Happening Here

Andrew Sullivan’s got a nice post on Republicanism as Religion.

[The current GOP] can only think in doctrines, because the alternative is living in a complicated, global, modern world they both do not understand and also despise. Taxes are therefore always bad. Government is never good. Foreign enemies must be pre-emptively attacked. Islam is not a religion. Climate change is an elite conspiracy to impoverish America. Terror suspects are terrorists. When Americans torture, it is not torture. When Christians murder, they are not Christians. And if you change your mind on any of these issues, you are a liberal, an apostate, and will be attacked.

If your view of conservatism is one rooted in an instinctual, but agile, defense of tradition, in a belief in practical wisdom that alters constantly with circumstance, in moderation and the defense of the middle class as the stabilizing ballast of democracy, in limited but strong government … then the GOP is no longer your party (or mine).

Religion has replaced all of this, reordered it, and imbued the entire political-economic-religious package with zeal. And the zealous never compromise. They don’t even listen.

Think of Michele Bachmann’s wide-eyed, Stepford stare as she waits for a questioner to finish before providing another pre-cooked doctrinal nugget. My fear – and it has building for a decade and a half, because I’ve seen this movement up-close from within and also on the front lines of the marriage wars – is that once one party becomes a church with unchangeable doctrines, and once it has supplanted respect for institutions and civility with the radical pursuit of timeless doctrines and hatred of governing institutions, then our democracy is in grave danger.

He ends with a defense of Obama: “If you ask why I remain such a strong Obama supporter, it is because I see him as that rare individual able to withstand the zeal without becoming a zealot in response, and to overcome the recklessness of pure religious ideology with pragmatism, civility and reason.”

As disappointed I have been with Obama, he is more than the lesser of two evils. Even if you concede that both parties are controlled by Wall St., one party is also controlled by religion. Even if a President Perry enacted the EXACT same policies as Obama, his presence on the world stage legitimizes fundamentalism. Corporate fundamentalism is bad. Corporate fundamentalism + religious fundamentalism is worse. And the right are more corporate fundamentalists because of that religious influence. As much as you might want to say that there’s no difference between the two parties, that just isn’t true.  That Obama can rely on the insanity of the Republican Party to take the Democratic party further to the right is aggravating, but it’s still to the left of religious fascism.

Meanwhile, Don Campbell has a nice post about creeping fascism as portrayed in fiction at Apex (nice too because it mentions TABOTD):

In 1935 Doubleday published the novel It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. The plot may sound familiar to you. A populist politician, one whose ideas supposedly reflect those of the common man, rises to power. He himself is viewed as a somewhat average Joe, charismatic and easy to listen to. He makes promises that the ordinary citizen finds attractive and thus they elect him president. As he takes control, his tenure rapidly becomes dictatorial. Dissent is outlawed, political enemies are removed to camps, Congress is eliminated. Outrage is met with martial law and still many support him for his patriotism and ideals.

If it sounds like Nazi Germany, that’s because it was a novel written to parallel Hitler’s rise to power well before World War II kicked into high gear, but set in the United States. Many people were convinced such a thing could never happen on American soil, but Lewis understood the ease with which such things can be accepted by the unsuspecting. Before the truth is realized, it’s often too late. Hitler did not seize power, he was given power. The people supported him at the beginning and they went on supporting him, making excuses for his actions, well after it was obvious what he was really up to.

Read on.

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