MARCH 22, 2012 6:24AM

WHAT'S AT STAKE IN THIS ELECTION: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

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 GOLDWATER-when christians control Republicans

I received an email from “info@barackobama.com”, supposedly from Joe Biden, which stated, “I'd like to ask you one question right now: Of all the issues important to you, what's the bottom-line reason you're with us in this fight?” There was a link to a Web page, and while I generally do not respond to such emails, I was curious about which issues might be presented, so I took a look and found the following: 

“What's at stake for you in this election?”

Which issue is most important to you in this election? 

Job creation and strengthening the economy

Health reform

Clean energy

Education reform

Veterans issues

Immigration reform

Foreign policy and homeland security

Women's issues

LGBT issues 

Other

If Other, please specify an issue:

Is there anything else you want to tell us about why you support this issue?

http://my.barackobama.com/Your-Bottom-Line-Issue

When I visited that Web page, it struck me that there were actually two different questions being asked: 1) “what's the bottom-line reason you're with us in this fight?”, and 2) “Which issue is most important to you in this election?” Somehow, the first question seemed more relevant to me, as single-issue thinking has never suited me and I was suddenly struck by something I had seen just moments before on television watching Hardball with Chris Matthews (something I rarely watch). I had seen a video clip (shown below) of Rick Santorum at a huge church service. The pastor engaged in some severe rewriting of American history in advocating a theocratic form of government based on Christianity, excluding all other religions, imploring all non-Christians to leave America, after which Santorum joined in a standing ovation for the pastor's display of ignorance from his pulpit.

 

 

In light of the video I had just previously witnessed, further exposing Santorum's well-known affiliation with an agenda to change America into a theocracy, I thought I would respond to Mr. Biden's poll, primarily because it offered the option of “Other” with a box in which to specify an unlisted issue and another box in which to explain further why this particular issue is important. I checked the “Other” option and in the box marked “If Other, please specify an issue” I entered “Religious influences in government”. In the final box marked “Is there anything else you want to tell us about why you support this issue?”, I explained that virtually every other issue is directly impacted by religiosity in government. 

The list on the Web site presented a series of issues that appear unrelated at first glance; like a list of tasks around the house: vacuum, wash the dishes, clean the bathroom, take out the garbage, wash the windows to let in more light. In the case of the household chores, there is one underlying issue, or goal; removing contagion corrupting the home environment. In the same manner, religiosity in government is a contagion corrupting the home environment; not only the home environment of government itself, but the actual environments of our homes. And this contagion has acquired such a revered status within our society that it has become the proverbial “elephant in the room”. 

Religion is a problem and poses a threat only because nobody will address it purposefully for fear of offending religionists. And anyone who presents this truth is immediately greeted with outcries of intolerance and hollow defenses for religion such as “religion does a lot of good” and “religion teaches morals” as if goodness and morals are bestowed upon us by religion. This is one of the symptoms of the contagion; its victims lose touch with logic and reason, apparently forgetting that all religions are created by humans, therefore receiving their goodness and morals from humans rather than imparting those traits to humans. Conversely, religion provides yet one more tool for those who profit from social divisiveness. 

Currently, the one principle to which the Democrat Party has remained faithful, still fearlessly professing publicly that we cannot legislate religious beliefs, is the separation of church and state. Clearly, there can be no “freedom of religion” unless government remains free from religious contagion. So, this is my answer to the question, “what's the bottom-line reason you're with us in this fight?” Given the recent track record of the Democrats in dealing with all the other issues listed above, I think their adherence to the separation of church and state is about all they have left. It directly influences the only firm stands they've made in recent years, those being on issues like LGBT rights, abortion and contraception. They have been successfully ineffectual on just about everything else.

