The American Religious and Economic Right Fractures
Losing the election seems to have really shaken the American conservative movement deeply and the most significant long term effect, that I perceive, is watching some important, born again, wooly-evangelicals slowly morphing into what, in Europe, would be classified as Christian-Democrats.
It might be that the descendents of people who voted for William Jennings Bryan, Huey Long and FDR may again be susceptible to the “populist” messages of Democrats bearing “gifts.”
Surprising, perhaps, but eminently logical, because one of the most curious strange bedfellows effects of American politics has been the alliance between those who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ and those who are demonstrably followers of Ayn Rand and who propose lowering the taxes for the super rich and cutting assistance to the needy, who they often refer to as “moochers.”
The success of this alliance always depended on the infusing of the teachings of Jesus with racism, homophobia and the love of firearms. This is known as the “God, Guns and Gays” formula. Even a cursory reading of the teachings of Jesus would show us that this formula is more “tribal” than theological, to say the least. This is the center of the What’s the Matter with Kansas conundrum.
Why Christians were ever interested in guns and pampering the rich passeth all understanding, however, the reasons for the Randistas to seek the company of Christians are not hard to figure out.
Since it is obvious that a political movement whose slogan was simply, “help the super rich to avoid paying taxes and to escape bothersome regulations that would cramp their style,” besides not fitting on a bumper sticker, would not win enough votes to shape policy effectively, it was necessary to craft something with broader appeal.
This simple idea began to take shape when Richard Nixon hatched his Southern Strategy, a tactic whereby by championing the dog-whistle, “state’s rights,” the Republican Party ceased to be the party of Lincoln, the party that freed the slaves, which nobody in the South (who was allowed to vote), ever ever voted for, and became the party of choice of the all the racists, reactionaries, religious fanatics and assorted rednecks.
Ronald Reagan’s “Reagan Democrats” strengthened the mix in the North with his talk of “welfare queens,” thus weakening the unions and then this brew has come to its fullest fruition with Fox News and the Tea Party.