Donald Trump’s “Cult of Personality” isn’t as fun as the 1980s hit song

Cult of Personality isn’t just a great song by the 1980s band Living Colour- it’s also one of the cornerstones of Donald Trump’s campaign, even if we haven’t necessarily grasped its magnitude just yet. For those not familiar with the phrase, it was widely popularized during the Cold War to describe the USSR’s propaganda methods which were aimed at fostering an uncritical and adoring following around any given leader’s personality rather than their regime, downplaying and even assassinating political rivals in the process.

The most extreme contemporary example of this propaganda-machine would be North Korea and its former and current dictators. The country’s current leader, Kim Jung-un, replicates his father and grandfather with a style of government that primarily revolves around the totalitarian leader. The ranks of historical figures and leaders who have used this technique include the likes of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Ho Chi Minh, the former Communist Prime Minister of Vietnam and an egregious violator of human rights. The practice of this form of propaganda mainly involves: erecting monuments that invoke confidence in the leader depicted, imposing strict control on media and the way journalists speak about their country’s leader, denying responsibility for everything bad to befall the country and taking sole responsibility for anything good. Putting the pieces together yet?

Trump’s campaign is a weaker and less effective modern iteration of the archaic, Soviet-era propaganda machine. To suggest Trump is a Manchurian candidate is outlandish, but to write-off his well-documented economic and social ties to Russia is arguably even more outlandish. But what frightens me most concerning Trump isn’t what he’s taking from Russia in terms of money, but rather, in ideology.

A closer look at Trump’s campaign quickly reveals the parallels between him and a totalitarian leader working to advance their cult of personality. To a close observer, it may seem his tirades on twitter (3:00 AM EST, 12:00 AM Pacific) show a deeply troubled man with self-esteem issues that is “baited by a tweet”. But to the general public, Trump is a success. He has built gargantuan real estate projects that all brandish his name in bold, golden letters. 

Trump flies around in his jet that he feels it was necessary to put his name on. He talks about how “he is the only one who can fix everything” and proudly proclaims that him — a businessman with a very mixed record — knows more than our own generals with years of experience and intel. Trump’s towers and jet are just a few of his personal monuments that have given the public a falsely-based reason to trust he knows what he’s doing. His unflappable denial and pandering show someone who is committed to no real issue other than the self-interest and power. He refuses to acknowledge, apologize, or make amends for any of the mistakes and outrageous claims he has made. He’s said multiple times that cable news networks are against him and that once he was president he would do something about the way the media can behave. His plans are smoke and mirrors, yet when his supporters are confronted with these realities, no matter how credible, they simply dismiss them in favor of his personality.

While we’ve seen the rise and fall of multiple fascist leaders over the last century, none of us thought a candidate from our very own country would present such a clear and present danger. This is not a popularity contest, this is a Presidential election- if you want to justify your vote by looking towards a candidate’s personality rather than their policies, scandals, and blatant lies, then don’t cry when this election is over, and you’ve realized that maybe, the jokes gone too far.

Diccicco is a precinct leader for the Democratic Party in South Florida. Follow him on Twitter @JordanDiccicco


The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.





Tags campaign Donald Trump Donald Trump Election Hitler Ho Chi Minh Mussolini presidential election

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video