Monday, May 15, 2006

American Theocracy.

Those accusing the Republican Party of becoming the first religious party in U.S. history are often seen as liberals if not anti-religious heathens but when the criticism comes from a man who shaped the ideology of the New Right, you pay a bit more attention.

In uncompromising analysis, Kevin Phillips looks at the recent transformation of the Republican presidential coalition.

What is interesting in his article (published in the Washington Post) is to see how a powerful minority of Christian evangelicals, fundamentalists and Pentecostals who "believe that the Armageddon described in the Bible is coming soon", has taken a firm grip on the Republican Party. Those people have also gained some credit precisely because "chaos in the Middle East, oil-price spikes, murderous hurricanes, deadly tsunamis and melting polar ice caps scare people and make them seek refuge in an Apocalyptic vision of our world".

As Phillips underlines, that is particularly true in the ‘red states’ of the American heartland, and his vision encapsulates quite well my personal experience there:

The American heartland, from Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico to Ohio and the Appalachian coal states, has become (along with the onetime Confederacy) an electoral hydrocarbon coalition. It cherishes sport-utility vehicles and easy carbon-dioxide emissions policy, and applauds preemptive U.S. air strikes on uncooperative, terrorist-coddling Persian Gulf countries fortuitously blessed with huge reserves of oil.

As Phillips says at the end of this article, what those fundamentalist Christians believe – that the US is unique and that God is on their side – is "a debilitating note to the late stages of each national decline".

Whether the US is in decline, I would not venture to say, but the current fundamentalist ideology is certainly debilitating.

NOTE: Kevin Phillips –the man who coined the term ‘Sun Belt’, named the New Right, and prophesied ‘The Emerging Republican Majority’ in 1969 – has also attacked America's oil dependence and indebtedness and decried the religious conservatives' alliance with the Republican Party in a recent book, appropriately called “American Theocracy”.
He writes:

"[O]ver three decades of Bush presidencies, vice presidencies, and CIA directorships, the Republican party has slowly become the vehicle of ... a fusion of petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex.

Under the Bushes, the United States has embraced "high-powered automobiles, air strikes, and invasions," become "the world's leading Bible reading crusader state," and suffered from "burgeoning debt levels" and the "implosion of American manufacturing."...

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