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Republicans and Fundies: Reaping What They Sowed

So I’ve been thinking about the last election. I’ve been having this thought about the Republican party, and how they’ve gotten shackled to the hard-core Christian fundamentalists as their base even while this strategy is alienating moderate and even conservative voters. And it occurred to me:

They are reaping what they sowed.

In the Reagan era, the Republican party made a very conscious decision: the decision to wed big money with the religious right. They decided to make a base out of hard-core right-wing Christian fundamentalists; fund them with huge money from hugely rich corporate overlords; and twine the ideologies together, convincing Christian fundamentalists that lowering taxes on the super-rich and eliminating regulations on enormous corporations was exactly what Jesus would do.

It was very successful at the time. Hard-core right-wing Christian fundamentalists were pretty numerous; fervent in their willingness to work and turn out for the G.O.P.; and — at the time — only somewhat wildly out of touch with average American values. Fueled with enormous funding from obscenely wealthy corporate overlords, they ruled the land for many a year.

But it’s finally started to backfire. Hard-core Christian fundamentalists are becoming less numerous, especially among young people, who are leaving religion at a rate that’s unprecedented in this country. And they’re becoming more and more out of touch with average American values: especially on issues like gay rights and birth control, which most Americans now not only support, but think are uncontroversial and no big deal. Most Americans have moved forward on these issues… while the Christian Right has stayed entrenched in them, and if anything has gotten even more wildly hard-core. They have moved so far to the right, they’ve fallen off the map.

But the Republican Party is now committed. It’s going to be very hard for them to move back toward the center, even back onto the map, without alienating the people who they’ve made their base. They let themselves build a base on a demographic that is, by definition, stubbornly out of touch with reality. In fact, their base demographic isn’t just out of touch with reality: they are deeply committed to being out of touch with reality, as a core identity and a foundational moral code. “We will believe in the literal word of this holy text written thousands of years ago by Bronze-age goat-herders, replete with internal contradictions and glaring factual errors and grotesque immorality, and will ignore the stark human reality that stares us in the face every day. And that is what makes us awesome.”

When you shackle yourself to a demographic that is morally committed to the denial of reality, you shouldn’t be hugely surprised when you eventually start to alienate the rest of the population. Especially when you’ve been using the supposed moral high ground of the committed reality-deniers as a smokescreen, distracting the rest of the population while you pick their pockets. You shouldn’t be hugely surprised when people start to notice, “Hey, the platform of the Republican party is batshit and evil… and why are taxes on the super-rich so low, and why is my union getting busted?”

They made a conscious decision to wed their economic policies to the Christian right. Both are bankrupt. They are reaping what they sowed.

Comments

  1. eigenperson says

    You are very optimistic. Romney lost, but it was a 51%-47% loss to another right-wing candidate. The Republicans lost the popular vote in the House election by an even smaller margin.

    I think you are correct that the Republicans will have a hard time moving back onto the map. However, they may not need to. The public is so close to the edge of the map already….

  2. johnthedrunkard says

    Is it an exaggeration to describe Reagan’s bargain as a deal with the devil?

    Unfortunately, troglodyte issues like creationism and homophobia seem to have grown so prominent so quickly, thanks to all that money and a compliant media establishment, that we are still a long way from turning the corner on this mess.

  3. says

    I don’t know, eigenperson – the share of the popular vote isn’t very informative. The ECV system is rubbish, but given that that’s the system in place, it’s the only result that means anything. If it was just about the popular vote, the two candidates would have campaigned differently and the people would have voted differently.

  4. busterggi says

    Reagan only is responsible for step 2. Nixon’s Southern Strategy to bring in racist red states was step 1 – coincedentally they were the heartland of the crazy fundies as well.

    It hurts me to say that because I voted for Nixon believing he would end the Viet Nam war quickly.

  5. Kazim says

    I’d say Republicans have trapped themselves in a vicious spiral. The strategy of dividing the country into “us” and “them” has, as you say, backfired, because the proportion of voters that is “them” is growing. As more voters are African-American, Latino, women, atheists, Jews, and so on… the Republican base becomes a smaller and smaller portion of the entire electorate.

