RIFTS ON THE RIGHT
By Sean Bennett
When we think of things that divide Republicans and conservatives, we tend to think in terms of shades of ideology. Conflicts between the moderate right and the extreme right, for example. The basis, however for these conflicts is usually strategic, not necessarily ideological. One faction may feel that the other might be alienating certain portions of the electorate. Or one wing might feel neglected, and therefore assume the role of squeaky wheel. But right now, I'd like to take a look at some other ways we might divide and possibly conquer the right. I'd like to point your attention at the widening chasm between traditional Christian conservatives and the more business-oriented, neoliberal conservatives. Probably most stark is the contrast between the priorities of the two sects. The beef of the social conservatives is primarily with social issues. Abortion, gay rights, the supposed deterioration of traditional values, rock music. Whereas, the business-oriented Republicans don't really care much about abortion or gay rights. In fact, some may even be prochoice or pro gay rights. Their priorities are different from the social conservatives. They want lower taxes on businesses. They want the government to keep it's big regulatory snout out of trade and commerce. They don't give a damn about the Christian Coalition. Ronald Reagan embodied this type of conservative. He paid lip service to the social conservatives, tossing them a few bones here and there. But largely his regime was capitalist and neoliberalist-oriented. Photo-ops with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell were just very necessary evils. One group is primarily concerned with culture, and the other with economics.
These different priorities, aren't simply a matter of divergent interests in a big tent. Most of the time they are distinctly at odds with one another. As social conservatives favor using the government to restrict personal freedom, in the case of abortion and consensual sexual acts, for example. The libertarian conservatives, conversely, resent big government, and would theoretically oppose any instance of the government encroaching upon the rights of citizens. Of course, the economic conservatives, presently in control of the party, aren't really that concerned with protecting the rights of women and gays, and therefore will betray their own ideologies of limited government in order to keep the Christian right at bay. The two sects have come to an understanding, as to their mutual interests. Economic conservatives know that the Christian Right is an integral component of their electorate. And the Christian Right knows it doesn't have the clout to win elections on it's own, so it has to attach itself to the closest thing to a viable reactionary political movement. This has been a successful arrangement for quite some time. In 1994 the Republicans narrowly took control of Congress, with no small debt to the Christian Right. In 1991, here in Chlymidia Mountain when the Republicans took control of the City Legislature, John McAllister, a Christian Conservative, was largely to thank. Although The Republican Party has seen political success as a product of this coalition, there is an emerging chorus of voices suggesting that this relationship is not quite so mutually beneficial. Some even suggesting that the Christian Right is a completely parasitic group.
Drew Davidson, an activist with the Chlymidia Mountain Republican Party, is one such business-oriented conservative, who doesn't appreciate the contributions made to the Republican Party by the Religious Right. "They've done nothing, but alienate us for the last decade." Gripes Davidson. "We need to be targeting a younger constituency. And the venomous rhetoric against abortion, homosexuals, and affirmative action, isn't going to fly." Davidson sees little sympathy for the extreme right wing agenda among young, middle class voters. He admits that the social conservatives have done a lot of good for the party, like for example in the south and the west but he says "what we have to figure out is, at what point their influence becomes a liability rather than an asset." There is no doubt however that in Chlymidia Mountain, they're a liability. Davidson, who recently worked as campaign manager for David Baxter's unsuccessful Republican primary bid, holds the far right directly responsible for the party's local woes. Davidson claims that the influence of the party's extreme right is on the wane, and insists that the nomination of Edward Adams was a fluke. He suggests that it may have something to do with the climate of fear and patriotism in the aftermath of 9.11.01.
A capable rejoinder to Davidson's calls for a more secular capitalist party, comes in the form of Tim Scudder, of The Right Way. Scudder is the flipside of Davidson. He insists that it is the pro-business, anti-working class agenda of Davidson and his ilk that is alienating the Republican Party. "Were not losing elections because of Ed Adams, or John McAllister", explains Scudder. "Were losing elections because of Bill Walling, and his trickle-down economic development policies." What this amounts to is an attack on secular capitalism from a Christian Conservative. Am I the only one who sees the vast potential here? I think this small crack is like a window of opportunity into which we can drive a wedge, fragmenting the Party.
