When you type “cult and Obama” in Google, you get 430,000 hits.
Think about that. That’s remarkable, because “cult” is darn strong language, and a term I don’t remember ever being applied to a political campaign before this year. Yet, now the use of the term is absolutely rampant.
If a foreign visitor oberserving American politics heard the use of this term in a political context, he or she might turn to a dictionary, and discover that a cult is “generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.”
As unusual as the Obama campaign is, is that really an apt description for it?
The Obama campaign seems to have been given the title by his opponents because opponents’ crowds are much smaller and less enthusiastic than Obama’s, and a disproportionate number of the attendees at Obama’s rallies are not the partisan activists who typically populate political rallies.
But really, just how different are Obama’s supporters? With the exception of the occasional rally fainter – and what is up with that? — they aren’t the kind of glassy eyes automotons we associate with followers of Jim Jones, Sun Myung Moon or David Koresh. But there are many more participants than usual, and they aren’t all familiar faces to the political hacks. Perhaps that is the part that feels so “bizarre” and threatening to the kingmaker class.
A confession: Hi, my name is Joe, and I’m an Obamaniac. I don’t go to rallies or have Obama posters in my bedroom. I don’t write love notes to Barrack (I swear, he doesn’t even know I’m alive). I don’t faint when he comes on the telly. I do think oversells his ability to bring people together, and has an arrogant streak to rival his opponents. But I do think he’s right on most issues and is easily the most gifted Persuader-in-Chief of my generation. So I have a bumper sticker on the minivan, and I actually give a damn this year. A pretty big damn actually.
So does that make me a cultist? Am I only a normal American if, to borrow the country music lyric, “my give a damn is busted,” and I subsequently leave the political game to the political regulars?
The Google search indicates that the pundits view it as bizarre when a leader inspires previously under-active Americans to greater levels of participation. But really, is that reaction an indictment of Obama and his supporters, or of the sorry state of democratic expectations?
— Loveland tax prep kind