God's Will for The Lords of Business
Everyday you're bound to hear someone make an asinine comment or say something vilely stupid, but no one does so with the hubris and particular verbal meanderings of today's GOP candidates - especially when talking about rape. They excel at the absurd, exclaiming such inanities as exemplary of exceptional leadership, valor, and public policy -- these are no gaffes. The Todd Akins, Paul Ryans and Richard Mourdocks of the world proudly and consistently repeat themselves until their insane stances on rape as "God's will" become slogans for a white-male majority about to lose its grip on power. At the most base level Mourdrock's comment begs the question: why is the act of rape God's will and the abortion that may follow not? In the face of such contradictions, there's something more sinister behind his words that all of the uproar fixated on his blatant bigotry has missed. The greater issue Mourdock's statement raises is that if one policy is the will of God and another is not, how does he and those who share his views (Mourdock is the only candidate Mitt Romney has publicly endorsed this election season) know the will of God? Suggesting that a tragedy such as rape is the will of God outs Mourdock as a fatalist. But if public policy is determined by fate, then why do we need politicians such as him and his cronies in the first place? Mourdock may be a fringe character who could fall off the national radar after tomorrow's election, but he's not the only candidate or member of the GOP who holds these opinions. They run rampant through the party to such an extent that much of the electorate is hinged on believing their elected officials have been selected by God.
Just this Sunday, on a conference call with tens of thousands of Christians of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan warned that President Obama's policies on health care and religious freedom are leading us down a "dangerous path." He went on to say that these policies threaten Judeo-Christian values. The organization, headed by none other than notorious conman Ralph Reed, has responded strongly to abortion being against God's will. In fact, abortion has been the central issue inspiring many low-income conservative evangelicals to vote against their economic best-interests since the rise of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in the 1980's.
In 1982, when the unemployment rate hovered around 10%, abortion and tax-exemption for Christian Schools became the key issues allowing Republicans to shift focus from the national economy and gain the necessary votes to keep seats in the house that they surely would have lost without a new coalition. Reagan's second term owes much to this off-season election and the religious right. This victory in 1982 led the RNC and "business friendly" lobbyists to make odd bedfellows with Christian leaders who would, time and time again, argue that God's will is at stake in each following election. From 1982 up to the early nineties the Christian right grew at staggering rates, replenishing the constituents who fled the party in the years following the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War. Even today, with a Mormon as their candidate, evangelicals believe that they're voting God's will. Yes, I too never thought I would see the day evangelicals would say God is telling them to vote for someone outside their faith.
Manifest destiny has always lurked like a nasty venereal disease in the corridors of American politics. It's perplexing that Republicans think we can't see them scratching while they stare into the camera. There's something strikingly un-American about the notion of God's will, or rather "fate," driving the future of the nation as well as the lives of each and every individual. It seems like something that should have long disappeared like the red scare, yet it still flares up on occasion. It makes even less sense coming from those who champion the American Dream as the accomplishment of individuals for and unto themselves. This makes for a glaring contradiction in ideology: 1.) If you work hard enough, you'll succeed. 2.) The direction of your life is determined by the will of God.
The first implies that it's the choices you make that determine your future. Perhaps to it's credit it also says your vote matters. However, in the face of massive amounts of data on income-inequality and the myth of upward mobility, it reinforces the GOP talking point that collective efforts do not exist; you must pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. If you built it, God didn't. Fate has no place in this ideology.
The second implies not only that what happens to you in your life is God's will, but that these politicians “who believe government is the problem“ have the ability to know God's will and are insuring that it be done. But if God built it, then you didn't. If government is problematic because politicians, even if they win the election, are not actually doing God's will, why do you need a government of and for the people anyway? There is no reason to vote if policy written by our elected officials is determined by fate.
Both ideologies cannot coexist in any reasonable way. If Chris Christie were to have said in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that the disaster was the will of God and New Jersey doesn't need the help of FEMA or any funding from the Fed, his constituents, many who hold such a view in regards to countless other social safety nets, would have been outraged. The immediacy of the need over ran the illusion, but unfortunately when it comes to long-term issues most people are horrible at evaluating cause and effect.
Republicans strategists are keenly aware of this. That's how they get away with bundling such contradictory ideologies as a cohesive party platform. The brilliance of this party strategy is that it rallies people to believe that if they make the choice to vote, and their vote is the work of God, then they are part of God's plan. This psychological amalgamation of hyper-individualism and religion is the glue that keeps the party together. It also reinforces denial in group efforts and the cooperation of the nation, for which they depend, by presenting a false dichotomy for constituents to hobble between when trying to defend their harebrained positions. It's cognitive dissonance at its finest and is perhaps the smartest thing the party has devised in the last eighty years. But like all great strategies, it soon gets played out.
Republicans are in decline. Minorities are growing by 1% of the electorate each year and the typically vote Democrat. Soon old-rich-white-heterosexual-Christian-males will be less prevalent. As they're influence declines so will their opinions about rape and their ideologies deviously veiled as the will God. For that we should all rejoice.