Faith Based Politics

There was an op ed in the Washington Post (November 30) in which the author, E.J. Dionne Jr., seemed to capture the true essence of Republican Party values. The author was writing about how Republicans dare not attack or criticize President Trump for his outrageous behavior and destructive policies. In the article, the author states:

“They (the Republicans) dare not take on Trump because doing so might derail the pursuit of what are now their party’s only driving purposes: court packing, the care and feeding of the privileged, and the gutting of federal social services and regulations.”

These certainly appear to be the Republican Party’s main purposes. But are these what Republican voters really want from their politicians? If Republican voters are forced to think about it, I doubt it – but then, how many really think about it? Which begs the question, how many Republican voters give serious thought to the the issues that affect them when it comes time to vote, and how many simply accept on faith that their Republican politicians will do what is best for their constituents.

Will Rogers once said “I don’t belong to any organized party, I’m a Democrat”. That’s still true. Republicans are highly organized while Democrats are in complete disarray. Why is that? I would wager that a one reason is that Democrats, even the rank and file Democrats, have conflicting concerns about the issues that affect them, and resolving those issues becomes very difficult. But that implies that they are thinking about those issues. On the other hand, the Republican rank and file appear to accept on faith whatever the party leadership tells them. (Donald Trump is quoted as saying that all you have to do is tell them and they will believe it.) When people accept on faith whatever they are told, it’s real easy to organize. When the leadership is subjected to multiple challenges, organizing becomes difficult.

The implication of this is that the Democratic Party has a large body of “doubting Thomases” who challenge the leadership while the Republican Party has a large body of “faithful believers” that readily fall in line. If not for faith in the party, why else would Republican voters repeatedly vote for politicians who enact legislation that is harmful to the majority of Americans, e.g., Obamacare repeal, tax cuts for the rich, cuts in education and social services, environmental destruction policies, and the evisceration of innumerable public policies that were enacted to protect the public from corporate predation?

If one accepts this hypothesis, it’s easy to view the Republican Party as the Party of the Faithful, a political party in which the rank and file faithfully believe whatever they are told and do as they are told without question regardless of the party’s actions. I call this “faith based politics” – and the problem with “faith based politics” is that it undermines the foundations of democracy which require an informed and intelligent electorate.