So I’ve been thinking about the last election. I’ve been having this thought about the Republican party, and how they’ve gotten shackled to the hard-core Christian fundamentalists as their base even while this strategy is alienating moderate and even conservative voters. And it occurred to me:
They are reaping what they sowed.
In the Reagan era, the Republican party made a very conscious decision: the decision to wed big money with the religious right. They decided to make a base out of hard-core right-wing Christian fundamentalists; fund them with huge money from hugely rich corporate overlords; and twine the ideologies together, convincing Christian fundamentalists that lowering taxes on the super-rich and eliminating regulations on enormous corporations was exactly what Jesus would do.
It was very successful at the time. Hard-core right-wing Christian fundamentalists were pretty numerous; fervent in their willingness to work and turn out for the G.O.P.; and — at the time — only somewhat wildly out of touch with average American values. Fueled with enormous funding from obscenely wealthy corporate overlords, they ruled the land for many a year.
But it’s finally started to backfire. Hard-core Christian fundamentalists are becoming less numerous, especially among young people, who are leaving religion at a rate that’s unprecedented in this country. And they’re becoming more and more out of touch with average American values: especially on issues like gay rights and birth control, which most Americans now not only support, but think are uncontroversial and no big deal. Most Americans have moved forward on these issues… while the Christian Right has stayed entrenched in them, and if anything has gotten even more wildly hard-core. They have moved so far to the right, they’ve fallen off the map.
But the Republican Party is now committed. It’s going to be very hard for them to move back toward the center, even back onto the map, without alienating the people who they’ve made their base. They let themselves build a base on a demographic that is, by definition, stubbornly out of touch with reality. In fact, their base demographic isn’t just out of touch with reality: they are deeply committed to being out of touch with reality, as a core identity and a foundational moral code. “We will believe in the literal word of this holy text written thousands of years ago by Bronze-age goat-herders, replete with internal contradictions and glaring factual errors and grotesque immorality, and will ignore the stark human reality that stares us in the face every day. And that is what makes us awesome.”
When you shackle yourself to a demographic that is morally committed to the denial of reality, you shouldn’t be hugely surprised when you eventually start to alienate the rest of the population. Especially when you’ve been using the supposed moral high ground of the committed reality-deniers as a smokescreen, distracting the rest of the population while you pick their pockets. You shouldn’t be hugely surprised when people start to notice, “Hey, the platform of the Republican party is batshit and evil… and why are taxes on the super-rich so low, and why is my union getting busted?”
They made a conscious decision to wed their economic policies to the Christian right. Both are bankrupt. They are reaping what they sowed.