Losing the election seems to have really shaken the American conservative movement deeply and the most significant long term effect, that I perceive, is watching some important, born again, wooly-evangelicals slowly morphing into what, in Europe, would be classified as Christian-Democrats.
It might be that the descendents of people who voted for William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long and FDR may again be susceptible to the “populist” messages of Democrats bearing “gifts.”
Surprising, perhaps, but eminently logical, because one of the most curious strange bedfellows effects of American politics has been the alliance between those who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ and those who are demonstrably followers of Ayn Rand and who propose lowering the taxes for the super rich and cutting assistance to the needy, who they often refer to as “moochers.”
The success of this alliance always depended on the infusing of the teachings of Jesus with racism, homophobia and the love of firearms. This is known as the “God, Guns and Gays” formula. Even a cursory reading of the teachings of Jesus would show us that this formula is more “tribal” than theological, to say the least. This is the center of the What’s the Matter with Kansas conundrum.
Why Christians were ever interested in guns and pampering the rich passeth all understanding, however, the reasons for the Randistas to seek the company of Christians are not hard to figure out.
Since it is obvious that a political movement whose slogan was simply, “help the super rich to avoid paying taxes and to escape bothersome regulations that would cramp their style,” besides not fitting on a bumper sticker, would not win enough votes to shape policy effectively, it was necessary to craft something with broader appeal.
This simple idea began to take shape when Richard Nixon hatched his Southern Strategy, a tactic whereby by championing the dog-whistle, “state’s rights,” the Republican Party ceased to be the party of Lincoln, the party that freed the slaves, which nobody in the South (who was allowed to vote), ever ever voted for, and became the party of choice of the all the racists, reactionaries, religious fanatics and assorted rednecks.
Ronald Reagan’s “Reagan Democrats” strengthened the mix in the North with his talk of “welfare queens,” thus weakening the unions and then this brew has come to its fullest fruition with Fox News and the Tea Party.
Of course, at the center of all the nuttiness of today’s Republicans, in reality, is their bankrollers’ fear of taxes and regulation. For them the ceaseless culture warfare is merely a tactic to simultaneously attract and confuse a sufficient number of the ignorant to enable the “one-percenters” to paralyze the political process and pack the Supreme Court in coming years with justices that would roll back all the progressive legislation going back to Roosevelt (I’m talking about Theodore Roosevelt here, not just FDR). It looks like in this post-Romney moment the arrangement may be unraveling.
Precisely to pack the Supreme Court, winning the presidential election of 2012 and getting Obama out of the White House, and getting a union buster in, was dear to the hearts of America’s billionaires, they spent hundreds of millions of dollars to that effect and came up empty … Republican politicians, men and women who would like to get into office and stay in office, have taken note of a simple fact — the billionaires can’t buy them power — that a majority of the American people want what Mitt Romney calls “gifts:” affordable health care and education… and are quite happy to see the rich pay for it.
Significantly, the religious right has also taken note.
The problem that the one-percenters have with the religious right is that on one hand for the Bible-thumpers, their ideology, “right to life” etc, is the center of their agenda: their ideological position trumps money. While, on the other hand, for the billionaires money is their ideology, nothing trumps money.
The two groups, evangelicals and one-percenters have different priorities, what Chairman Mao used to call different “primary and secondary contradictions.”
I’ll give you an example of what I mean, an excerpt from an op-ed that one of America’s most important evangelical gurus wrote in the Washington Post, an article by Robert Jefress, which I don’t think has received the attention it deserves.
They don’t much more socially conservative than the Reverend Jefress, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, a preacher with a daily radio program that is broadcast on 725 stations nationwide.
To give you an idea, of how conservative Jefress is, although he generously denies that President Barack Obama is the Antichrist, he affirms that, “the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”
So check out Reverend Jefress’s “trip to Damascus:”