The reports of the death of the Tea Party are greatly exaggerated and the far-right movement in the United States is still very much alive. Despite predictions here and there that they’re going away, nothing could be further from the truth. While devotees of Pat Robertson, Duck Dynasty and Fox News may be outnumbered, their enthusiasm more than makes up for their lack of numbers – especially here in the Bible Belt.
Take a drive almost anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line, or out in the rural areas across the United States, and you will almost inevitably see signs or bumper sticker proclaiming cliché slogans about how America is great because of religion, guns and guts. From the windswept prairies to the kudzu-lined roads in the Deep South, there are political signs with flags and references to those same things, and people are still buying it. You gotta hand it to the Republican Party, they sure are good at selling people a self-harming product, wrapped in the flag and the Bible.
In a meeting last week with some coworkers who were discussing changes to corporate structure that included possible layoffs, someone stated that stuff like this is why it is so important to vote. I nodded and then she almost breathlessly asked me if I had heard of Col. Rob Manness, the dark horse candidate in the race for U.S. Senate here in Louisiana. I said that I had and she asked if I was going to vote for him, to which I replied “absolutely not.” With a slightly disgusted tone, she asked if I was going to vote for Bill Cassidy, and again I told her the same thing. It then finally dawned on her that I was voting for three-term incumbent Senator Mary Landrieu, and the look on her face of utter bewilderment and anger wasn’t hard to miss. To her, she couldn’t fathom why a white, middle-class guy would vote for a Democrat. To her, super-conservative candidates like Col. Rob Manness, who has been endorsed by the likes of the Quitta from Wasilla and other Tea Party celebrities desperately trying to extend their 15 minutes of fame, are far superior to centrist or moderate candidates who know how Washington works.
As Arik Bjorn pointed out, voters throughout the United States, and especially in places like Louisiana, are going to vote against their self interests today out of fear – and hatred. Much of this comes from the Fox News pundits, but a lot of it also points to the fact that the culture wars aren’t over as some have claimed.
Pundits may be declaring the culture wars over, but conservative Christians are donning their battle gear and rushing back to the front lines. In recent months, a coalition of conservative evangelical organizations has been pursuing an aggressive voter mobilization campaign that involves a combination of high-tech tools, briefings for pastors, and rallies simulcast to mega-churches around the country. (Source)
While religious organizations have been blatantly ignoring the laws that prohibit endorsing candidates, you also have politicians and pundits pushing a message of fear and it is selling very well. Take for example Senator David Vitter’s recent “petition” that was nothing more than an attempt to solicit email signups for his upcoming gubernatorial campaign in Louisiana. A fake petition to stop Ebola may sound utterly ridiculous to many of us, but to many of the people who are planning to vote for this slimeball, Ebola is part of a secret plot by President Obama to declare martial law, grab guns, etc.
Can you imagine living from day to day with that much fear and/or hatred? Surely if you have guns, you shouldn’t be that afraid, but these people really do believe that at any moment now, federal agents will come to their doors to confiscate Grandpappy’s .22 squirrel rifle and Uncle Bubba’s AR-15. Many also believe that their religious freedom is under attack, prodded on by speeches by folks like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann and other political opportunists. It’s no wonder that President Obama said in 2008 “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” He was right, the Republican Party knows this all too well, they exploit this fear at every turn, and it works.
This morning, I will stand in line surrounded by many of these people who are going to the polls out of fear. Here in Louisiana, they will vote for either Bill Cassidy or Rob Manness out of hatred for President Obama, despite the fact that Mary Landrieu would be considered a moderate Republican in almost every blue state or that she isn’t the gun-grabber the right tries to make her out to be. This isn’t a situation confined solely to Louisiana, this is all across the country. They aren’t voting for their future, they’re voting out of fear. They’ll be voting, will you?
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