Dog whistle politics refers to the use of certain subjects or phrases that have very special meaning to a specific voting bloc, and represents a particularly insidious use of loaded language. Republicans are big on dog whistle politics, particularly going into a midterm election where they have no apparent agenda to run on, and as is usually the case with Republicans, they are appealing to a dependable voting bloc that are rabid over socially conservative (read religious) issues.
At the Values Voters summit, a dependable cast of Republican religious extremists took turns inciting Christians to vote for Republicans; not for a stronger economy, more jobs, healthcare, infrastructure improvements, higher wages, a clean and safe environment, or education, but for Christianity. There is a good reason Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, particularly, were marshaling electoral support for Republicans using religious dog whistles and it is simply because Republicans across the nation have nothing else to run on.
Republicans cannot possibly claim the economy is suffering since the latest economic report revealed that America’s economy grew at a rate not seen in eight years (since 2006), two years before Republicans created the Great Recession. It is noteworthy that the growth was in spite of a small tax increase on the very richest Americans and without wiping out environmental, workplace, and banking regulations Republicans perpetually claim destroy economic growth. It is true all of the growth is benefitting corporations and the wealthy, but only because Republicans refuse to help hard-working Americans who hold the distinction of being recipients of the lowest wages among the world’s most economically developed nations.
Even the Republicans’ favorite whipping boy, the Affordable Care Act is not a valid campaign issue like Republicans errantly thought it was in 2012. Particularly since reports emerged that most people are, in fact, paying their own premiums costing the government less, and those premiums are coming in much lower than expected. The dreaded “Obamacare” is turning out to be a popular program Republicans are ill-advised to campaign against as an economy, job, and people killer. So with no reality-based campaign issue, one might think Republicans would opt to campaign on raising wages, bringing off-shored jobs back home, or any number of things the people support like immigration reform, gun control, or higher wages, but they are not; particularly when religious extremists are desperate for politicians to legislate according to religion.
At the Value Voters Summit, the man who would be Pope, Ted Cruz, implored the “righteous” to flock to the polls in November to “vote Harry Reid out” to defend their Christian values. Cruz drew a standing ovation for calling on Christians to “defend the First Amendment or free speech or religious liberty, and vote Harry Reid out,” even though Senator Reid is not up for re-election or advocating for abolishing the 1st Amendment; that is the purview of Republicans. According to the Texas Republican and evangelical savior, Republican voters do not have to abandon their righteous values and promised the Christians that if they vote for a Republican-controlled Senate, Republicans will “stand for life, for marriage, for Israel,” and for good measure assured the crowd the Republicans would abolish the Internal Revenue Service, repeal Common Core, and “repeal every word of Obamacare.”
Cruz scolded Christians who had the temerity to consider embracing same-sex marriage and contraception, and demanded that as good conservatives, Republican voters stick to their Christian roots drawing wild cheers from the crowd. Cruz also accused congressional Democrats and President Obama of being an “extremist radical party” because they are not sending America’s fighting men and women on a Christian crusade to stand up for Christians he claims are being persecuted for being Christians all around the globe. He said, “This is a time of great crisis, but it is no greater than the crisis that so many of us have faced in our own lives” and quoted the bible to assure the faithful that if they dutifully voted for theocracy, they would experience the “joy that cometh in the morning” because they stood by their Christian values and voted for Republicans.
Although libertarian Rand Paul did not spew fire and brimstone like Cruz, he did attempt to convince Christians that voting for and electing Republicans would start a “revival of Christian values.” Paul told the Christian crowd that Republicans know “where there is liberty there is always plenty of space for God,” and that what America really needs is “something more than laws. We need something that civilizes a nation, and that is virtue. What America really needs is a revival.” Part of Paul’s revival includes an all-out attack on abortion and said “The debate isn’t really about whether government has a role in protecting life. The debate really hinges on when life begins. Don’t tell me that babies have no rights simply because they’re not yet born.”
For a so-called medical professional, Paul should know that a fetus is not a baby until it exits the mother’s womb, and according to the god of the bible, it is not a “living being” until it breathes air. But medical science and the god of the bible are irrelevant to the theocracy crowd and Democrats had better comprehend that the theocrats will show up at the polls and they will elect Republicans who will wage a real war on women; likely with a rash of personhood and anti-contraception laws to effectively eliminate women’s rights.
Paul, like Cruz, did not fail to attack Democrats and President Obama for not defending Christians around the globe. He said, “You and I must stand with Christians in the Middle East” and enraged the crowd into a frenzy by reminding them that Christians are being persecuted worldwide and there is no crusade against Islam. He also implied, strongly, that the Obama Administration is complicit because there is a Christian sitting in prison in Pakistan that proves Democrats are not interested in a military crusade against oppression of Christians abroad because Pakistan gets American economic aid.
Democrats should not underestimate the religious right vote because they are not driven by anything other than fundamentalist religious fervor and there is nothing on Earth as dangerous. Events in Syria and Iraq involving a group of fundamentalist religious extremists should reinforce that simple fact, and as recent comments from Christian fundamentalists calling for Muslims to “convert or die” reveal, there is little difference between the extremists in the Islamic State (ISIL) and those at the Values Voter summit.
Democrats must comprehend that those Values Voter extremists could not care less about the economy, jobs, healthcare, or the environment because they are laser-focused on eliminating women’s rights, gay rights, contraception, abortion, and education that is not founded on the Christian bible. Republicans certainly understand what motivates their righteous base and they are dutifully blowing every dog whistle in their biblical arsenal. Because although they have nothing else, they have what matters to theocrats and it should frighten the life out of every American who loves living in a democracy; a democracy that is in jeopardy of being replaced with a corporate theocracy that Republicans are as anxious to enact as their “values voters.”
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.
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