This week Rick Perry, former governor of Texas and Donald Trump’s energy secretary, told Fox News that he believed Trump was “the chosen one” – chosen by God to lead the United States.
Also this week we saw yet another example of Trump supporters being interviewed. These people told Fox News they supported Trump because “it’s really quite simple … Family values, honesty, integrity, character and that is everything that president Trump represents.”
Not even anyone in Trump’s own family would honestly think Trump has family values. But then no one in Trump’s family would ever have the integrity to honestly state that Trump’s character is the complete anathema to traditional family values.
And yet here we are. A man who has not only been accused of rape and sexual misconduct by multiple women, and who paid Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about his infidelity, but who has also been found to have used his charity to boost his own election campaign is seen as some kind of salt of the earth type.
The chosen one of God.
It is time – nay, well past time – to realise the Republican party is no longer a political party: it is a cult. And given the policies pursued by Trump do harm to low income earners and the planet as a whole, it is a death cult.
The big problem for us is that inevitably the conservatives in Australia follow the lead of the US.
Like the black Friday sales, Australian conservatives love to bring over American practices stripped of anything to be thankful for (although given we are talking conservative political practices there is precious little of that).
Fortunately our system of government has a natural barrier to the adoration of leaders that occurs with a presidential system, and yet the cult status is just a few scratches away from the surface.
We see this most directly in the actions of Scott Morrison. Yes, his evangelical beliefs are a first for Australian politics and remind us that the religiosity of the American system is one thing we should be ever vigilant against. But mostly what Morrison has taken on board from Trump is that arrogance and utter refusal to concede error even in the face of overwhelming evidence is a potent weapon in a fractured world.
He also realises the key to this is to do all you can to fracture the world.
It was no coincidence one of the first things Morrison did when becoming PM was to talk about “gender whisperers” in school, despite that not being a thing at all and that it only served to kick one of the most marginal groups in society while appealing to those who gain succour in pretending their ignorant view of the world is not crumbling around them.
When coupled with a continual denigration of certain media outlets (notably the ABC, the old Fairfax and, very much, Guardian Australia), the tactic is to drive your core supporters towards reading news from only certain outlets, especially those who likewise love to punch down.
And when that is done you can carry on in your own little reality.