    But how are they dealing with this? The shrinking core of xenophobic white evangelicals is seeing themselves as increasingly under siege from “Them,” and accommodating them means surrender. So Republicans have to double down, because if they don’t get even MORE xenophobic, sexist, and Bible thumping, then they anger their base.

    So what’s happening over time is that more people are bailing on the Republican party because they’re getting crazier, which in turn is causing them to get even more crazy just to hold on to the ones who are left. I’d like to say I see this ending in a spectacular collapse for Republicans followed by the Democrats dividing into two new parties. But I’m not quite optimistic enough to assume that.

  6. grumpyoldfart says

    Hard-core Christian fundamentalists are becoming less numerous, especially among young people, who are leaving religion at a rate that’s unprecedented in this country.

    They’ll go back again.
    `

    Back in the 1960s the catch-cry among teenagers was “God is dead”, and a few years later the Jesus Freaks started their campaign to make fundamentalism fashionable. The same thing will happen this time.

  7. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    I’d say Republicans have trapped themselves in a vicious spiral. The strategy of dividing the country into “us” and “them” has, as you say, backfired, because the proportion of voters that is “them” is growing. As more voters are African-American, Latino, women, atheists, Jews, and so on… the Republican base becomes a smaller and smaller portion of the entire electorate.

    But how are they dealing with this? The shrinking core of xenophobic white evangelicals is seeing themselves as increasingly under siege from “Them,” and accommodating them means surrender. So Republicans have to double down, because if they don’t get even MORE xenophobic, sexist, and Bible thumping, then they anger their base.

    I’ve noticed lately that the religious right seems to be reaching out more to the Latino voters. Kind of a “Hey, some Latinos are pretty religious – maybe we can get them to forget that we spent the last twenty years calling them freeloaders while we vastly underpaid them to do our landscaping and get em to join up.”

  8. Greta Christina says

    grumpyoldfart @ #7: It’s possible that you’re right. But the numbers don’t bear you out. Rates of non-belief are going up in the United States at an unprecedented rate — especially among young people. They have never been higher than they are now, and they have never gone up as quickly as they are going up now. And that includes during the 1960s. What’s more, we have precedent for thinking this is plausible: in many other countries, rates of non-belief have been going up for some time, and have stayed up and continued to increase.

  9. says

    The difference between the 1960s and today? You’re looking at it.
    And your iPhone. And social networking on those devices through the internet.
    Oh no. The genie is out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back.

  10. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    Does this mean if we can find the Christian Right and throw it into a volcano somewhere a new age of peace and prosperity can begin?

  11. octoberfurst says

    I was raised Republican but became a Democrat in early 2002 when I couldn’t stand the batshit craziness of the GOP anymore. I was a liberal Republican—you know, the kind that doesn’t exist anymore—and it seemed that all my fellow GOP’ers were religious zealots, bigots, misogynists or war-mongers. (Or all of those combined!) I got tired of being the only sane person in the party so I left.
    The GOP today is a total basket case. It is filled with nuts and paranoid conspiracy theorists who are far removed from reality. They promote creationism, think global warming is a hoax, believe we should nuke every country that disagrees with our policies and want to let the rich do whatever they damn well want! Workers be damned! It is the party of angry old Bible-thumping White men. But there are millions of them and they fervently believe everything they hear on talk radio and Fox News.
    In the end they will die out like the dinosaurs that they are but in the meantime they can and will do a lot of damage. It is our job to keep them at bay until they are no longer a relevant force in America.

  12. says

    @eigenperson

    You do need to take into account all the uninformed independent voters…the ones that supposedly vote based more on how they feel about how the economy is doing in regards to the party in charge. The “theory” is that if the economy is bad, the party in charge pays the price. Remember, since these people are uninformed, the fact that the other party may have an even worse economic policy is not relevant.

