The Cults of Sanders and Trump

MY TURN-We have to ask ourselves, exactly “when” did supporting a political candidate transition into the kind of cult behavior that we have seen with those that support Sanders and Trump? What was the formula that catapulted an individual to a pedestal that was so unrealistic, it borders on worship?

What makes two angry old white men so gloriously authoritarian that their followers will deny truths and believe any brainwashing propaganda about the opposition? 

The answer to these questions is complex, and while Bernie and Trump may differ on some scales, there are many traits that they share. In the court of Sanders, he has a long dark past that has been deliberately avoided by mainstream media. This has included a number of behaviors that in a pre-Trump era would be considered disastrous, but since Trump has placed the bar SO low, writing essays about women fantasizing about being raped by multiple men and marching with the Sandinistas chanting “here, there, everywhere, Yankees must die,” doesn’t seem to be that bad. Of course, these two comments are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Bernie. Sanders has had a pro-Russia stance since he was young. 

Bernie and his wife Jane honeymooned in Russia in the early days. He praised both Cuba’s Castro and Russia for their “excellent healthcare,” while ignoring all of the atrocities. His belief in total socialism began when he was a young man, and he didn’t even get a job to help to support his family until he was 40 years old and ran for a government position in Vermont. This was the same “government” that he railed against for so many years. His desire for 100% socialism entailed documented copies of his desire to see many of the institutions such as banks and power companies stripped of their ownership and turned over to government control. I covered a full detail in my 2017 article

Discovering Bernie Sanders siren song: A journey to his dark side. 

During his 2016 campaign, there were only two journalists from Omnivision that stepped forward to call out Sanders on his past. Bernie has thin skin, and when asked about some of his totally unacceptable behavior, he simply refuses to answer, gets up, and walks away. 

There is no doubt “why” the Republicans have not attacked Bernie; even Trump said to “leave him alone.” The Republicans WANT Sanders to be the candidate, they are already using the word “socialist” as a dirty word that is being spread on conservative sites, and if Bernie did become the candidate, they would launch ALL the dirt they’ve been holding back. 

We need to address how the Bernie supporters, known as “bots, bros, and crats” respond to this information. They do the same thing that the Trump supporters do: deny that it exists. You see, none of them have bothered to look into Bernie, instead, they spew the same copy-and-paste comments, which elevate him to a level that seems to be their “answer” for all that ails America. Both the Trump and Sanders groups believe the promises, even though there are absolutely NO details. Both groups refuse to hear any of the truths about either of these men. 

Both the Trump and Sanders supporters seem to suffer from cult behavior. 

Sanders and Trump: Authoritarian Angry Old Men 

Early in the 2016 Presidential election, it was painfully obvious that some group was feeding the same anti-Hillary Clinton messages to the extreme left and right. Of course, almost all of it was made up conspiracy theories, but both groups were SO hungry to attack HRC that they ate it up. We later found out that it was indeed Russia that was interfering as part of their well-planned long game to undermine all democracies around the world, and the U.S. was the “big prize.” This topic is covered in the NY Times 3-part video documentary called “Operation Infektion” that details the years that the Russian IRA (Internet Research Agency) to wreaking havoc in America. When it came to the 2016 Presidential Election, much of the information in the video was confirmed in the Mueller Report. 

Even when given the information that Russia devoted millions of dollars to brainwashing propaganda techniques to attract and keep both Bernie and Trump followers, the supporters refuse to accept the data. While we might find that Sanders supporters are just ignorant of the information, we are seeing that the Trump supporters are just “ignorant.” I cover this in my articleTrump Troll Speak where I include: 

“Striking out with accusations and lies is standard trumptroll behavior. They sneer and laugh as they call anyone that dares to defy their limited lens of existence with truth and information. They laugh when they hear or see someone who is abhorred by Trump’s racism, bigotry, and sexism and love to refer to those as ‘triggered.’ This is a form of control for people that have felt helpless due to their own bad decisions.” 

