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Thu Dec 17, 2020, 12:10 PM

Today's Rant: Americans must drive a stake through the heart of the NeoCalvinist Republican Party

Once again, negotiations over Covid relief show the stark differences between the Democratic and Republican Parties. That America isn’t shocked and horrified by GOP behavior is a testimonial to how well corporate media obscures these differences.

Several Republican senators and their aides have gone so far as to suggest that giving working people even a single $600 check will cause them to “live high on the hog“ or will bring “communism“ to America.

The same Republicans are enthusiastic when the very rich, their principal donors, get trillions in tax cuts and hundreds of billions in annual subsidies. When those pieces of legislation are being negotiated, “living high on the hog“ is not a phrase you will hear.

What we’re watching in real time is the worldview promoted by many who share Betsy DeVoss’ Calvinist church’s worldview that being rich is a sign that God has chosen you as a “good person” and wants you to lead the country.

As bizarre as this sounds, it’s actually an ideology that has an animated the Republican Party for over 100 years. If all people, at their core, are sinners and evil, the big question for conservatives is, “How do we find ‘good’ people to lead us?”

Hundreds of years ago, religious leader John Calvin and his followers gave a simple answer: God tells us who should be leading our nation by showering those he favors with great wealth. Thus they should lead us.

The extension of this idea, at the core of conservative thought since the days of Edmund Burke in the era of the American Revolution, has been that poor and working class people are not worthy of leadership because they are not blessed by God with riches.

In the conservative understanding of both religion and a functional social order, only rich people should ever be allowed to rule.

Burke pointed out that while people like hairdressers and candlemakers should be allowed to make a living, they should never be able to vote or participate in government. To this day, Burke is one of the most quoted figures among American conservatives.

While Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, openly worries that giving a $600 check to people already receiving paltry unemployment payments that run out in two weeks would be a “double benefit,“ lines for food are stretching for miles in some parts of the country.

The conservative billionaire class and it’s Republican Party say throwing bones to starving Americans is OK as long as they’re tiny bones. But they want their trillions in tax breaks and subsidies to continue nonstop...and Republicans in Congress are working hard to comply.

Sadly, some Democrats are echoing their, “Oh my God, the deficits!“ rhetoric. By coincidence, they’re the ones whose political campaigns are mostly funded by billionaires and big industry.

This Calvinistic worldview and the massive inequality it’s brought America over the last 40 years is a cancer destroying our republic. It’s made far, far worse by Supreme Court decisions gutting campaign finance laws.

America once had the world’s strongest middle class and widespread social stability. While it didn’t extend to all Americans, we had a formula that worked and needed to be extended. Share the wealth with working people and tax the billionaires at a reasonable, above-50% rate.

40 years of Reaganism has gutted the middle class, wildly enriched the billionaire class and is now destroying the very democracy that generations of Americans fought and died for. We must drive a stake through its heart and and this poisonous ideology altogether.

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Reply Today's Rant: Americans must drive a stake through the heart of the NeoCalvinist Republican Party (Original post)
thomhartmann Dec 2020 OP
Wellstone ruled Dec 2020 #1
MineralMan Dec 2020 #2
NRaleighLiberal Dec 2020 #4
Hermit-The-Prog Dec 2020 #7
BarackTheVote Dec 2020 #3
Haveadream Dec 2020 #5
Duppers Dec 2020 #6

Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Thu Dec 17, 2020, 12:15 PM

1. This is spot on.

 

One Calvinist Religion runs the state of South Dakota.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Thu Dec 17, 2020, 12:16 PM

2. You have described the well-known problem, as have many others.

However, you don't appear to have a plan for how to "drive a stake through the heart." How would you suggest doing that in a nation where everyone has the right to vote?

Rants don't solve problems, and yours just says what many of us have been saying for many years about the Calvinistic principles of the Republican Party.

So, Thom, let's hear how you would actually accomplish what you propose. I'd love to hear your plans.

You can find a number of my posts about Calvinism and its impact on US Politics with this search:

https://www.google.com/search?q=MineralMan+Calvinism&sitesearch=democraticunderground.com

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 17, 2020, 12:19 PM

4. excellent question

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Response to MineralMan (Reply #2)

Tue Dec 22, 2020, 12:48 AM

7. Enlightenment of the electorate -- keep telling it until it sinks in.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Thu Dec 17, 2020, 12:18 PM

3. This is an awesome rant, and you're 100% correct!

It’s crazy how conditioned Americans are to couch their arguments about how to help poor people always in terms of “we can’t help them enough that they’ll be tempted to be lazy”—even in my own life, I find myself falling into this trap. But it’s the inherent human dignity of people that demands that they have enough to live WITH dignity.

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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Thu Dec 17, 2020, 03:26 PM

5. Calvinism and American Exceptionalism

Excellent topic. Props to Thom and Mineral Man.


Some excerpts from an article about Calvinism being the genesis of "American Exceptionalism" written a decade ago in the New Republic make for interesting reading:

"Less widely acknowledged, though no less historically significant, is the profound impact of Calvinist assumptions on the formation of American patriotism -- and in particular on the country's sense of itself as an exceptional nation empowered by providence to bring democracy, liberty, and Christian redemption to the world. It is this persistent theological self-confidence (some would say over-confidence) that distinguishes American patriotism from expressions of communal feeling in any other modern nation -- and that demonstrates our nation's unexpected but nonetheless decisive debt to John Calvin."

"Economic and scientific progress directed by God and actualized by Americans, divinely ordained political accomplishments issuing in divinely sanctioned global hegemony by the United States, and God's election of America to redeem the world -- these were the essential elements of American providence at the dawn of the twentieth century. Over subsequent decades, as the political, economic, military, and cultural power of the United States expanded beyond anyone's expectations, providential thinking continued to play an important role in defining American national identity and in setting the terms of public debate. "

"Over subsequent decades, as the political, economic, military, and cultural power of the United States expanded beyond anyone's expectations, providential thinking continued to play an important role in defining American national identity and in setting the terms of public debate.....Even Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic Party's answer to the "anti-intellectualism" of Dwight D. Eisenhower, spoke unapologetically in 1952 about the "awesome mission" that "God has set for us," which was nothing less than "the leadership of the free world." In more recent years, the cadences of the Calvinist consensus could be heard in Ronald Reagan's rhetorical evocations of America as a "city on a hill" and George W. Bush's frequent assurances that history moves in a "visible direction, set by liberty and the Author of liberty."

https://newrepublic.com/article/50754/calvin-and-american-exceptionalism


The expectation (and conceit) of American Exceptionalism drives the religious-like embrace of xenophobia, racism, anti-immigration sentiment, capitalism/winning at all costs, entitlement at the expense of the less powerful and the presumption that all advantages and privileges of the few are ultimately God-ordained. I can say without irony that it comes as little surprise that Mark Zuckerberg is an alumnus of none other than Phillips Exeter Academy, the prestigious school founded with a goal to teach heirs to the American throne a curriculum based upon Calvinist doctrine.



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Response to thomhartmann (Original post)

Mon Dec 21, 2020, 11:42 PM

6. K & R

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