Additional video added:

 

 

 

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Interesting take on the thread running through the survey questions. I see it much the same way, although I would add that if the intrusion of religion and the loss of separation of state is the most dangerous obstacle to freedom, that perhaps the Dems letting us down on all the other issues so far is not nearly so important as not giving up on maintaining the separation.
We're in a time where a nincompoop has surged in national prominence wearing a V-neck sleeveless sweater trying to become Pope of The United States. I work around people that support that kind of thinking. It's disheartening to say the least.
The Barry Goldwater quote is one I remember. Eisenhower had similar words about Texas oil men. Dems made the mistake of not listening close enough to those we knew were oppositional on other matters, even when they warned us of the most frightening, the usurpers and pillagers of of freedom, wrapped in flags and carrying their religious tomes .
Freedom of Religion. Separation of Church and State. Those things would be top on my list and I think the Democrats and Obama support that. A Santorum supporter was on tv saying that the churchman and Santorum are just expressing their religion and that is ok in the US. Sigh. Religion is a problem.
An interesting take on things. I like pieces that start out with a seemingly mundane thing that happens to someone, and go on to make a much broader and much more important point. You succeeded in that here.
"Currently, the one principle to which the Democrat Party has remained faithful, still fearlessly professing publicly that we cannot legislate religious beliefs, is the separation of church and state."

And that, my friend, is reason enough to vote for Obama and any other Democrat you can vote for come November. It's guaranteed that if the other side prevails religion will have more influence in every aspect of our lives, including government.
Pastor liar and others like him are doing more harm to religion than benefit. Back in the day, it was thought that American's separation of church and state would cause people to abandon religion. Instead, it flourished more so then in Europe. The more these lying crackpots infuse religion into politics, the more harm they do to religion. What you're seeing is a reborn version of theocracy dying by its own hypocrisy and taking down as much of what is actually the American tradition with it as it can. What the Republicans and conservatives thought they could control is now controlling them.
Yes, the Democrats are wise to not follow the same path, but they have tried to pander when it looked like it was a success for the GOP. It is a good reason to vote Democratic, but it's sad that that's the main and to too great a degree the only difference. I'm firmly convinced that the only reason this crap was allowed to flourish is because Dems walked away from labor and towards corporatism. They don't offer a significant economic choice. So, a dime's worth of difference, but too few will cross the street for a mere dime.
toritto,

yep, especially when voting for state representatives we send to D.C. -- that's where our votes count most.
a.k.a.,

that was pretty much the point I made – the other points seemed less significant in light of, as you point out, the nincompoop who is seemingly garnering so much respect from so many, regardless of how anti-American his rhetoric truly is. One must completely revise American history to accept what this pastor said, and for the nincompoop to be on video giving the pastor's nonsense a standing ovation seemingly says so much that is not being addressed meaningfully; everyone just tip-toes around it. And I, too, work with people who can't engage their logic circuits. You mention that some did not listen to valid warnings because they came from the other side of the aisle, which is probably true to a large extent, and what is perhaps more surprising is that those on that same side of the aisle paid no attention to those warnings, and still ignore them after all these years.
zanelle,

yep, obviously, "expressing" or practicing their religion is their right, but to attempt to legislate it onto the rest of us is purely anti-American, and it gets no more complicated and no simpler than that.
Jeanette,

Thanks for the critique on both aspects; the composition and the broader point.
Tom,

As I'm sure you can imagine, I thought of you as I wrote this piece. Personally, I think the argument can go either way regarding your perspective, but given my difficulty in finding anything good to say about the Democrat Party these days, I thought it only fair to make this point. The way I see it, though, is that as long as the Dems continue appeasing the Right-wing, their value is greatly diminished in any case. I see a time when voters can send a greater number of third-party candidates to the Senate and House (state and federal), and turn things in a better direction. In the end, this single firm stand by the Dems only has value if they are also making firms stands on the other issues influenced by this single issue. The point is the interconnectedness of all of these points.

I'll PM you …
;-)
Paul,

You make the point I left unspoken in the essay; “... it's sad that that's the main and to too great a degree the only difference.” Also, BECAUSE the Dems have appeased these people and as you say, “...walked away from labor and towards corporatism,” which they continue today, there is no real difference in the end results because all the other issues listed in the email I received swing favorably to Republicans, anyway, as they have for the past 30 years or more. I wrote that the Dems are “...professing publicly that we cannot legislate religious beliefs,” which is just talk; talk is cheap. Show me something. The trend of late has been solid; say one thing, do the opposite. I don't believe I've ever seen Dems cave so consistently to the Repugs as they have over the past 12 years or so.
Given the recent track record of the Democrats in dealing with all the other issues listed above, I think their adherence to the separation of church and state is about all they have left.

Well, I am disposed to give the Democrats a bit more credit than that, Rick, but even if it were the only issue still in their favor, I agree with you completely that it is important enough to require my vote.

