Cult vs. Fandom

A comparison of Trump-world and the Bernie-sphere

Robert Carlson
4 min readMar 16, 2020


Text “The Cult versus Fandom”

During the past few years the Trump Administration has been characterized as a cult and Donald as the cult leader. He stands before his regularly assembled minions to address them with a reality only he can see. With one hand he creates a catastrophic scenario and with the other he claims to have the only solution. Nobody is as great or greater than he. Nobody is permitted to even pose a question to him without evoking the wrath of the despot.

At his rallies he employs all the canons of propaganda: Lie. Lie big. Lie often. Assure the audience he is the light and the way. Everyone else is trying to deceive you. Not me. You can trust me. You can trust no one else.

He employs the technique of Call and Response which is popular in Baptist and Pentecostal congregations. Can I get a witness?

Through these methods he has built a cult following who will love him regardless of his shortcomings, failures and terrible bad behaviors. They follow him even though he exemplifies and represents everything they were raised to eschew. The worse he acts the more they embrace his vile nature. In another Medium article I wrote I likened Trump to David Koresh, Jim Jones and the cult community of Synanon.

In as much as a cult leader thrives on the unquestioning loyalty of their following they do not like being referred to as a cult leader nor their following, a cult.

Not every person with political aspirations and loyal following is a cult leader. Their followers may exhibit cult-ish behaviors and tendencies, but the difference lays in the behaviors of the leader. Trump, et al, seeks to deflect their own cult nature by making accusations against his adversaries as they being a cult instead. Specifically they speak of Bernie Sanders as the cult leader of Berniebots and Berners. While Donald Trump seeks to identify with #MAGA and rally people around the dogmas of his design, Bernie Sanders does not revel in the idea of Berniebots.

There is a close relationship between cultish behaviors and those of fandom. The difference resides mainly in from which side of the podium the motivation exudes. Ever since the television series Star Trek went into syndication there have been the loyal…



Robert Carlson

Robert Carlson is a writer & photographer who has been active since the mid-1960s. His writing spans many genre & can be found in venues across the Internets.