What I Hate About Republicans–Fundamentalism

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

This is the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, one of the most broadly interpreted–and hotly contested–parts of the U.S. Constitution.

The Establishment Clause was initially interpreted to mean the U.S. Congress only.  Many of the states had already adopted official churches. However, by the early 19th century–when many of the founding fathers were still involved in governance–the interpretation had already been broadened to include elements of state and local government.  However, the Clause didn’t formally include the states until the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1947 ruling on Emerson vs. The Board of Education.  The ruling echoed writings by Thomas Jefferson on the subject in which he envisioned a “wall of separation” between the government and the church.  It makes sense.  They had just rebelled against a Christian theocracy; it stands to reason that they wouldn’t want to re-establish the same system here in America.

Like many of the ideals expressed in the Constitution, our interpretation  of the church/state relationship has evolved.  Both sides have positions rooted in the origins of our nation.  The real question is, do we want to progress with those ideals or go backwards?

This is where Conservatives and strict Constitutionalists miss the point.  The greatness of the U.S. Constitution is its adaptability to the needs of the times while maintaining core values regarding  liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, pursuit of happiness, et al; not because it was perfect as-ratified in 1788, long before the automobile, the airplane, the nuclear bomb, modern medicine, and the Internet.  Remember, the Constitution also allowed for slavery and counted slaves as 3/5 of a person.

But then Christian fundamentalism has its roots in the vestiges of slave culture.  In the 1960s Republicans courted southern whites enraged over the Civil Rights Movement as part of the Southern Strategy.  Republicans positioned themselves not simply as proponents of Christianity, but rather as defenders of Christian supremacy.  This is not about protecting peoples’ right to worship; it’s about imposing their particular brand of Christianity on all Americans.

This brand of Christian fundamentalism is called Dominionism, the belief that secular government must be eliminated in favor of theocracy.  It’s basically fascism toting a crucifix.  Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, and Sarah Palin number among the nationally known Republicans who subscribe to this theory.

…Which brings us back to the Establishment Clause.

I believe that, much like the issue of slavery, the Founding Fathers were not stauncher in their enforcement of the Establishment Clause in the interests of pragmatism.  It would have been detrimental to the birth of the new nation to  embroil it in a battle over economics and religion.

Yet regardless of how we might interpret the Establishment Clause, what is not debatable is that the Founders did not intend for us to be a theocracy, Christian or otherwise.  How do we know this?  The Constitution itself.  All the framers needed to do was state, “These United States of America shall be a theocratic union…” or ” The official religion of these United States shall be…” or something to that effect.  The fact that such language is notably absent from the Constitution speaks volumes about the Founding Fathers’ intentions.

Of course, there are the words of the Founding Fathers themselves:

“And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But may we hope that the dawn of reason and freedom of thought in these United States will do away with this artificial scaffolding, and restore to us the primitive and genuine doctrines of this most venerated reformer of human errors.” —Thomas Jefferson, Letter to John Adams, April 11, 1823

Let it simply be asked, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion.”  –George Washington, Farewell Address

“The priesthood have, in all ancient nations, nearly monopolized learning. And ever since the Reformation, when or where has existed a Protestant or dissenting sect who would tolerate A FREE INQUIRY? …  But touch a solemn truth in collision with a dogma of a sect, though capable of the clearest proof, and you will find you have disturbed a nest, and the hornets will swarm about your eyes…and fly into your face…” — John Adams, letter to John Taylor

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are 20 gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”–Thomas Jefferson

The Christian Right mistakenly argues that our nation’s founders were all Christians (much less wanted a Christian theocracy).  Many did believe.  Many others, including, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams were  Deists.  It stands to reason then, that they would want a nation in which all people were free to believe–or not believe–as they choose.   It was a concept unique in the world at the time and which many Christian fundamentalists have difficulty comprehending. 

