Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Ideologues Have Taken Control of the GOP

On Facebook, I got into a lengthy debate with a hardcore Herman Cain supporter. Because of Cain's shocking win of a straw poll in Florida over Rick Perry, the political punditry class has been in an upheaval, thinking that this is an indication that Perry's honeymoon is officially over. After three debates, the Republican Party officials who begged the Texas governor to jump into the race are now wondering if perhaps Perry is too extreme to resonate with voters.

I'm actually loving the freak-out going on in the Republican Party. They deserve what they get. After trafficking in lies for the better part of two decades (even more if we go back further), they are now deep in ideological territory. This was inevitable. Ever since Reagan courted the evangelical vote to defeat our first evangelical president, Jimmy Carter, the Republican Party has come to view the conservative / fundamentalist / evangelical Christians as an important voting block. Reagan, a divorced non-church goer, paid mostly lip service to the evangelicals, but they went along and basically aligned themselves with his conservative agenda without any objections, even though his policies had little to do with the values Jesus preached.

Evangelicals were lukewarm about President George Herbert Walker Bush's presidency. Bush was from a mainline, establishment church. Episcopal or Presbyterian, I forget which and I couldn't care less. Southern Baptist Bill Clinton was viewed with outright hostility by the conservative / fundamentalist / evangelical Christians. Many focused on Clinton's moral lapses and sexual "immorality", yet they aligned themselves with the agenda of Newt Gingrich, who had his own adultery / divorce / ethical problems. In 2000, George Walker Bush, the hapless son of the one term president electrified the evangelicals. They saw in him a man who had a wild past (party boy, sex, alcohol, and cocaine) but became born again at age 40. He rejected the church of his parents for the one his wife attended: The United Methodist Church. He spoke the language of evangelicals. For nearly the entirety of his presidency, the evangelicals kept silent about some of his extreme agenda. There was no objection by the evangelical right when he went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq, when he pushed through the USA PATRIOT Act, when the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib was revealed, when the tax cuts basically obliterated the Clinton surplus and essentially transferred wealth from the middle class to the wealthy class, when there was a debate about the use of torture (notably, water boarding), when he was slow to act in preparation and response to Hurricane Katrina. All of these were moral issues, where any serious student of theology would be able to recognize that Jesus would come down on the different side of Bush's policies.

What did the evangelicals speak out against regarding Bush? Why, it was when he wanted to pick his secretary to be his first choice for the U.S. Supreme Court. In what was one of the most absurd comments he ever made as president, Bush claimed to guarantee that Harriet Miers would not change her views when she became Supreme Court Justice. How can anyone guarantee that another person will not change their views? That was odd. Did he have some kind of magic power over her? She did seem like she was in love with him, while he probably joked to his buddies that she was a school marm. It was one of the few things that I actually agreed with evangelicals on regarding a Bush policy. At least they put the brakes on something, rather than give him a full blank check for eight years.

However, the Bush years have caused a major problem that does not seem to be going away any time soon. Its the rabid ideology of the right wing. They are restless and angry. They hate our current president and want him to fail (even after accusing liberals of wanting Bush to fail). This obsession with ideological purity is a fatal disease. I've seen it afflict people on the left (particularly those who are Dennis Kucinich or Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney supporters). Its a danger because of the blindness. There's a quote that I love that goes something like this: "Don't let perfection become the enemy of the good." What that means is that being obsessed with all or nothing approach to anything will leave you with NOTHING. During the Health Care Reform debate of a couple years ago, there was a rallying cry among some liberals that I agree with: "Pass it now, fix it later!"

I know quite a few conservative-minded people who seem to think politicians should be saints. These people aren't perfect, but they seem to expect politicians to be perfect. So they put inhuman conditions on politicians, which ultimately means they will be disappointed. It is hypocritical to put other people on impossibly high standards that they might not even agree with. Since childhood, I've had the policy of holding other people to the standards that they've set for themselves. What this means is that one friend of mine believed that co-habitation was immoral / wrong, and got mad when I pointed it out to him when he did exactly that. Another friend of mine did not believe cohabitation was immoral / wrong, so I did not say anything about it (I don't believe cohabitation is wrong, either). So, if you tell me that you live by a certain standard, I would not be a good friend if I did not remind you of it when I see you violating it. And in all fairness, I hold myself to a much higher standard than I hold others.

So, it is with great amusement that I watch the Republicans fall all over themselves about being disappointed with every single candidate. We saw traces of this in 2008, when there were a dozen crusty old white men vying to be Bush's replacement. The evangelical / social conservatives could not agree on the candidate, thus John McCain won be default. I believe the same scenario will happen in 2012. For lack of a better candidate, Romney will get the honours. He ran before and the Republican Party has a history of handing the nomination to the candidate who has run before. Romney is a far more impressive candidate this time around than he was in 2008. The crazier the rest of the field looks, the more reasonable Romney appears!

