The Moral Majority Becomes the Tea Party

October 25th, 2011 at 12:53 pm | 58 Comments |

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Rand Paul is an unlikely fundamentalist hero. He was a rebel in his days at deeply religious Baylor University, apparently forming some sort of half-sarcastic, anti-religious student group. He’s a libertarian who quotes Ayn Rand and hasn’t denied his past drug use. On culture war issues he prefers to dodge rather than charge. In many respects Paul looks like the sort of Republican that the religious right has tried to purge from the party.

Yet Paul’s 2010 primary campaign against a well-established Republican drew endorsements from Sarah Palin, Jim DeMint, and even the Concerned Women for America. The lock was in late in the primary campaign when James Dobson at Focus on the Family very publicly switched his endorsement to Paul.

So how have the high priests of Christian fundamentalism found such enthusiastic common cause with a prophet of Aqua Buddha? Why are evangelicals overwhelmingly the largest block of Tea Party supporters?

This poorly understood and carefully limited alliance of libertarians and the religious right can be partly traced to a strategic shift by Paul Weyrich during the Clinton years. It helps explain why competence has diminished as a priority and some Republicans are comfortable promoting policies that seem dangerous to the point of recklessness.

Weyrich, the architect of modern American fundamentalism, generated some surprise when he declared in 1999 that the movement had failed. Many fundamentalists at the time were feeling euphoric. The electoral wave of ’94 had given evangelicals effective control of the GOP infrastructure across large swaths of the country. Though they had failed to defeat Bill Clinton, their power in Congress and state legislatures was steadily growing.

However Weyrich saw a different trend. When he worked with Jerry Falwell in the ‘70’s to turn evangelicals into activists he believed they would form an overwhelming political block. That’s why he urged Falwell to call his group The Moral Majority. But during the Clinton years he decided that he was wrong.

His 1999 Letter on the Moral Minority in America explained the problem, “our victories fail to translate into the kind of policies we believe are important.” In other words fundamentalists could get people elected, but they couldn’t persuade those people to enact the movement’s most extreme policies.

The cultural base on which Weyrich had hoped to build his fundamentalist juggernaut was not as broad as he had hoped. Weyrich blamed the public’s weak interest in his more radical goals on the spread “Cultural Marxism.” Instead of focusing their efforts on government, he urged religious activists to direct their attention toward a transformation of the culture.

This did not mean that evangelicals would take their Bibles and go home. Under Weyrich’s influence religious revolutionaries would still participate in politics, but they would cease to care much about governing.

Weyrich’s shift was not uncontroversial, but it gradually gained political force. In 2001, his Free Congress Foundation released a manifesto called Integration of Theory and Practice meant to guide activists in the pursuit of this dark new direction.

The document recommends “intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism” so that “leftist causes will no longer be the path of least resistance.” It endorses “obnoxious” tactics designed to “serve as a force of social intimidation.” It outlines a grim strategy, “We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them.”

No longer hoping to achieve power as a majority, religious conservatives were freed from the demands of effective government. Evangelicals could shed any concern for compromise, effectiveness, or even competence as political priorities. Consequences mattered less than purity.

The document also described a new posture toward libertarians:

There is nothing in this movement that an operational libertarian would find objectionable…this movement does not promote a direct confrontation with the state, but a sort of “weaning off,” or a ‘walking away’ from the state.

But then there is this critical qualification:

[We] must be willing to lose allies among the libertarians we brought on board the post-war conservative coalition …[W]e choose not to make a fetish of political freedom. We recognize that there are other freedoms besides political freedom–such as the freedom not to be subjected to a barrage of cultural decadence at every turn.

Those two paragraphs written a decade ago define the scope of alignment in our time between fundamentalists and libertarians. Weyrich didn’t create these strains in the fundamentalist movement, but he took them off the leash. His shift neutralized a gnawing disagreement among fundamentalists over pre-millennial and post-millennial theology. This approach meant the disagreement no longer mattered for practical purposes.

Weyrich’s strategic shift not only changed the fundamentalist movement, it eventually shifted the balance of power among libertarians. This carefully calibrated opening from well-established Republican evangelicals meant that libertarians could actually win elections, so long as they were willing to embrace a deeply Southern re-branding of the philosophy. Goodbye Ayn Rand, hello Ludwig von Mises.

