Let’s Ignore The Village Idiot

President Jimmy Carter was right when he linked some of the now infamous “teabaggers” (caution: this word has more than one meaning) and the at times undignified town hall meetings over the summer to overt racism under a very thin guise of anti-government fervour.

Carter’s intervention may not have suited Barack Obama, as he has always sought to defuse race as part of the policy debate on many issues, although he has addressed the continued racial divide in America very eloquently on many occasions. The 44th president does not want healthcare to become tied up with race because it is not about that and it would prove an unwanted and potentially destructive distraction.

As Obama put it on the David Letterman show, he was black before he was elected to the Oval Office. The American people voted for him by a democratic majority.

The fact remains that Carter, the 39th president, was hitting a far more powerful note that transcends the issue of healthcare and goes to the heart of what the so-called “religious right” is all about.

Much of the “religious right” hails from the South of the United States. But it is motivated by more than religion. There are plenty of deeply religious people, the late Ted Kennedy being one of them, who are the antithesis of the “religious right”.

The truth is the “religious right” is a political group galvanised by powerful evangelical leaders and appealed to by Republican politicians desperate to grasp this base in the way that Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush did so successfully. Let’s not forget Reagan was divorced and George Bush had led a far from exemplary life. So it’s not just about religion. 

The “religious right” is a conservative movement but it is more than that. It’s made up of many groups, mainly in the South, who have an inherent distrust of government, are not well-educated or well-informed, are often religious zealots and frankly represent the old-style Southern Democrats who deserted Lyndon Johnson after civil rights legislation and found their political messiah in Ronald Reagan.

This group does have inherently racist elements. That is not going away any time soon. In the land of the free, they have a right to be heard, to be broadcast and not to be censored (assuming they are not inciting hatred, which many have) yet they should not be allowed to dictate events however loudly they shout. This is a group that has been created in many ways by politicians who mobilise this vote but then invariably act against their economic interests. Republican politicians will give them crumbs in the form of anti-gay, anti-abortion, anti-euthanasia comments or legislative promises but all too often let them down more than the Democrats do.

The “teabaggers” moan about excessive government spending, but it was George W. Bush who almost broke the bank by going to war in Iraq alone and having to bailout the banks he failed to regulate. These are the failings of Bush, not the new president.

This group is incoherent in their arguments, angry that politicians (mainly Republicans, although rarely acknowledged) have let them down in their eyes and yes, often racist. Republicans will continue to court them but the rest of America and its media need to get some perspective.

As former evangelical and former lifelong Republican Frank Schaffer puts it: 

“You don’t work to move them off this position, you move past them. Look, a village cannot reorganise village life to suit the village idiot. We have to understand that we have a village idiot in this country, it’s called fundamental Christianity.”

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4 Comments

Filed under Politics

4 responses to “Let’s Ignore The Village Idiot

  1. You’re quite right to suggest that Carter, though probably right, did more harm than good in his remarks. Mixing race and politics is as bad as… mixing religion with politics!

    On the Healthcare debate, have you seen the video of Barney Frank fighting fire with fire in the town hall meetings, “I’ll answer your question with a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time?”

  2. boggartblog

    The Idea of conservative Americans indulging en masse in teabagging is hilarious. We can assume the so called Tea Parties are a reference to the Boston Tea Party but what idiot on the Democrat side of mainstream media decided to dub participants “teabaggers.”

    It should have been obvious even to the most avid kool – aid drinker that teabags were not invented until almost 200 years after the event referred to.

  3. Eddy

    Hilarious. It was Fox News who first used the term “teabaggers”. Last time I checked they were not “on the Democratic side of mainstream media”. They employ Glenn Beck who is insulting to the head of state and most importantly to the families of those killed on 9/11 with his ridiculous and frankly bizarre “9/12 project” designed to make money for Fox and himself.

  4. In the South it is far worse now than any time after civil rights laws were passed. It is just not the matter of religious right any more, even though these folks are misled, gullible and led to believe all this crap. In States like SC, GA, KY, TN, MS, AL, LA, AR, TX , AZ, ID, and UT these conservative republican menace and their hierarchy is still instilling in the minds of these folks that Obama is a Muslim and was born in Kenya. Some of these folks have a inherent ingrained and indoctrinated deep element of racism in their psych and it is what they have been taught to believe.

    One does not have to be black, white, yellow, red etc. One and usually see feel the indifference in any and all aspects of life. It is far more institutional all the way from the Court Houses, the City Halls, the law enforcement to regular supermarkets.

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