05 September 2011

Mike Lofgren - Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

This article is from Truthout.org

Here, Mike Lofgren does a lovely job of vocalizing some of the most significant critiques of the GOP, as well as the way that those critiques get reappropriated and used for the GOP's ends, both directly:
A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

and indirectly:

Ever since the bifurcation of electronic media into a more or less respectable "hard news" segment and a rabidly ideological talk radio and cable TV political propaganda arm, the "respectable" media have been terrified of any criticism for perceived bias. Hence, they hew to the practice of false evenhandedness. Paul Krugman has skewered this tactic as being the "centrist cop-out." "I joked long ago," he says, "that if one party declared that the earth was flat, the headlines would read 'Views Differ on Shape of Planet.'"

So there's a lot of interesting stuff in this article, and the whole piece is worth sitting down for 10 or 15 minutes to read through. What I want to zero in on here, though, is the very last footnote. I'll cut and paste it in its entirety:

The GOP cult of Ayn Rand is both revealing and mystifying. On the one hand, Rand's tough guy, every-man-for-himself posturing is a natural fit because it puts a philosophical gloss on the latent sociopathy so prevalent among the hard right. On the other, Rand exclaimed at every opportunity that she was a militant atheist who felt nothing but contempt for Christianity. Apparently, the ignorance of most fundamentalist "values voters" means that GOP candidates who enthuse over Rand at the same time they thump their Bibles never have to explain this stark contradiction. And I imagine a Democratic officeholder would have a harder time explaining why he named his offspring "Marx" than a GOP incumbent would in rationalizing naming his kid "Rand."

This is something that I've talked to friends and family about repeatedly, and it ties (along other factors) into my whole "why I'm not a Christian" reasoning (I'll write a longer post on this subject at some point). The essential point: Christianity as it exists in contemporary America is a sick, contradiction-riddled joke.

A philosophy of "love your neighbor as yourself" is fundamentally incompatible with a philosophy of "greed is good". At some point, "I got mine, so fuck all y'all" - or, perhaps, "I got mine, so God loves me," (health and wealth, anyone?) replaced "go and sell what thou hast, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven" (pardon any imperfections in my quoting, I'm working from memory, but I think it's Matthew 19, the whole "eye of a needle" story).

Thomas Paine said of the fledgling USA that "our plan is commerce." That was the founding principle of the country, the justification for the whole project. It seems to be the primary reasoning behind religion these days. Remember "no man can serve two masters"?

Anyways... I'll organize some of my own thoughts on the topic soon, but Lofgren's article is definitely worth a read; there's a lot there that's worth thinking about beyond my own narrow interests.

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