    In short, Romney should have won easily. Or at least he had factors that were favorable to him winning. So I don’t worry so much about the vote being close. What does worry me are the Democrats not being forceful enough on progressive issues…and talk about Hillary being the candidate for 2016. *barf* (In other words, I fear there will be disenfranchised voters who just won’t vote because neither political party fills their desires.)

  13. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    We will believe in the literal word of this holy text written thousands of years ago by Bronze-age goat-herders

    “Bronze-age goat-herders” is a common atheist trope, but it’s wrong. Little if any of the current text of the OT was written before the return from the Babylonian exile in the 5th century BCE, see Dating the Bible. The end of the Bronze age in the Middle East is conventionally dated to 1000 BCE. Those putting the current text together must have been literate, which is most unlikely for goat-herders of the 2nd millennium or even the 5th century BCE. Some oral traditions of Bronze-age goat-herders may have been preserved, but the current text was almost certainly put together in the service of a theocratic power-grab by the elite among the returning exiles.

    /pedant

  14. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    but the current text was almost certainly put together in the service of a theocratic power-grab by the elite among the returning exiles.

    That actually makes it worse, since it purports to be the oral tradition of a bunch of bronze-age goat herders but isn’t even that.

  15. smhll says

    They promote creationism, think global warming is a hoax, believe we should nuke every country that disagrees with our policies and want to let the rich do whatever they damn well want! Workers be damned! It is the party of angry old Bible-thumping White men. But there are millions of them and they fervently believe everything they hear on talk radio and Fox News.

    I like this comment. I was thinking that Republicans may think they don’t have to be right on the issues as long as they have a better propaganda machine. Whoops! (But I still fear the machine.)

  16. says

    Even though this is about a serious topic, the following literally made me laugh out loud (especially the second sentence).

    “We will believe in the literal word of this holy text written thousands of years ago by Bronze-age goat-herders, replete with internal contradictions and glaring factual errors and grotesque immorality, and will ignore the stark human reality that stares us in the face every day. And that is what makes us awesome.”

    One of the (many) things which I find really frustrating and kind of baffling is how the religious right is so out of touch with reality that not only do they accept non-scientific things like creationism while rejecting scientific theories like evolution … but they also cannot seem to comprehend that if they run a campaign based on hating certain groups of people (based on race or gender or sexual orientation or gender identity or religion or a whole host of other things), then large percentages of people who are in those groups are probably not going to want to vote for them. Is it really that difficult to understand that if their policy is going to systematically make life worse for people then maybe those same people aren’t going to like them very much? They seem genuinely surprised when people accuse them of driving away anyone who’s not white, male, heterosexual, cisgendered, and Christian (not to mention that plenty of people who do meet this description don’t like them, either).

  17. Stevarious, Public Health Problem says

    They seem genuinely surprised

    No, the surprise is feigned – or at least, some of it is. A large part of the republican strategy for the last three years has been keeping Democrats from voting through voter suppression and making sure as few of those votes matter as possible through gerrymandering.

    For the former, simply look at the purging of voter rolls in Florida this past year – an obvious attempt to disenfranchise voters that overwhelmingly targeted registered Democrats.

    For the latter, take these maps, which were drawn up in 2010 to make sure that even though greater than 50% of PA residents voted Democratic in 2012, less than a third of congressional seats went to Democratic. And how did they draw these maps? They take the census information and divide up the regions by race and economic status. They know full well that non-whites and poor people are, by and large, not voting for them anymore, so they cram them disproportionately into just a couple of districts (as with the Philadelphia area), or divide up concentrations of the poor and offset them with huge districts of farmland to nullify them completely.

    It’s pretty easy in PA especially, as the region is heavily segregated racially due to discriminatory housing practices. Google ‘Sundown Towns’ for more on that.

    The republicans have known for YEARS that they were losing the ability to win elections fairly. If any of their surprise is legitimate, it comes from discovering that even these underhanded tactics are just failing almost completely.

  18. says

    I think the district map issue could be solved pretty easily, constitution-wise. The districts are DEMOSTRABLY drawn along economic and racial lines. There is practically no way that SCOTUS could let that practice stand if it was challenged.

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