The alignment between evangelicals and libertarians is most visible under the banner of the Tea Party. The religious wing brings the motivating force of a fresh apocalyptic fetish while the opening to the libertarians offers some cover. Rand Paul has thrived in this new environment, downplaying his libertarian credentials while backing key fundamentalist priorities. A few adjustments allow him to become a far more potent figure than his father without compromising his values … much.

For the country this new political phenomenon means the far right has no incentive to compromise on issues critical to America’s fiscal health. The ratio of spending cuts to tax increases doesn’t matter to Tea Party. They will not accept any deal that fails to weaken the Federal government.

How much damage are they willing to accept in pursuit of this strategy? Glenn Beck’s investments in food storage and the helpful survival guides he offers on his websites offer a hint. Unless Republicans find a way to counter this alliance inside the party we may all need to buy more of what Beck is selling.

Recent Posts by Chris Ladd



58 Comments so far ↓

  • balconesfault

    Weyrich’s shift was not uncontroversial, but it gradually gained political force. In 2001, his Free Congress Foundation released a manifesto called Integration of Theory and Practice meant to guide activists in the pursuit of this dark new direction.

    The document recommends “intimidating people and institutions that are used as tools of left-wing activism” so that “leftist causes will no longer be the path of least resistance.” It endorses “obnoxious” tactics designed to “serve as a force of social intimidation.” It outlines a grim strategy, “We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them.”

    Thanks for digging this up. It perfectly reflects the tactics of the GOP in the recent past.

    For the country this new political phenomenon means the far right has no incentive to compromise on issues critical to America’s fiscal health. The ratio of spending cuts to tax increases doesn’t matter to Tea Party. They will not accept any deal that fails to weaken the Federal government.

    Again … spot on.

    How much damage are they willing to accept in pursuit of this strategy?

    That’s not the question I’d ask. My question would be how much damage is the Frum wing of the GOP willing to let the Tea Party exact on America in order to try to regain control of government from the Democrats.

    • sweatyb

      +1

      My question would be how much damage is the Frum wing of the GOP willing to let the Tea Party exact on America in order to try to regain control of government from the Democrats.

      The truth is that it’s years too late for the “Frum wing” to do anything to stop the Tea Party from running rampant in the GOP. Now they are just waiting for the fever to run its course and hoping that more than the husk remains after the oligarchs and madmen have had their way.

  • Houndentenor

    The moral majority was never about morality. Too many fundamentalist leaders (and on the local level, supporters) have been caught “hiking the Appalachian Trail” for anyone to believe they hold themselves to the standards they promote. What they really want is a return to the institutionalized hypocrisy that characterized American in the middle of the last century. Men won’t be faithful to their wives. They’ll just pretend to be faithful in public. Gay people will hide in the closet and feel ashamed. The problem is that younger people have rejected being two-faced about their personal lives (often in ways that even I find shocking). The religious right has lost the culture wars and the leaders know it. It’s why they are fighting so hard to entrench their hypocritical morality into law (and write it into state constitutions) while they still can.

    • Marioth

      This is going to set up Serious Pain. Nate Silver predicts the last state to accept gay marriage will be Mississippi, somewhere around 2028-ish. To get there, every single amendment erected during the Southern Strategery will have to fall. A lot of other laws are going to out with them because gay marriage is the least of their problems, as it’s just part of a much larger pattern to get people to vote against their own best interests in favor of The Froth.

      Much pain as scales fall from eyes, aye.

    • Clayman

      ^+1 Houndentenor

  • Ray_Harwick

    Ahem.

    Francis Schaeffer.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Schaeffer

    The ratio of spending cuts to tax increases doesn’t matter to Tea Party. They will not accept any deal that fails to weaken the Federal government.

    Bulls eye.

  • Ray_Harwick

    Glenn Beck’s investments in food storage

    It’s a fundamental of the LDS culture and religion, so nothing he invented off the top of his head.

  • Marioth

    “We recognize that there are other freedoms besides political freedom–such as the freedom not to be subjected to a barrage of cultural decadence at every turn.”