There are many so disappointed with Barack Obama they seem willing to help the Republicans get elected in November in order to “teach him a lesson.” Can’t tell you how wrong-headed I think this is…and I can only hope these good people finally see the light.

You hit this one out of the ballpark, Rick.
Yes, I had a feeling our private conversation might have spurred some of this post. Personally, I think there's more to recommend the Dems than that they aren't the Republicans, but as I said, that alone should be sufficient cause to get people like us to pull the D lever (showing my age) this time out.

I understand the compelling need for alternatives, but this time out, let's do ourselves -- and the world -- a favor and let disaffected sane Republicans do the third-partying. Surely, there must be millions of them, and surely they have just cause to desert the party that deserted them in the first place.

Beyond that, I'll wait your PM.
Hah, LOL, Frank. I can almost feel the pain of your restraint and I'll commend you on it.As for teaching a lesson, I think it's more important the rest of the Dems get the lesson since they are those who will likely be around longer whether Obama wins or not. Also, as I've said many times before, if they had sent Obama some decent legislation, he would have signed it. Where Obama's greatest failure lies, in my view, is in his failure to LEAD those congressional Dems into doing exactly that.
Yeah, Tom, I hope that Republicans don't gain any more seats in congress. I do wonder, though, how different Romney would be from Obama, especially if the Dems to maintain control of at least one branch. If I thought my vote would matter in electing, I would definitely make the defensive move against the Repugs, but that just further displays the pathetic state of things.
"Foreign Policy and Homeland Security" is an interesting conflation of ideas. Foreign policy is a big deal for me, since it is the wars, which are ruining our economy. But I don't think America can get much more secure without doing away with rights.

But, the chosen wording suggests that I want more stupid, destructive, expensive policies which have the opposite of the intended effect, all in the name of "security."
Rick, regarding your dismay at the survey question, I had to chuckle (albeit sadly) at the familiar nature of your situation. See my Mar 2011 article Our National Priorities for a discussion of my frustration with a fund-raising mailing I'd gotten from the DNC.

In fact, I also got the survey you refer to here, and I responded saying "Climate" in the other box and then used the main box to say how I thought they'd done really badly but that I was sticking with them since the GOP was doing really much worse.

I think you're right that their list of issues did sound like a kind of housekeeping list. And the question is silly because I'm just sure they're not on the edge of their seats adding up results to determine how to change their agenda. They just want to reshape the reader's focus into being a participant, rather than an outsider, so they'll feel more generous about contributing.

Even so, I'll likely vote for them absent a better bid. Yet as I watch how dramatic the record-breaking warm temperatures are hitting us this spring, not even summer, I just cringe at what summer will bring. Both parties have so failed to address this key issue it's sad. The other parties, even the green party, have as well, though. It bodes ill.

If one really thought this was the issue, you'd see the phrase “It's the Climate, stupid.” tacked on the wall, and any attempt to drag it off onto some lesser issue would be waved away as a distraction. I don't mean to trivialize our economic problems when I say they almost don't matter. They matter a lot. Rather, when I say they almost don't matter, I just mean to say how much more it matters to get the Climate right than it does the economy. There's no point to a good economy leading into a deadly Climate.

There are some religions that are finally starting to point to the necessity of being good stewards of the environment, so I won't try to point to all of religion as the enemy. But yet, even then, I don't think those groups have come to grips with the magnitude of the problem.
If you'd read my blog you know this issue is close to my heart. There are so many public policies issues that could be resolved if we could marginalize the religious fanatics who make any compromise impossible. Their irrationality, fanaticism, lack of empathy, and their tendency to feel vicitmized & aggrieved anytime they are forced to realize not everyone shares their dogmas--these are all traits that make any genuine dialogue or engagement impossible.[r]
I love that Goldwater quote. The Republican party has not only been taken over by the preachers in service of religious purposes, but they have actually converted politics into a form of religion. The Norquist pledge, the anti-government laissez faire supply side job-creator worship mental framework is what they call "principles" that can not be compromised. This has become a political faith. They think Jesus was a free marketer, and the invisible hand is the hand of God. Their uncompromising politics is every bit as absolutist as their social conservative anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-porn, anti-sex, anti-joy, anti-pleasure, anti-freedom conservative nanny state.

