From widipedia , the first line of the entry reads:
"Cult typically refers to a cohesive social group devoted to beliefs or practices that the surrounding culture considers outside the mainstream, with a notably positive or negative popular perception."
Proceeding from there, it is clear that there is some debate over what defines a cult. I found the offered psychological definition interesting:
"Studies of the psychological aspects of cults focus on the individual person, and factors relating to the choice to become involved as well as the subsequent effects on individuals. Under one view, an important factor is coercive persuasion which suppresses the ability of people to reason, think critically, and make choices in their own best interest.
Studies of religious, political, and other cults have identified a number of key steps in this type of coercive persuasion:
1. People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations;
2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;
3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from the leader;
4. They get a new identity based on the group;
5. They are subject to entrapment and their access to information is severely controlled."
From this definition, I think that #2 is the closest to being true for the mainstream parties. However, their "one simple explanation" changes over time. #4 is also quite true. People identify themselves as Democrat or Republican and take a great deal of pride in that identity. I don't really see much in the other three characteristics.
Personally, I do frequently see people substitute party positions for personal judgment. This does seem kind of cult-like to me even if the parties are too large to take on classical cult characteristics.
No. I do not think this is a good thing.