    No such right exists. This is fantasy. You cannot be protected from what your eyes behold. Welcome to Real Life, and this is what undoes fundamentalist thinking, which relies on closely-held lies and intimidation that is simply not possible in the social media age.

    Notice that since Jerry Fallwell died, no one runs breathlessly to his replacement for their bigoted commentary. No one consults Franklin Graham on anything. When Pat Robertson goes, no one will be left to fill his shoes. These folks are going away, they know it, and so they absolutely do not care one iota.

    To wit, the day after Grover Norquist’s execution of gub’ment by bathtub drowning looks a lot like theocratic oligarchy.

    And this, above all else, will lead to an Obama landslide. Subversion is not a governing policy. Old Time Religion is done.

    • Steve D

      During the Gulf War, I heard a State Department Middle East specialist tell of expressing a desire to learn about Islam early in his career. “Forget Islam,” his mentor told him, “Marxism is going to dominate their thinking in the 21st century.”

      A world without religion: philosophy of the future. Always has been, always will be.

      • Marioth

        Not sure how you get to Marxism from the defeat of the arguments made by hypocritical bigots. Religion isn’t going anywhere any time soon, thanks to the First Amendment. The Old Time variety that is used to deliberately poison our public debate for the purposes of subversion appears to be dying with their supporters, and what fills the void is social media. Hard to form anti-social movement when your arguments can be debunked in 3.5 seconds from the palm of your hand anywhere in the world.

        Really, though, the whole Marxism argument gives even red herrings a bad name. In a world of finite resources, it is not Marxist to learn and understand the word “enough.” You can still turn a profit thereafter. It takes careful thought, and reliance on, you know, math.

    • balconesfault

      No such right exists. This is fantasy. You cannot be protected from what your eyes behold.

      Well, you could always do things like force women to wear garments which totally hide their bodies, in order to reduce the likelihood of decadent thoughts entering the minds of men.

      In fact, I think that’s been tried in some places…

      • Marioth

        This appears to be on the wane, unless the predictions that social media will dampen the ability for extremist regimes to rise from the Arab Spring are completely off the mark.

        One wonders if Assad has picked out his drainage culvert…

  • sweatyb

    This is a very interesting article.

    The zealot’s mind is a fascinating place. It’s striking that the religious right’s inability to convince the broader public about the rightness of their morality would lead them to take up the cause of anarchy. Anarchy in the hope that something closer to a theocracy might be fashioned after the collapse.

    But this is all just papering over the fact that the religious right (like the tea party itself) has been shrinking along with its popular support.

    The incoherent babble that’s guiding them is more like the fantasies of a deposed dictator. Some people will still listen, because that’s what they’ve always done. But anarchy is not an idea that gains adherents over time.

  • indy

    I’m becoming increasingly impressed with Ladd’s posts.

  • SerenityNow

    So much of what is attributed to Weyrich in this piece strikes me as Nazism sprinkled with holy water. And I have always had a healthy scepticism toward any political message that is primarily informed by religion, any religion, because such messages cannot ever be discussed, criticized or negotiated in a civil fashion.

    I do enjoy engaging libertarian Christians because they always seem to not be aware of prophetess Ayn Rand’s virulent hatred for religion, any religion. It’s rather like probing an LDS missionary about the more arcane Mormon teachings about Adam and becoming a god with your own private planet. What I don’t understand is whether the dots can be completely connected between Weyrich and the evangelicals with libertarians and the Tea Party AND the moneyed interests such as the Koch brothers and Richard Mellon Scaife et al. And how to account for the cringe-inducing dog whistles from these folks that smack of racism? On second thought the few quotes I’ve seen from Pat Buchanan’s latest opus clearly make racism acceptable to him and his ilk.

    Is it any wonder then that Obama and the Democrats have had a hard time enlisting any support for any measure related to governance post 2008? Based on the sound bites coming out of the Republican debates I am not optimistic about the future of our two-party system in the near term and that scares me because I believe that without at least two responsible political parties we run the risk of losing our very way of life.