The elevation of Trump to the man in the White House has given a voice to those who are some of the most hateful in the country. They have always been around, they just never expressed how they feel. Now that they have Trump, they are reveling in their glory, but there is one thing that you always note: they continue to be “angry.” We only have to look back in history to see the same behavior patterns. In pre-World War II German, we see that anger never lets up. It begins with one group, and in this case, it was the Jews; it then continued with the gypsies, the intellectuals, the professors, the media (with Lugenpresse = false press), and then anyone who didn’t line up with their ideologies. 

It is very similar with the Bernie group. They scream and rant that the “election was rigged,” when given the information that of course, the DNC would back a “real” Democrat and not an interloper. They yell about all facets of the 2016 election, including the fact that many of them didn’t bother to know the rules and then accused the DNC of improprieties when they didn’t abide by them. The bots, bros, and crats are still dragging many of the same conspiracy propaganda around about HRC, even when they have been debunked. 

Bernie supporters express anger as they play victims…Trump supporters just express anger. 

What Causes the Cult Behavior? 

For those of us with critical thinking abilities, we are stumped when we see others acting in cult-like behavior. We observe people who refuse to accept verified facts and data, glorify a leader to an extreme, psychographic buy-in for propaganda attacks on those who they consider to be “the enemy,” and a belief in anything the so-called “leader” says. 

In an Online Psychology article they list traits of cult members, and these seem to fit the Sanders/Trump group. While this article pertains to those involved in religious cults, the characteristics seem to be shared by other types of cults: 

  • Cults are attractive because they promote an illusion of comfort. 
  • Cults satisfy the human desire for absolute answers. 
  • Those with low self-esteem are more likely to be persuaded by a cult environment. 
  • Cults maintain their power by promoting an “us vs. them” mentality. 
  • Cult leaders are masters at mind control. 
  • Cult members often have no idea they’re in a cult. 
  • Cult life can have a dangerous and lasting effect. 

Sanders and Trump have two different styles of leadership, yet both attract those who seem to be longing for something to “belong” to as well as share their inner demands to change to those who can be loudly voiced. 

In a Pacific Standard article on the cult of Trump they state: 

“I think you have to look at the effect of Trump’s behavior and language on his base. He readily ridicules and chastises people. He readily pushes people aside if they’re not worshipping him. We’ve all seen the videos of his aides praising him to high heaven. That’s the kind of adulation cult leaders expect and demand.” 

In an NBC News article, the author addresses the Bernie cult on their immediate attack on Beto O’Rourke, who they see as a potential contender against Sanders: 

“Berniecrats seem determined to dust off the same destructive playbook this time around, even though the attacks against O’Rourke are flimsy and misleading. O’Rourke unseated a conservative Democrat in a primary and never tacked right in an election in deep red Texas.  He has run in favor of federal legislation legalizing marijuana and the impeachment of President Trump, and although he fails their litmus test on free college tuition, their claims that his support is weak for Medicare-for-all don’t match his record: As a Senate candidate, he said he would vote for it.” 

The article continues with: 

“Democrats should greet this early maneuvering by Sanders’ supporters with alarm. If Democrats cannot show such tactics — which will be used against any non-Sanders candidate, because no one can get to the left of a socialist — for what they are, they ignore them at their own peril.” 

One might state that the Berniecrats or “fauxgressives” as they are called, may just be playing standard dirty politics and that many, including Hillary Clinton and President Obama as well as almost all past candidates have done. However, when you dig deeper into the Bernie cult you see that they exhibit the same adoration traits and lack of critical thinking that the Trump supporters exhibit. 

We need only return to the stories of other cults to see that there is often no way to talk to them or even get them to understand that they are indeed part of a cult. They are blinded by their small lens bubble existence, preferring to hear and see what validates their belief system instead of recognizing the truths for what they are. The only thing that “we” can do is to recognize who they are and anticipate that their extremist ideologies can turn them into time bombs that could allow for any kind of unacceptable behavior. Cutting them off at the pass involves calling them out in the same repetitive manner that their cult leaders use to draw them in. Sometimes it might work, most of the time it won’t.


(S. Novi is a journalist who worked in the media and continues to seek out truth and integrity. A liberal and one who is suspicious of cults and empty promises. She is a member of Medium.com  and a contributor to CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.