Republican Presidential Candidates Are Scaring Me

Please, God, make him stop
Please, God, make him stop

W.J. Astore

Yes, I know Republican candidates for president are currently feeding “red meat” to the base, a base that consists of evangelical Christians who vote in the primaries come hell or high water.  But the rhetoric used recently by Jeb Bush and Mike Huckabee is more rancid than red meat. And it’s dangerous.

Jeb Bush is supposedly the more centrist candidate.  Yet according to “centrist” Jeb, the federal government under Obama has adopted an “aggressive stance” against religious freedom.  The solution for Bush is to revive the “Christian voice,” which he claims isn’t being heard enough in America.

So: to enhance religious freedom in America, we need to amplify the voices of Christians?  Excuse me for seeing a slight contradiction here.

Mike Huckabee, of course, is a minister as well as a politician, so he is used to speaking with forked tongue.  As he announced his candidacy, Huckabee claimed that Obama had not been active enough against Muslim jihadists.  The answer, in his words, was simple:

“As president,” said Huckabee, “I promise you that we will no longer merely try to contain jihadism, we will conquer it!”

Super!  The answer to Muslim extremism is a conquering crusade against it, led by a Baptist minister as president!

Did I just slip back 800 years into the past?  Well, there’s nothing like a religious crusade to calm the waters of worldwide strife.

Few thinking Americans will be hornswoggled by such rhetorical nonsense (or so I hope).  But rhetoric has a way of becoming reality.

Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and all the other “committed” Christians in the Republican Party put me to mind of one of Christ’s teachings in the New Testament:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:5 KJV)

So I have a humble request to make, Republicans: Stop talking about religion on the street corner.  Stop boasting about how you’re going to fight your own jihad.  Start trying to live a truly moral life.  You might start with humility and compassion, both becoming in a true candidate of the people.

And, if you please, stop scaring me.

Update (10:00PM): A reader sent me this image.  It’s hilarious — and frightening.

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11 thoughts on “Republican Presidential Candidates Are Scaring Me

  1. Matthew 6:5 tells me that “religious” hypocrites have always come with the territory…and likely in numbers to make them readily apparent.
    The really sickening part of it all is how charlatans like Huckabee can be regarded as men of spiritual cloth by anyone. The walk and talk of the truly Christian is unmistakable…Huckabee is not Christian. He’s callous and pathetic. And let’s not get started on the Bushes.

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  2. God, Guns and Grits!!! Heeee- haaaah!!! Jeb Bush showing impeccable presidential leadership quality by driving directly at the sole issue every American is today most concerned about: religious “freedom”, at the top of Bush’s list of priorities. The twilight zone…

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  3. I think that Sinclair Lewis usually gets credit for saying: “When Fascism comes to America, it will be carrying a cross and waving the flag.”

    But even more frightening than Elmer Gantry Huckabee, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has said that “freedom of religion does not mean freedom from religion, the only freedom that really matters. In other words, you have the freedom to believe in any form of certifiable nonsense you choose — or that your parents choose for you — but you do not have the freedom to think for yourself in terms of real and discoverable things.

    As the British pragmatist philosopher F. C. S. Schiller pointed out: “the word ‘sacred’ generally means a fear that anything so denominated cannot withstand investigation.” I once shared this quote with the late Dr. Ananda W. P. Guruge, Professor of Buddhism and Sanskrit and formerly Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to France and the United States. I asked him: “How can anyone expect me to read these barbaric bronze-age books?” He just smiled at me and replied: “You’re not supposed to read them. You’re supposed to worship them.” How I fear for the future of my country, which obviously contains a great many people who can worship when instructed to do so but who cannot read the writing on the wall.

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  4. The escalating insanity in the field of GOP wannabe-Presidents was entirely predictable. Thus understandable, not scary; risible in the extreme if not for its being such depressing commentary on the state of our society. [And let us note the only reason Jeb was not at the gathering of freaks in S. Carolina was he had a prior commitment as commencement speaker at the college founded by that paragon of tolerance, Jerry Falwell!] What IS truly SCARY is the real possibility that one of these lunatics may actually arrive in the Oval Office in early 2017. The American electorate is not noted for its fondness for thinking.

    Mike Murry–Can you give us a source for the statement you attribute to Scalia? I had not heard of this. If true, I deem it grounds for immediate impeachment.

