Tag Archives: cult of personality

What happened to GOP?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

This question needs asking: What in the world has happened to the Republican Party?

It was hijacked decades ago by conservatives who grew weary of the party’s longstanding tradition of liberal thinking, of outreach to racial minorities, even of reasonable fiscal restraint and limited government interference.

It now has become a cult of personality. A once-great party is driven by its belief in the lunacy of the Big Lie, that an election was stolen through something they call “rampant vote fraud.”

The cultist who leads this moronic notion is Donald Trump, a former one-term president who actually incited a mob of terrorist rioters to overturn an election he lost.

As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria has noted in a special on his cable network, “Trump is gone” but his movement lives on.

Yes, this is the party that Trump once led even though he lacked any knowledge, let alone experience, in political life.

In an odd way, today’s GOP has switched places with what used to constitute the bulk of the Democratic Party. The old Democrats — particularly in the South — was populated by segregationists who resisted efforts to grant equal rights to black Americans. That version of the Democratic Party did not adhere to the loony notions of an individual, however, the way that the current Republican Party has glommed onto the imbecilic notions pitched by The Donald.

It is distressing for me to watch this devolution of a once-great political party. I say that as someone who hasn’t yet voted for a Republican for president. I go back a ways, having cast my first presidential vote in 1972.

Now that I am older, I could be persuaded to vote for a Republican for the nation’s highest office — except that the party is an extension of what is now being called “Trumpism.”

It is a horrible — and horrifying — fit, to be sure.

This is what ‘cult of personality’ produces

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

There he was, standing in front of adoring fans, telling yet another egregious lie just the other day about the coronavirus pandemic.

Donald Trump’s fans nodded, applauded and hollered their approval over a blatant falsehood, which is that doctors and nurses are inflating COVID-19 death rates because “they make more money” when patients die.

This, I submit, is the essence of what has been called a “cult of personality.” Trumpkins don’t give a sh** about policy. They adore the liar who stands before them. They buy into the lies. They give him a pass when he defames an entire learned profession — doctors and nurses — with an outright lie.

This is the kind of menace against which Joe Biden is running as he seeks to remove Donald Trump from the presidency he won in 2016 in arguably the greatest political fluke in American political history.

Biden is campaigning against an individual who can lie out loud and in full public view and receive the same level of cheer and applause as he would were he to actually say something true, which of course doesn’t happen with this clown.

Hitler had that cult of personality. So did Stalin and Mussolini. So did Idi Amin and Ho Chi Minh. So does Kim Jong Un. So does Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump is following them all down the road to infamy with his lying, defaming and patently vicious rhetoric.

To think the Trumpkin Corps continues to buy into this trash. Simply astonishing in the extreme.

When will GOP pols abandon Trump?

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

First, I must acknowledge the obvious, which is that I am far from the political action, as I am sitting in the peanut gallery with a lot of other Americans.

You know that already. My full-time journalism career ended more than eight years ago. However, I have remained friends with many politicians and political observers in Texas.

Which brings me to this point: I am wondering when the Texas Republican Party political apparatus ever is going to turn its back on Donald Trump.

The president appears headed to defeat. I won’t say it’s done deal. It is looking that way.

I am acquainted with a number of GOP pols in the Texas Panhandle, where my wife and I lived for 23 years before gravitating to the Metroplex. Truth be told, I consider a number of those pols to be friends. One of them, a fellow I have known for more than 25 years, has told me privately that Trump must be defeated, that he has been a disaster as president.

He hasn’t said a word publicly, at least nothing that I have heard.

Trump has built a cult of personality across the land. The GOP no longer is a party of principle. It is a party that centers on an individual who, ironically, had zero political cred prior to his become a presidential candidate in 2015. Trump had no public service on his record. He had never sought any public office prior to seeking the Big One.

Indeed, the Republican Party is strong in the Texas Panhandle. So I keep wondering why the GOP political hierarchy continues to stand with Trump. It might be that the Trump “base” that comprise such a large portion of the Republican voting public has threatened reprisal against any pol who dares to speak out against their guy.

I keep reading reports about Capitol Hill Republicans beginning to put distance between themselves and the president. Why? Because Trump has few personal friendships, or longstanding political alliances with members of the GOP caucus in Congress. Still, they remain quiet.

It’s a puzzle to me. Yes, I am far these days from the hustle and the tussle of politics. I do retain a keen interest in it all.

Eight days from Election Day gives these pols some time to collect themselves, muster up some courage and tell us publicly what they likely are thinking in private … which is that Donald Trump is a loser.

Where are the GOP ‘heroes’?

What you see here is a Twitter message fired off by U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, the freshman Utah Republican who, during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, cast the only GOP vote to convict Trump on an abuse of power allegation brought by the House of Representatives.

Now, Trump has commuted the 40-month federal prison sentence of Roger Stone, POTUS’s longtime political ally and personal friend.

Romney so far has emerged as the only Republican in either congressional chamber with a semblance of a spine. His tweet condemning the commutation speaks volumes about why Trump’s decision is so terribly self-serving and dangerous.

I am thinking now of something the great journalist Carl Bernstein, who covered the Watergate scandal in the 1970s for the Washington Post, recently said about how that scandal unfolded, leading eventually to President Nixon’s resignation.