Obviously, faith can be a guide, but it cannot be the basis by which laws are made.  That would, by definition, make us a theocracy, no different structurally than Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

This is where the Republican party bears responsibility.  In courting the Christian fundamentalist vote they have perpetuated a dangerous element in politics.  And the  Republican leadership supported fundamentalism not because they shared their deep, albeit hateful, type of faith.  They did it to acquire a devoted, factually ignorant, and malleable voting block, one conditioned to accept cloudy answers and fall in line with a simple call to faith.

They set discriminatory and oppressive policies, cherry-picked in the interests of their own insecurities, and shroud them in religion.  They claim their purposes are noble; faith is personal and sacred; and to challenge their beliefs is disrespectful and taboo.  In fact, we are the cultural assailants because we won’t let them impose their beliefs on us.

On top of all of that, the most terrifying thing about these Christian extremists is their longing for the Rapture.  Call it Armageddon, call it Judgement Day, they yearn for the destruction of this world because they believe God’s Kingdom awaits them on the other side.  True, the Christian extremists controlling the Republican party want to fundamentally change our form of government. But their ultimate goal is a Holy War.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon both people of reason and reasonable faith to join together to not only oppose Republican Dominionism but to eradicate its influence from American politics.    This is not about abortion rights.  It’s not about gay marriage or the social safety net or U.S. foreign policy.

This is about what kind of America we want to live in: a Christian theocracy based on a narrow interpretation of the Bible, or a nation of laws based on reason, liberty, and equality of opportunity for everyone.  We have to decide and then fight for it.

Otherwise we are going to reap the whirlwind.

This is the end of Bill Maher’s documentary Religulous.  It’s a bit too broad and propagandized, but hyperbole aside, it’s accurate about a point many people don’t want to talk about.

What I Hate About Republicans–Objectivism

Ayn Rand is definitely one of the more interesting thinkers of the 20th Century.  Conservatives absolutely love her.  She’s the jam to their jelly roll.

Ms. Rand pioneered a philosophy called Objectivism, which argues that reality exists as an independent absolute.  There is no God, no spirituality, no insight, no intuition, and no instinct; there is only man–made heroic by self-determination–his perception, and the cold hard reason by which he can comprehend this reality.  Since there are no higher powers, the crux of morality is rational self-interest.  We have no intrinsic moral responsibility to our community.  Self sacrifice is a fool’s endeavor.  In other words, get yours.

It’s not warm and fuzzy, but it’s rational–after a fashion–and served as an interesting counterbalance to the existentialist malaise pervading 20th century Europe.

According to Ms. Rand,  the highest form of government is 100% free-market capitalism: No regulations, no health or safety standards, no taxes, no labor laws, etc.  This is the best environment for the self-determined individual to prosper  and the cream to rise.  As for the unlucky, well, they deserve whatever fate they receive.  Life’s hard.

This is where her philosophy goes wonky.  Ms. Rand believed that in an utterly laissez-faire environment people will somehow, for some inexplicable and–by her own rationale–unjustified reason, come together and engage in honest, fair, well-intentioned business with one another.

Liberals are always painted as dreamers and idealists with our heads in the clouds.  Meanwhile, this free-market-heals-all-wounds Shangri-la bullshit is the biggest political fiction of the last century…except for maybe supply-side economics.   (Ironically, Rand was a chain smoker and contracted lung cancer from cigarettes manufactured by an unregulated tobacco company that lied about the effects of its product.)

The fundamental flaw here is that objectivism holds the rights of the individual as the highest moral good.  Yet it doesn’t take much thinking to come up with plenty of circumstances where the needs of the group would exceed the needs of the individual.  We are not islands.  Establishing and maintaining market standards, transportation, communication, and defense would ensure an overall better standard of living for more people.  In objectivism, the rights of one individual supercede the rights of the group.  The theory that unregulated markets will lead us to Utopia where there won’t be rampant lying, cheating, scamming, robbery, graft, racketeering, intimidation, violence, and murder is fantastical and was disproved by history long ago.

I could spend all day picking apart this cockamamie philosophy.  But the truly repugnant aspect I take from it–and that Republicans embrace–is the disregard for their fellow man.   Objectivists believe that we are not beholden to one another; that it’s a better world when we’re all just looking out for ourselves.  There are no higher authorities, therefore the ultimate moral good is to get as filthy stinking rich as you can.

