As a onetime Republican who has evolved into an independent freethinker, I find the present state of politics to be rather disgusting. I suppose most people feel that way these days. (NOTE: Please participate in this poll re: your political affiliation.) Let me explain…
The two most common varieties of fundamentalism prevalent in the United States today seem to be religious fundamentalism (often manifested as a result of a disguised, socially acceptable form of brainwashing) and political fundamentalism (commonly known as partisanship). Even casual skimmers of our blogs often quickly sense our dislike of fundamentalism in all its forms. The reason is simple:
Fundamentalism represents a true evil, a notable worldwide scourge, and a major threat to the well-being of the planet and its inhabitants.
Should anyone question this assertion, I suggest researching it for yourself; apply objective, critical thought to the issue. (Sadly, a large swath of America seems to be unfamiliar with the concept of critical thought…)
For starters, take a look at what Islamic fundamentalism has cost the planet so far. Consider how and why Hard Right Christian fundamentalism is pushing its way into American politics and its possible ramifications. Review the negative messages being spread by organizations like Resisting the Green Dragon if you can stand to read it. These are not always comfortable subjects to study, but this writer for one believes the continued granting of free passes to such extremist fundamentalist organizations – ignoring them or remaining quiet about them so as to avoid respectful debate – might no longer be an acceptable option, if we are to make a difference. Perhaps exemplary living is not enough. (But that would be a good place for me to start…)
In this digital age of self-publishing and blog commentary, it seems highly partisan politics are being exposed more frequently. It’s easier than ever to identify those politicians that do little more than toe the party line, no matter how inane or illogical the stance, position, or sound bite may be. A great example of a party line-towing sycophant is Michele Bachmann, the dull and senseless Republican known for consistently getting the facts wrong in her stump speeches.
Americans increasingly admire politicians who are willing to speak their minds and butt heads with the standard party line when there’s notable disagreement. But the highly partisan politicians never do this; they parrot the latest party talking points on all occasions. It is precisely these politicians Americans should boot from office. These parrots should be denied the right to represent any bloc of the U.S. populace.
Of course, such partisans exist in every major political party; it is not merely a Republican issue, and it isn’t something that only Democrats have to deal with. However, this fiercely Independent citizen is certainly not alone in saying that it is the Republican Party that is spewing the majority of the hot air these days. Why is that?
For whatever reason, fundamentalists of all stripes – religious fundamentalists and political fundies alike – seem to be more at home on the Right. If you doubt that, then look into it.
Before the reader accuses me of being a liberal partisan myself, let me state for the record that I am in fact an ardent, Green-leaning Independent. I even respect Newt Gingrich to a degree; his flaws aside (every human has them), Newt is not afraid to speak his mind — even when it does not agree with the standard, regularly faxed Republican talking points. Newt does not toe the party line. Newt is an intelligent critical thinker. Newt is bold. However, Newt might be a tad too hot-headed to serve in the capacity of the world’s most powerful man; I don’t know!
At present, I must agree with those who were quoted in a post-State of the Union address CNN article as saying that, despite his shortcomings, Barack Obama is the best choice going forward when all of the current Presidential contenders are carefully considered. Obama clearly demonstrated in his eloquent and encouraging State of the Union address that he is the best candidate.
For a time, Ron Paul got my rapt attention. As a former card-carrying Libertarian (currently Independent/Green-leaning), I appreciated most of Ron Paul’s positions. But once I discovered that he has no respect for the critical, indispensable principle of separation of church and state, I no longer followed him.
Crucial reminder: Separation of church and state
While politics in general is dirty regardless of party (it is extremely unfortunate that spirituality and politics rarely intersect), the Republicans in particular are experts at distortion and misrepresentation.
You’d think, listening to the Republican debates, that Obama has raised taxes. Again, this is not true. Not only did he agree not to sunset the Bush tax cuts for his entire first term, he has aggressively lowered taxes on most Americans. A third of the stimulus was tax cuts, affecting 95 percent of taxpayers; he has cut the payroll tax, and recently had to fight to keep it cut against Republican opposition. His spending record is also far better than his predecessor’s. Under Bush, new policies on taxes and spending cost the taxpayer a total of $5.07 trillion. Under Obama’s budgets both past and projected, he will have added $1.4 trillion in two terms. Under Bush and the GOP, nondefense discretionary spending grew by twice as much as under Obama. Again: imagine Bush had been a Democrat and Obama a Republican. You could easily make the case that Obama has been far more fiscally conservative than his predecessor—except, of course, that Obama has had to govern under the worst recession since the 1930s, and Bush, after the 2001 downturn, governed in a period of moderate growth. It takes work to increase the debt in times of growth, as Bush did. It takes much more work to constrain the debt in the deep recession Bush bequeathed Obama.
Source: In Newsweek, Andrew Sullivan Takes on Obama’s Critics on the Right and Left
It’s true that Obama has done a good job as president and deserves to be reelected, especially is the alternative is Mitt Romney, or worse. (Pick your poison.) Other than on a handful of serious issues related to civil liberties, the president’s biggest stumbles have mostly been political — particularly his and his team’s failure to recognize the tea party astroturf mobs for what they were: Bush’s base backed by billionaires intent on wreaking havoc.
Let’s hope the president has put the quest for world peace bipartisanship behind him, at least until November, and that his campaign will continue to play hardball with the GOP. One thing the Obama campaign can do right away is to take a cue from Andrew Sullivan’s article in Newsweek and begin countering the right-wing deceit about the president’s record with the facts.
Furthermore, a recent study shows that Republicans truly own hot air:
Well, this week comes new and updated empirical evidence by the leading scholars in the field of political science that both sides don’t do it. Or, to be more accurate: yes, both sides do it, but saying that both sides do it equally is the equivalent of saying that a murderer and a purse snatcher have equally violated the law.
Keith T. Poole of the University of Georgia and Howard Rosenthal of New York University have been studying political polarization for years. They are the leading experts we have on the topic. And, three days ago on their blog, they released updated numbers (to include the current Congress) looking at all votes taken in both the House and Senate going back to 1879 and measuring over that period the ideological positions on a scale of the respective parties. You can read the post and look at the relevant graphs at the link above.
Result? “What is accurate to say, beyond doubt,” says Poole, “is that the Republicans have moved out to the right very fast, while the Democrats have drifted to the left, maybe, but nowhere close to what the Republicans have done.” Let’s check the numbers. Read more
Poll question: Political affiliation
Resources: Republican establishment has bragging rights on hot air
- CNN: Did you buy what Obama was pitching in State of the Union address?
- State of the Union 2012: Obama speech transcript – Post Politics (Washington Post)
Removed content: not verifiable
Tea Party member on their failure so far to create viable candidates:
The left all believes in roughly the same thing, they only differ on tactics. The right does not have the same political beliefs. A significant part of our party is socialist and simply argues we will do a better job of managing big government. Remember, it was a Republican that bragged “the era of small government is over!” (Source: Hot Air)
For later posts about religious fundamentalism, perhaps…
- Quotes from a Christian Fundamentalist Forum – YouTube
- The Most Horrible Christian Fundamentalist Moment Ever – YouTube
- Redneck Fundamentalist explaining the proper place for Christian women – YouTube
Thankfully, positive reviews of Resisting the Green Dragon – reviews with any degree of objectivity, at least – are hard to find.
This post was started on Thursday, January 26, 2012.