Let’s say you wanted to whip together a Republican today, a procedure that requires a recipe. You’d have to ask yourself, “What goes into making a Republican anyway?” Well,there are a few simple ingredients, none of them savory, unfortunately:
- A boundless capacity for dishonesty. A Republican politician feels, as Romney pollster Neil Newhouse put it, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” It is difficult to find a politician who does not stretch things a bit from time to time but c’mon. Only a Republican politician will come out and say, “We’re going to lie and lie often.” You only have to look at whichmitt.com for an example of mendacious Republican dishonesty in this election. As syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts wrote in a Seattle Times op-ed, “Yes, we’re all intellectually dishonest on occasion. But no one does it like Republican conservatives. They are to intellectual dishonesty what Michael Jordan was to basketball or The Temptations to harmony: the avatar, the exemplar, the paradigm. They have elevated it beyond hypocrisy and political expedience. They have made it … art.” Watch the Republican National Convention and see for yourself. And if you catch them at it, you’re guilty of trying to steal the election by pointing it out. When Anderson Cooper of CNN pointed out in 2011 in his “Keeping them honest” segments that Republicans lied more often than Democrats, NewsBusters claimed “Anderson Cooper 360 often looks like it’s trying to keep Republicans away from the White House.” It never occurred to them that perhaps he found more Republican lies because Republicans lie more often. And then there is Rush Limbaugh and his claim that the Democratic Party’s use of facts amounts to “voter suppression”!
- A matching capacity for hypocrisy is essential. No matter how much of a “lustful cockmonster” (to borrow a phrase) a GOP politician is shown to be by their behavior, they must be willing to get out there and sell the Bible and family values. No matter how much money a Republican politician might take from the government, whether via stimulus or student loans or healthcare, they must be willing to condemn government. We all remember how Sarah Palin bragged about “hust[ling] over the border to Canada” for some of that socialized single-payer health care she didn’t want any of us to get in this country. And more recently, it turns out, Paul Ryan of the infamous Ryan Plan, who hates Obamacare with a purple passion, “applied for was made available by Obamacare, and he wanted the funds to be used for the Kenosha Community Health Center’s expansion called the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center,” as Ray Madeiros wrote here the other day. And to make matters worse, for the anti-contraception Ryan, this health center supplies contraception! Whichmitt.com gets another mention here as well. Lastly, I might mention that more than a few folks have noticed that the gun-toting Republicans don’t hold their conventions and debates in a place where they can all tote their guns – no guns allowed is the rule of thumb for the gun-packing GOP.
- Misogyny. Republican ass-hattery (I can’t even use the term ‘political philosophy’) insists that the proper role of a woman is as a mother. Women should not be employed; they should stay at home, have babies, and raise them while their husbands work. They oppose equal wages for women; they oppose laws that would protect women from domestic violence; and they oppose legislation designed to address women’s healthcare needs. They insist there is no ‘war on women’ but the weight of evidence is against them in the form of their own legislative record since 2010. And look at the recent rhetoric: Rick Santorum said early this year that women should stay at home as traditional wives. And we all remember how Michele Bachmann said women should obey their husbands back in 2006. Pat Robertson built on this theme yesterday when a man called in to say his wife “has no respect” for him “as the head of the house.” Roberton’s not-exactly-Dear-Abby moment was: “Well, you could become a Muslim, and you could beat her.” The man’s “gotta stand up to her, and he can’t let her get away with this stuff. And you know…I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days, but something’s gotta be done to make her—” And no one will ever forget Rush Limbaugh’s characterization of Sandra Fluke as a “slut,” or Pat Buchanan’s claim that women are “less equipped psychologically” to succeed in the workplace.
- Racism. There is a reason the Republican Party is white. They have, in the process of becoming God’s Own Party, repurposed themselves as the party of white Americans – particularly older, male, white Americans (it helps to be wealthy). It is difficult to find a Republican politician who will stand up for minorities (unless searching for means to hide their misogyny as, for example, by inventing a threat to minority fetuses in order to pass a new abortion law). Republican politicians, almost without exception, back restriction of minority voting rights, immigration, and oppose First Amendment rights for religious minorities (even Muslims, members of the world’s second largest religion!). And if you’re Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), you just have to appear on a white nationalist radio program that’s been condemned by both the ADL and SPLC for calling blacks “heathen savages” among other things. And no one will ever forget “Barack the Magic Negro” or the images of the White House surrounded by a watermelon patch or all those lovely images shared around, and carried, by the Tea Party faithful. I’ll leave you with this one, sent by a California Tea Partier, Marilyn Davenport of the Orange County Republican Party with the caption: “Now you know why — No birth certificate!” And if a black president is bad, how much worse than states that lose their white majority, as Ann Coulter said of California, claiming this loss “has already destroyed” the state. Pat Buchanan applied this complaint to the entire country and promptly became a conservative martyr by losing his job at MSNBC.