I agree with Frank we need to give the Democrats more credit than just this one issue. They pushed for health care reform, they wanted cap-and-trade, they've improved auto-emission standards, they've invested in clean energy, they've passed Lily Ledbetter equal pay for women, Dodd-Frank, and many other positive things. They encounter real organized concerted hostile political and media opposition. Look at how successful Republicans are at demagoguing Solyndra for example.

People criticize the Democrats as if they assume the Democrats have total freedom to implement ideal policies, and they simply decide not to because they are assholes in the hands of corporations. That is simple minded and objectively false. It doesn't reflect political reality. There is a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans on the economy, on education, on the environment, on foreign policy, on the social safety net and on just about everything else you can think of.

When you get frustrated about what they are not doing, you have to take a serious look at the political realities, the actual polling of public support, the limits to power to understand why they don't do more when they want to. If we dominated the House of Representatives and had 65 Senators and the White House, you would see a huge difference. In 2009, the Democrats only had 20 weeks with 60 Senators. Remember Franken wasn't seated until July, then Kennedy died, then we got Scott Brown. And some of those 60 were blue dogs. Everything that the Democrats have done has been a bloody struggle politically, and to pretend that they could easily do way more is self-deception or failure to recognize political reality.
Malusinka,

Thanks for your contribution. You have a knack for noticing details like the one you point out here, which I had not considered. It seems like “Homeland Security” would be different from “Foreign Policy” despite an obvious connection, but the grouping of them together is significant, I think. My initial thought in reading this email and the list it presented was something similar; I thought, “That list seems like leading the witness (I've watched too much Law & Order, I think). The inclusion of “Other” as a choice, at least, reduced that effect somewhat.


Kent,

In the case of your primary concern (climate/environment), religion is at or near the top of the list of obstacles to any form of environmental protections and reforms that we need, regardless of how they may or may not affect “climate change”. Beyond that, there are numerous other reforms that religionists ignore based on their unfounded beliefs. I assume you saw Bill Maher's show recently when he displayed an excerpt from Alexandra Pelosi's documentary interviewing voters in Mississipi. For those who haven't seen it, I've added it at the end of the essay, or you can view it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuI2LEKHGiQ

I'm sorry, but these are some of the stupidest people on the planet and the fact that they vote is beyond scary.


Donegal,

I'll check on your blog; you're absolutely right about these people and the destructive influence they have on America. Good government is based on reason and logic, not unfounded beliefs in fairytales as fact.


Jeff,

Yes, the Repugs have fallen of the edge into the abyss of total absurdity. Unfortunately, your belief that there is “a huge difference between Democrats and Republicans” is unrealistic in the face of the actual results they both produce. Their rhetoric is different. While I despise the right-wing nut jobs, the Dems have not stood firm on the very issues you point to, and this failure goes back to the Clinton administration. Passing bad legislation just to be able to say you passed something is not a good policy approach. There are some decent Dems still in Congress, but not enough to make the party worth your enthusiasm. It's not a sport in which we support our team even when they no longer support us.

It's intriguing that you raise the issue of “actual polling of public support” while apparently forgetting that the Dems have essentially ignored that very key over and over again. For what it's worth, I think the problem lies more with congressional representation than in the presidency; voters in individual states continue sending Blue Dogs (as you mention) and wimps to represent them while allowing those who are strong enough to stand on principles to go down. If we're going to dig out of our current hole, we'll first need to get past the Dem versus Repug mindset and start tearing down the two-party wall.

I appreciate your contribution. My point here is not about Dems versus Repugs, but about how the societal appeasement of religion-based ignorance is damaging to society in the same way that some parasites are detrimental to their hosts.
Great piece and I am sharing it on FB.
I clicked on 'Other' and wrote that my bottom-line issue was getting a Constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United and then getting some strong campaign finance reform. W're only a year or two--please believe me! We see it here in Wisconsin!--from the day when the global corporations and the hyper-wealthy will have taken the law-making and law-enforcing powers away from The People, and then you can kiss it all goodbye--the religious freedom and everything else on that list.
Sheila, thanks for reading and 'sharing it'.


Karen,
I don't even think we're as far away as you suggest here. I think it's already as you describe it 'will be'. I don't see that the average citizen really has any meaningful influence on anything at all. And part of the problem is that too many can't break the bonds of the Dem-versus-Repub brain flatulence. Thanks for reading and for contributing to the discussion.