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    1. You can look this up for yourself via Google or Yahoo search engines, whichever you find most convenient. I’ll just give you one link to an article on The Huffington Post here. The article first quotes Scalia and then paraphrases the significance of his remarks:

      “I think the main fight is to dissuade Americans from what the secularists are trying to persuade them to be true: that the separation of church and state means that the government cannot favor religion over non-religion,” the Reagan-appointed jurist told the crowd of about 400 people.”

      “We do Him [God] honor in our pledge of allegiance, in all our public ceremonies,” the conservative Catholic justice continued. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It is in the best of American traditions, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. I think we have to fight that tendency of the secularists to impose it on all of us through the Constitution.”

      “Defending his strict adherence to the plain text of the Constitution, Scalia knocked secular qualms over the role of religion in the public sphere as “utterly absurd,” arguing that the Constitution is only obligated to protect freedom of religion — not freedom from it. [emphasis added]

      Of course, Justice Scalia doesn’t know his ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to the Constitutional prohibition against any form of government involvement with religion. The government may neither mandate religious practice nor prohibit it. The subject of religion — or indifference to it — simply lies beyond the purview of enumerated government powers. And as for insertion of a religious reference into the so-called “Pledge of Allegiance” — which the Eisenhower administration inflicted upon the public schools in the 1950s — it carries no force of law and no student or teacher may be compelled to utter it who does not wish to do so. Justice Scalia simply chooses to ignore the Constitution when it does not suit his own personal animistic proclivities — and male gender specific ones at that. Worshippers of the Goddess Monica Lewinsky will have much to argue with him in this regard. What a reactionary dunce!

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      1. It’s often a toss-up as to which creature of Reagan or Dubya on current SCOTUS holds the most reprehensible views. I was aware of Scalia’s extremist views on religion in general, but didn’t realize he had gone this far. The absence of a movement to impeach him from the court is another black eye for our alleged democracy and a grievous insult to the “Founding Fathers.” Chunk by chunk, the US Constitution is being rendered utterly meaningless.

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  5. It’s scary that people still believe that election campaigns, or presidents or parties, own any significance for the politics of the nation. The people if power, the real rulers, the 1%, decide. The entire election circus is… a circus, entertainment for diversion, a means of helping the prevailing order prevail.

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  6. Apropos of the frightening specter of religious fundamentalism in the U.S., longtime Republican Party analyst Kevin Phillips has expounded upon this subject in his book American Theocracy: the Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century:

    “The excesses of fundamentalism, in turn, are American and Israeli, as well as the all-too-obvious depredations of radical Islam. The rapture, end-times, and Armageddon hucksters in the United States rank with any Shiite ayatollas, and the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in U.S. history.” …

    “A leading world power such as the United States, with almost three hundred million people and huge international responsibilities, goes about as far in a theocratic direction as it can when it satisfies the unfortunate criteria on display in Washington circa 2005: an elected leader who believes himself in some way to speak for God, a ruling political party that represents religious true believers and seeks to mobilize the churches, the conviction of many voters in that Republican party that government should be guided by religion, and on top of it all, White House implementation of domestic and international political agendas that seem to be driven by religious motivations and biblical worldviews.” …

    “But the U.S. preoccupation with the Middle East has two dimensions. In addition to its concerns with oil and terrorism, the White House is courting end-times theologians and electorates for whom the holy lands are already a battleground of Christian destiny. Both pursuits, oil and biblical expectations, require a dissimulation in Washington that undercuts the U.S. tradition of commitment to the role of an informed electorate.” [emphasis added]

    In other words, as Kevin Phillips concludes, those political “leaders” — both in America and the Middle East — who seek to manipulate and exploit this rabid religious fundamentalism in America must couch their statements carefully in innocuous, although duplicitous, code — i.e., dog whistle euphemisms — lest the public at large get a true look at the ugly menace to civilization that they represent.

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  7. Of course, I blame the Democrats for this as well. They’ve moved so far to the right, in a cynical attempt to neutralize Republican criticisms about Dems being weak on defense, that Republicans have been left with little to criticize on substantive policy issues.

    So Republicans have responded with “culture war” issues: religion, abortion, guns, climate change, and so on. Republicans have created their own Democratic strawman — a gun-hating, abortion-loving, crypto-secularist (or crypto-Muslim), big government-loving monster. And that monster is coming to get your guns, coming to kill fetuses, coming to invade your state (Hello, Texas!), coming to burn your churches and impose Sharia law, and so on.

    It’s not politics — it’s fantasy. Or it’s politics as fantasy.

    The result: Idiocracy.

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