- Religious bigotry. Since Barry Goldwater’s defeat in 1964, Evangelical Christianity has infiltrated the Republican Party, and by 2001 this takeover was complete. We were told that God, not the American people had chosen George W. Bush as president, and that in attacking Iraq we were fighting not only Saddam Hussein but Satan himself. The 2008 election featured Sarah Palin, who was blessed by her own personal witch-hunter, as Esther reborn, and a promise that God would do the right thing for America on Election Day, 2008. In 2011 we saw a Republican presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, hold his own prayer fast featuring the most extremist elements of conservative Christianity. In 2012, every Republican candidate sold him or herself to the conservative Christian base, almost falling over each other to prove who was the most fervent in their belief (including supposed libertarian Ron Paul). This religious fanaticism embraces a rabid Islamophobia, homophobia, anti-environmentalism, and a continued insistence that everything outside itself is “paganism” – even atheism. But most bizarrely, it mandates an insistence that “religious freedom” applies only to Christians (and not all Christians at that since, as Rick Santorum (who once told people, don’t hate on the Crusades) said in 2008, mainline Protestantism “is gone from the world of Christianity as I see it.”). All religious freedom is then, is a justification for conservative Christians to bully everyone else without the victims having the right to protest what is being done to them, since any word of objection is immediately interpreted as persecution and a “war on Christianity.”
- Embrace an Alternate Reality (aka Bartonism). Conservative-friendly history is all the rage these days. Republican politicians must embrace an alternate reality, including an American history repurposed to suit the GOP’s culture war agenda. David Barton, with his religious education degree from Oral Roberts, is the prime mover here, shilling his fantasies to every Republican politician who will listen. Nobody can forget Mike Huckabee telling Americans they ought to be forced to listen to Barton at gunpoint. Kirk Cameron offered a perfect example of this embrace of fantasy the other day, insisting that “According to our forefathers, God IS the platform!” That must be why God, the Bible, and the Ten Commandments are so prevalent in the Constitution, huh, Kirk? But wait! Not to be outdone by a merely-former child actor, Rick Santorum proved he was worth his name by traveling back in time and reading minds (he certainly hasn’t proven he can read books), claiming that by the “happiness” part of the “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” equation, our founding fathers meant “to pursue God’s will.” The base may love this crap, but shouldn’t history have some…oh, I don’t know…historical facts in it?
- And last but not least, a dogged insistence that none of this is true, that it is the Democrats who lie, who are hypocrites, who are racists and misogynists, who are religious fanatics (with liberalism or more bizarrely, secularism being a religion, and who are victims of an alternate reality. These claims are often accompanied by violent overtones, as with the recent example of Tea Party radio host Rusty Humphries, who said, you just “have to treat these liberals like dogs; grab them by their collar [and yell] ‘bad Democrat, no!'” Worse examples come from Ann Coulter, and there are many others. In 2011, Media Matters provided a chilling for-instance: “Let’s recall that last March when Congress was preparing to vote on passing health care reform, partisans in the far-right press denounced the vote in apocalyptic language as they depicted Democrats as monsters who deserved to be physically tortured.”Because liberals should be tortured, or, as Glenn Beck said of Nancy Pelosi in 2009, have poison put in their wine, or, as Beck also said in 2009, stakes driven through their hearts.
These ingredients (and I could add others by giving hatred of government its own category, or crony capitalism), we might call them symptoms, together create a perfect storm for America in 2012, a repeal not only of all liberal governance since the New Deal, but a repeal of the Enlightenment’s basis for America itself and a return instead to a pre-Constitution, politically fragmented, religiously bigoted Puritan America. How you can call something that precedes America “pro-American” and something that supports the Constitution “anti-American” is anybody’s guess, but that’s where the dishonesty and hypocrisy come in full force.
So that’s your Republican politician of 2012. You can season to taste since there are always going to be those who are a little more dishonest or a little more racist or a little more religiously bigoted, but they will all have every ingredient listed here. I can’t actually suggest using this recipe, since the result tastes like shit, and you’ll get sick besides and not having any healthcare, you’ll die. But hey, it’s a free country…so far.
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.