Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) upped the ante a bit this week on his frustrations with Donald Trump and his party’s direction, telling reporters yesterday that the GOP has almost become “cultish” toward the president.
The retiring Republican senator added, “It’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of, purportedly, of the same party.”
Donald Trump Jr. appeared on Fox News this morning and was asked about Corker’s comments. His response was … unexpected.
Trump Jr. didn’t totally reject the characterization. Instead, after he was played a clip of Corker’s remarks, he said, “You know what, if it’s a cult, it’s because they like what my father is doing.”
“You see real Americans actually winning for a change,” Trump Jr. continued. “Conservatives actually getting things done.”
So let me get this straight. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is concerned about the GOP taking a cult-like posture toward their party’s president, and the president’s son/surrogate didn’t reject the characterization?
To hear Trump Jr. tell it, whether or not the Republican Party is acting in a “cultish” way is ultimately less important than whether conservatives are “actually getting things done.”
But that’s not the right answer to the question. Partisans and ideologues can be satisfied with a party’s direction without abandoning independent thought.
Responding to Trump’s on-air quote this morning, Jon Chait explained, “[T]hat’s how cults work. They start off by inculcating some sense of group loyalty, then they are taught to disregard any external source of information … and pretty soon, they have lost any capacity to make independent judgments.”
This isn’t complicated. Corker’s comments weren’t a compliment. When your party is accused of cult-like behavior, don’t respond, “If it’s a cult, it’s because they like what my father is doing.”