OPINION: Personality Cults are Destroying American Democracy

By Austin Anderholt | UNITED STATES

Many westerners are quick to point out the “Personality Cult” of left-wing dictatorships such as the Soviet Union and North Korea. You’ve heard it. You’ve probably seen newsreels of North Koreans praising their “Glorious Leader” and mighty statues of socialist figures in 20th century Russia. The idea of these personality cults is to have the masses worship their despot as some type of hero or “God that can do no wrong”. It is wildly agreeable that these cults of personalities are dangerous, as they turn the head of state into an almighty deity, and smash any disagreement. It sounds like a nightmare, but it’s much closer to home than you might expect. In fact, I believe that a cult of personality in America is growing much faster and could be much more dangerous than any of us could expect.

Ever since the beginning of American Politics (and arguably politics in general) we’ve loved to make fun of politicians, whether it be based on their actual policies and ideas, or just for their physical appearance. However, at the end of the day, large masses weren’t voting for politicians SOLELY based upon whom they’re married to, what gender they are, if your favorite movie star likes them, and what they look like.

In the 2016 presidential election in the United States, name calling was a common tactic in both Democratic and Republican campaigns. Again, making fun of politicians for a laugh is fine, but let’s be honest: Donald Trump’s nicknaming of his opponents has gone a little too far, to the point where some people choose shouting “LYIN’ TED” or whatever nickname Trump has given his opponents instead of actually giving a valid argument.

American leftists are no better. In said election, Hillary Clinton repeatedly attempted to belittle Donald Trump by referring to him as “Donald” in a disappointed tone, as if his name was too shameful to say without a grimace. She once even went so far as to say “Donald Trump talks about things on twitter, so how can he be trusted with the nuclear codes!” This is not an argument, it’s an attempt at belittling the opponent as the “bad guy”.  Again, this is FINE if you’re actually trying to logically explain why your opponent is unfit for the presidency. However, saying “Look at this time that Donald Trump got into an argument! That means he will de facto be a bad president!” or saying “Donald Trump HATES women!” is not an argument.

I understand that the easiest way to manipulate large crowds into supporting you is to yell a few insults and attack your opponents personally, but I will not accept it. There was a time when we looked at facts and statistics in a debate, not demonizing your opposition.

Many politically motivated social media pages and news organizations will blatantly LIE to their audience in order to gain likes, views, or whatever digital milestone they can achieve. Political posts on the internet are often ill-researched and continue to feed the idea that “Candidate A is evil, Candidate B is holier than thou.”

You may be angry at your politicians for what they’re putting you through, but we’re all apart of the problem. You contribute to the problem when you vote for a candidate simply because they fill a diverse personality trait (“I’m voting for ___ because they’re female!”), or because you saw an ill-researched Facebook post glorifying them, or vilifying their opponent.

In my hometown, a man by the name of “Orange” recently ran for local office. His campaign slogan was “The one with appeal!” to make a pun about his last name. Personally, I know people that supported him SIMPLY because of his last name, and how they found it amusing. VERY FEW of them even bothered to read voters’ pamphlets or the platform of any candidates. Maybe some are okay with having someone rule their life because they find a candidate’s last name interesting, but I AM NOT. I personally cannot vote, and I find it absolutely outrageous that people will waste their rights on voting for a candidate without even LOOKING at their policies, or say “I saw a Facebook post that said candidate X cared about me, so I’ll vote for candidate X.”

In conclusion, our nation was once a nation of facts and argument. Since then, it has declined into a pit of internet posts and personal attacks in order to satisfy an ever-shortening attention span of the American voter. Stay safe. Do your research. Don’t submit to the “exciting” story if it isn’t true.