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Mon Aug 6, 2012, 11:55 AM

GOP insider: Religion destroyed my party

http://www.salon.com/2012/08/05/republicans_slouching_toward_theocracy/

SUNDAY, AUG 5, 2012 09:00 AM PDT

A veteran Republican says the religious right has taken over, and turned his party into anti-intellectual nuts
BY MIKE LOFGREN



This article is an excerpt from the book "The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless and the Middle Class Got Shafted," available from Viking.
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.

Religious cranks ceased to be a minor public nuisance in this country beginning in the 1970s and grew into a major element of the Republican rank and file. Pat Robertson’s strong showing in the 1988 Iowa presidential caucus signaled the gradual merger of politics and religion in the party. Unfortunately, at the time I mostly underestimated the implications of what I was seeing. It did strike me as oddly humorous that a fundamentalist staff member in my congressional office was going to take time off to convert the heathen in Greece, a country that had been overwhelmingly Christian for almost two thousand years. I recall another point, in the early 1990s, when a different fundamentalist GOP staffer said that dinosaur fossils were a hoax. As a mere legislative mechanic toiling away in what I held to be a civil rather than ecclesiastical calling, I did not yet see that ideological impulses far different from mine were poised to capture the party of Lincoln.

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.

The Constitution notwithstanding, there is now a de facto religious test for the presidency: Major candidates are encouraged (or coerced) to share their feelings about their faith in a revelatory speech, or a televangelist like Rick Warren will dragoon the candidates (as he did with Obama and McCain in 2008) to debate the finer points of Christology, offering himself as the final arbiter. Half a century after John F. Kennedy put to rest the question of whether a candidate of a minority denomination could be president, the Republican Party has reignited the kinds of seventeenth-century religious controversies that advanced democracies are supposed to have outgrown. And some in the media seem to have internalized the GOP’s premise that the religion of a candidate is a matter for public debate.


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Arrow 21 replies Author Time Post
Reply GOP insider: Religion destroyed my party (Original post)
cbayer Aug 2012 OP
nichomachus Aug 2012 #1
cbayer Aug 2012 #2
bluerum Aug 2012 #3
cbayer Aug 2012 #4
MissMarple Aug 2012 #21
Viva_Daddy Aug 2012 #5
cbayer Aug 2012 #6
Moonwalk Aug 2012 #7
cbayer Aug 2012 #8
Moonwalk Aug 2012 #9
cbayer Aug 2012 #12
cleanhippie Aug 2012 #14
dmallind Aug 2012 #10
cbayer Aug 2012 #11
dmallind Aug 2012 #13
cbayer Aug 2012 #15
dmallind Aug 2012 #18
cbayer Aug 2012 #19
Iggo Aug 2012 #16
cleanhippie Aug 2012 #17
Festivito Aug 2012 #20

Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 12:20 PM

1. They deserve it

The GOP used religion to gain political advantage. Now, religious nutbaggery has become inconvenient for them. Too freaking bad!

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Response to nichomachus (Reply #1)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 12:25 PM

2. Agree. They bought this ticket.

Now let's see them try to distance themselves from it.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 12:28 PM

3. It (religion) was/is a virus, introduced by the libreral conspiracy

to undermine the collective and bring it to its knees.

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Response to bluerum (Reply #3)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 12:30 PM

4. Liberal conspiracy? What liberal conspiracy?

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Response to bluerum (Reply #3)

Tue Aug 7, 2012, 05:24 PM

21. Collective?

Like a bee hive? Surely you aren't referring to the opiate of the masses.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 12:53 PM

5. As James Madison warned over 200 years ago...

(I'm paraphrasing as I don't have the document in front of me)...the merging of Government and Religion corrupts BOTH.

To my mind, it is more about the human tendency of politicians and preachers to use Government and Religion to acquire power over others rather than "promote the general welfare".

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Response to Viva_Daddy (Reply #5)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 01:02 PM

6. IIRC, he said that both are more likely to remain pure if they are totally separated.

He talked about how a coalition would inevitably become corrupt, which is what you are saying (If I am reading this correctly).

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 01:26 PM

7. Really Excellent Article that Essentially takes the GOP to Task for lying down with Dogs...

...and ending up with fleas but not worrying about that at all.

It shows no only the hows and whys of the GOP's alliance with religious fundamentalism and Libertarians, but why most Republican politicians don't regret it and want the partnership to continue. In some ways, it's all pretty obvious--it's keeping them rich and powerful, and keeping voters stupid enough that they can be bamboozled into giving said politicians more money and power.

