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Expert explains how Trump’s GOP has turned into a cult — and warns his spell will be hard to break

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A cult scholar has identified the ways Donald Trump’s GOP resembles the groups she studies.

In an interview with Pacific Standard, Dr. Janja Lalich — the founder and director of the Center for Research on Influence and Control — said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) “touched on something important” when he observed that the GOP under Trump was “becoming a cultish thing.”

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“I think there are plenty of similarities—enough to be concerned about,” she said.

“The people around Trump, and the Republicans in Washington, absolutely kowtow to him, either out of fear they’re going to anger him, or out of adulation,” Dr. Lalich told PS.That behavior is very typical of a cult.”

In her writing, the professor emerita of sociology at California State University–Chico identified four characteristics of “totalistic” cults: They “espouse an all-encompassing belief system,” “exhibit excessive devotion to the leader,” “avoid criticism of the group and its leader,” and “feel disdain for non-members.” Lalich agreed with PS writer Tom Jacobs that those aspects were all “unnervingly similar” to Trump’s GOP.

“I think you have to look at the effect of Trump’s behavior and language on his base,” she said. “He readily ridicules and chastises people. He readily pushes people aside if they’re not worshipping him. We’ve all seen the videos of his aides praising him to high heaven. That’s the kind of adulation cult leaders expect and demand.”

She noted that his repeated large, campaign-style rallies are in line with a cult leader’s need to “rev up their people.”

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“Him holding these rallies is both a recruitment technique,” Lalich told PS, “and a way to keep his followers happy.”

In typical cult scenarios, Lalich said people usually get out or are taken out after families stage interventions. To disband Trump’s “cultic” GOP, however, will be much more difficult.

“If Trump continues with this egregious, inhumane behavior, some of his people may actually wake up,” she said. “Some of the churches that have been supportive of him have come out to say, ‘This is too much.’ When the cultic behavior is on a national scale, [breaking it up] is going to take a national movement.”

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You can read Dr. Lalich’s entire interview comparing the Republican Party under Trump to a cult via Pacific Standard.


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Fox News reporter and right-wing conspiracy theorists planned to wiretap family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich: report

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The Daily Beast on Monday evening broke a bombshell report on a secret 2017 meeting in Texas on a right-wing conspiracy theory where espionage was discussed.

"One of their topics was responding to online critics of wealthy Texas businessman Ed Butowsky, who had recently been outed as a driving force behind a retracted Fox News story about murdered Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich," The Beast reported. "The group that gathered at Butowsky’s home included a conspiracy theorist, a Fox reporter fighting for her career, a former private intelligence contractor married to star journalist Lara Logan, and a Democratic PR operative who lost his business in the face of sexual assault allegations."

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Maddow breaks down potential ‘direct financial connection’ between the Russian government and Donald Trump

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MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow read bombshell excerpts from a new book set for release on Tuesday.

The host interviewed David Enrich, finance editor at The New York Times, about his forthcoming book Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump, and an Epic Trail of Destruction.

The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" read excerpts from the book.

"There was no doubt that Deutsche Bank had extensive business dealings with Russia, and those dealings included acting as a conduit for dirty money to get out of Russia and into the western financial system," Enrich wrote.

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Trump said he ‘loved’ the fact that America is more divided than ever: ex-GOP congressman

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President Donald Trump bragged about increasing divisions in America during a White House meeting, a former Republican congressman explained on MSNBC on Monday.

Former Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) told host Joy Reid that "Donald Trump has intentionally tried to create the anxiety" that Americans are explaining.

"Garry Kasparov, the Russian freedom activist, has said the point of disinformation isn't to manipulate the truth, it's to exhaust your critical thinking," Jolly explained. "To exhaust your critical thinking, that's what we're experiencing as voters."

"I had a colleague that was in a meeting in the Roosevelt Room and he said he heard Trump say, 'Have you ever seen the nation so divided?' My colleagues and others said, 'No, we haven't.' Trump said, 'I love it that way.' This is the currency that he's peddling as political strategy, but it's not one we have to accept," Jolly explained.

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