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The Republican’s dilemma is everyone’s problem

The Republicans have a dilemma.  Mitt Romney is their man.  But he’s the wrong religion.  He’s not Christian enough.  And while they fret and fuss over the rightness or wrongness of Mormon theology (completely oblivious, of course, to the sad irony) those of us who live in the rational world must face reality: the United States has a two party system and one of them is engaged in a civil war over imaginary beings.

This country has very real problems.  Our problems are of our own creation.  They will not be solved through intervention by gods or magical thinking.  They will only be solved by rational analysis of hard facts and honest compromise.  This will never happen so long as half of the participants can’t even agree on an imaginary friend.  It’s frightening.

This is not a defense of the Democratic Party, by any means.  On the contrary, the Democrats have devolved into a party which prostates itself to its corporate masters while feigning allegiance to the underclass.  Their problem (and ours) is equally as debilitating to democracy.  But it’s a very real human problem of greed and hubris.  Those are problems that can be discussed rationally and addressed openly.  And they must.

But the Republicans have morphed into a party that openly caters to the top ten percent while pandering to the delusional.  The Republican voter is not looking for a statesman; they’re looking for a savior.  They don’t want a President.  They want a Prophet.

And it’s not like no one saw this coming.  Before the rise of Ronald Reagan, the Republicans began earnestly courting the Southern Dixiecrats and Barry Goldwater read the writing on the wall.  His words are worth quoting at length:

On religious issues there can be little or no compromise.  There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs.  There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being.  But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly.

The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom.  They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent.  It you disagree with these religious groups on a particular issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both.

I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in “A,” “B,” “C” and “D.” Just who do they think they are?  And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?

And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate.  I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of “conservatism.”

Goldwater was long considered the father of modern conservatism until the religious takeover of the Republican Party was complete.  Then, he was cast out.  Before his death, his open opposition to the ban on gays in the military completely stripped him of his title of Elder Statesman and cemented his position as persona non grata within the Republican power structure.  In fact, his comments on the matter resulted in vicious retribution and character assassination.  In a world ruled by religion, honest dissent is blasphemy and blasphemy is a sin punishable by death.

He is never mentioned today.

The Republican’s obsession with religiosity has created an immovable stone wall of intractable stubbornness.  Compromise is impossible.  Dissent is a sin.  Progress isn’t in the vocabulary.  We can’t even have a rational discussion about real issues because half of the players don’t live in this reality.  The Republican’s search for a savior who will rescue them from modernity and take them back to the imaginary world of 1950s television is a delusion that will lead us all off a cliff.

  1. Locksleyhall
    May 8, 2012 at 12:34 am

    Lovely post, and there is much here that is dead on target. But. The Republican Party is, basically, three parties, much as the Democratic Party is, basically, three or four. Party One (as I shall term it) is the one you describe, and they are very active at the local and state levels. They have to be courted to a significant extent, because they are not only preponderantly to the right, they are also Christian in outlook, whatever in Hell that means this week. (Call it anti-gay, anti-abortion, and anti-Now/ACLU.) Party Two is, for all intents and purposes, indistinguishable from the Corporate Wing of the Democratic Party. They cater to the interests and multinationals and leviathan banks and the big bundlers of campaign funds. They belong to one party or another primarily due to the political culture of their home state, and to them, politics are about power and getting things done. Party Three is the Paul Ryan wing, the technocrats who seek to enact particular policies economically in order to produce economic growth and encourage innovation.

    Here’s the problem. In primaries, Party One is key because of their numbers and fervor, and because in closed primaries, their numbers are enough to tilt the balance one way or another. Party Two is the Party of Government, During primaries, they tend to hide a bit and pretend to be members of Parties One or Three, but while governing, they are all about earmarks and corporate welfare and trade balances and agricultural subsidies for corn or whatever. Bob Dole was the quintessential Party Two man. And Party Three consists largely of people indistinguishable from the old line Republicans (like Mr. Goldwater) who basically want to know why the hell Congress and the president want to do the damn fool things they do and how the hell do they plan to pay for them?

    But your main point obtains: during primary season, Party One tend to be the tail that wags the dog.

    However. You might notice that after elections, Party One tends to be shut out of actual decision making within the party. Oh, the GOP makes some noise now and then and periodically introduces something that Party One advocates for, but rarely in a circumstance where actual law will result. The party as a whole is playing to the ground troops, but they’re not going to let them DO anything. I was entertained to read a section of one of Bob Woodward’s books about W’s presidency. While there were people whose job was to cater to the Religious Right, the basic idea was to provide them with face time, stroke them some, and give them a red meat speech now and then…and then ignore them when it came to actual policy. I fully expect Mr. Romney to do something very similar if he is given the opportunity.

  1. June 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm

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