Friday, October 9, 2015


What happens in Washington is important. One of the branches of government, the House of Representatives, is in serious jeopardy. The threat is is not because of something that happened yesterday when Kevin McCarthy withdrew his candidacy for the leadership post as Speaker of the House. Children learn the extreme importance of this position in civics classes in most public high schools; the holder of this position is the third from the presidency, which the most powerful position in the world. It is a matter of how our government functions or at least is supposed to function and not which political party is in charge. Something fundamental has gone terribly wrong with democracy. Still, few people seem excited about what has happened and why it happened. I listened to a parade of duly elected right-wing representatives, most from the uneducated district in the old plantation south where the church dominates life, and what I heard them explain their views was both shocking and interesting. They will destroy the entire government if Congress does not defund Planned Parenthood. The reason it doesn’t happen is that this right-wing group does not have sufficient numbers to accomplish their aims, which does not mean they will not fulfill their aims. If it not the Planned Parenthood issue, it would be some other equally narrow issue. We all remember the fight to destroy ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now that involved all kinds of nefarious activities by a minority. ACORN was an organization working to register minority voters. The group successfully destroyed ACORN. They slowly morphed their objective of suppressing votes, which is a majority view and installing their minority voters in the form of voter ID laws. These are seemingly small issues on the world stage, but they are fundamental and important to individuals. Their power does not make sense. However, the real question is what is it the causes them to remain as a tight, cohesive group. From the interviews, I mentioned above, they clearly know theirs is a minority view, they are equally sure they are correct, and they believe they are morally correct. Thinking about the sense of moral righteousness gave me the clue I think I needed to explain what is going on. In the above paragraph, I labeled this political group as right wing. They are not the usual greedy conservatives even if most of them lean in that direction enough to establish a home in the Republican Party. The truth is they are a small group of radicals driven by something other than conservatism. They use a sense of moral righteousness and use moral punishment to fear to leave the group but also to maintain their ranks. It is equivalent to the believing that if you do not believe in destroying Planned Parent Hood, you cannot go to heaven. What confused me at first is that did not make sense when it comes to voter suppression, which seems to a desire that has nothing to do with going to heaven or hell. For me, the uniting thought has to do with people belonging to a “moral group”. Authors have written about this as a broad category of groups ranging from all of society down to small families under such titles as, the Moral Arc written by Michael Shermer in 2015 and George Lakoff’s 1980 book Metaphors We Live By. What they missed is what should be an obvious fact; since the beginning of humankind, religious leaders base their entire teachings on this principle. Moral righteousness starts as a group agreement and has to with what is good for them. However, it soon proved to be a way to gain and hold power and convince people to do what some leader thinks is right. Most people in a group realize what the leaders tell them what to do may or may not be in their best interest. For two years in Belize, I watched as people living in abject poverty dutifully paraded miles over dirt roads to a “church” every Sunday. Once there, they gave their pennies to a minister who drove a nice truck and lived in a big house. He controlled them as a “moral group” by sermons with the reward of heaven for good church behavior or the punishment of hell if they did not behave. Only the minister knew how to read, but the minister told them and they sincerely believed they had to obey the nonsense in Bible. At the same time, it made sense to them judge and punished each other for not following the holy doctrine. Of course, good church behavior is regular attendance and, of course, the minister expects them to tithe if you are in the church. In House of Representatives, if you belong to the right “moral group”, the people in your district will reelect you. The moral group has gerrymandered the districts, and the Supreme Court’s Citizen United decision has supplied the campaign money. Your tithe is your vote. You better behave, or else. URL: Comments Invited and not moderated

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