Friday, October 29, 2010
Fear and Trembling in the Voting Booth
The mid-term elections scare me this year. I don't scare easily. I've been around through Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama. I've seen 'em come and go, congressmen, political machines, governors, senators, Republicans, Democrats and every other thing imaginable. If I could live through Reagan, whose election to Governor of California made even my father, a die-hard Republican all his life, register as a Democrat, and who even my friend Glenna, who proudly displayed a framed photo of herself with Richard Nixon, called "the vegetable," (he had Alzheimer's while actually in office...) there is not much too scary for me in politics. Honey, I lived through the 50s! It was a hell-time with the country given over to McCarthy and his better dead than red HUAC horror hearings. People's lives were completely destroyed, and it's a wonder the country survived at all, we were sunk so far into paranoia and fear. And we have all just survived George W. Bush, surely one of the most stupid men to ever hold the office of the presidency and whose administration not only completely trashed the economy but almost literally succeeded in overthrowing the constitution. You'd think I would take a laissez-faire attitude toward it all, wouldn't you?
What seriously scares me now is the hard right turn this country is taking into territory we have not entered before. There is a serious movement to turn our democracy into a theocratic oligarchy. It's not new; this began a long time ago and has quietly gained strength through something called men's prayer breakfasts and some larger gatherings (Promise Keepers, etc.). It is based in fundamentalist Christianity, dating back to Jonathan Edwards. This movement has people in high positions in its ranks and not only in this country, but all over the world. The expert on this is Jeff Sharlet, who has written two books I cannot urge you enough to read: The Family, and C-Street. They will (or should) nearly scare you to death, but you seriously need to read them.
The Tea Party, sometimes referred to as the tea baggers, have taken a prominent role in the current mid-term elections. The movement seems to be based on a number of things -- partly spurred by Republican operatives and partly a grass roots movement of mostly older white people who seem at odds with the 21st century. It has evolved from a group wanting less government into a sort of anti-everything group with all kinds of agendas and with flavors from Ayn Rand to Glenn Beck to the KKK. It has been described as a religious movement, and it is largely fundamentalist Christian. It would seem to have many of the same aims as the Family. And that's where it gets scary.
By themselves, the Tea Party would self-destruct much as Ross Perot's party did years ago. A leadership vacuum sucks everybody into the trash bag. This has not happened so far, though their candidates are often, forgive my language, batshit crazy. In fact, the craziness keeps them in the headlines and may well do their campaigning for them. Christine O'Donnell comes up with some new amazing gaffe daily, from her "I'm not a witch" ads to not knowing the First Amendment to the constitution forbid establishment of a state religion, something she seriously wants to do. Joe Miller in Alaska is equally astonishing, having his goons handcuff a reporter for asking him questions. There is the woman in Nevada who wants us to trade chickens for medical care...there is Rand Paul embarrassing himself in Kentucky -- one of his volunteers recently stomped on a liberal activist's head at a rally...the list goes on. While these people give lip service to wanting less government, they are, in fact, showing signs of extreme fascism and seem to actually want a dictatorship.
What they don't want is any regulation on business or banking or oil companies. They want to make social security the responsibility of the states, which are now so broke they can barely pay their employees, let alone start supporting all their senior citizens! They want to get rid of medicare, all social safety nets, and make it hard for you to sue any company that might have done you harm. But they do want the right to legislate your religion and who you can love.
Some of them are going to be elected, and they will be part of a majority. And that scares me.
Photo credit: Google images