Thursday, September 13, 2012

Religious Right?

I've read plenty of analyses of how the American conservative right captured the hearts and minds of the faithful. These have been mostly discussions of the tactics; appeals and alignment on social issues (abortion, women's rights, gay rights), making sure that each and every Republican candidate makes the appropriate obsequious noises to god and country, prayer breakfasts and prayer meetings. What I haven't heard adequately explained is why.

Conservatives - politicians in general - are no more or less religious than the rest of us. In fact, given the level of the compromises made to their values daily, I would argue that as a class politicians may be less religious than just about any group in the country except scientists. And citizens who profess faith to one of the major religious cults and their offshoots - supposedly based on the good deeds of some ahistorical figure - should be looking to ally themselves with the party that makes care for their fellow citizens a prime plank in their platform. To borrow one of their own phrases, "what would Jesus do?" So how did that all go so wrong?

The Republican Party has become the party of the white, wealthy elite; that is self obvious. And yet, through the tactics I mentioned above they have captured the reactionary religious factions of the deep south and in a fair bit of the rest of the country. Getting these folks to consistently vote against their own and their children's best interests. But why? Their aims are not the same - at least not the aims they both profess daily. So the Republicans have thrown on the cloak of religion to capture a pretty large voting block, but to those who observe closely, these two groups just don't fit well together. What is it about the faithful do Republicans want (besides their vote)?

Their blind faith.

If someone can believe - against all scientific evidence to the contrary - that the world was created in six days just 10,000 years ago they will believe in Trickle Down Economics. If they believe that the Koran was dictated directly into the ears of a first century man in the Levant by god they will believe that the President was born in Kenya. If they believe that they can speak in tongues with little flames dancing over their heads, they will believe - despite mountains of evidence - that anthropocentric global climate change is a hoax. If they believe that an early first century Jewish teacher - who may or may not have ever actually existed - was the literal "son of god" they'll believe that corporations are people. If they believe any or all of the above, they'll believe just about anything you tell them.

That's why the Right has courted the religious in America. Their ideas and theories have been tested and found wanting many times. They were losing voters; they could see the future and it was not all white men nodding their heads sagely at the preachings of rich white men at the head of businesses looking only to improve the bottom line. But they were not in a hurry to let go of their power or their money. Maybe other writers have come to the same conclusion but I'm sure the editors of major publications would never let this be written for public consumption. In any case, I've never read this anywhere else. But it makes perfect sense. In a twisted kind of way.

And it scares the hell out of me.


Anonymous said...

I think you are 100% correct that many, if not all, politicians look toward religion as a means of obtaining votes. I would submit that BOTH democrats and republicans do exactly the same thing. Your idea seems to convey that republicans are the only ones that pander to religion which is simply not the case. If your hope was to ask why people cling to grandiose ideals of religion, I would respond that your world of nothing greater than one’s self is depressing at best. Individual people are really not that all impressive and looking out for nothing other than one’s own self interest seems rather like a low goal in life. Religion offers hope, it offers guidance on how to live and it also offers insight in to absolute right and wrong. True atheists have no other basis for developing a moral code than their own opinion and individual opinions are like ass holes but some just stink more than others.

Your position the republican party is for old white people is also truly incorrect. The republican party is going through developmental stage of which I am a part of. I’m neither old nor rich and like you I’m a mutt not white… Today’s republican party is transitioning from being one focused on religion to one who is simply tired of paying for other people’s mediocrity. Example of such new republicans are Mr. Ryan or Mr. Rubio or Mrs. Love… I find it 100% offensive that 51% of American’s pay income tax and 49% pay nothing. I believe EVERY American should have some skin in the game. I also think government is regulating far too many things and doing a poor job of it… The EPA for example is trying to regulate CO2 which every single living creature on the planet expels which is in turn taken in by plants and absorbed by the ocean. Really, the EPA thinks it regulate the most common element on earth???? YES!!!! Government has a role but that role is way out of balance and I think the republican party of the younger generation move quickly towards the “just leave me the hell alone” mentality. Chicago teachers unions are another key example of democrat and republican differences. Those teachers are the second highest paid district in the nation and they also have the shortest school day. They turned down a 16% pay increase and demanded 25% they also don’t like evolutions and longer work hours… I ask who works for who???

Yes, republicans and democrats pander for religious based votes and yes there are some very clear ethical and moral problems with doing that. You are right. But you are also wrong by thinking people who believe in something greater than themselves are somehow loony. I happen to think the poor (but well dressed) fat woman waiting for food stamps for her seven kids while wearing heavy gold chains doing a TV interview is NOT worthy of one single penny of my hard labor. I think that many dems are loony who believe that same woman is somehow the victim… Free will was given by God but stupidity is done by choice.

Your cousin,

Anonymous said...

I don't even know where to begin! Your "new republicans" scare the bejesus out of me, cousin Erik. If that is the future of republicans help us all dear lord. Charlie, I too agree 100% with your article and I too have been dumb-founded as to how the hijacking of the religious folks happened. You make some good points. I have been so befuddled as to how and why that voting block consistantly votes against their best interest. I think we all need to remember we are all in this together. I am insulted when I hear "I did this" implying that a business was built by someone who never had any help, never drove on any road, never went to a school and had teachers, never had workers or customers..."I did this or built this" how arrogant!

Finally to cousin Erik's last remark about being First of all the vast majority of government help goes to the elderly and to children. And to those single mothers who also need help, to judge her like that, to think you know her and are superior...just remember sometimes it is "there but for the grace of God go I".

Erik Perez said...

Anonymous, I got to fire back...

Using the federal government's own numbers as reported by the center for american progress (a very liberal think tank), over 39% of Americans are actively recieveing a Federal Benefit payments. Using round numbers of about 320,000,000 Americans that means 44.5 million Americans get federal payments. WOW!!!! Either poverty has gotten REALLY bad and we need a new administration OR the current administration is creating an entitlement society in order to keep power and we need a new administration.

As for my frustration with food stamps... Please watch the attached news report

The attitude and demanding and feeling of a "right" to other people's money by the people in the news clip is just amazing... Please note the nice cloths and jewelry. If my kids were hungry, you can damm well bet I'd be at least digging ditches!

Helping the needy is one thing, but providing hand outs when hand ups are what is needed is completely different.