Thursday, August 9, 2012

How fundamentalists destroyed the Republican Party (and may destroy the country)

From Alternet, Mike Lofgren on his new book.  Go, read.
Having observed politics up close and personal for most of my adult lifetime, I have come to the conclusion that the rise of politicized religious fundamentalism may have been the key ingredient in the transformation of the Republican Party. Politicized religion provides a substrate of beliefs that rationalizes—at least in the minds of its followers—all three of the GOP’s main tenets: wealth worship, war worship, and the permanent culture war
The results of this takeover are all around us: If the American people poll more like Iranians or Nigerians than Europeans or Canadians on questions of evolution, scriptural inerrancy, the presence of angels and demons, and so forth, it is due to the rise of the religious right, its insertion into the public sphere by the Republican Party, and the consequent normalizing of formerly reactionary beliefs. All around us now is a prevailing anti-intellectualism and hostility to science. Politicized religion is the sheet anchor of the dreary forty-year-old culture wars.
Some liberal writers have opined that the socioeconomic gulf separating the business wing of the GOP and the religious right make it an unstable coalition that could crack. I am not so sure. There is no basic disagreement on which direction the two factions want to take the country, merely how far it should go. The plutocrats would drag us back to the Gilded Age; the theocrats to the Salem witch trials. If anything, the two groups are increasingly beginning to resemble each other. Many televangelists have espoused what has come to be known as the prosperity gospel—the health-and- wealth/name-it-and-claim-it gospel of economic entitlement. If you are wealthy, it is a sign of God’s favor. If not, too bad! This rationale may explain why some poor voters will defend the prerogatives of billionaires.
I was listening to NPR this week, as they interview "average Americans" about the election.  The  conservatives who want to vote against Obama express fear at what he will do next:  Socialism!  Gun Control!  Nothing based in reality (I'd love it if there were any chance of a more progressive agenda; to me Obama is a corporate centrist!)  but everything based in fear.  The biggest success of the right wing Christianist fusion with the Republicans is using the language of fear to manipulate the electorate.  What chance do facts have in the face of The Rapture?


Hilary said...

This is probably oversimplified, but I think support of the GOP from lower income folks who call themselves Christian stems from a constant drumbeat of: fear of the other, ignorance (willful or otherwise), and the aspirational message of the GOP. It's a 'don't hate me because I'm rich - you can be rich too someday' message that the Dems just can't counter. The American Dream and American Exceptionalism and all that. I think the aspirational part is the lynchpin that holds them together. Because if they ever do wake up and realize that both their religious and business leaders do NOT have their best interests at heart, they may begin to understand what Occupy has been trying to say all along. So while that GOP base may have their eyes opened, they still won't vote for Obama (out of fear/racism), but they just might stay home in November.

So this is a little bit different than your theory of the Christianists and the Rapture (which I do agree with), I think it plays into the mix.

Fred Schwartz said...

I listen to the same station as you do and have found the pretext fascinating. Why is it that so many "voters" hate Mr. Obama? He is and always has been a moderate to conservative democrat. His work on the Harvard Law Review clearly demonstrates that position. So what is it that makes him so different that voters (particularly southern voters) dislike him sooooo much? Sometimes the answer is hidden in plain sight. I beleive this is one of those times.

Counterlight said...

I think what unites the plutocrats and the fundies is a common belief in supremacism. It's supremacism that puts Atlas Shrugged on the same shelf as the Bible.

What I find remarkable is how far to the right the political center has traveled in 30 years. Now politicians who were once considered conservative stalwarts like Bob Dole and Barry Goldwater are too far to the left for contemporary Republicans. What was once considered the political fringe, groups like the John Birch Society, are now conventional and mainstream.
The Dems, always trying to cover their keisters, started tacking to the right under Bill Clinton.

I agree. I think Obama is a corporate centrist, maybe slightly more left than Clinton, but definitely to the right of Nixon.

Counterlight said...

I second Hilary's comments, and I would only add that a major driving force behind all the right wing extremism is the fear of demographic change. Barack Obama is the living face of that change, and it terrifies some people while it thrills others. The face of power and authority is no longer white, male, and elderly.

dr.primrose said...

According to the L.A. Times, U.S. Army welcomes first openly gay general.

The picture of her wife pinning her is just wonderful!! From the story:

"During a promotion ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, a proud wife placed a star insignia on her spouse's uniformed shoulder — the official mark of an Army brigadier general.

"With that simple gesture, Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith became the country's first openly gay general.

"The promotion of Smith, the highest-ranking gay or lesbian to acknowledge his or her sexual orientation while serving, comes less than a year after the repeal of 'don't ask, don't tell,' the policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.


"On Friday, more than 70 people clustered inside an auditorium at Arlington's Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

"Smith, then a colonel, strode in with her commanding officer at the stroke of 4 p.m. The audience sang the national anthem and a young boy led the Pledge of Allegiance.

"The announcer presented Smith’s father. Then came an introduction: 'Col. Smith's partner, Miss Tracey Hepner.'

The audience burst into applause."

Anonymous said...

Hillary, You're probably right and that explains a lot of why so many hate Obamacare, too. A big piece of Obamacare was that those who couldn't afford insurance would be covered on Medicaid. Well, coming from an area where 15-20% are already on Medicaid(which is projected to rise to 50%+ if it's enlarged), many working poor and lower class families take some pride and dignity in the fact they aren't wellfare leeches. The closer you are to the line, the more you see gaps. They all know people cheating the system, taking advantage, and they say, "At least I'm not them. I'm making my own way." Making them buy insurance will break their budgets, putting them on wellfare or taking Medicaid-same thing. They don't see it as a hand up, it's putting them in their proper place. It's putting the period in the sentence,"You're worthless, like all the other bums."

JCF said...

As opposed to waiting till you have to go the Emergency Room, Chris H? And leaving the tax-payers w/ the bill THAT way?!

When I was uninsured (for ~5 years), I MIGHT have qualified for Medicaid...but I wasn't pressured OR *helped* to find out.

I got lucky. Millions of others in my same circumstances aren't. They're just an accident or catastrophic illness away from disaster---disaster worst for them, but TERRIBLE for all of us, financially.

A Medicaid mandate (if that's what it comes to) is better than the alternative!

JCF said...

Last of all: "You're worthless, like all the other bums."

ChrisH, is that your POV? Whatever, it's not a Christian one. EVERY human being is of INFINITE worth!

knight4444 said...

@chris h, you're the typical republican, "This fake I did EVERYTHING on my own'' rant is OLD! and people like you wonder why the GOP is DYING.