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #7)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 01:30 PM

8. The question for me is whether the religious right will continue to allow themselves

to be used.

The were promised two major things: end of Roe v. Wade and a definitive ban on GLBT right to marry. They got neither.

I would think the rank and file might be pretty pissed off about that and stay home, but we shall see.

Glad you enjoyed the article.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 01:43 PM

9. As the article points out, I think the religious right will maintain the partnership...

...with the plutocrats who know they've only to promise things like an end to Roe vs. Wade to get their support. The fundies don't think that politicians who avow that they're deeply Christian and want to end such things are lying to them or unable to deliver the goods. They just think that the evil liberal satanic America is still there and more such Christian politicians have to be put in place to defeat things like Roe. Which is why they keep voting for politicians who come across as even more extremely religious rather than those who we'd view as relatively rational and sane. And these more religious crazies are voted in.

And then these more religious crazies create strict abortion laws and say to those who voted them in that they're getting closer to getting rid of Roe vs. Wade. So the religious crazies feel that their vote is paying off.

I don't think they're pissed at all. I think they either think they're seeing progress toward the Christian American paradise they imagine, or they think that if what they want hasn't happened, then it's because there's still too many evil liberal politicians that have to be defeated, so give more support and more money to politicians who espouse "Christian" values.

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Response to Moonwalk (Reply #9)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 02:30 PM

12. We shall see. I have seen a number of interesting stories on how angry some groups are

and how they are abandoning the political activities of the recent past for things like environmentalism. It may be small, but certainly some know they were duped and used.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #8)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 02:50 PM

14. The bigger question is whether the non-fanatical religionists, such as liberal and moderates,

Will continue to give the religious right it's legitimacy by refusing to address the lesser problems that they both share.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 02:03 PM

10. Before we celebrate, we should heed his comment that the fracture is not yet visible.

It's true that a party that was once fine (19th Century), then acceptable (up until McCarthy), then at the least basically sane (until the Moral Majority) has degraded beyond any and all of those, and that evangelical theocrats were greatly responsible for losing the latter two of them. It is however questionable as to whether the much ballyhooed schism of the plutocrats and the theocrats is on the horizon, or even ever going to happen. As the author states, it may even be the reverse.

Christofascists have turned the uneducated plebs' common wisdom against....well....wisdom, or at least knowledge, quite thoroughly over the last four decades or so. It is embarrassing how we rank in questions on such basics as the age of the earth and speciation compared to other industrialized democracies, or even pseudo-democracies. These intentionally stultified gullible troglodytes serve as tabula rasa shock troops for whatever reactionary crap is poured into their heads via the pulpit, and its (vaguely) secularized counterpart of hate radio. Rich people pay too much taxes. Businesses need tax breaks to hire (although all hiring and employee costs are and have long been tax-deductible). Obama is a Muslim. gays are evil. Abortion is murder. Their loyalty to God and their loyalty to party are not in competition at all, but merged in their heads as one and the same.

Facts are no use. Neither is rational argument. Because centuries of apologetics have been built on scriptire expressly warning against human education, learning and knowledge. I'm not sure I can see how to pry God and the GOP apart without an equally massive, equally consistent and equally patient multi-decade push to equate Christianity with liberalism, and I'm not even seeing much of a glimmer of that so far.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #10)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 02:29 PM

11. As to your last statement, you are not seeing a glimmer for a number of reasons.

The MSM doesn't find it sufficiently sexy to report on and those on the left routinely either ignore it or even spit on it.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #11)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 02:40 PM

13. The fundies bought their own media

They also endured, and still endure, far more opposition and "spitting". They kept at it. They were driven enough to play the long game. It worked.

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Response to dmallind (Reply #13)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 02:56 PM

15. Well, it worked to a degree. I think their moon is on the wane, though.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #15)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 05:31 PM

18. From your mouth to ...ermmm... I hope so. nt

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Response to dmallind (Reply #18)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 05:33 PM

19. Lol, good one!

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 04:50 PM

16. They can keep it. (n/t)

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Mon Aug 6, 2012, 05:11 PM

17. Monotheistic religions are, by their very nature, divisive and destructive.

Hopefully, more liberal religionists will see the damage done by the right wing and learn from that mistake.

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Response to cbayer (Original post)

Tue Aug 7, 2012, 09:59 AM

20. Hey, your party system destroyed my religion!

A religion of peace, love and understanding is replaced with war, hate and arrogance.

Well, not my religion, but, this replacement seem pervasive.

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