If the pending legislation intended to prevent gun violence is as awful as critics claim, they should, in theory, have a fairly easy task ahead. After all, they simply have to point to the legislation’s many flaws, and watch it crumble under the weight of its own futility, right?
But that’s always been the funny thing about demagoguery — it’s what desperate people rely on when they can’t win a debate on the merits. If accurate talking points are ineffective, just make stuff up, scare the bejesus out of people, and hope fear triumphs in the end.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for example, published this tweet over the weekend, warning of a “national gun registry.” As a factual matter, is there a “national gun registry”? No. Has anyone proposed a “national gun registry”? No. Would the pending legislation lead to a “national gun registry”? No.
Does the bipartisan compromise on expanded background checks explicitly rule out the possibility of a “national gun registry”? Yes.
But it doesn’t matter. Either Ted Cruz has created a fantasy world in which legislative details are the opposite of reality, or Ted Cruz assumes his far-right allies are easily fooled into believing nonsense. Either way, by counting on paranoia to rule the day, the Texas Republican — a U.S. senator, not some random media personality — has no qualms about promoting a ridiculous message like this.
Similarly, in recent days, Red State blogger and Fox News contributor Erick Erickson argued that “believing in a resurrected Jesus” will make you ineligible for gun ownership in five years under the bipartisan background-check compromise. Why does Erickson believe such silliness, and feel the need to share this nonsense with others? I haven’t the foggiest idea.
I do know, however, that it’s spreading — as we talked about over the weekend, Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council also argued that Christians may be prevented from buying firearms.
None of this relates to our version of reality in any way, but for the right, real-world arguments are apparently unpersuasive, creating a demand for garbage.
The politics of paranoia are apparently all conservatives have left.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, April 15, 2013
Social conservatives are threatening to revolt against the the Republican Party, in the latest sign that the Republican National Committee’s “Growth & Opportunity Project” has little to no chance of success.
The latest Republican to strike a blow against the RNC’s rebranding plan is Tony Perkins, president of anti-gay hate group the Family Research Council. When it’s not pushing absurd conspiracy theories about ACORN and Obamacare, the FRC keeps busy by using pseudo-science to link homosexuality and pedophilia, and endorsing Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” bill, among other fringe right-wing activities. So naturally, Perkins isn’t thrilled with the RNC’s directive that “When it comes to social issues, the Party must in fact and indeed be inclusive and welcoming.”
Perkins has responded to the GOP reboot by directing his supporters to cut off their financial support for the party.
“Until the RNC and the other national Republican organizations grow a backbone and start defending core principles, don’t send them a dime of your hard-earned money,” Perkins wrote in an email to supporters Thursday night. “If you want to invest in the political process, and I encourage you to do so, give directly to candidates who reflect your values and organizations you trust — like FRC Action.”
Perkins went on to theorize that extreme right-wing social policies are not the GOP’s problem, but in fact the solution.
“Instead of trying to appease millennials, Republicans should try educating them on why marriage matters,” Perkins wrote. “There’s an entire group of ‘Countercultural Warriors’ full of compelling young leaders who are all going to the mat to protect marriage.”
Perkins’ boycott call comes just days after a group of 13 right-wing leaders (including Perkins) signed a letter warning the RNC that social conservatives will break away from the GOP if the party fails to reaffirm its 2012 platform, which calls for bans on gay marriage and abortion rights.
“We respectfully warn GOP Leadership that an abandonment of its principles will necessarily result in the abandonment of our constituents to their support,” the letter warns.
Striking a similar note as Perkins, the signatories speculate that “it is the faith-based community which offers Republicans their best hope of expanding their support” among African-Americans, young voters, and other voter groups that have become reliable Democratic bases.
Perkins and his colleagues on the religious right pose a major problem for Reince Priebus and the Republican Party. Social conservatives still make up the majority of the party’s voter base, a fact that is not going to change anytime soon. But these voters are increasingly out of step with the rest of the country on just about every social issue. A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds, for example, that 73 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents support legalizing same-sex marriage — up 18 percent and 17 percent, respectively, from 2009. Only 27 percent of Republicans support marriage equality, however, up just 5 percent from four years ago.