Decent, rational people cannot possibly believe this.

To Ms. Rand’s credit, she was at least consistent.  She believed the government had no right to impose, either to help or to hinder.

Republicans however, use Rand’s philosophy to justify corporate cronyism.  It is the ultimate goal of the Republican Party to eliminate all government-run social programs and give those proceeds to the top 1%.  There is no level of success or amount of good that can be done that will change their minds about the social safety net.  We could end illiteracy, end hunger, hell, we could wipe out cancer;  if the government took a penny from a single citizen to do it, they consider it philosophically and morally wrong.  And they will continue to actively undermine these programs to further their agenda…no matter who gets hurt by it.

This is grand-scale sociopathy.   Republicans justify their cruelty by blaming the poor and infirm, stereotyping them as weak, lazy, and dumb.  They admit that “something” should be done to help them; but proclaim that the government has no place imposing in such matters, even if it’s the will of the majority.  Somebody has to die of disease or starvation or exposure–not because we can’t prevent it, but because we have no responsibility TO prevent it.  

This is some sinister shit.

It’s Republican red meat.

And it’s yet another reason to hate what they represent.

P.S.  A longer, more objective version of Ayn Rand’s interview (Mike Wallace still kinda steps all over her rather than just letting her speak her piece):

What I Hate About Republicans — Voter Suppression

Voter suppression is a political tactic, in vogue among today’s Republicans, designed to discourage left-leaning voters from exercising their right to vote.  Under the guise of combating voter fraud–of which, after more than 5 years of  investigation, there is almost no evidence–Republicans have enacted draconian voter identification laws specifically designed to impact seniors, blacks, Latinos, and college students (In Virginia, a concealed gun permit is considered acceptable for a voter to cast a ballot but a student I.D. is not).

Republicans have utilized several tactics to try to prevent people from voting:

  • Caging, in which direct mail is sent to addresses of registered Democrats then a list is compiled of all the voters whose letters are returned as undeliverable or forwarded.  Those voters are then challenged at the polls by Republican agents when they show up to vote.
  • Impeding voter registration, by imposing strict regulations on voter registration and even penalizing late registration.  A popular way to do this is by attacking organizations that specialize in registering voters such as the League of Women Voters who ended their registration program in Florida after 91-years due to oppressive legislation, and the successful but unfounded defamation of Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now(ACORN) which led to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing after being defunded by congress.
  • Denial of voting rights to convicted felons,which I can kinda understand for rapists and murderers–although it’s a total revenge move–but you rob a convenience store and you can never vote again? While they’re in jail, I agree, no voting; on probation, I get the argument, but once someone has served their debt to society, they should have their full rights returned to them.  I could even understand if this was honestly in the  interest of protecting victims, but truth is the majority of ex-cons won’t be voting Republican, so the Republicans have them removed from the picture.
  • Purging of voter rolls is another way of suppressing votes. In 2008 50,000 voters were purged from the Georgia rolls due to a “mismatch” in their identification.  According to CNN:

Two weeks ago, [college senior Kyla] Berry got disturbing news from local election officials.  “This office has received notification from the state of Georgia indicating that you are not a citizen of the United States and therefore, not eligible to vote,” a letter from the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections said.  But Berry is a U.S. citizen, born in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a passport and a birth certificate to prove it.  The letter, which was dated October 2, gave her a week from the time it was dated to prove her citizenship. There was a problem, though — the letter was postmarked October 9.

  • Misinformation about voting procedure–as happened with the 2011 Wisconsin recall election–to keep people from voting.  As Politico reports:

Mailers have now turned up from Americans For Prosperity Wisconsin, addressed to voters in two of the Republican-held recall districts, where the elections will be held on August 9. The mailers ask recipients to fill out an absentee ballot application, and send it in — by August 11, after Election Day for the majority of these races.

The reason for this nefariousness is surprisingly simple; if every election had high voter turnout (as it did in 2008), conservatives would be permanently marginalized.

