It’s educational to observe how Republicans/Tea Partiers put actions to words. They made a lot of noise in 2010 about our rights – Don’t Tread on Me! – But once in positions of power, they opposed the very idea of democracy at every opportunity.
In Michigan, the worst offender, democracy was suspended altogether in favor of emergency managers who were answerable to the governor alone (Public Act 4 of 2011, the Local Government and School District Fiscal Accountability Act). In Wisconsin, anti-collective bargaining laws were passed by Governor Walker, surprising many Wisconsinites, and leaving the Tea Party governor to lie about having campaigned all along on that platform (he didn’t); and a slew of anti-woman legislation was signed by Walker on the sly, secretively and in violation of the very principles of democracy.
In other states, Tea Party laws require doctors to lie to women about non-existent cancer risks with abortion. In yet other states if a bill passes and is vetoed, they try again as a constitutional amendment (as with Minnesota’s voter ID amendment) that an inconvenient democratic governor can’t veto and import tons of out-of-state money from powerful right-wing organizations and ram it through (Proposition 8 anyone?). Or if the law passes and is found by courts to be unconstitutional (almost guaranteed) they try again with the same bill and change the language up a little, as with the case of Oklahoma’s anti-Sharia laws.
Gov. Chris Christie wants to bypass the legislative process and put marriage equality to a popular vote but he will change his tune if the popular vote goes against him. Experience has shown that if a state fails to vote the way Republicans want it to vote, they instantly drop their anti-federal pretense and call for a federal ban on marriage equality or abortion before going back to their complains about a bullying federal government, all the while pushing laws which strip those likely to vote Democratic of their right to vote. As Rolling Stone reported in 2011, “In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.”
It should be pretty obvious to all that the last thing the GOP cares about is rights, other than their own to impose an unwanted plutocratic oligarchy based on social Darwinism and bolstered by a modernized version of the divine right of kings. What the GOP cares about is the imposition of its ideology and worldview any laws which disenfranchise those who disagree with that ideology and worldview. That is not democracy. It is not the U.S. Constitution. It’s secrecy, misdirection, dishonesty, non-participatory and as far from inclusive as you can get. It is everything that the United States was not meant to be.
Take one state as a recent and egregious example of this process: Oklahoma passed an anti-Sharia law last year, the “Save Our State” amendment (SQ 755), which was supported by 70 percent of voters but was blocked by a federal judge on First Amendment grounds. It was a wee bit blatant:
“The Courts…shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution…and if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law…”
Yeah…I’m sorry GOP but a majority can’t vote to take away the rights of the minority. That’s why we have this thing called the Constitution. It’s designed to protect everyone’s rights – not simply those of a bigoted, ill-informed, misguided majority.
Not getting this, Rep. Sally Kern (R – Oklahoma CIty) introduced a new anti-Sharia bill in 20100 – House Bill 1552 – the “American Laws for American Court” bill. designed to be less objectionable to courts but amounting to the same thing. You get a better idea of what she was trying to do if you take the Nazi Nuremberg laws of 1935 and take the word “Jew” out of them. What you’d be left with would still be anti-Jewish legislation because it’s the “non-Aryans” who are punished. So we get this instead:
Any court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency ruling or decision shall violate the public policy of this state and be void and unenforceable if the court, arbitration, tribunal or administrative agency bases its rulings or decisions in the matter at issue in whole or in part on any law, rule, legal code or system that would not grant the parties affected by the ruling or decision the same fundamental liberties, rights and privileges granted under the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions.
However, in her attempt to be “general” in her approach, Kern unwittingly (or perhaps not?) outlawed Jewish – and even Catholic – law.
Now look: you have to dig pretty deep to find a bigger bigot that Sally Kern, who qualifies if anybody qualifies as the poster-child of “gangsta” Christianity. This is the woman, remember, who complained about being stoned for her bigoted and intolerant views of everyone who isn’t like her. At the time, she was peddling her self-published ode to herself called The Stoning of Sally Kern: The Liberal Attack on Christian Conservatism. Of course, she doesn’t mind the idea of stoning other people, like Muslims, for instance.
Or gays and lesbians, having said that only self-loathing can give gays hope, and compared gays to terrorists:
You know if you just look at it in practical terms, which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/ AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people, adults too, but especially our young people, are bombarded at school, in movies, in music, on TV, in the mall, in magazines, they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean.
But again sanity has prevailed: HB 1552 has been shot down. The Washington Post reports that “Oklahoma’s House of Representatives approved the new bill by a vote of 76-3 in 2011, but it wasn’t heard in a Senate committee until this year. The Senate Rules Committee rejected the bill Thursday (April 5) in a 9-6 vote.”
Ooopsie again. At least somebody was paying attention to the Constitution. Kern, undeterred, “said she was shocked by the committee’s failure to pass the bill,” reported Tulsa’s KTUL.
“This measure has broad support in Oklahoma and killing it is a slap in the face to voters who believe foreign law should have no bearing on legal decisions that impact Oklahomans in Oklahoma.”
Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Jersey have all tried without success to follow Oklahoma’s lead and there is no doubt at all that Christian bigots in Oklahoma will keep trying to defend Oklahomans from this non-existent problem. That’s what Oklahoma State Sen. Anthony Sykes promised to do last April, saying that passing HB 1552 was like “waving a white flag” and that “should we come to a point where S.Q. 755 is no longer an option, then other measures would be considered.” Kern evidently agrees, reports TulsaWorld.com: “State Rep. Sally Kern said Monday that there is a strong possibility that she will try to revive legislation opposed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “
It’s what Republicans and Tea Partiers have done best since 2010: protect Americans from non-existent threats. It’s the easy way out: it saves them from having to actually work at solving existing problems they have no interest in fixing because it violates their religion and political ideology.
Sally Kern is a hater; it’s apparently all she knows and it’s all she brings to the table as a politician. It is clearly why she was elected and what she was expected to do by those who voted for her: hate and legislate that hate. It doesn’t matter that it’s anti-constitutional and even anti-American. And she is expected, as is every post-2010 Republican legislator, to get those laws passed no matter what, and at whatever cost to the rights of those she claims to be representing. On the basis of GOP legislation since 2010, it is an inescapable conclusion that Republican governance is bad governance.
Image from United Nations ESCAP
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.