The Republican party has become the most dysfunctional institution in American Politics. This party appears to have lost most of its capacity to produce any candidates that are even remotely qualified for public office on a national and even most local levels. The current crop of Republican presidential hopefuls represents the most bizarre and mediocre collection of personalities in the history of US politics. Given the money, power, electoral experience, and infrastructure at the disposal of the Republican Party, the question has to be asked: What happened?
The inescapable conclusion is that RP has actually become a magnate for sociopathic and toxic personalities. Not that Democrats are perfect in any way, but a glance at the Republican landscape reveals a truly overwhelming population of straight-up assholes and hypocrite’s. Willful ignorance, dishonesty, and duplicity appear to be the main criteria for consideration as a contemporary Republican candidate. I’ve never been a fan of the Republicans but the last decade has produced an truly incredible crop of whackadoos.
A variety of influences have corrupted the RP over the decades but the most ironic has been the influence of religion. One can clearly trace the RP’s decent into darkness along with the growing influence of Christian Fundamentalism in party affairs. This is ironic because ostensibly religion ought to promote good character, honesty, and compassion. On the contrary, the litany of corruption, deviance, greed, and general meanness amongst Republicans has grown along with fundamentalist influence. The current Tea Party manifestation of fundamentalism is just the latest in a long line of ever increasing tendrils of control that are choking off all reasonable policy considerations.
We have to acknowledge that at some point, an organization’s character actually attracts a certain type of personality. It is not by accident that talented orators and organizers were attracted to the civil rights movement. Nor is it accidental that psychopaths were attracted to the Nazi party and the Ku Klux Klan. Marty Scorsese will tell you there’s a certain type of guy that wants to be a “wise guy”. So what is it about religious fundamentalism that acts like a beacon of welcome to so many assholes?
According the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
“ One of the most electrifying moments in Michele Bachmann’s quest for the White House came last Sunday when she took to the pulpit of an evangelical mega-church in this city’s suburban edge”.
Why would this be Bachmann’s most electrifying moment? What is a presidential candidate even doing addressing a church congregation in the first place? This episode of American politics illustrates that many fundamentalists have forgotten (if they ever knew) their roles as citizens and voters. The third paragraph of the sixth article of the US constitution ends:
” but no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”
This gives you some idea what the framers thought about religious qualifications for public office. Yet here we are in the 21st century demanding religious fidelity from political candidates. There are several ironic problems with this not the least of which is the fact that fundamentalists who vote for fellow fundamentalists because they’re fundamentalists are displaying a breathtaking ignorance of their own religious tenets.
Now I admit as an atheist I’m outta the loop on some of this scripture stuff, so I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m mistaken here. One of the core tenets off Christianity is that everyone will one day stand before God and be judged, and this is no mere formality for anyone. Basically God is judging you on your accordance with his will, how good a Christian you’ve been. The results of this judgement determine a soul’s disposition for the rest of eternity. You cannot know in advance what that judgement will be, no one is a shoe-in, not even children. As a general rule all over the place in Christianity most judgements are left up to God. Now the reason God and God alone gets to make these judgements is because God is infallible, god CANNOT get it wrong. God is kinda like Santa Clause, he knows when you’ve been naughty or nice. God can’t be fooled by a earnest smile and a firm handshake. No matter what, God knows about the toe tapping in the public bathrooms, and the gay drug sex with prostitutes, and the extramarital affairs, etc. You and I on the other hand are supremely fallible. We get stuff wrong all the time. Half the time we have trouble passing current event quizzes in the news papers let alone making character judgements. Despite God’s frequent admonishments to leave the judging up to him (or her); when it comes to elections a lot of Christians seem to think they’re well qualified and entitled to decide whether or not a candidate is a good Christian, and make that judgement the basis of their vote.
This characteristic of the Republican Party is like a beacon to sociopaths because sociopaths know the easiest lies to tell are lies about one’s religious convictions. Religious conviction cannot be tested by mere mortals, there’s nothing to check out. If you tell people you invented the internet in college they can Google it and find out who invented the internet, not so with faith. You can proclaim your faith all day long and no one but God can ever verify it. The problem is that so many Christians have decided that the fact that they believe in something that’s infallible has made them infallible. This of course is yet another irony because this belief in one’s infallibility is the height of hubris in the face of multiple biblical commands to observe the humility that human fallibility is supposed to engender.
The best part of this whole scheme is that even if you get caught screwing around with House page boys you can always remind people that your a sinner. You slipped on Satan’s banana peel but now you’re A-O-K. Since hubris is loath to admit mistakes the Christian’s that miss-judged you opt for convenient forgiveness rather than admit that they had no business making this judgement in the first place.
Meanwhile what would Jesus say about someone like Michell Backmann? Well for some reason people like Bachmann are the only people on the planet that get basic questions about Jesus wrong. While most people know for instance the answer to the question: “Who would Jesus bomb?” is- “no one”… people like Bachmann produce a list. And then she goes before a mega-church full of Republicans and proclaims her Christian bona fides… and they judge her to be a fine Christian worthy of their vote. This is how a major political party attracts, produces, endorses, and elects sooooooo many assholes. These people are not interested in governing, only self aggrandisement, promotion, and power. I’m not gonna speak for Jesus but I have a hunch he would just shake his head and walk away. What do you think?
I remind YOU: our civic elections are not about making religious judgements. We are not voting for the person we think is the most religious, we’re voting for people to represent us in the government and there’s nothing about being religious that qualifies someone to govern. You can verify a candidates factual, biographical, and historical claims. You cannot know if anyone will be judged worthy to enter Gods kingdom because you’re not God. Believing in God doesn’t make you God… not even close, even I know that. If you make religion your only electoral criteria you create a party that’s a magnate for sociopaths and con-men because they know all they have to do is tell you what you want to hear, and such people tend to be very convincing liars.
This blog was written by Paul Udstrand and originally published on Thoughtful Bastards.