The American conservative movement has devolved into self-parody. That was clearly evident on Friday, when Duck Dynasty reality TV star, Phil Robertson, was handed a microphone and given a prominent speaking slot on stage at the CPAC convention. Robertson, is the recent recipient of the ironic, but not meant to be, “Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award”. On Friday, he launched into a rambling sermon. The speech could have been a Saturday Night Live skit, mocking a stereotypical right-wing religious conservative, by using exaggerated rhetoric. But, of course, Robertson wasn’t joking. He meant every word he said.
In his long, and often barely coherent speech, the Duck Commander warned the audience that America was becoming sick from sexually transmitted diseases and that wherever Jesus is missing, territorial conquest and murder ensue. He counseled the GOP presidential candidates, to “carry your Bible with you and your woman”. He then warned the audience, that “Jesus is the only thing between you and herpes”. Robertson referred to sexually transmitted diseases as “the revenge of the hippies”.
Robertson then declared that the Constitution was written for a ”religious and moral people, It is wholly inadequate for any other.” Then he suggested that it wasn’t written for Barack Obama or his advisers, proclaiming: ”You know what’s happened GOP? We’ve got too many any-others in the White House. It wasn’t written for them. It wasn’t written for them.”
Robertson’s foreign policy admonitions were equally steeped in his folksy brand of Fundamentalist Christianity. In Robertson’s simplistic world view, foreign threats past and present are all defined by the bad guys lacking Jesus. The Duck Dynasty reality show TV star offered his solution to every problem, by urging the crowd to hold on to the Bible and the U.S. Constitution with both hands, and to “hold on to your weapons” as well. He didn’t exactly explain how to hold on to all three items simultaneously.
However, he lectured the audience that all three were indispensable to protect America from her enemies. Robertson offered an oversimplified World History lesson that basically boiled down to our enemies can be identified because they lack Jesus. He stated:
We had to have all three (Bible, Constitution, and weapons) to run the Brits back to where they came from, we had to have all three when the Nazis reared their head. You say, the Nazis: World domination is what Hitler had on his mind. Territorial conquest. There was no Jesus. None. And they were famous for murder.
Expounding further, Robertson thundered, ”was there any Jesus among the communists? None!”
Robertson then compared ISIS to Nazi Germany, declaring:
They took over half of Iraq and half of Syria! They’re worldwide over there in Africa. Any Jesus with them? No sir!
Self-parody indeed. Phil Robertson is a caricature. A plain-spoken, no-nonsense conservative folk hero, who talks about God, guns and guts. Like washed-up rock musician, Ted Nugent, and former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, conservatives love Robertson because he embodies what they view as the quintessentially American persona. Robertson in unencumbered by the complexity of nuanced thought regarding foreign policy. His solution is get right with Jesus and the world’s problems will be fixed.
While not all conservatives are likely to agree that it is that simple, an astonishing number do. Robertson’s chaotic speech was frequently interrupted with applause. Furthermore, a poll released earlier in the week, reveals that 57 percent of Republican voters want to establish Christianity as the official national religion. Presto, that should fix America’s troubles. Problem solved.
Phil Robertson comes across as a cartoon character. However, Republican voters support his ideas. Furthermore, even the folks on stage at CPAC who wore suits, and are running for President, share some of the same Dominionist views as Robertson. While Robertson’s speech was less polished than those served up by the vying politicians, his views on Christianity are nearly indistinguishable from the religious views held by many of the GOP presidential candidates. There is a reason Robertson was invited to take the stage at CPAC. While his delivery may be unique, his views are not on the fringe of the Republican Party, they are part of the GOP mainstream. That should concern all of us.
Image via USA Today