The Cain supporter on Facebook that I have been debating comes across to me as one of the rabid ideologues who has zero ability to reason. He truly believes that the Republican Party will nominate Herman Cain in 2012. Knowing the Republican Party's race-baiting history and their "Southern Strategy" plan that began with Nixon's run for the White House in 1968, I think it is the safest bet you can make that THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL that the Republicans are going to allow a black man to lead their party in a run for the White House. Cain is nothing more than a tool, just like former RNC Chair Michael Steele.

As I tried to point out to the Cain supporter, when Cain had run for the U.S. Senate seat in Georgia, he could not even win the primary. If Georgians did not want him as a Senator, why should the rest of the country want him for president? Why didn't Georgians want him? Well, having lived in the state off and on between 1988 and 2006, the political parties came down to racial lines. However, the Democrats have more progressive / liberal whites than the Republican Party has conservative African Americans. If you meet a redneck in Georgia, you can safely assume that they would be a Republican.

One of the ironies about the Teabaggers is that one of their complaints about President Obama is that he lacks experience. Yet, many teabaggers seem to like Herman Cain and he has ZERO experience! Does that makes sense? If you are going to criticize a president for not having enough government experience to lead the country, why would you support a candidate who has no experience in government? This is the "logic" of a teabagger. Again, a symptom of rabid ideology. Logic is usually the first do go when you catch the fatal disease known as ideology.

Cain is best known for being the CEO of Godfather's Pizza, which I was not aware that there were any in Georgia. I remember eating at that pizza chain in the mid-1980s in Omaha, Nebraska. I used to like eating there, though I liked Pizza Hut the best. As far as pizza chains go, Godfather's Pizza is not even among the top 3 (Pizza Hut, Papa John's, and Dominoes). Let's not forget Little Caesar's, Papa Murphy's, CiCi's, Roundtable, and others. Does being a CEO of some third rate pizza chain translate into the kind of leadership we need in the White House?

In the debates I've seen, I have not been impressed with Cain's responses. In one, I remember him telling the moderator that he's still learning the issues, so he is unable to give a detailed answer that might satisfy the question. Really? He should have spent 2009 and 2010 preparing by learning the issues. Some of his more memorable proposals are short memos / bills, the 999 plan (I forget what it means, but 999 is an upside down 666 and evangelicals should be concerned that he's proposing "the mark of the beast"), his claim that America is threatened by sharia law being imposed by the courts, and that he would not hire a Muslim to serve in his cabinet. Yikes!

As I learned in my dialogue with the die-hard Cain supporter, there is no amount of facts that you can cite to convince them of their folly. They are ideological and blind to reason. God help our country if these people win another election for their chosen candidate.

On Facebook, I made a list of the Republican candidates from "tolerable" to "absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances." Here's that list:

1. Mitt Romney (for all his flaws, he is still a moderate and not an ideologue)
2. Jon Huntsman (another reasonable Mormon with experience as a governor)
3. Ron Paul (I agree with his foreign policy views but not his domestic policies)
4. Rick Perry (this is where the "unacceptable" part of the equation begins)
5. Ricky Santorum
6. Herman Cain
7. Michele Bachmann (a scary ideologue, basically America's Magda Goebbels)
8. Newt Gingrich (that's right: dead last because he is the most amoral, hypocritical, sanctimonious piece of shit who ever slithered out of the depths of the pond scum).

The unhappiness of the Republicans over the current lineup has now led to calls for Governor Chris Christie to jump into the race, even though he keeps saying that he's not interested. Even if he is enticed to jump into the race, he will eventually disappoint his backers because it is very difficult for any human being to live up to the demands of the rabid rightwing. As comedian Jon Stewart pointed out in his show, the conservatives claim to be "pro-life" yet they cheered Perry's death penalty record and they wanted the hypothetical man in a coma with no health insurance to die, and they claim to support the military, but they boo'd a gay servicemember (who is currently serving in Iraq which shows more courage than all the chickenhawks in the Bush administration ever displayed). When people are so blinded by ideology that they can't even see where they are inconsistent, how can any candidate appeal to that? Even Jesus would be crucified by this crowd of rabid ideologues!

The lineup, though, appears to be set because deadlines are fast approaching for candidates to have their names appear on the ballots in the early primary states. It looks unlikely that Sarah Palin is going to jump into the race. The latest book about her has been making news headlines about her supposed cocaine use and that she had sex with an African American basketball player. As much as I don't support her at all, I believe the allegations are salacious and doubtful. I just can't believe that she snorted cocaine or had sex with a black man (I've read articles about her supposed racism, including one in which her father said that the reason why she left the University of Hawaii was because she felt uncomfortable with so many Asian and Polynesian students. She transferred to one of the whitest places in the country: Moscow, Idaho to attend the University of Idaho). It'll be a shame if she does not run. I'd love to see how she handles the debate, since we've only seen her in one debate in which she had told the moderator Gwen Ifill that she would not answer her questions but speak directly to the American people. I want to see more crazy in these Republican debates. Laughter is good for the soul. However, I also weep for our country if any of these clowns end up in the White House. There is only one Republican I care to see as president, and that person is Senator Scott Brown (the most likable Republican ever!).

No comments: