May 6, 2009

The Intersection Between Politics and Religion

Posted in Creationism, Law tagged , , , at 11:41 am by Andrew

You’ve all probably seen this tape of Chris Matthews doing his usual Hardball shtick interview of Indiana Rep. Mike Pence:

The money quote, in my opinion, is this: “This is why people don’t trust Republicans. … I think you believe in evolution, but you’re afraid to say so because your conservative constituency might find that offensive.”

Nate Silver over at 538.com has called this the “Republican Death Spiral,” and he describes it this way:

Thus the Republicans [...] are in something of a death spiral. The more conservative [...] their message becomes, the more they alienate non-base Republicans. But the more they alienate non-base Republicans, the fewer of them are left to worry about appeasing. Thus, their message becomes continually more appealing to the base — but more conservative, partisan, and strident to the rest of us. And the process loops back upon itself.

For me, I replace the word “conservative” — which is not a dirty word in my book — with “catering to the religious right,” and I see a party that is incapable of appealing to libertarian and other would-be right-leaning atheists. That’s why — if you click on a random theist blog — you’ll probably find yourself also reading about the conspiracy between ACORN and black liberation preachers to destroy democracy or how Barack Obama is a secret Muslim who wasn’t born in the U.S. or other parroted, right-wing talking points that strike me as, frankly, crazy.

(Another case in point: Christian commenter Phil calls Cass Sunstein a ‘fascist.’ I can’t begin to process how one would think a left-leaning, somewhat iconoclastic law professor is in the moral vicinity of Adolf Hitler.)

It wasn’t always this way. It doesn’t have to be this way. But for now, we appear to have a Republican Party that is interested in becoming nothing more than the Right-Wing Evangelical Christian Party. With atheism, agnosticism and freethought on the rise, that is indeed a recipe for a “death spiral.”

1 Comment »

  1. Phil said,

    While Andrew’s claim that I think Sunstein is “in the moral vicinity of Adolf Hitler” is wrongheaded, it is on record that Sunstein is an opponent net neutrality. In subtle Orwellian doublespeak, he’s said things like, “A system of limitless individual choices, with respect to communications, is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government.” (Incidentally, he has also urged that people not criticize John Yoo for drafting the torture memos as much as they have been. Great guy!)

    It would do Andrew well to rid himself of his wooden political concepts and to realize that “fascist” does not mean “Hitler” and can be used in a pejorative sense to refer to people with authoritarian or statist tendencies (e.g., Sunstein). That someone is a law professor doesn’t magically exclude them from such a category.

    For the record, I do not define my political views by whether they fit neatly under a “conservative” or “liberal” or “left” or “right” label, and certainly would not identify myself with any organized religion (right-wing or otherwise). By any reasonable standard, Sunstein’s call for the elimination of net neutrality is fascistic — you don’t need heavy political or religious commitments to realize this.


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