Friday, August 06, 2010

On being the villain of the piece

In many ways, I am fairly conservative. If I had to put myself somewhere on the political spectrum, I belong with most Indiana Democrats. For anyone reading this who isn't a Hoosier, that might not mean much. But, in Indiana, there's really not much difference between a Democrat and that vanishing (or is it now extinct except for those few whom the party faithful term RINOs?) breed, the moderate Republican. I am even, in many instances, socially conservative. I am an admirer of some members of the GOP, in fact. I think that there has always been a lot to say for Richard Lugar and there used to be a good deal to say for Lindsey Graham, before he jumped on the bandwagon to repeal the 14th Amendment. And, I have in the past voted for Republicans and even could imagine myself doing so again, except for the fact that the GOP has decided, by and large, that I am the enemy.
Consider, for instance, that rising star of the Tea Party and new GOP, Sharron Angle. Ms Angle is committed to the barring of adoption by gays, local control of the schools, the teaching of creationism/intelligent design as science, the empowering of churches to endorse political candidates while maintaining their tax-exempt status, etc., ad nauseam. Though she would once have been on the fringes of her own party, she is now a sort of heroine of a new and rising wing of the GOP, the wing headed by Sarah Palin.
But, we have to notice that this new wing is one that defines itself against an enemy. And, by and large, I am that enemy. I am gay and we cannot be trusted; we certainly cannot be trusted with children and, apparently, we are doing all that we possibly can to bring down all the sacred institutions of America. I am one of those people who fears that with continued local control of all aspects of education, we end up with Texas-style school books, in which the Founding Fathers become evangelicals and the influence of Thomas Aquinas (!) on the founding of the Republic is to be emphasized. I believe in evolution, because there is scientific evidence for it, evidence that cannot be explained in any other way, whatever its problems as a theory. I am also someone who knows that science always gives us theories, supported theories and that "theory" like "progressive" or "liberal" needn't be a term of derision. I also know enough about history, a subject I was taught largely by conservative Republican school teachers in Indiana, to know that there was a time when schools were more locally controlled and when churches had a larger role in political and governmental life, and that time was a time when my ancestors weren't considered real Americans because we were Catholics and the schools were controlled by Protestant majorities who misrepresented both American and European history. In short, I have a little bit of education and I think a critical eye is always necessary, but this makes me the enemy of the Tea Party. And, I worry that if churches gain the right that Angle et al. believe they have to endorse political candidates and remain tax-exempt this means that I have to support them; since others' donations to them are erased from their taxes, my relative tax burden increases, effectively to support activities I disagree with and that may well be directed against me. That's not democracy, nor is it just. But, I don't really think that Angle believes that voices that disagree with her have a place in democracy. (Of course, any church or other current non-profit has the right to endorse whomever it pleases; they need simply relinquish their tax-exempt status.)
If the educated, the questioning, the reasonable—in both the sense that they are guided by reason and open to reasons given by those with whom they disagree—and critical are enemies; and, if gays are enemies; and, I see no way to construe the trajectory of the GOP in a way that these people are not its enemies; then I am the GOPs targeted enemy and there's simply no way that I, nor my friends, can ever find their candidates compelling.

1 comment:

Kevin Timpe said...

Well put, my friend.

I'd trust you with my children, both for their well-being and their education, long before I'd trust her.