Groupthink, Cults and the Republican Party

When it comes to political leaders, I’ll support them when I agree with them on an issue, oppose them when I disagree with them on an issue. I’m that way with a Democratic leader or a Republican leader. I don’t expect to agree with any person on every issue. Since I’m a liberal, I’m going to support a Democrat on more issues than I support a Republican. But I have disagreed with Democratic leaders on certain issues.

I like Obama. But I opposed Obama’s deportation policies, his use of drones in certain military operations. I generally liked Clinton. But I opposed Clinton’s welfare reform bill, opposed his Defense of Marriage law, opposed his efforts at cutting financial regulations, and thought he only had himself to blame for the Monica Lewinsky scandal. I liked Carter as a person. But I didn’t think he was a good President.

Conversely, I will concede that leaders that I hate are good on certain issues. A perfect example of this is current Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte. I do not like Duterte. I think Duterte’s policy of extrajudicial killings of people only suspected of crimes is evil. Duterte’s threats to reporters and his attempts to undermine journalist independence is dangerous to democracy. His attempts to jail or undermine his political opponents is also dangerous.

Even though I dislike the Duterte presidency, though, I do think Duterte’s attempts to curb the power of mining companies (which have been the source of much human rights abuses and pollution in the Mindanao region) is a good thing. His attempts to broker a peace agreement with the communist and the Muslim insurgencies is a good thing. His administration’s budget increase in social programs to help the poor is a positive. And his success in lobbying China and Japan for billions of dollars in investments for the Philippines is a positive thing.

I still think Duterte is a terrible leader whom I hope is voted out of power. But I acknowledge that he has done some good things.

I was motivated to write this when I read that Senator Corker describe the Republican Party as becoming more of a cult of personality. I think this rigid right wing ideological purity test has been a problem for the Republican Party for decades, starting with the Gingrich era in the 1990s. I remember in 2010 when the Tea Party targeted conservative Republicans like Bob Bennett for daring to collaborate with Democrats on certain issues. Things have only gotten worse since Donald Trump became president. A Republican can support Trump on 80% or 90% of the issues and still be attacked by Trump for not kowtowing with him 100% of the time.

In this Republican Party, loyalty to President Trump has become more important than loyalty to one’s personal conscience. This reminds me a lot of the Cultural Revolution in China in the 1960s, when radical students would punish anyone who deviated from the opinions of Chairman Mao. It’s similar to being a citizen who is afraid of expressing any sort of disagreement in Stalin’s Soviet Union or Hitler’s Germany.

No one person or group has a monopoly on truth. We’re all right some of the time, wrong some of the time. This is why democracies, in the long run, are far superior to dictatorships. In a democracy, the Left, the Right, and the Center debate their ideas on how to solve society’s problems, and we get evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. This is why the freedom of speech and of expression are so important.

Whether you are liberal or conservative, religious or nonreligious, male or female, we are all vulnerable to the dangers of groupthink. It’s just a flaw of human nature. Right now the Republican Party is caught in the grips of a dangerous groupthink mentality when it comes to loyalty to President Trump.

I’m hoping that moderate and sane conservatives will fight and turn the Republican Party away from this crazy groupthink mentality. As a liberal Democrat, I think it’s important to be able to deal with a Republican Party that is interested in finding some common ground on the problems facing the nation. If this doesn’t happen, I am afraid we’re in for more gridlock and more disillusionment with democracy.

While responding to questions on Capitol Hill, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) spoke about the current environment in the Republican party, referring to the GOP as “cultish” for not pushing back on certain Trump administration policies

GOP Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) criticizes his own party on the Senate floor for failing to even vote on amendments because they may upset President Donald Trump

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) today spoke on the Senate floor to denounce the administration’s recent treatment of U.S. allies and trading partners. Flake repeated his condemnation of isolationism and urged his colleagues to speak out against the executive branch’s harmful rhetoric and actions

GOP Rep. Mark Sanford responds to President Trump calling him a “nasty guy” during a Capitol Hill meeting

For some Republicans, the rise of Donald Trump to the head of their party has been acutely painful. The New York Times asked them to share their anguish

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About angelolopez

I’ve wanted to be an artist all my life. Since I was a child I’ve drawn on any scrap of paper I could get a hold of. When I went to San Jose State University, I became more exposed to the works of the great fine artists and illustrators. My college paintings were heavily influenced by the humorous illustrations of Peter De Seve, an illustrator for the New Yorker magazine. I also fell under the spell of the great muralists of the 1930s, especially Thomas Hart Benton and Diego Rivera. I graduated with a degree in Illustration. Angelo Lopez has had illustrations published in Tikkun Magazine, the Palo Alto Daily News and Z Magazine. From April 2008 to May 2011, Angelo's cartoons were regularly published in the Tri-City Voice, a weekly newspaper that covers the Fremont, Hayward, Milpitas, Neward, Sunol and Union City areas in California. He does a political webcomic starring his cartoon character Jasper for the progressive blogsite Everyday Citizen. Since December 2011, Angelo does a regular weekly political cartoon for the Philippines Today, a Filipino American newspaper based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since March 2013, he has also contributed cartoons to the Manila Mail, a Filipino American newspaper based in Washington D.C. Angelo is a member of the Sunnyvale Art Club, and the Northern California chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. During the 1990s, he was a member of the part-timer workers SEIU unit in the city of Sunnyvale. Angelo won the 2013, 2015 and 2016 Sigma Delta Chi award for editorial cartooning for newspapers with a circulation under 100,000. He has also won the 2016 RFK Book and Journalism Award for Editorial Cartoons. Angelo won first prize for the Best of the West contest in 2016 and third prize in 2017. Angelo is married to Lisa Reeber. They enjoy taking walks, watching movies and hanging out with their nieces.
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1 Response to Groupthink, Cults and the Republican Party

  1. I agree with everything you have said in this column.

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