    • Marioth

      The dots can be connected by recalling that the life of a True Believer is, in fact, the leading of a dual life. You have one face for public and the other for ‘turch. What you say in public may be what you Think, but it is not what you Believe. And instead of this creating a mind-bending paradox, the Believer simply nods and smiles, content in the knowledge that Belief will trump all. It is an incredibly dangerous mindset for anyone in the position of power, and why we must have vigorous checks and balances, including deep vetting of candidates.

      Ask any gay man in the closet about the leading of dual lives. A nightmare, by all accounts. The lies pile up into mountains.

      Belief is not required for the universe to function.

    • indy

      Jeff Sharlet’s book on the Fellowship connects the dots quite nicely.

  • MSheridan

    The fable of the Fox and the Scorpion has two variant endings, each with an ancient pedigree:

    It seems that a scorpion wanted to cross a river, but scorpions can’t swim. He saw a fox nearby and asked the fox for a ride across the river, but the fox refused. “You would sting me and I would die,” said the fox.

    “But you will be carrying me across the river, and if I sting you then I would also drown and die,” reasoned the scorpion.

    The fox was convinced. The scorpion jumped on his nose and the fox began swimming across the river. Halfway across, however, the scorpion stung the fox on his nose. As the fox began losing strength and slipping beneath the river’s surface, he cried out to the scorpion, “Now we will both die! Why did you sting me?”

    Variant ending 1:
    He answered: “Because I am a scorpion, and that’s what I do. You knew that before you agreed to carry me across.”

    Variant ending 2:
    He answered: “It is better we should both perish than that my enemy should live.”

    This fable, in each of its variants, is directly applicable to the current situation in which the Republican political machine finds itself. It has allied with destructive forces that wish the end of the system that the machine wishes to control (ending 1). Further, those forces care more for punishment of the supposedly immoral than for survival or even success (ending 2).

    But as the Republican fox is already midstream, it’s rather late for them to worry about this now.

  • nickthap

    Really, a very good piece! Thanks.

  • Grace

    Enjoyed the article, Mr. Ladd. Provides insights into some questions that have been puzzling me for the last few years, chiefly why the Radical Right seems completely uninterested in effective governance. I always felt it had to be more than End Times theology because it seemed there wouldn’t be nearly enough adherents to that to explain the outsize influence these frightening nihilists now hold.

  • Graychin

    A very interesting read. And enlightening.

    I had assumed that the behavior of Congressional Republicans grew out of a conjunction of cynical electoral calculus and blind Obama-hatred. Now I see the bigger picture.

    It’s not that the CRs don’t care that their obstructionism weakens America. That weakening is their primary goal.

    They would destroy America in order to save it. Its the Pol Pot strategy without the killing – so far.

    • balconesfault

      It’s not that the CRs don’t care that their obstructionism weakens America. That weakening is their primary goal.

      In fact, you can look at much of the Bush Administration work as being directly aimed at weakening America.

      Cutting taxes, raising spending commitments – you start by undermining the finances of government so that there is no political will for it to do more things that the public wants.

      Reducing the effectiveness of agencies, gutting regulations – you undermine American’s faith in government being a force for good.

      Wage a large illegal war, poorly manage its conduct, embrace human rights violations – you justify people on the left side of the spectrum that government is immoral.

      And from the perspective of those who helped put Bush in office – there was a lot of money to be made thanks to the tax cuts and massive deficits and defense spending and forced opening of Iraqi oil reserves and outsourcing of military functions, and regulatory malaise…

      • Marioth

        This is the chief purpose the no-tax pledge signed by all but 6 members of the GOP House and Senate.

  • Fart Carbuncle

    “If [Christopher] Dawson is correct, the drive to de-Christianize America, to purge Christianity from the public square, public schools and public life, will prove culturally and socially suicidal for the nation.”

    “The last consequence of a dying Christianity is a dying people. Not one post-Christian nation has a birth rate sufficient to keep it alive….The death of European Christianity means the disappearance of the European tribe, a prospect visible in the demographic statistics of every Western nation.”

    • indy

      Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.

      Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.

      Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

      They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly; for I have sworn upon the altar of god, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.

      History, I believe, furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance of which their civil as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purposes.

      Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.