There aren’t enough “Countercultural Warriors” in the world to make up for that kind of gap — nor is there any evidence that the GOP’s target groups would even be amenable to being lectured by the party’s right wing.
What’s worse for Priebus is that it’s not entirely clear what more the Republican Party can do to appease social conservatives. As Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen points out:
Why, exactly, do social conservatives feel so aggrieved? On a purely superficial level, the party does not want to be perceived as right-wing culture warriors because Priebus and Co. realize that this further alienates younger, more tolerant voters. But below the surface, Republicans, especially at the state level, are banning abortion and targeting reproductive rights at a breathtaking clip, pursuing official state religions, eliminating sex-ed, going after Planned Parenthood, and restricting contraception. Heck, we even have a state A.G. and gubernatorial candidate fighting to protect an anti-sodomy law.
Indeed, Priebus himself recently penned an op-ed for a right-wing blog accusing Democrats of supporting infanticide by refusing to defund Planned Parenthood. If that type of rhetoric isn’t extreme enough to appease Perkins and his cohorts, then it’s unclear what the GOP’s next step could be.
So the RNC is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It can’t afford to lose the support of its base, but the longer the likes of Perkins and Rick Santorum maintain control of the party’s public message, the harder it will be for Republicans to win national elections.
By: Henry Decker, The National Memo, April 12, 2013
What are evangelical conservatives going to do? I ask the question not with any sympathy, but with a mountain of schadenfreudian glee—I am profoundly reassured about my country’s direction every time I hear Tony Perkins bemoan it. But however it’s asked, it’s a question that’s growing more and more urgent. Mike Huckabee says that if the GOP embraces same-sex marriage, “evangelicals will take a walk.” Others pooh-pooh this on the usual grounds that they’ve got nowhere else to go. But they do: back to private life. And it’s my bet that in, say, eight or 12 years’ time, that’s where a lot of evangelicals will be. Having gotten into politics to rescue America from the sinners and fornicators, I reckon a critical mass will decide by 2024 that it was fun while it lasted, but that the fight is hopeless.
It’s going to be fascinating to watch and see what the party does on same-sex marriage as these next months and years progress. I, for one, do not expect to see the senators tumble like dominoes after the push from Ohio’s Rob Portman. Too many of them are from states where adopting that position would be suicide. Remember, we’re talking here not about the mores of the state as a whole, but of its GOP primary voters. So Claire McCaskill could announce her support for same-sex marriage in Democratic Missouri. But Roy Blunt in Republican Missouri? One doubts it. Different state, really. He in fact just reaffirmed his support for the Defense of Marriage Act.
Perusing the list of GOP senators, one sees only a few who might follow Portman. Susan Collins of course; Mark Kirk; Kelly Ayotte, at least on geographic grounds, although she’s quite conservative. You get the idea. I haven’t studied the political situations of all 232 GOP House members, and I won’t, but the general picture is similar. Right now, a grand total of two GOP House members back gay marriage—Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida and Richard Hanna of upstate New York. Two.
This is all pretty amusing because after Portman, some people started talking and writing as if some sort of floodgates were opening, but in reality it would be completely shocking if more than 20 of Capitol Hill’s 279 Republican solons were backing same-sex marriage as we approach 2016. There may well not be more than 10.
This is the kind of issue on which the party’s position will largely be determined by the person it nominates to be president. All the contenders are reliably anti-, yes, even Rand Paul. His libertarian disposition brings him up short of the usual epileptic hatred of gay people, but he’s against them all the same. So the party will likely head into the 2016 election with a position identical to the one it has now. The hard-shell platform, which in 2012 backed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and woman, may get a nip here or tuck there, which those sad Log Cabin people will tout as a great advance, but no more than that.
