The Republicans say they don’t hate anybody. They say liberals are the haters. But if you look at the record, if you look at the rhetoric, liberals are for most things. That’s one of the big arguments against them: moral relativism, permissive liberal society and so on. Exceptions tend to be violence (gun control, etc) or activities that impinge upon liberty, which we might expect from liberalism, which at its heart is, after all, not about small government or big government or even spending, but about liberty.
The Republicans on the other hand, as one might expect from conservatives, are against things, and not only against. The things they are against are not simply a matter of preferring one course over another. No, the things Republicans oppose are morally wrong. More than that, they are evil.
Republicans don’t do things by halves, and there are no shades of gray. It’s all very clearly black and white to them, either/or. That’s how they have come to see the world.
They have a long list of hates, and yes, these are hates. Republicans hate,
Marriage Equality (God hates homosexuals!)
Women’s Reproductive Rights (Abortion is against God’s will!)
Taxing the Rich (Class warfare!)
Immigrants (Criminals, disease carriers and potential terrorists!)
Liberals (Liberalism is a disease, a religion!)
Atheism (It’s a sin to deny the existence of God!)
Science (You can’t put anything ahead of God and like liberalism, science is a religion!)
Peace (Anti-American! If you’re not for attacking other people then you’re for other people at tacking us!)
The list goes on and on.
So you see, Republican opposition to things cannot be couched in simple political terms, as in there are several possible courses of action here and we prefer this one. No, now all other choices are not less optimal choices and not even just wrong choices.
Every alternative to the Republican choice (we can safely call it dogma) has become not only anti-American but anti-God and the two have become synonymous.
They claim liberalism is a religion but the political party that is acting like a religion is the Republican Party.
And if there is only one true religion then there is only one true Political Party and the GOP has literally become “God’s Own Party.” This means that if you voice disagreement with that one “right” choice or the pundit or politician who voices it, you are a “hater.” We’ve all heard it: “Why do you hate Palin?” or “Why do you hate God?” or “Why do you hate Christianity?”
The idea that there can be a choice is purely secular thinking. It has no place in Christianity and never has. The word “heresy” is from the Greek “to choose.” You see where this puts choice on the moral scale. There can be none, not when an ultimate Capital-T Truth exists.
Debate is impossible because at the first sign of such disagreement from a liberal come the shouts of “hater!”
It is not they who are polarizing but President Obama. They call him the most polarizing president in American history. How can they say this? Because he won’t do what they say he must do. Remember, if there is an ultimate truth there can be no argument. Who would argue with God? President Obama is willing to compromise. He has shown this. But compromise is meaningless if there is only one right answer. Thus Obama unwittingly proves the rhetoric: he is not “one of us” – he is not American, he is not a Christian.
Of course, we know that it is not Obama at all; it is the Republicans who are polarizing. But they have crafted American discourse to favor their interpretation of the world.
You see, it’s not simply about hate; it’s about the perception of hate. It’s all about perceptions. We all know the old saying, that perception is reality. For all practical purposes this is true, and ironically the party of ultimate truths, the party that claims to scorn moral relativism is the party that understands this best, and embraces it. Republicans aren’t out to win arguments using facts and empirical evidence; they’re out to win arguments by changing perceptions.
And they’re doing it.
We’ve been fighting different wars: liberals have been fighting facts, Republicans with perceptions. And it is the Republicans who have been winning. Al Franken’s cry “You’re not entitled to your own facts” while it resonates with liberals is lost on conservatives. Of course we can have our own facts, they say.
They have painted a picture of reality that they believe and they want us to believe it too. By talking in their terms, we acquiesce.
- They want to say “pro-life,” implying that anyone who disagrees with them is “pro-death” even though they are demonstrably not pro-life, unless life somehow means killing a mother;
- It’s class warfare only when you make the rich pay taxes; it’s never class warfare to tax the Middle Class or the working poor. Why is it that the Republicans are the ones crying “class warfare!” It should be the liberals; they have more cause;
- They want to say homosexual, not gay or lesbian;
- They don’t like words like Marriage Equality or Women’s Reproductive Rights because they are too accurately descriptive of what’s actually taking place – an anti-constitutional restriction of civil rights;
- They don’t say “creationism” anymore; they co-opt science by saying “creation science” even though science has nothing to do with it; and,
- Sound science becomes “junk” science and un-sound science becomes “sound science”.
These are just a few examples but their intent should be clear by now. They need to couch their opposition in terms that by their very mention demonize the position they are opposing, as in Wisconsin, Indiana, and elsewhere, where their class warfare takes the form of “fiscal responsibility” – a neat euphemism for economic genocide. Never mind that there are many other ways of reducing the deficit, including making corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, or taxing churches, which today don’t even pretend to obey IRS regulations on political activities. Or we could cut spending on Faith-Based Initiatives. But the former is class warfare and the latter are attacks on Christianity.
They’ve packaged the terms of the debate very neatly, and in their favor.
Liberals need to break free of this carefully crafted Republican reality matrix. We cannot argue these issues using their preferred terms. This is not simply a battle for rights; it’s a battle for minds and it’s a battle we are losing. Words have meaning, and they have chosen their words very carefully. The have crafted the discourse to paint liberals and liberal ideals, including the most important ideal of all, liberty, as evil, as opposed to God’s will and America. Their language enforces this perception. We have to break free of that paradigm; we have to refuse their reality. It’s not enough to simply ignore it; we must reshape it, using not facts, but language, because words have power and it is a source of power that remains largely untapped by liberals. We can’t afford to ignore it any longer.