      —-Thomas Jefferson

    • Marioth

      So what? Folks come and go. Been that way for eons. Attachment to tribalism seems to indicate weakness, not strength. And christianity as widely practiced in the U.S. is pretty tribal, esp. in the Old Sooth, e.g. the ongoing cold war between protestents, catholics, and the new cult on the block, the mormons. It carves up the GOP, as constructed.

      None of which has anything whatsoever to do with actual christianity, which requires only service to one another through unconditional love. What birth rates arise from that notion are what they are. The world does not exist for conquering, nor is belief required for it to function.

    • Ray_Harwick

      Then there’s China and India.

    • MSheridan

      What European tribe? There is not now nor has there ever been such a thing. Pat Buchanan is, as usual, full of it. You were quoting him again, were you not?

      Are whites somehow supposed to feel panic that our national posterity will be a fair bit browner than the nation is today? Our kids and grandkids will be just fine. It’s only people who are terrified at the prospect of being “outnumbered” who give a damn about crap like this. Most of us aren’t that cowardly. I’ve got near relatives a lot darker than me with at least some of the same Irish and German ancestors I’ve got. But they don’t count for bigots like Buchanan, do they? They’re not part of the “tribe“.

      • indy

        Pat Buchanan is, as usual, full of it. You were quoting him again, were you not?

        Yes, that’s Pat ‘the best thing that ever happened to blacks was that we enslaved them’ Buchanan.

    • ottovbvs

      The death of European Christianity means the disappearance of the European tribe, a prospect visible in the demographic statistics of every Western nation.”

      Heh Fart you genius, hispanics are members of a “European tribe.” The first ones to arrive and colonize the Western Hemisphere. And of course hispanic birthrates in North and South America are robust.

      • Fart Carbuncle

        Great! Now I can quote Buchanan some more:

        “Mexico is moving north. Ethnically, linguistically and culturally, the verdict of 1848 is being over-turned. Will this Mexican nation within a nation advance the goals of the Constitution — to “insure domestic tranquility” and ‘make us a more perfect union’? Or have we imperiled our union?”

        “Historians will look back in stupor at 20th and 21st century Americans who believed the magnificent republic they inherited would be enriched by bringing in scores of millions from the failed states of the Third World.”

        “Through its support of mass immigration, its paralysis in power to prevent 12-20 million illegal aliens from entering and staying, its failure to address the “anchor-baby” issue, the Republican Party has birthed a new electorate that will send it the way of the Whigs.”

        “We are trying to create a nation that has never before existed, of all the races, tribes, cultures and creeds of Earth, where all are equal. In this utopian drive for the perfect society of our dreams we are killing the real country we inherited — the best and greatest country on earth.”

        “A time for truth. As most kids do not have the athletic ability to play high school sports, or the musical ability to play in the band, or the verbal ability to excel in debate, not every child has the academic ability to do high school work. No two children are created equal, not even identical twins. The family is the incubator of inequality and God its author.”

        A wise man, he.

        • ottovbvs

          So what? Hispanics have been here forever, there was one on the supreme court in the early 20th century, there are just going to be more of the European tribe. What’s your problem? Is your brain fart over? Apparently you and Buchanan are a bit like Herman Goering who famously said “I will decide who are the Jews.”

        • ottovbvs

          “Give me your tired, your poor,
          Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
          The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
          Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
          I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

          And just to think brain fart… you and Buchanan are both descended from wretched refuse. I knew letting in those Irish bog trotters would lead to trouble.

        • MSheridan

          Had things gone just a little differently, Buchanan’s ancestors could have been among the 50,000+ Irish sent to Barbados as slaves. Not indentured servants–slaves. But somehow or another, I have a feeling he’d still have managed to be a bigot.

          http://www.tomgriffin.org/books/2007/05/to_hell_or_barb.html
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redlegs

        • Fart Carbuncle

          Exhibiting bigotry and classism against the Irish, are we?

          Shame. :D

  • JohnMcC

    Join the chorus of thank-you’s. Might add that this is congruent with my own experience with fundamentalism (was born in AL) in that a religiously motivated movement that fails to achieve it’s goals quickly turns itself into a holy ‘remnant’ and sees the larger population and culture as oppressors. Urge anyone interested to follow some of the links or to independently look up “The Integration of Theory and Practice, A Program For the New Traditionalist Movement” or “dominionism”. It was a clever insight that lead the New Republic to call Mr Weyrich “The Robespierre of the Right”.