A blueprint for such an endeavor has already been masterfully laid out by Mayor Stanley Grouke in a recent book, entitled "Property & Piety: the irreconcilability of The Republican Party's service of two masters". According to Grouke, it is crucial that the secularist Republicans do not prevail, and that the Christian Right is encouraged to strengthen it's influence on the party. First of all, Grouke says this is good because it alienates the Republican Party's constituency. More importantly however, is the ability to point out a fundamentally contradictory party foundation. Grouke says that a Republican Party enriching itself, while doing the bidding of it's corporate benefactors, and at the same time posing as good, decent Christians, will essentially strip the party of legitimacy, driving the right further into irrelevance. Grouke is quick to point out that an unholy alliance between Christians and capitalists would be formidable indeed, if it's culprits could pull it off, even if only cosmetically. However the two extremes are at odds with one another and will likely cancel each other out. Something which were already beginning to see. Grouke predicts that in the next five or so years, the right is going to begin gradually dividing itself along these lines. This is very promising for the left. Terrence Sloan, a City Legislator, agrees with Grouke, that an ascendancy of the Christian right within the Republican Party, will be a blessing for the left. It started to happen during the 90's, but by 98' the unpopular impeachment effort threatened to bring about a major liberal backlash. So they backed off, and slid back into the darkness. In Philadelphia, at the Republicans Convention, seldom a word was heard from the fire breathing wing of the party. This scared me. If the Republican establishment can learn how to control it's lunatic fringe, it can go on winning elections and imposing a retrograde agenda for years to come. Just because they keep the nutcases out from in front of the camera's doesn't mean they aren't influencing the agenda. They remain a solid constituency in the more backwards regions of the country. And the Republican establishment knows this very well. Of course, such an arrangement simply can't last. The extremists are an extremely unstable bunch, given to paranoia, and conspiracy mongering. Small, incremental victories here and there, will not keep them satisfied. And they do have the clout to make things messy. The trick is to find out how to agitate among these groups, in order to bring about such messiness.
Socially and culturally America today is far too progressive and forward-thinking to ever accept the socially conservative agenda of the Christian Right. They know this. The Republican Party knows this. And most importantly the left knows this. That's why it's important that the socially conservative gain hegemony in the party. The public will simply laugh and the troglodytes will be driven back into irrelevance where they belong.
I'm afraid however, that there is a more bleak future at hand. One in which the Republicans learn to deal with the wacko's in their ranks. One in which a compassionately conservative Republican President drops the zealots a few crumbs every now and again. But the real bread being buttered, is of a minority a lot smaller then the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition. Here, I'm talking about the 200 or so corporations that for all intents and purposes run the world. Of course the Republicans aren't the exclusive vanguards of this group. The Democratic Party is just as beholden. In fact, the strength of this power elite transcends party politics, and is entrenched in our political process. However. The Republican Party sells a real toxic capitalist snake oil. They're not satisfied with simply imposing a vastly inequitable economic system on the American people. They want us to believe that it's good for us. When these people get their way, there's just no hope. At least with the Democrats, the dirty deals are done in the back rooms, filled with smoke. And when people find out about it, they can get pissed off. With Republicans, they screw us over and tell us it's good for us. They piss on us, and call it the trickle-down effect. And we totally buy it. So, if we could have the GOP out of the picture, stirring up indignation against an unfair economic system, will be a lot less challenging. So alas, if there's any hope, it lies in the good old fire-breathing, cyanide-sipping, snake-charming Religious Right. I never thought I'd say this but, long live the Christian Coalition!