They are fully aware of this and admitted as much waaayyyy back in 1980:

What I Hate About Republicans — Intro (Part 2)

So I’m coming back to this series of blogs discussing what I hate about Republicans discussing one point in each blog.  At some point, I plan to move on to what I hate about Democrats, politics in general, and the media (probably sometime in the fall of 2071 at this rate :().  What I initially expected to be 3 or 4 subjects quickly expanded as I started giving the topic some thought.    I limited it to 10:

  1. Bigotry
  2. Voter Suppression
  3. Edification of Greed
  4. Anti-Americanism
  5. Dominionism
  6. Anti-Intellectualism
  7. Objectivism
  8. Extreme Nationalism
  9. Discrimination
  10. Austerity

Obviously, I could write a book on each and every topic–and maybe that’s something I will ultimately do.   The problem with blogging in such a partitioned way is the loss of context which I think is crucial to understanding what Republicans are trying to do.

A good example of this is an element of social conservative philosophy I–and others on the left–call the Fall From Grace theory.  For many social conservatives, the Founding Fathers are, like Christ and the Disciples (or Adam and Eve), fetishized archetypes representing the purity and apex of an ideal–an ideal from which, according to conservatives, we have strayed.  Having fallen from grace we need to “get back to our core values” in order to right the ship.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  It should.  This is a key tenet of fundamentalism.

Obviously this is a nonsensical concept since America’s values have been evolving constantly since our nation’s inception (see slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, etc.).  Nor were our founding Fathers of one unified mind.  Their greatness lies in their ability to bring such strong willed and brilliant men of wildly disparate opinions not only to accord but  an accord that still stands among the great achievements in political thought.   But Republicans don’t overly concern themselves about being historically accurate (I’m looking at you, Newt).  In fact, they outright oppose it.  Tea Party Republicans in Tennessee are fighting to have slavery–and the fact that many Founding Fathers owned them–removed from history books (And don’t even think about mentioning Thomas Jefferson’s jungle fever).  They don’t want anything that makes America ‘look bad’ being taught to children.

This is Orwellian propaganda at its unmitigated worst.

Yet the reasoning behind this philosophy is synergistic.   It incorporates several Republican/conservative ideologies that I am critical of including anti-Americanism, extreme nationalism, and Christian fundamentalism.  This is a crystal clear snapshot of their vision for America.  But when you break the actions down into parts, you can lose the image of the whole.

The Republican party needs to be exposed for what it is: a party of fear and hate.

Force conservatives to either admit to that fear and hatred or distance themselves from it.  And if you want make the argument that the Democratic party has titanic problems as well, I’ll be the first to agree with you.  But the Democrats aren’t pushing for more war in Iran and Palestine.  Democrats aren’t legislating against LGBT Americans’ right to marry.   Democrats aren’t trying to take reproductive and contraceptive rights away from women.    Democrats aren’t pushing stupid laws like Florida’s stand-your-ground self-defense law, which let Trayvon Martin’s killer walk away from the scene of the crime without arrest, murder weapon in hand.  Democrats aren’t trying to re-segregate schools in North Carolina, or take the truth out of American history classes, or science out of education.  Democrats aren’t trying to prevent Muslims from building mosques and practice their religion freely.

These are things we should be talking about.  I don’t want to lose the general idea of Republican lunacy because I keep fixing my nose to each little point.

‘Cause there is a lot to hate about today’s Republican party.

The Education Fix

I come from a family of educators.  My mother, aunt, both uncles, and my grandmother have all been teachers in some fashion.   My youngest brother is currently studying to become an educator.

Being familiar with education, my family has never been supportive of the testing craze currently dominating our education system.  It stresses a limited range of skills and specific types of learning.  And in the end, all we’re really doing is teaching our students how to take a test.

Education is the way by which Americans will compete in the increasingly global economy.  It is also how we can understand the world in which we live, our place in history, and our responsibility to it.  Unfortunately, we are falling further and further behind in this regard.

I really don’t understand why education isn’t a higher priority–actually, I do.  It’s this austerity bullshit our politicians are trying to force down our throats.  They want to gut education to justify tax breaks for billionaires. 

