I was thinking today how many, many, many people don’t get the Kool-Aid references when they’re made in reference to Donald Trump and the people who mindlessly follow his every utterance and command.
It’s the sort of thing you slide past—“Kool-Aid, OK. I’m sure it’s something.”
So, in case you’re wondering … on Nov. 18, 1978, Jim Jones—leader and founder of the People’s Temple—commanded his 900-plus followers to kill themselves by drinking Kool-Aid laced with cyanide. Jones was the head of a cult; one, a surviving follower later recalled, fed on people’s fears while promising to create, “a rainbow family.” Jones was charismatic enough to have his North American peeps follow all the way to a South American jungle, where they created a community devoted to the man’s teachings. Nine years ago The Atlantic interviewed Teri Buford O’Shea, a Jonestown resident, who explained Jones’ appeal thusly: “He was very charismatic and attracted people who were feeling vulnerable or disenfranchised for whatever reason.”
She added this:
I have been passionate about American politics for years. There have been figures I’ve loved, figures I’ve loathed. But, come day’s end, I’ve always been aware that they’re just humans, not to be worshiped or idolized. I may well have admired Barack Obama, but I never sought to kneel before him. I may well have despised Dick Cheney, but I never believed he was pure evil. Again—they’re people. They poop and pee and fart and belch and eat and sleep and die. Just like me. Just like you.
The cult-like grip Donald Trump has upon people, however, is the most terrifying thing I’ve ever seen in regards to politics. It’s craziness; personified. It’s believing one man, no matter how many facts scream, “That’s not true!” It’s kneeling before a non-God, thinking he’s God. It’s saying you love America, but spitting upon democracy in the name of a lifelong huckster who commands you to do so.
It’s drinking the Kool-Aid.