlandish.”

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In a concluding section of the essay titled Drinking the Orange Kool-Aid, Ross told Nelson that Trump is like a cult leader, but his impact — win or lose in November — could be much more destructive.

“We’re not talking about a compound with a thousand people,” Ross warned. “We’re talking about a nation with over 300 million people. So the consequences of Trumpism could affect us in a way Jim Jones never did.”

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Why was Jeffrey Epstein buying size 5 women’s panties — while in jail?

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The Miami Herald has another bombshell report on Jeffrey Epstein, who died in a Manhattan jail while waiting to stand trial on federal sex crimes charges.

"A decade ago, during a brief stint in Palm Beach County Jail, convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein made an odd purchase at the facility’s store: two pairs of small women’s panties, size 5," the Herald reported Saturday night.

The newspaper noted, "the panties raise questions about why a childless male inmate, accused of sexually abusing girls as young as 14, would be allowed to buy female undergarments so small that they wouldn’t fit an average-sized adult woman."

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White nationalist Republican ridiculed after only 2 people show up for his town hall meeting

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Embattled Rep. Steve King (R-IA) suffered further humiliation on Saturday when only two people showed up for his town hall meeting with Iowa constituents.

King, who was stripped of all committee assignments for his white nationalism, was been an embarrassment for Republicans with his constant racism and misogyny.

A photo of the town hall meeting was posted on Twitter by Reuters photo editor Corinne Perkins.

https://twitter.com/corinne_perkins/status/1162806565109473280

Rep. King was quickly mocked in the comments.

Here's some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/sedespres/status/1162811223186006018

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2020 Election

Democrats could flip the Texas state house in 2020 — and reshape the national map

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Blue Texas? Democrats have long dreamt of winning Texas’s 38 electoral votes in the presidential election. That may still be a long shot, but a recent “Texodus” from Congress has given new talk to a political transformation across the Lone Star State that could have massive ramifications down the ballot and for decades to come.

This article was originally posted at Salon.

Four of the state’s GOP members of Congress have announced their retirements in recent weeks, an unusual torrent of departures signaling that a storm is coming. And evidence shows that it’s not just hitting Texas’s federal delegation. It’s coming to Austin, too.

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