I honestly believe the Republican party–and to a lesser extent the democratic party–has a long term goal of creating a 3rd world economy here in the United States, with a super-rich, elite ruling class, and a docile, ignorant, working class majority that has limited opportunities outside of whatever jobs the elites make available at whatever wages they deem acceptable.

They want no mandatory health care programs, no collective bargaining rights for workers, no Social Security, no Medicare, no minimum wage, no child labor laws, no government regulation of business, and enough education for workers to perform skilled tasks, but not enough to think critically.  They want a flock corralled by religion, conditioned to endure hardship, and never question authority.

The best, most effective way for us to recapture control of our future is with a broad, robust education system; one designed to maximize the potential in each and every student–not meet standardized testing requirements.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that powerful nations crumble from within long before they are conquered from the outside.  Approaching education with the same attitude we have about our military–that we will be the best no matter what it takes–would take us a lot farther toward ensuring our security than we could in building another squadron of fighter jets or ballistic missile platform.

We have an outdated, industrial-age education system that promotes discipline, routine, and rote memory.  Yet we have an information-and-technology-based economy that stresses initiative, critical thinking, and problem solving.  We need a system that to develops the ability to manage, evaluate, and understand information–especially with the myriad ways information comes to us.  But more than that, we need a system that fully develops whatever abilities a student may possess.

In this we are failing ourselves and future generations.  But it doesn’t have to be this way:

So do not buy into the Republican voucher program talking point–the voucher will not be enough to send your kid to a good school.  Do not support politicians who want to cut education funding, including college grants.   Then let’s call for an education revolution.  Tear it all down like the Romans did Carthage, “leave not one stone upon another.” Get away from the testing mania.  Begin rebuilding with evidence-based (i.e., proven teaching method) pilot programs that integrate technology and stress active learning (as opposed to passive learning in which students sit and listen to a teacher lecture) to find the most effective teaching methods.  Dramatically increase teacher pay, especially for grades K-5.  Make it a more prestigious position to attract even better candidates.   Then we’ll be ready to start building a 21st century education system.

Our future literally and critically depends on it.

P.S. thanks to my mom for help with refining the technical jargon and conceptual whodjamawhatsit.  You can visit her blog here.

What Women Need

This post was inspired by a rant on Sinister Blog and the subsequent comments and responses.   I’ll be reiterating some of the ideas discussed there.

Why do Republicans hate women?

The answer is, they don’t.  They just hate strong independent women. They hate women who think they are the equal of men.  For them this hate is justified; men are physically stronger.

Might makes right.  Right?

Leaving aside the fact that pretty much any woman is capable of picking up a .357 and turning your dome into a stadium, we live in the age of information and technology.  Brains are far more important than brawn.  (And for those of you who would argue that women aren’t as intelligent as men, I would say that this is the point where I must beg your leave so that you may return to digging in the mud with your mighty fine stick.  Never argue with fools, I says; let them run and play.)

For the rest of us, we need to understand how we got to this point before we can truly determine where we need to go.

1. Back Story

Religion, as in nearly all things in our culture, plays a significant role in the subjugation of women.  Religion didn’t give birth to misogyny, it merely justified it.

Back in the hunter-gatherer days, marriage didn’t really exist, not the way we consider it today.  Groups of people stuck together for protection and to raise young but there was, generally speaking, and so far as we can tell, no higher purpose.

As hunting and gathering gave way to farming, the importance of owning stuff increased.  People wanted to pass their lands on to their kids.  A fertile wife could provide lots of children to help out around the farm.  So a “good woman’ (i.e a virtuous woman) had value.  Monetary value.  A virtuous woman was one about whom their could be no controversy regarding the paternity of children.  The easiest way ensure this was by marrying a virgin.   Thus a virtuous woman was either a virginal woman or a faithful mother and wife.  At the same time, nobody wanted this other woman to take the family’s hard-earned (and often hard-fought for) possessions, so ownership passed from father to son.  A woman was considered an asset, like a sturdy mule.