  • Ray_Harwick

    When you lose Pat Robertson because you’re too looney, where does your party stand?

    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/10/25/352060/televangelist-pat-robertson-calls-gop-field-too-extreme-to-win-general-election/

    Imagine that. The Grand Poobah of the 700 Club, the most looney of the loonies on the right, says the GOP contenders are too looney.

  • baw1064

    After having criticized Ladd’s last post, I have to give props to this one. Very interesting, and I definitely learned something from reading it.

  • ottovbvs

    “and some Republicans are comfortable promoting policies that seem dangerous to the point of recklessnesss.”

    Make that a clear majority of Republicans surely? This cow is long out of the barn although Ladd doesn’t seem to get it. As any realistic observer can see the folks who used to be the occupants of the fever swamps (Birchers, Libertarians, Evangelicals, et al) are now driving the Republican bus. You only need to look at recent events in those states where Republicans gained absolute control in the mid terms to see their agenda being implemented. People like Ladd, or Brooks with his mealy mouthed philosophising in the NYT, and many others in the semi sensible wing of the GOP are busy pretending this isn’t happening and that this is all some aberration that either can be reversed or will ultimately burn itself out. Despite a mountain of evidence that these views are a severe form of myopia very few are willing to come out and say so. Frum somewhat erratically is one of the few exceptions. The reality of course is that despite these conservatives’ endless blathering about freedom, the sanctity of the constitution, etc etc they are at bottom totalitarians indistiguishable from Communists or Fascists. This is interesting background Mr Ladd but the obvious question it poses is why on earth would you wish to be a member of a party that is dominated by these crazies?

  • Ray_Harwick

    Moment of quibble: Mr. Ladd’s knowledge of history is incomplete. Paul Weyrich comes to the right on the coat tail of Francis Schaeffer who, along with a little help from C. Everett Koop, introduced the Religious Right to the Republican Party during Reagan’s watch.

    Absolutely, positively REQUIRED reading: “Crazy For God”

    It was written by Schaeffer’s son, Frank Shaeffer, and it is the most entertaining exposition and documentation on the religious right you will ***ever*** read in your life. Frank Shaeffer’s father is the origin of the religious right, and everyone who came afterwards owes their presence and effectiveness to Francis Schaeffer – bar *none*.

  • think4yourself

    I’m sure I’ll hear it from the Progressives, but here goes…

    I don’t have a particular problem with Chris Ladd’s analysis (I haven’t researched the info on Weyrich so I can’t attest to it’s veracity), but I do have a problem with tone & style. The Liberals (and often myself), will gang up on the authors when they post an article with a Conservative bias – and correctly so. However, in this article, Ladd uses such emotionally charged descriptions as “fundamentalist juggernaut”, “manifesto”, and “outlines a grim strategy.”

    If Ladd were describing the actions of a Liberal in those terms (substitute fundamentalist for some perjorative about a Progressives), the liberals on this site would castigate him completely – but not a peep here.

    I tend to come down on the side of Left much more than today’s Right. Yet, fair is fair. Liberals claim that Conservative prejudices are much more pronounced than those on the Left – but I couldn’t see that by the tone of the commentors today.

    If we want to find solutions, we’ll all have to give up some of what we want and quit blaming the other guy for being worse.

    • indy

      ‘outline a grim strategy’ is an unfair characterization of ‘We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them.’?

      ‘hope to build a fundamentalist juggernaut’? If it said liberals hoped to build a liberal juggernaut, wouldn’t every liberal be saying, ‘yeah that’s exactly what we hope to build!’

      manifesto isn’t a pejorative, is it? Am I getting that old? If the article said the OWS has a manifesto I wouldn’t think that it was bad in some way. I’d think, ‘great, you’re getting your act together.’