And, by 2016, it will be more clear than it is today that their bigoted position is a big electoral loser for them. They likely will have lost again, assuming Hillary Clinton runs. And then, staring at the grim reality of 16 straight years of Democratic governance by two people they believe to be Satan and, uh, Satan, they’ll start to make some changes. They’ll study up on the actuarial charts, and same-sex marriage is one of the changes they’ll make—maybe not whole hog right at first, but eventually and inevitably. By 2024—after Hillary, that is—the Republicans will be not all that distinguishable (at least through evangelical eyes) from the Democrats, with a platform supporting same-sex marriage, or at least tolerating it in antiseptic language.
Then what for the Christian right? They got into politics in the 1970s. Remember, Jerry Falwell himself, in a 1965 sermon called “Ministers and Marches,” denounced mixing religion and politics. But then came late-’60s tumult, Roe v. Wade, and kindred signs of the devil’s grip (preceded by the Supreme Court’s decision to take God out of the classroom). Religious conservatives got into politics to undo those things. And here we are, 50 years later, and it’s only gotten worse as far as they’re concerned. By 2024, if my forecasts are correct, things will get only worse still.
Well, how much patience can a movement have? By 2024, evangelicals will have been up to their armpits in politics for half a century. With what to show for it? A country where (I’m betting) abortion is still legal, and now Adam and Steve are saying vows. And their vehicle for their agenda, the Republican Party, will be walking away from them to a place where they smell more votes (and money).
And that’s how the GOP-evangelical divorce will happen. Not all evangelicals will leave. Maybe not even half. But a reduction in the Republican primary electorate from 50 percent evangelical, which is roughly what it is now, to 30 percent would make for some enormous improvements in how the party approaches social issues. And many evangelicals, heeding that old Falwell advice, will stop obsessing so much over this life and spend more time preparing for what they believe is the next one, where (if their own predictions are correct) they won’t feel like hating anyone anymore anyway.
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, March 30, 2013
The FRC, which sponsors the Values Voter Summit that took place in Washington over the past weekend, is a big, big player in conservative politics. Tony Perkins, its leader, has a lot of power in the GOP, appears on television as a serious person, and so on.
So in that context, I think it’s worth noting what goes on at those conclaves when they think no one is watching. They hosted Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachmann and the other big names last Friday. Then, on Saturday, after the mult-boxes had all been safely packed away and the media weren’t looking, out they came.
Alternet’s Zaid Jilani was watching, and here’s a bit of what he saw. Jerry Boykin, the retired lieutenant general and Christian jihadist who now works at FRC, basically called for World War III. An “ex-Muslin convert” named Kamal Saleem issued a different warning:
During the question-and-answer session, a number of attendees wanted to know more about how Muslims were supposedly infiltrating the U.S. government.
Saleem alleged that a U.N. treaty that Obama was working to enforce to replace the constitution with sharia law. Under this new, purportedly Obama-enforced regime, “churches and synagogues will go down underground because now you’ll have to submit your sermons to the government.” The consequences of an Obama re-election, he said, would be to “lose this nation.”
All right, this is crackpot stuff. But according to the Serious Men and Women of Washington, the FRC is not a crackpot outfit. Can you imagine if the Center for American Progress, say, or Jim Wallis‘s group featured a speaker who alleged that Romney had a secret plan to convert everyone to Mormonism and force Christians to reject all they’d been taught and embrace Joseph Smith’s teachings? I know I said last week I generally steer clear of analogies, but this one is pretty precise.
Except that neither CAP nor Wallis would ever dream of doing such a thing in a jillion years. And not because it would be politically unwise and they’d get their heads lopped off–but because it would just be a plainly nutty and deeply offensive thing to do. And, sure, they’d know that it would erode or destroy their credibility.
But FRC can do this and still be accorded respect. Why? Because we just take it as a given and accept that the right wing is full of nativist and reactionary and racist cranks. And this, remember, is a religious organization.
By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, September 17, 2012