So marriage wasn’t always the wondrous union of love-struck souls it supposedly is now; it was a business transaction.  This social contract was codified pretty much unanimously in the western religious texts:

Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

-Deuteronomy 5:21

We always quote the first part, but not the rest.  Kinda changes the meaning, doesn’t it?  And remember that the Old testament is a canonical religious text for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.  There are other texts that demand a woman’s submission to man, but Deuteronomy clearly illustrates the idea that a woman was viewed as a man’s property, like his slaves, his animals, and his land.

2. Present Predicament.

Like all things, the role of woman has evolved over time.  What has remained constant, however, is that in nearly every return to cultural piety, the status of women is greatly reduced.  There currently is an effort to return to those times once more.

Unlike many other issues of social injustice, gender discrimination is not confined to religious fundamentalism.  It is far more pervasive and goes to the core of our culture itself.  The true liberation of women requires a fundamental redefining of gender roles.  Women can take care of themselves and no longer need men to provide for them.  When a man can no longer hold over a woman provision for her lifestyle, he is forced to use other, less developed skills to maintain her favor.  It gives women much more control in relationships and other social interactions.

Additionally, women have increasingly become legitimate competitors in the professional world.  Women graduate from high school, college, and graduate school at higher rates than men.  Women also tend to get better grades in school.  More young women have become disinterested in starting a family, preferring instead to pursue other interests.

"It'll be fun, sweetie. I promise."

Then comes the scary part: women asserting their sexuality.  Women have become increasingly free to explore and express their sexual desires and interests.  And it turns out, women are as kinky and perverted as men (over 30% of all pornography is purchased by women). That all sounds fine and dandy…until your girlfriend breaks out a surprise apparatus she wants to try on you.

Things can get a bit confusing.

I believe this confusion has led to resentment from men and women alike.  The backlash seems to have started sometime in the 1990s when women’s liberation was rolling along.

CSI, PSA, or TMZ?

I started hearing terms like feminazi catching steam.  “Shut up and make me a sandwich” jokes started making the rounds again.  Then corporations began doubling down on the glass ceiling.  Equal pay became an unreasonable demand because women are hormonal and unreliable employees.  In the media, women became increasingly portrayed as victims of physical and sexual brutality or objectified for their sexual beauty.  Pornography got flat out violent.  Slut shaming became vogue again.  And now, reproductive decision-making is being taken out of women’s hands and given to the state.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to see the interconnectivity between these events.  They’re man’s way of reasserting gender dominance.  Unfortunately for its proponents, this reassertion is nothing more than a last desperate gasp.  In the end, the War on Women will share the same fate as the Jim Crow south.  The extreme vestiges will linger; the rest will die.

3. Looking Forward.

As with any movement in social justice, action must be purposeful and deliberate.  And in the push for women’s rights we are doubly obstructed.  Women are as confused by the redefining of gender roles as men.  Many women conform to the male-driven ideal of sexual objectification and submission to remain appealing; many other women conform because they agree with it.  Plus, many women are confined by their own guilt and shame about their sexuality.

"We're hot, right?"

The problem is we cannot, as a society, empower women; women must empower themselves (see Rihanna & Chris Brown).  Society can only give women tools: the information and social programming that will allow them to suffer neither fools nor abuse by a fool’s hand; and to explore their own individuality without constraint or societal judgment.  Women’s liberation is not about making every woman a bisexual-chic big city professional; it’s about a woman being accepted for whatever she chooses to be.

If we truly love women as we claim, we will all work (and fight) to ensure such a future.

What I Hate About Republicans: Bigotry

GOP-style nonsense.

The Solid South was a voting block comprised of the repatriated Confederate states.  From the reconstruction era until the late 1960’s the Solid South voted largely democratic, as the Democratic Party has been pro-slavery prior to the Civil War.  For over 100 years, the Solid South allowed the Democratic party to enjoy a considerable political dominance, especially in the Congress.

The Solid South in Blue

In 1968, in an effort to break up the Solid South, Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign employed a tactic known as the Southern Strategy.  It was a blatant appeal to racism.  Republicans played on southern whites’ anger over the Civil Rights Movement.  They joined the opposition to Civil Rights legislation, polarized racial divisions, and worked to discourage black voters from going to the polls.