    • Ray_Harwick

      That may be because you don’t know who the conservative are on this forum. I’m a conservative. I have been my *entire* life. But the country has swung so far to the Right, it’s no longer possible to know who is or isn’t conservative. In our everyday lives we *all* have conservative instincts, especially when it comes to managing our own personal finances. There are quite a few conservatives on this forum, who *were* life-long Republicans until 1) Ronald Reagan rolled out the red carpet to the Religious Wrong, and/or, 2) George Bush raped this country with his economic policies and LIED to us about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction in order to murder American soldiers for oil. I recommend you listen a little closer. When you have a political party as corrupt as the GOP, naturally a whole lot of ethical people are going to do the right thing and be intellectually honest. I’m one of those people. I hate liars.

  • Diomedes

    “Yet, fair is fair. Liberals claim that Conservative prejudices are much more pronounced than those on the Left – but I couldn’t see that by the tone of the commentors today”

    One needs look no further than the voices of the Republican party to see the distinction. And those individuals would be the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck.

    Now, who are the counterparts to these individuals on the left? I can’t think of any left wing radio host that comes close to Limbaugh’s nonsense. Who among the left writes in the vitriolic fashion that Ann Coulter displays? And who on the left comes even close to Glenn Beck? An individual that is, for all intensive purposes, turning into a Televangelist.

    Does the left often come across harshly towards the rigth? Certainly. But I just don’t see the level of raw, seething dislike emanating from their ranks as I do on the right.

    • think4yourself

      Diomedes, I could certainly point out “The Ed Show”, who has been censured by his own network for his conduct and Keith Olbherman who delighted in the same tactics until left/muzzled by his own network.

      That wasn’t point. The point was the commenters here often savage the writers, not just based upon their articles, but upon their Conservative Bias that comes through. I felt that this article used language that evoked a bias against the Conservatives and all the posters seemed to agree it was a wonderful article – meaning “we” the posters were doing the same thing we complain that Fox News, Hannity, Limbaugh, et al do.

      I certainly agree that the Conservative media have made it their mission to use every tool, no matter how foul to shape the debate. Racist, sexist, class warefare – you name it. And, they do it much more than the Left does. However, that doesn’t make either right.

      I was simply commenting that the Liberals beat up the writers here pretty savagely sometimes even over their opinion or style and then fawn over someone who is taking a side they happen to agree with.

      • Ray_Harwick

        Are you aware that most of the writers on this site are unpaid novices interning to develop their writing portfolio? They catch a lot of flak for that because David makes no disclaimers for their skill or sophistication. They have to win the *argument* and readers are under no obligation to role over and die because they’re just learning to dog paddle. I do cut them *some* slack and I’ve spotted a couple of youngsters who are a little better at both making and defending their position. Ladd is one of them. That’s really a matter of forethought on his part. He choose a niche that very satisfying to David-Frum-type conservatives as well as liberals. He really can’t lose on this topic. Put him on FreeRepublic.com or RedState.com, both a little right of David (evil grin) and he’s not only a door mat, he’s fired the first day. Ladd is indistinguishable from most center-right conservatives on this topic and he’s in the perfect place to download his discontent with the evil morons who are dead set on destroying this country – the dominionist religious right who comprise 95% of the Tea Party.

      • Houndentenor

        It’s a false comparison. When a liberal crosses the line, he faces problems with his network. When has that happened to Limbaugh or Hannity or O’Reilly? They’re still on the air. Hannity did a whole week in 2004 with guests claiming that Iraq really did have WMDs and had moved them to Syria before the war started. (A claim you’d think the Bush administration would have made for itself had there been a shred of truth in it.) There were no repercussions for promoting out and out lies on national radio and tv. None.

        The difference is that liberals will police themselves. Perhaps not as quickly as they should, but it will happen. The right will not. And that’s why comparisons are so out of balance. Coulter says outrageously hateful things and is cheered by the base. The more hateful and outrageous, the bigger the cheers. She’s well aware of this and tries to up her game with every new book.

        And finally, I don’t see any Democrat having to cowtow to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olberman the way Republicans all have to kiss the asses of Hannity and Limbaugh.

  • think4yourself

    As I read the commenters on this predicting the death of the TP, Religious Right and Conservatism, I find those ideas quite short-sighted.

