Chopping At The Roots Of Democracy

The Republican Party fell completely under the control of the Religious Right in 1996 (as noted in the blog Diseased Politics, January 2011).  With “biblical values” as their standard, there arose an increasing odor of corruption.  But there had been warnings for years from concerned Republicans that their party was in peril.

As early as 1981, Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona had noted publicly, “…I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics.  The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.”  Thirteen years later, 1994, Goldwater warned, “If they (the Religious Right) succeed in establishing religion as  a basic Republican Party tenet, they could do us in.” (From an interview in the 1994 US News & World Report.)  Senator Goldwater was deeply troubled over the Religious Right’s persistent war on the US Constitution and feared for the basic freedoms of the American people.  And in a 1994 interview from the Washington Post, Goldwater mused, “When you say ‘radical right’ today, I think of those moneymaking ventures like Pat Robertson who are trying to take the Republican Party and make a religious organization out of it.  If that ever happens, kiss politics goodbye.”

Ominously, by 1995 Tom DeLay, who had become a born-again Christian in 1985 and was convinced that he had been “returned to Christ,” was installed as majority whip of the House, against the wishes of House Speaker Newt Gingrich.  DeLay therefore judged Gingrich (and the next Speaker, Dick Amery) as “uncommitted to Christian values.”  DeLay was so dogmatic in his version of Christian values party line Republicanism that he earned the nickname “The Hammer.”  He took the nickname to his bosom, declaring that the hammer was  one of a carpenter’s most valuable tools—a not so subtle inference of his connection to Jesus whose alleged occupation was carpenter.

And the 1995 challenger for the minority whip position, John Shadegg of Arizona, lamented, “We ceded our reform-minded principles in exchange for a…tighter grip on power.”  By 1999, when DeLay was the House Republican Whip, DeLay made Roy Blunt his chief deputy.  Blunt, a Baptist, is noted for voting in favor of mandatory school prayer, school vouchers, and allowing the undemocratic use of federal money (gathered from citizen taxes) to issue vouchers for private or religious schools.  With DeLay and Blunt in lockstep maneuvering, the religiously inspired GOP was stirred into a frenzy of wild spenders who chopped away at long-standing regulations, instigated tax cuts, and doled out lavish earmarks and appropriations.

In this same timeframe, DeLay initiated his so-called K Street Project, a not-so-righteous endeavor to get trade associations and lobbying firms to employ Republicans and to be more active in raising money for the party.  And Roy Blunt acted as DeLay’s envoy to the lobbying community—all in an effort to ram a religiously flavored Republican agenda through Congress.  All the web of wheeler-dealers helped push through the Republican legislative agenda, but those ties were destined to become entangled and knotted around the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.  Abramoff, an orthodox Jew, had been a highly influential lobbyist and activist for the G. W. Bush administration, then Blunt’s name came up in connection with the Abramoff  investigation.  While Blunt was dutifully opposing a woman’s right to choose and opposing same-sex marriages, he saw nothing unspiritual in trying to insert language into a bill creating the Homeland Security Department which would aid the Philip Morris tobacco company!  He wanted to make it more difficult for cigarettes to be sold over the internet—that, he was convinced, was an obvious security threat.  It had nothing at all to do with the $202,909 that Philip Morris donated to his campaign.

But that deceitful web of pretended righteousness is still being spun over the workings of US government today, and with the sanctimonious Tea Party adding to the spin in Congress, democratic equal rights principles are not likely to be what is “valued.”  Somehow it reminds one of the line from the children’s story: Come into my parlor, said the spider to the fly.

With this we will close with another quote from Republican Senator Barry Goldwater (died 1998): “Those who seek absolute power, even though they seek it to do what they regard as good, are simply demanding the right to enforce their own version of heaven on Earth.  And let me remind you, they are the very ones who always create the most hellish tyrannies.”  He concluded on a thought on equality:  “Equality, rightly understood, as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to emancipation of creative differences.  Wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity, and then to despotism.” 

Wake up  America!  Democratic principles are under attack from within.

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