The God Card: In Politics, the Right Uses God For Political Gain

I really liked Bruce Ledewitz’s piece on Huff Post concerning the Right’s uses of God versus the Left’s. To take his argument in a somewhat different direction, it’s become transparent that the Right’s cleaving to the idea of God has become their default position whenever opposition ideas can’t be otherwise answered. “God” then becomes an ace for them to play. When Todd Akin says something ike this, of course it’s nothing more than red meat for the Rightist base, already feeling disenchanted with politics as usual they fell for Dick Armey’s Tea-Party lies. Let’s just call lies lies, and liars liars. OK?

The fact is, the Right’s been doing this since long before Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson began broadcasting those same canards about God-as-Republican. The Left, they’d intone with all the false gravity they could muster, could not possibly love God because they disagreed with the Right. They honestly could make it just that simple. And Akin’s drinking from that same diseased fountain.

That, folks, is what I mean by saying the Right plays the God card; it’s as wrong as it is indicative of who these people are under their expensive suits and chic dresses.

If you’ll pardon me using myself as an example, I happen to be a theist. That might shock some of you who know me, or have read this blog. Of course I have a dockworker’s mouth. I come by it honestly; my dad was a steelworker and my mother was raised in lower Mount Washington where profanity was normal and flowed like milk. Oh, well. Anyway, I don’t believe God much cares about the language I use. Really. Only that I tell the truth and try to make the language as strong (and where applicable, as musical) as possible. At any rate, when I was in the academy I was constantly debated by non-theists on one hand (mainly colleagues) and conservative students who thought Ben Franklin was born again because he cited God. He was actually quite the debauched human being, as witnessed by his time in Paris. He was no Calvinist, folks. Let’s just get over that idea. The Right loves to spread those stories about the Framers because they think it casts bad ideas in a somewhat more adventageous light—for them, of course.

Meanwhile, I was equally offended by colleagues who’d so blithely say, “John, of course you know there is no God.” No. I don’t know that. Sorry. It always amused me that some folks would assume I thought like them because I was teaching alongside them.

The truth is: I can’t name God, so I can’t say I know, but I have definitely seen and experienced things that leave me with no doubt that something larger than ourselves exists. I can’t name it, however, so that makes me a theist.

So why does the Right resort to this tactic? Here’s my basic take: The Right treats politics the same way they imagine themselves fighting a war—all-out, using whatever it takes to win, even the God card; the American Left, on the other hand, seems to be generally more concerned with solving problems and answering needs while the Right concerns itself with the wealthy and protecting that upper one percent of the economic population. That’s an ongoing insult to 99% of the country, whether they understand that or not.

They’ll never quit, of course. If it’s winner-take-all, and the Right certainly is playing as though it is, they’ve never had any compunction about throwing down the God card. In the process they insult the rest of us with their distortions of their own Bible and the God they purportedly love. That people like Akin persist is a useful barometer of who they are for real. We should keep paying attention.

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About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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