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The Cult of Obama

Cult

Obama’s people are clever, but not good, which is a common combination at dot com companies that go under when the trend passes them by. The Obama trend has long since gone and no one is all that excited about another four years. Like Steve Jobs debuting one more feature, the campaign has doled out gay marriage and the DREAM Act to gets its base excited about another four years. But it still isn’t excited. These are features that it expected years ago and it’s not in the mood to work itself up into a frenzy over finally getting them.

This is the part where the marketing consultants spend six months on a study and inform the company that their brand is done and has to either be retired or salvaged through a high-profile campaign that will reinvent it as cutting edge. But when your brand is a man, how do you reinvent him? And when your brand is “Transformative Politics” and even your staunchest supporters don’t feel like anything has been transformed, how do you move the product?

Cults shift the burden of failure from the guru and the program to the participants. It isn’t the man or the idea that failed, but the people.

There are the outside enemies who make enlightenment impossible. “How very much I’ve tried my best to give you a good life. But in spite of all of my trying a handful of our people, with their lies, have made our lives impossible,” Jim Jones said at Jonestown. That is the epilogue of the Obama campaign. The one being scripted for him by the media.

Like Jim Jones, Obama has done his best to give us a good life, but the Republicans, FOX News, the Supreme Court, the Koch Brothers and powerful interests have sabotaged his efforts with their lies. And yet in the end it’s not the enemies who bear the final burden, but the people who weren’t good enough.

Cults demand more and more from their followers to impose upon them an unreasonable and unshakeable burden of guilt. The cult appeals to those who want to make more of their lives, and it destroys their will by making them feel like failures. The Obama campaign’s endless demands of its followers have that tenor as well. Behind all the flowery words, the burden of responsibility is being shifted from his people to his supporters.

The cult frames everything in terms of commitment. What begins as a commitment to personal and global transformation becomes a commitment to the demands of the cult. The commitment is meant to be mutual, and it is occasionally even framed in terms of a marriage.

“In all our years of marriage, he’s always looked out for me. Now, I see that same commitment every day to you and to this country,” Michelle Obama’s campaign mailing says. “The only way we’ll win this election is if we can rely on one another like that.”

The commitments, of course, aren’t mutual. They can’t be. The disparity in power is too great. The cult exists for the sake of the leader, but the leader does not exist for the sake of the cult. Once the followers realize this, the illusion of mutual commitment breaks down. And to keep them from realizing it, the cult strives to make them feel that they have not lived up to their commitment.

The cult intrudes into personal and marital relationships because it cannot allow any commitment to dwarf the greater commitment. That is why cults will arrange marriages and control whom members may marry. It may command divorces or just solicit donations to its cause at a wedding. It acts as if it knows no boundaries, but, in truth, it is setting its own boundaries. It is claiming the intimate territory of personal relationships as its own.

And yet all this only works for as long as the transformative illusion endures. When the sense that the commitment to the cult is not transformative, that the principles of its program cannot make a better world, then its power fades away and dies. The cult may amp up its marketing, but the only product that it ever truly had was intangible.

About the Author: Daniel Greenfield is an Israeli born blogger and columnist, and a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His work covers American, European and Israeli politics as well as the War on Terror. His writing can be found at http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press.


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10 Responses to “The Cult of Obama”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    I have never heard President Obama described in cult- like or messiah-like terms by any Democrats, nor seen him described as such by any left-leaning publications or internet sites. It is only right wing pundits such as Sultan Knish who promote this nonexistent cult.

  2. Shlomo Pill says:

    Maybe you haven't seen it, but I can tell you that I am often astounded by the fawning, cultish, obsessive attitudes about the President and his reelection campaign exhibited by ostensibly reasonable and objective law students (with whom I went to school). Not to say that it doesn't happen on the right either; it does. But there is definitely a sense among some intelligent, thinking liberals that the End of Days are neigh, and if only we can all just get behind the President he will make EVERYTHING better.

  3. Charlie Hall says:

    The only cult I see in politics today is the Ron Paul phenomenon.

  4. Charlie multiple posters have been made that position him as a messiah like figure. Next time I see one I will take a photo for you.

  5. Ezzie Goldish says:

    Charlie really? Read tons of pieces, have heard countless people say it.

  6. Shlomo Pill says:

    This is why I try to avoid political affiliations and election campaigns entirely, and confine myself to thinking about policy, law, and politics, in the abstract – politics has the uncanny tendency to blind the most reasonable academic minds to all but that which conforms to their own partisan predisposition. Bias is fine; wearing blinders that prevent you from acknowledging your bias is not.

  7. Mark Pelta says:

    But Shlomo, doesn't your reasoning kinda refute the piece in and of itself? Politics per se is a bit cultish, not as bad as a cult to a niftar gadol whose followers still think he's moshiach say (I speak of course of Rav Reagan), but cultish. What make the cult to Obama different than every other cult?

  8. Shlomo Pill says:

    No difference, really. Dr. Hall's was arguing (like many other partisan Democrats – or partisan Republicans) that while Republican's might be cultish about their chosen political champions, the ever reasonable and fair-minded liberal Democrats are certainly not cultish in their support of the President, and that any allegation that they are is merely a fiction invented by right-wingers intent on discrediting the reelection campaign and its supporters. I was simply pointing out that this is not true – there are cultish Obama-ites, and that the cultists can count among their ranks some of the most reasonable, intelligent, and educated people in the liberal political camp.

  9. Charlie Hall says:

    You certainly don't see anything like cultish following on the major liberal internet sites. Half of dailykos considers Obama to be a Corporatist Right Winger.

    Would you folks who insist that there is a cult please supply some recent links as examples?

  10. Cathlin Hess says:

    You want to talk cult? Fawning over Obama or Romney doesn't warrant the term "cult-like" at all. You want to talk cult? Learn about Mormonism. It isn't just another branch of Christianity (I'm an agnostic, so I've got no alterior motive here), it's based on the teachings of an illiterate criminal, telling of Jesus here in America. They baptize dead Jews. Men are the heads of families – known as "priest-holders," they believe married women can get into heaven (the "Celestial Kingdom") ONLY if their husband pulls them through the veil (same with their secret marriage ceremonies). A woman's duty is to produce as many children as possible for the Holy Father and to increase their numbers. This Obama/Romney cult talk is stupid. Look very carefully at the GOP candidate and his belief system and practices. There's a cult for you. A large cult, but a cult nonetheless.

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