Bernstein talked about the Republican “heroes” who emerged to challenge the president directly. They stood on the principle that no one is above the law and that they, in good conscience, could not support the GOP president who had covered up his campaign’s participation in the burglary of the Democratic National Committee offices.

Those heroes, Bernstein said, are what brought an end to what became known as “our long national nightmare.”

Where in the name of political heroism are the rest of the GOP congressional caucus when it concerns this president?

Sen. Romney, the party’s 2012 presidential nominee, is standing alone against the cult of personality that Donald Trump has created?

One cannot overestimate voters’ gullibility

The proverbial light bulb flashed on in my skull the other evening as I was listening to a young Sirius XM reporter offer her view on how Donald J. Trump got elected president of the United States.

She noted that voters elected an “entertainer,” someone they knew via his reality-TV exposure. He brought that personality with him to the presidential campaign and . . . presto! He won!

Then it occurred to me. Voters are susceptible to this kind of nonsense. Indeed, I witnessed a case of unfold up close in Potter County, Texas, in 2000. That was the year voters in the Texas Panhandle county elected a profoundly unqualified — and as it turned out, profoundly corrupt — individual as their sheriff.

Mike Shumate won that year’s Republican Party primary for sheriff, defeating a man who had served with distinction as the chief deputy under Sheriff Jimmy Don Boydston. Art Tupin, though, did not have Shumate’s cult following developed over the years he ran the Amarillo Police Department’s Crime Stoppers program.

Shumate was a media star in the Texas Panhandle. That stardom translated to votes in that year’s GOP primary. He would sound off on radio stations talking about how APD would arrest criminal suspects, how the courts would convict them and how a fictional prison character named “Bubba” would receive the criminal once he got sentenced.

Man, the guy was a laugh a minute.

Except that he had no business running a sheriff’s department in a county comprising a population of around 125,000 residents. Shumate’s tenure as sheriff didn’t end well. He lost his job after being convicted of embezzling funds and serving time in a Texas Panhandle jail.

The point here is that voters too often become suckers for a personality. They glom onto an individual’s “star status,” ignoring his or her actual qualifications. Donald Trump benefited from the form of “cult of personality” that surrounded him as he campaigned for the presidency; meanwhile, more qualified GOP opponents never got the traction they deserved while this carnival barker kept piling up victories in state after state.

Let us hope voters won’t be fooled in 2020.

Sen. Kyl is his own man, however …

It didn’t take Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey long to fill an important seat in the U.S. Senate.

He picked a one-time former senator, Jon Kyl, to succeed the late, great John McCain in the upper congressional chamber. It’s a solid, mainstream selection, with one conservative Republican succeeding another conservative Republican.

A part of me, though, wishes something different from Sen. Kyl, who rejoins his colleagues.

Sen. McCain, who died on Aug. 25 of brain cancer, was known as a maverick. He was courageous and unafraid to challenge partisan orthodoxy within his own GOP. He incurred the wrath of far-right conservatives who actually, with a straight face, accused McCain of being a RINO, a Republican in Name Only; such a preposterous notion is laughable on its face.

McCain sought a return to “regular order” in the Senate. He despaired of the cult of personality that has taken over many within the Republican Party, which has become the Party of Donald Trump. His clashes with the president — stemming in part from the insults and the disparagement that Donald Trump would hurl at McCain — became legendary.

My hope for Jon Kyl is that he follows his predecessor’s lead. He isn’t known to be as feisty as McCain could be when the occasion presented itself. Then again, he is occupying a seat once held by a man who became legendary in the Senate for the battles he fought with Democrats and Republican.

I realize fully that Sen. Kyl is his own man. He also works for Arizona’s 7 million residents. Perhaps many of them will express their view that Sen. Kyl pick up where Sen. McCain left off.

May the new senator give the president all the hell he deserves.

It’s true: Trump has stolen the GOP

As if we needed any more evidence on top of the mountain of it that has piled up, Donald Trump’s decision to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has proved what already has been known.

The president has co-opted the principles of the party under which he was elected. He is no more of a “Republican” than, um, I am.

And I am not.

What we have here is a man who has turned the Republican Party into the Trump Party. The right and far-right wing of the GOP stands behind this man — even though this protectionist trade policy flies in the face of traditional Republican principle.

This is a dangerous trend, folks.

I believe we are witnessing — and this is not an original thought; I didn’t think of this — the development of a “cult of personality.” This is the kind of tag one usually associates with dictators and despots.

Kim Jong Un? Pol Pot? Fidel Castro? Hugo Chavez? Francisco Franco? Adolf Hitler? Benito Mussolini? Juan Peron?

Is the president of the United States a despot and dictator in the mold of those men? No. However, I believe it is a legitimate concern that he has perverted the principles of a once-great political party and turned them into a political tactic.

I cannot pre-determine what Donald Trump has in store for the party for as long as he is president. I do believe that we are witnessing an evolution of sorts. The most fervent Republicans in this country should be aghast at the trade war that Trump seems willing to launch. Instead, they are standing by their man.

If that doesn’t define a cult of personality, then I don’t know what does. It’s a very good thing, indeed, to have two other co-equal government branches — Congress and the federal courts — on board to keep the president’s power grab in check.

But still … this is frightening.