From Desperate Times, November 2001
I must say, I am quite impressed with how well the American people have been handling themselves in the midst of this widespread wave of terrorist attacks. On the morning of Septermber 11, I figured we have martial by sundown. But there was no military police state. There were no internment camps for everyone and everything Arab. No electroshock treatment, no peeling off of fingernails.
Where is this reservoir of calmness coming from? And what will it take to exhaust it?
I have chosen to offer a few remarks on the recent terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington DC.
While terrorism against the United States, and terrorism within the United States, is nothing new, the attacks perpetrated against us, on September 11, 2001 were unprecendented both in the sheer audacity of the attacks and the catastrophic loss of innocent life. Nothing quite compares to the devestation and horror that scores of Americans awoke to on a clear, cloudless Summer morning. The hundreds of secretaries, custodians, and office workers who along with the airline passengers who perished instantaneously, the hundreds of workers trapped on the floors above the crash, who found themselves faced with either burning alive, or plummeting anywhere from 70 to 100 stories to a quicker fate. And the thousands scrambling to escape as the towers collapsed on top of them. The mood of the nation is grim as it witnesses this misery and horror. With the help of 24-hour televised slow-motion replay, the jarring images of that tragic day have been indellibly seared upon the conciousness of this nation.
Coming days are sure to bring a multitude of answers to the many questions America is now asking. Who could do such a thing? Will it happen again? Is there anything we can do to head off future strikes? And most poigniantly, why would so many people, as one can only assume that many individuals were involved in the orchestration and execution of these attacks, want to exact such devestation on an innocent civillian populace?
No evidence has yet been presented, but Afghanistan-based terror leader Osama bin Laden seems to be the prime suspect. A correct presumption most likely. As few other groups possess the motivation and capability of planning and carrying out Tuesdays attacks.
No rational justification can be made for the terrorists responsible. While it is without question that America has perpetrated innumerable atrocities in almost every corner of the world, including the middle east, the region from which the attack's perpetrators most likely hail. No one can say that murdering American civillians will ever alleviate the anguish inflicted upon the people of the world by the hands of the American military. And anybody capable of such distorted thinking, is dispicable, pathetic, and likely to be denounced and reviled by much of the worlds population. For it is not the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters slaving away for their capitalist bosses in the world trade towers that are culpable for U.S. foreign policy. Most Americans are kept in the dark about whats going on anyway. No logical, or sane individual would hold American citizens responsible for acts that they are not even aware of, and could not even stop if they were aware. It is much more likely that Sept. 11's perpetrators were driven by an irrational hatred of America, borne out of their backwards, fundamentalist, mutant islamist beliefs. By and large, however with a few persistent exceptions, America is a modern, secular, and progressive nation. Dozens of faiths are legally practiced in the United States. Women roam freely, dressing casually, without fear of being beaten by police or having acid splashed in their faces, as occurs quite frequently in Afghanistan, under the Taliban government. This must disgust the muslim extremists who are hellbent on the spread of their mutant strain of Islam.
America, being the nation of infidels that we are, should not be allowed to enjoy prosperity and peace according to the likes of Osama bin Laden and his extremist cohorts. To bin Laden the twin towers were a symbol of not only American capitalism, a secular phenenomena, but of secularist America's undeserved and unwanted influence on the rest of the world, particularly Islam.
HI, I'm Sean Bennett, and this is Chlymidia Mountain Free Radio. I'd like to take this time, to make a few statements on behalf of the station, regarding the sept 11 terrorist attacks against the us. First, I'd like to express the profound sadness and shock experienced by all of us, that something both so horrific and senseless could take place, only 200 miles away. I would like to take this time to condemn terrorists that have no regard for human life. And that condemnation, is not limited to Osama Bin Laden, it goes for the United States government as well. Having said that, let me make clear, that in no way, shape or form, were the attacks against the twin towers and the pentagon justifiable. We oppose senseless violence and the murder of innocent civillians. This applies to terrorism both at home and abroad. Including when perpetrated by the us government.