It was a largely successful strategy.  The GOP had finally broken the Solid South.  It also popularized the euphemising of bigoted rhetoric.

Throughout our nation’s history, both parties have run on a variety of hate-based platforms.  Of course, prior to the Civil Rights Movement, you could just come out and say who you wanted to discriminate against; we don’t want women in the workplace; we don’t like Jews, Irish, Chinese, etc.  The Civil Rights Movement helped marginalize that archaic way of thinking.  Hate-mongers were forced to find new ways of conveying their message. The Southern Strategy proved effective.

Reagan/Bush-I political Strategist Lee Atwater

In a 1981 interview, political consultant, and former Republican National Committee Chairman, Lee Atwater, gives a compelling description of the strategy’s evolution:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites…because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Republicans didn’t care that it was a slap in the face of the black voters who had supported the party for over a century.  The Southern Strategy helped sweep them into power.  And they’ve never looked back.

Now, in every election, Republicans rail against the potential threat of the other.  Rick Santorum compared gay marriage rights to the legalization of incest and bestiality.  Santorum and and fellow presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich both immediately referenced black people when discussing welfare.  Gingrich has generated additional buzz by referring to Barack Obama as the “Food Stamp President.”  Michelle Bachmann and Donald Trump led a Republican movement demanding that Barack Obama produce his original, long-form birth certificate to prove his citizenship.  If not these, then it’s illegal immigration, women serving in combat, or Sharia Law.

Hate-mongers can always find a reason to hate other Americans–even if they have to invent the reason out of whole cloth.  And there is good cause to continue the practice so long as bigoted anger gets results at the voting booth.

Yet somehow Republicans dispute this obvious through-line of hate politics.  According to them, they’re merely arguing the issues.  Apparently it’s just pure happenstance that minority groups ALWAYS end up on the other side.  That’s the danger of this coded language developed by the Southern Strategy.  Everyone knows what it actually means, yet it allows Republicans to play the big innocent.  It’s not about race, or gender, or religious beliefs; it’s about balancing the budget.  What’s so wrong with that?

To be fair, there are a few minorities in the Republican party–whom the GOP  loves to trot out before the media to chastise their own minority groups and blame them for being abused and discriminated against.  What you don’t see from these minority Republicans is any effort to get the party to tone the rhetoric down (I’m sure they’d be thrown out on their asses if they did).  I guess it is always better to have a whip in your hand than a plow.

So okay, we know racism is out there.  We know that homophobes and Islamophobes exist.  And we know misogyny and chauvinism are pandemic.  Political opportunists and true believers alike will always try to leverage prejudice to their advantage.  Its just politics, qué no? 

But real people’s lives are being affected by this bigotry.   The GOP works to deny minority groups those unalienable rights endowed upon all human beings by their Creator, and are currently enjoyed by many Americans, based on the antiquated idea that white heterosexual Christians are the real America and any expansion of that definition will lead directly to our nation’s demise.  Those rights are not negotiable.

This is not some extreme, fringe element of the Grand Old Party. This is mainstream Republicanism.  It’s accepted on both sides of the aisle.

Meanwhile, it’s nothing more than old school hate in latex gloves.

And it’s unmitigated bullshit.

It’s also the number 1 reason I hate Republicans.

Next up: How they make this whole shameful approach even worse in how they employ that bigotry.  They use it to divide and disenfranchise the lower economic 99% of the population and line their benefactors’ pockets with billions.

Stay tuned.

(Solid South image from: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2008/06/party-like-its-1928/45225/. Civics lesson image from: http://www.seattlegayscene.com/2012/01/republican-senator-hops-on-the-same-sex-marriage-bandwagon.html.  Forced integration image: http://www.ordoesitexplode.com/me/hope_from_history/.  Lee Atwater image from: http://www.pensitoreview.com/2011/08/17/roves-brain-lee-atwater-in-1981-gop-push-for-budget-cuts-is-stealth-racism/)