    Calling them all hypocrites who are “hiking the Appalachian Trail” is as disengenious as identifying all Liberals as the same as William Jefferson – he of the $90K in the freezer. Or insinuating that all Dems must keep their marriage vows like Bill Clinton.

    Political viewpoints are based on opinion. It is a legitimate opinion for someone to believe that government’s role is not to tax the whole citizenry for the purpose of assisting parts of the citizenry such as, the unemployed, Sr. citizens, or big corporations. I may not agree with Ron Paul, but that doesn’t make his opinion less valid – nor does it make him crazy.

    With Christians, many (not all) feel that they have a responsibility to make this world a better place as they see it. I think most pro-life people are serious when they describe it as a legal murder and are puzzled when Progressives condone it under the concept that a woman is entitled to make decisions about her own body. When you believe that you are called (required) to spread the gospel, then opposing any actions against Christian prayer, no matter the place and circumstances is part of your mandate and a requirement of your faith. I may not agree with that, but I understand it.

    30% of the US public believe they are answerable to a Christian God for their actions (60% + believe in God, but don’t necessarily buy into the concept of Heaven and Hell). Because the beginnings of the European immigration here was based on religious, economic and relief from oppressive governments, these Evangelical Christians claim that mantle as their God-given right and responsibility.

    So to just assume that they’ll go away because you don’t think their viewpoint is logical is both shortsighted and dangerous.

    Ultimately, they too are Americans and their voices are just as important in the dialog as yours or mine is.

    • ottovbvs

      “Ultimately, they too are Americans and their voices are just as important in the dialog as yours or mine is.”

      Yes I believe Kerensky expressed very similar sentiments about the Bolsheviks in the Duma in 1917. Their voices are just important as yours or mine. Very profound think4yourself.

    • JohnMcC

      Ah, my naive, thinker friend….you did not sufficiently study what the Dominionists have in store for us. Dig a little deeper and you will not again write that “their voices in the dialog are just as important as your and mine”. You will discover that their voices are the ONLY voices in the dialog.

    • Houndentenor

      I was raised Southern Baptist and live in Texas where I was raised. I am well aware of the local sex scandals of religious leaders and church members that don’t make the news. The famous ones are the tip of the iceberg. The religious right want us to all be hypocrites like they are. The cart their kids off to have abortions too. Only those at the bottom of that pile actual live the way they are told and they stay in poverty and ignorance as a result. Americans are rejecting that way of thinking. You don’t have to be a fundamentalist to be a Christian. You don’t have to hate gay people and think women shouldn’t work outside the home to be active in your church. You just have to pick a church that is more about ministering to the needs of people than it is about advancing a political agenda. I actively avoid any contact with my parents’ church. It’s all politics all the time. I have no idea what anyone gets out of that. Wait I do: a self-righteous feeling that the rest of the world is going to hell and they are going to heaven. If those are the only people going to heaven, I’ll take my chances with people who actually care about other human beings and aren’t racist (I regularly hear the n word from my parents’ church going friends), homophobic, xenophobic, classist and misogynistic.

      • Bingham

        One day, this country won’t give two sh*ts what happens in Texas.

        I pray for that day.

  • Bebe99

    After reading this informative article I went back to work searching for the address of a particular aerospace company that came across my desk. I found their website, including company logo which included a Bible reference. It made me wonder if the religious right is successful in making a dysfunctional American government devolve into anarcy, how many military-industrial-Christianist corporations will be left to pick up the pieces? It seems a bit far-fetched to me as I type the question, and yet…

  • Cato

    This article is at best a conspiracy theory of the more far out regard! An endorsement of Rand Paul by Dr Dobson is tantamount to an alliance between libertarian and the religion right? Are you effing nuts?

    If this is true, why does Tony Perkins, Ricj Santorum, et all hold Ron Paul is such contempt? And please explain to me “Goodbye Ayn Rand, hello Ludwig von Mises” WTF does that mean? You are equating Rand’s anti-religious objectivism, to Mises’s Austrian free market economics, as ole Herman would say, you are mixing apples with oranges!

    The only thing I have learned form this drivel is that this site will post anything it deems to be detrimental to Ron or Rand Paul!