Republicans and Authoritarians and Baptists, Oh My!


In this month that is the start of the American Presidential campaign 2016, after already so many debates, it is fitting and proper that we take a look at the clowns that the Republican Party has who somehow think that they are even REMOTELY qualified to be President of the United States.

I think I will start with this:

“By ‘right-wing authoritarianism’ I mean the covariation of three attitudinal clusters in a person:

  1. Authoritarian submission – a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
  2. Authoritarian aggression – a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities.
  3. Conventionalism – a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.”

That is from The Authoritarian Specter, by Bob Altemeyer, written in 1996 (Harvard University Press).

Be aware that he was writing not about a system, but about individual persons and what is going on in their heads.  I kind of like the term “attitudinal clusters”.  I might use that one myself in the future.

That book is for academics.  For those who do not want to wade through an academic treatise like me, feel free to read The Authoritarians, a more readable version of Altemeyer’s work, which was my introduction to his work.

When I look at Ted Cruz, the most blatant grabber for power among the silly party candidates, all I see is Joe McCarthy, a Joe McCarthy in religious garb.

For those who don’t already know, Cruz is the son of a Baptist minister AND that Cruz has had that Baptist minister father stumping for him among the fundamentalists all across the state of Iowa.  There is nothing wrong with having one’s father stump for a candidate, but judging from Cruz’s occasional comments, Cruz seriously thinks – and QUITE erroneously – that America was founded by fundamentalists and should become a fundamentalist country in reality.

I was raised a Baptist myself, so I have a clear idea of the authoritarianism that is endemic in the Baptists culture.  The BIBLE is the authority on everything – as interpreted by Baptist ministers.  No dancing, no singing – except for hymns.  A more restrictive religion-centered society than even the Amish and Mennonites. It is a person-hating religion.  All power accrues to the ministers.  NO freedom of action; everything is dictated by a supremely fundamentalist reading of the Bible.  And Cruz wants to impose this upon America.

We could do better if we resurrected the Ayatollah Khomeini from Iran and inserted him into the Oval Office.  Anyone who has ANY love of freedom, kiss it goodbye down the road if such a demon as Cruz ever was sworn in as President. Insanity would ensure and we would all be fucked – until such time as we revolt and throw that bastard out.  I predict it would be within three months of his inauguration.

Altemeyer:

We shall probably always have individuals lurking among us who yearn to play tyrant. Some of them will be dumber than two bags of broken hammers, and some will be very bright. Many will start so far down in society that they have little chance of amassing power; others will have easy access to money and influence all their lives. On the national scene some will be frustrated by prosperity, internal tranquility, and international peace — all of which significantly dim the prospects for a demagogue-in-waiting. Others will benefit from historical crises that automatically drop increased power into a leader’s lap. But ultimately, in a democracy, a wannabe tyrant is just a comical figure on a soapbox unless a huge wave of supporters lifts him to high office. That’s how Adolf Hitler destroyed the Weimar Republic and became the Fuhrer. So we need to understand the people out there doing the wave. Ultimately the problem lay in the followers. [emphasis added]

The USA has had Calvinist types, since its inception and before.  How can we forget the Salem witch trials?  Or the Puritans?

I’d like to disabuse all of you of what you were taught in school:  The Puritans did NOT come to America because they wanted religious freedom.  They came to New England n order to make a “more pure” church.  To anyone who knows what “more pure” means, that is all code for an even MORE restrictive church – i.e.,  LESS freedom for the individual and more authority for the church authorities.

You see, some people think that religious freedom is freedom for a CHURCH to control its members.  Ala the Baptists.  Ala what Ted Cruz wants to do with America.  He wants to take us all back to 1630.

If you think I jest, just vote him in and sit back and watch what happens. Televangelists in the Oval Office.  Prayer before press conferences.

