Far right Conservatism has become a cult, and Rush Limbaugh is its leader.
By definition, a cult is a group or sect bound together by adoration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
A cult promises you redemption. It tells you that if you do what it says, and as it believes, you will be protected from the evil people that are out to get you and the rest of society.
A cult purges the non-believers. And it actively tries to vilify all those who are not part of the cult, saying that they're doomed and destined to go to hell.
So how did Limbaugh become the leader of such a large, and influential, cult?
Like with any cult, the power that Limbaugh has over his flock as grown over time.
Right wing radio started out in conflict with mainstream society, and outside of mainstream politics.
What was once a little cult guided by Limbaugh has transformed into a massive cult that today has enveloped much of the Conservative movement.
So how did this transformation occur?
Well, like cult leaders do, Limbaugh offered up a theatrical flair, and accompanied that with a marketing genius.
He offered his followers redemption. He offered them protection from what he told them they should fear – liberals and feminists. He demanded ideological purity, and absolute devotion to the ideology of far-right "conservative" corporatism. And he vilified all those who didn't see things his way.
Limbaugh then managed to convince his followers that faith in his word was more important than facts. No matter what everyone else said, if Rush said it, it must be true. Only information that supports Limbaugh's positions can be believed, and everything else is just lies.
Since his first successes, he's been followed by a succession of other right-wing cult leaders, from Glenn Beck to Mark Levin to Alex Jones.
Which brings us to today.
Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right-wing talk radio cult have conjured up such a large following that they're helping the Koch Brothers drive the polarization within the Republican Party, and within America's political discourse.
Ironically, so says Frank Luntz, a top Republican consultant and campaign guru.
Earlier this week, Luntz told a group of college students at the University of Pennsylvania that Limbaugh and his fellow right-wing talk-radio cult leaders are "problematic" for the Republican Party because they're responsible for the stark polarization within the party.
In a secret recording of his comments, Luntz can be heard saying that, "And they get great ratings, and they drive the message, and it's really problematic. And this is not on the Democratic side. It's only on the Republican side...[inaudible]. [Democrats have] got every other source of news on their side. And so that is a lot of what's driving it. If you take—Marco Rubio's getting his ass kicked. Who's my Rubio fan here? We talked about it. He's getting destroyed! By Mark Levin, by Rush Limbaugh, and a few others. He's trying to find a legitimate, long-term effective solution to immigration that isn't the traditional Republican approach, and talk radio is killing him. That's what's causing this thing underneath. And too many politicians in Washington are playing coy."
Basically, Luntz was saying that the right-wing media and its cult following are not serving the national political debate and not helping the Republican Party widen its appeal beyond its declining base of aging boomer cultists.
But no matter what Luntz says, Limbaugh and the rest of his right-wing media pals will continue to rally their followers, and continue to vilify those who dare think otherwise.
They will continue to paint President Obama as America's anti-hero, using terms like "socialist" and "Muslim" to further scare their cult followers into seeing things their way.
The good news is that there are still some semblances of a normal, and non-cult media in America.
Unlike the right-wing media, real media – and even progressive media – is not cult-like. It talks about ideas that are widely accepted (social safety net, clean environment, nondiscrimination, a solid middle class), and that are not in conflict with the rest of society.
It's not based on fear or faith. It's based on facts. And it respects other beliefs and ideas, instead of vilifying them.
And perhaps, most importantly, real media doesn't fear or hate our government, and certainly doesn't suggest we should be armed and ready to attack our own government.
Sadly, that cult is coming dangerously close to having complete control over the Republican Party and much of the political discourse in our country.
Thankfully, people are waking up and recognizing the far right-wing media for what it is: a cult.