“But the zeal of fanaticism prevailed over the cold and feeble efforts of policy.”
-Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897)
It’s an age-old story of power, and who wants it. Throughout history, it has been repeated time and time again. It has been proven without fail that the best way to control a populace is through fear and faith. Scare people into believing that the enemy is evil, that your solutions are the only way, and then set those ideas into stone by pushing them through religion. All over the world this method of gaining power is being practiced. You can see it in the power structure of the Middle East, and you can see it in the power struggle here in the United States.
The Republican party is no longer the party of freedom and liberty as they claim to be. They are no longer the pragmatic thinkers at the table, offering solution-based methods of compromise and action. They are no longer the party that thinks with their head and their pocketbook. That party disappeared a long time ago. The Republican party that we see today, and have seen for the past several decades is one of fear and faith, then finding ways to gather votes to gain power based upon those two principles.
The ironic part about the Republican party using faith is that they do not practice what they preach. Many in the GOP are intolerant, and boast bigoted legislation to inhibit the rights of many minorities including women, LGBT individuals, people of color, and those of varying faiths (or lack there of). If they practiced what their theistic book of choice (the Bible) taught, they would know that it is not their job to judge or legislate morality. If they practiced what their party used to represent they would allow for individual freedom.
The Republican party has become a party of strict theological dialogue. They will speak of being “Constitutional Conservatives,” however they violate the very principles so ingrained in our heritage as Americans. It directly violates the Constitution to legislate via Biblical principles. In the 1st Amendment of the US Constitution it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” What this means is that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. They wrote it as clear as a sunny day after a rainstorm. You can’t legislate via faith, but you can worship as you choose on your own time. The founders were very smart men who knew their history, and actually came to this new land to create a new form of government free from the theocratic laws of their past. If modern-day Republicans want to be “Constitutional Conservatives” they need to first read and understand the Constitution.
What I don’t think the modern-day Republican party is prepared for is its inevitable demise. We are already seeing it in today’s presidential primaries, the legislations being written, and the rhetoric being spouted time and time again. The American public is growing tired of it. More people than ever are standing up in defense of the theocratic laws being spewed into the legislative spotlight in many states, and even in the US Congress. People are growing tired of the pomposity of those in charge and the negativity of their language being used to describe others. The Republican party is splitting. Moderate Republicans are registering as independents and the staunch religious conservatives are pulling further and further to the right. They’ve become the party of “no compromise,” which is exactly opposite of how this country is intended to be governed. We are supposed to be a nation of varying ideas, bringing all those ideas to the table, and work out pragmatic solutions that will benefit the nation as a whole, not just a party of people as individuals.
I would love for the Lincoln Republicans to make their comeback. Please do, maybe then we can get some actual work done in this nation, and continue the progress that has been perpetual until these past few decades. Leave your faith in the church and in your own individual lives, but do not legislate by it because not everyone shares that faith. Leave the fear mongering to things that we should actually be afraid of, like spiders, instead of creating enemies out of women, LGBT individuals, people of color, poverty-stricken individuals, and those of varying faiths that you do not agree with. We have the constitution to protect us from a theological take-over of any sort. We also have the constitution to protect the rights of the minority from the oppression of the majority.
If the Republican party does not allow for public policy to be written that is meant for the general welfare of the whole, then they will be certain to fall farther into the cracks of their own discontent. The push back will only become more severe. It is not a war on religion that is being waged, it is a protection from religion that is being fought. This is where the Republican party needs to decide if it is a party of the people, by the people, and for the people… all people. OR if they are a party of their faith, by their faith, and for their faith… and only their faith. It’s their choice, but if they do not make it, the American public will decide for them at the voting booths.
Sarah Wood is also known in the blogging world as the Opinionated Democrat, and is the Editor-in-Chief of both the political opinion blog Political Shake and the satirical news publication, Free Wood Post.