Altemeyer: “…But someone who lived in a country long ruled by Communists and who ardently supported the Communist Party would also be one of my psychological right-wing authoritarians even though we would also say he was a political left-winger. So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views. Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional. It’s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics. Rightwing authoritarianism is a personality trait, like being characteristically bashful or happy or grumpy or dopey.”

Cruz and all authoritarian leaders want a 100% compliant following.  Their yearning for power is THAT strong that they want to decide everything for everyone.  How FAR from American ideals can one possibly get?  It is the exact OPPOSITE of the motivation for the United States in the first place.  And yet, over and over and over, we hear these yokels (and, trust me, they ARE yokels) run around asserting that America was founded so that these religious demagogues could tell us all what to do and when and how and with whom.  And these yokels are okay with that.

No.  We who have lived entire lives having the freedom of CHOICE in all things large and small, we do not and WILL NOT submit to such a mentality.  OUR “character traits” are to NOT be submissive to authority, to NOT attack someone in the name of Ted Cruz, to NOT have conservative political views.

Should we ever FIND ourselves subject to such mentality, it is my thinking that such authority figures would have a HELL of a time keeping us all down.

This post has been sort of disorganized, but I hope the point got across.  Ted Cruz is a dangerous individual.  NO ONE in the Senate likes him.  Only conservative religious authoritarian types do.  I picked him out because he is the most extreme of the authoritarian types that the Republican Party has managed to let into their midst and garner some level of power within their already sorry confluence of idiocy.

John Dean, Richard Nixon’s convicted White House Counsel, was huge and personal reason why Robert Altemeyer wrote The Authoritarians”.
Altemeyer begins his Introduction with this:

In the fall of 2005 I found myself engaged, most unexpectedly, in a heavy exchange of emails with the man who had blown the whistle on Watergate, John Dean. He was writing a book about “Conservatives Without Conscience”–which the late Senator Barry Goldwater was to have co-authored. Dean, Goldwater, and others with solid Republican credentials had been alarmed by the capture of the Grand Old Party by the Religious Right and its seemingly amoral leaders. Dean was plowing through the social science literatures on conservatism and religion to see what perspective academics could offer his analysis, and eventually he ran across my name.

The Old line conservatives in the Republican Party had already realized more than 10 years ago that their party had been hijacked. Well and good for their alertness, but here we are 10 years later and they still have not rid themselves of the cancer of the religious right.  They didn’t let Pat Robertson run off with their part, but they continue to run that risk with others – witness Ted Cruz and Ben Carson right now.

One has to keep thinking that the majority of Americans would never let such a thing happen to AMERICA.  But at the same time, before Newt Gingrich injected the Republican Party with these fundamentalists, would anyone have seen THAT one coming?

Maybe.  The fundies were always out there.  Newt just wasn’t smart enough to leave them “out there”.  Now he and his party are stucl with them and the hijacking of the GOP.

It couldn’t happen to a nicer group of rich people….

 

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2 responses to “Republicans and Authoritarians and Baptists, Oh My!

  1. I posted on Climate Etc something about Cruz reminding me of the Martin Sheen character in The Dead Zone- the guy who send the missiles flying over some minor provocation. Hallelujah!

    It didn’t go over too well there but I definitely think he is the most dangerous candidate in the race. Even Trump before him would be better.

  2. Barry Goldwater lost in small part because LBJ’s campaign asked people if they trusted Goldwater with his finger no the button. Cruz makes Goldwater look like the Dalai Lama.

    I truly hope someone resurrects that part of the campaign. Trump would, but he is as maniacal and dangerous in his own way.

    This election just may be as big of a slaughter. There is hardly an independent in the country who could bring him/herself to vote for any of the bat shit crazies. Hillary will get their vote out of default if nothing else.

    But mark my word – there WILL be coattails. Down ticket candidates from the right are going to lose votes simply because they will vote for President first and have THAT still fresh in their minds as the work through the rest of the ballot. They will ask, “Do I really want to vote for someone who is in the same party as Trump/Cruz? Or would I rather vote for someone who can get the government started going again?”

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