“We must stop being the stupid party.” So spoke Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) on January 24, 2013, in his remarks to party members attending the Republican National Committee’s Winter Meeting. He didn’t really elaborate, however, on what he meant by “stupid.” Meanwhile, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) similarly said, to his Republican cohorts, “We have to be smart. We have to show prudence.” He did not, of course, elaborate on what he meant by “smart” or “prudence.” So business as usual continues. The GOP moves ever further to the right, and even as they constantly rant about “liberalism” and the “big government” which “tramples on the rights of the individual,” they, the far right wing, continue in unrelenting fashion their attempts to impose government control over abortion rights, contraception, and of course homosexuality and the ‘right’ of same sex couples to enjoy the legal benefits of marriage. Even such a (formerly) cut-and-dried discipline as public school science education has come under political attack driven by the tomes of “creationism” vs. evolution, the age of the earth, and myriad additional nonsensical (read: Biblical) interpretations of reality.
Religion — “Christian” fundamentalist evangelicalism — has become the driving force behind one of America’s two major political entities, a force which these days focuses the GOP’s politic in an ever-more-bizarre (and, one might logically argue, unconstitutional) fashion. Why ‘unconstitutional’? Consider:
Article VI, Clause 3 of the US Constitution states, with unabashed clarity (my emphasis), that:
. . . no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
The First Amendment begins with these words:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .
Those are the only two spots in the entire Constitution where the words “religion” or “religious” appear. The word “God” is nowhere to be found, including even in the oath of office which the President is ordained to swear — there is no ‘so help me God’ at the end of the oath, and no demand that a hand be placed on a Bible during the swear-in process [see Article II, Section 1, Clause 8]. Likewise, the words “Holy,” “Bible,” “Christ,” and “Christian,” along with any other variation(s) thereof, are each and all conspicuously absent, as is “Jesus.” The word “Lord” appears once only, in Article VII, though certainly not in a boldly ‘religious’ context:
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven . . .
That’s it. The Framers’ obvious intent remains crystal clear: religion has NO PLACE in the government of the United States. Period. And while it’s obvious that each and every one of we the people have the stated right to practice whichever belief or non-belief happens to appeal, nevertheless “Congress shall make NO LAW . . .” that imposes ANY religious belief or practice on ANYONE, and “NO RELIGIOUS TEST shall ever be required . . .” Period.
One can only wonder just what it is about the Constitution that today’s Republican Party, particularly the Wingnut/Teabagger portion, has such difficulty comprehending. In just the last few years, Republicans in the House of Representatives have proposed bill after bill after bill (and yes, I’ve lost track of exactly how many), each of which attacks a woman’s constitutional (reproductive) rights as enumerated in the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Wingnuts have apparently concluded, via their own religious bias/insanity, that a fertilized egg is a “person” and that, as such, it enjoys the same official Constitutional “protection” as does any American corporation (something a birthed child, especially one with brown skin, apparently deserves far less of, for whatever ‘reason’). Then there’s the anti-gay marriage clique, those who believe (again, via only their own religious bias and insanity) that to so allow such love to flourish in normal fashion will force the demise of ‘regular’ marriage, and perhaps cause national collapse as well. And, as was recently announced in Arizona, various members of the state legislature (Republicans, of course) have introduced a bill which, if passed and enacted, could well deny the right of atheist or non-theist high school students to receive a diploma upon graduation. And in New Mexico, a (Republican) state rep. is introducing legislation that won’t disallow abortion, but will make criminals of doctors who perform any pregnancy termination procedures.
It’s reasonable to presume that each and all such bills, if/when enacted, would quickly be declared unconstitutional. That being the case, the logical question becomes: why is it that the same political party which works so diligently to enact unconstitutional laws continues to so freely toss the “unconstitutional” epithet at what are generally recognized to be reasonable programs? What could possibly be wrong, in other words, with such diverse concepts as national health care, gay rights, science taught in public schools, even a potential assault weapons ban?
Their childlike answers have Biblical roots. First of all, you see, America IS a Christian nation. Obviously. The words “All men are . . . endowed by their Creator” ARE in the Declaration of Independence, right? And since the Founders used those words it of course means they were each and all Christian. Also, we know they were white. Men. White, Christian, men. America is a white Christian nation, endowed by its Creator. God. Means it’s based on the Bible which is the word of God. In the Bible God says homosexuality is an abomination; also He says “Thou shalt not kill.” Means gay marriage, contraception, and abortion are all unconstitutional because, see, the First Amendment says that “Congress shall make no law . . . prohibiting the free exercise” of religion, and therefore the legalization of gay marriage (the celebration of an abomination), along with contraception and/or abortion (both of which ‘kill’ the products of conception), are all clear violations of the Constitution because they prohibit “the free exercise“ of the Christian faith. Unconstitutional. So is teaching science, because when science says the earth is more than 6000 years old and when science supports the theory of evolution instead of the fact! of creation, and especially when science says global warming is real and caused by humans, science is “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion because true Christians don’t believe any of that nonsense! Science ‘education’ is — therefore, thereby, and obviously — unconstitutional.
Texas Public Schools have, however, solved the science dilemma and on that basis, could one day end up as our national Constitutional model! Because in Texas, children are taught the truth, that the Bible gives scientific proof that the Earth is 6,000 years old. They’re also taught “that the origins of racial diversity trace back to a curse. . .” [read: BROWN SKIN!] “. . . placed on Noah’s son, and that astronauts have discovered ‘a day missing in space’ that corroborates biblical stories of the sun standing still.” That’s Constitutional, see, because it does NOT violate the First Amendment by “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion.
Most bizarre of all might be, however, the premise, as stated by David “The French Guide to American Faith, Politics and Culture” French, that “It is quite clear that God has not merely sanctioned the right of self defense but has explicitly approved even the use of deadly force to protect human life.” In other words (and as French “proves” via constant Biblical verse-by-verse citation), the Great God in Heaven has granted humans the right to kill each and every creature that might appear to be a threat, and the Second Amendment’s “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” clause guarantees the (God-given) right of any individual to own the tools to do just that. Therefore, to ban assault weapons would not only violate the Second Amendment, it probably also violates the First Amendment by “prohibiting the free exercise“ of religion.
All. Perfect. Bullshit.
In any case, the immediate question still looms: whereto from here? Right wing theocracy, or a return to a democratic Constitutional Republic? Will the “stupid party” ever become “smart” and/or demonstrate reasonable “prudence”? Based on events and attitudes asserted thus far (including even those expressed in the days and weeks since their resounding electoral defeat last November), it surely doesn’t appear that way. If we assume they have no intent of changing, of returning to the reasonable stature of, say, the Eisenhower-style Republicanism of the 1950’s, what are the implications for the nation as a whole? Will the Republican Party self-destruct, or are there enough fools on the voting docket to once again return them to full power of the state? And if the latter should happen, what then?
This is today’s open thread. Have at it!