Keeping the Religious Right-Wing Alive
By: Bob Minor
Almost 80 million people voted for a Barack Obama that talked about real change including single-payer healthcare and the end of Wall Street and other corporations pulling the strings in Washington. A march of - at most - 60,000 in Washington in September should mean nothing - that's only about 1/10th of one percent of the people who voted for the loser.
But for reasons I'm not clear about, bipartisanship, meaning making sure the majority doesn't rule, is a mantra of this president and a gang of six who act morally superior to the rest of the misguided citizens and politicians who want healthcare for all and fair economic rules.
Every time I hear one of these six paragons speak, the issues they are working on are always those from the right-wing. The views of the left were rejected before we began with the excuse that the left is impractical and naive. It's the losers on the right that get their attention, especially as a reward for disrupting a joint session of Congress shouting the President lies.
One comedian quipped that the goal of bipartisanship for Obama and conservative Democratic leaders is to keep the Republican Party alive so they can take back the Congress in 2010. Another, Bill Maher, calls the Democrats our national corporate party and the Republicans the party of nutcases.
None of this works with the right-wing. It does alienate the base of people who wanted real change and makes the voters wonder if anyone but the right-wing can get things done in this country. It helps those who attempt what they believe is a high road feel good, but it also feeds the cynicism out there.
How many times do they have to promote a bill for a stimulus package or health care that's compromised so much to the right-wing to be ineffective, only to watch no Republicans support it? How many times does one give in to a right-wing bully who's goal is to prove Obama is a bad president by picking on one presidential advisor (Czar) after another, before one realizes that bullys aren't defeated by letting them win.
Expecting to win over any of the right-wing who didn't vote for Obama or the more progressive Democrats by enabling them is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results - a definition of insanity.
When will people get that THE ONE GOAL of the Republican Party is to defeat this President and Democratic Congress. For more extremist elements on the right-wing, it's to lynch the uppity Negro.
Nothing has changed. What looks like a threat to the right-wing - the election of a "liberal" non-white president to reverse the triumph they thought they had secured with the election of the Christian hero they thought they had in Bush - is the new greater evil they must fight.
Adele Stan, Washington Bureau Chief for AlterNet is dead on. The religious right "is not dead; it has simply had a makeover." ("Right-Wingers Marching in DC Is Big News - But the Same Old Faces Are Pulling the Strings," 9/14/09) It's been folded into a new coalition, "which emphasizes the resentments of white people who feel economically and culturally threatened, while occasionally referencing the evangelical fervor that marks the latter-day religious right."
The religiously addicted are still here and still shooting up. Always in the background are their usual causes: anti-women's choice and dehumanizing LGBT people.
They haven't given up undoing any gains that have been made. Equality Maine knows that now, and Iowa will see it happen too. They can't go cold turkey on what gives them the feeling of being righteous when all around them seems to be contradicting what they've bet their worth on.
But something else is the personification of every evil now.
As I argued in When Religion Is an Addiction, their fix is still political activities. What gives them their high is all the user activities seen in marching and organizing to defeat evil, now personified in this non-white President who can represent every satanic threat from socialism to fascism, from Communism to the end of the country as we know it.
No wonder it's easy to get church-going people to carry thoroughly disgusting signs or throw aside all decorum to disrupt what they see is the devil before them, represented by elected officials. No wonder it's easy for their signs to picture the President in terms of every demonic image for them - a witch doctor, the Joker, or Hitler. It might as well be the anti-Christ or Satan.
The mainstream media isn't going to do anything but enable the addicted. Even without FOX News, it's still trying to portray them as having legitimate grievances.
The enabling response is to try to appease, to reason with, to compromise, to act as if out-nice-ing them more will bring the addicts around. But this attention only feeds their addiction.
A healthy response is to move forward, stay on task, protect ourselves, and pursue the change that will fix a country that is desperately sick. We don't have to be mean or hateful, just confident about what needs to be done.
America's disastrous health care system is responsible for incalculable amounts of illness, death, lost productivity and federal deficit - not to mention anxiety, anger and disgrace, writes investigative reporter Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone. And it's not going to get fixed, he adds, because it's encased in another failed system: the U.S. government.
Rather than attempt to remedy the problem this summer, our government sat down and demonstrated its dizzying ineptitude. "We might look back on this summer someday and think of it as the moment when our government lost us for good," writes Taibbi. "It was that bad."
I hope he's wrong.
We must do this for ourselves. The addicted will just have to stand back and complain.
But, they'll grow even stronger if we continue to appease what can never, ever be appeased in them.
Robert N. Minor, Ph.D., is author of When Religion Is an Addiction, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, and author of Scared Straight: Why It's So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It's So Hard to Be Human and Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society. Contact him at www.fairnessproject.org.
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