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The Commons
Voices / Viewpoint

Culling the herd

Republicans talk a lot about God, but essentially they are nihilists. Existential nihilists don't believe in goodness or caring or any sense of commonality or shared experience in nature, in society, and in politics.

Steve Belczak’s interest in politics began when, as editor of his high-school newspaper, he got to interview then–Vice President Hubert Humphrey in 1966 and Socialist Party leader Norman Thomas in 1967.

Originally published in The Commons issue #402 (Wednesday, April 5, 2017).



Many Republican voters who voted for Donald Trump will suffer under the Paul Ryan budget.

What is the moral center of such a large group of voters, citizens who affiliate themselves with the Republican party?

Can we characterize the Republican/Trump base as people irredeemable in a moral sense, by belonging to a political party that endorses the concentration of wealth and the pain, suffering, and death that results?

The 40-year media/propaganda mind-control experiment has been successful in conditioning millions of opinions. Republican voters are the inheritors of the faux anger, resentment, and rage that has been propagandized by Fox News and others for the last 40 years.

Lack of emphatic response to the suffering of others and the inability to see themselves in another person’s situation is something that is taught and is necessary for complete objectification to take place.

It’s a small step from deeming people as unworthy to eliminating them. This form of self centeredness and selfishness drives right-wing ideology.

By demonizing helpless and powerless groups of people, Republicans give their base something to rage at while political operatives loot the treasury and destroy every vestige of goodness in the life of our country.

* * *

The dehumanizing aspects of slavery, predatory capitalism, and genocide are the direct results of the Calvinist doctrine of being God’s chosen people.

Being chosen by God as entitled and superior to others justifies the suffering imposed on others, justifies a divide-and-conquer strategy of governing, and justifies lying and deception.

Republicans talk a lot about God, but essentially they are nihilists. Existential nihilists don’t believe in goodness or caring or any sense of commonality or shared experience in nature, in society, and in politics.

Corporate values are Republican values. Moral nihilists assert there are no inherent accepted moral values such as goodness or a belief in a shared commons, unless through a corporate/faux Christian/fascist prism.

Modern Republicans would say non-ideological and moral ideas of goodness are abstractly contrived and therefore should be not be considered. Knowledge, a sense of reason, and a grasp of cause and effect are rejected and a fake reality is created.

* * *

The Paul Ryan budget destroys the safety net and will plunge tens of millions of people into desperate poverty. This will be the outcome of Republican policy decisions based on greed, resentment, scapegoating, and ignorance.

Austerity policy makers instead will argue economic necessity. But the economic necessity is the result of Republicans expanding a budget deficit that feeds the bloated military and the industrial machine that drives it, a deficit that provides tax cuts for the rich.

The Republican Party and Trump are the scavengers and parasites feeding off the people of the United States. Social Security is sustainable and always has been — and always will be, with minor changes.

According to Republican orthodoxy, safety net beneficiaries are dependent and need the freedom of extreme poverty to get their act together. (When Paul Ryan uses the word “freedom,” what he really means is “slavery.”)

The millions of people who will be threatened by Republican policies include tens of millions of veterans who will be eventually threatened by the specter of privatization, tens of millions of people who receive Social Security benefits, people who are disabled, and of course tens of millions of Medicare recipients. Ryan’s American Health Care Act would have threatened 20 million or more.

The number of tragic consequences resulting from Republican economic-policy decisions will be limitless. Laws that protect clean water, air, food, and the like will be eliminated.

Cruel economic disenfranchisement will enable the continuation of the extreme concentration of the wealth and power, using privatization and deregulation as the weapons of choice.

* * *

Trump has been often characterized as non-ideological. Depending on his state of mental health, Trump will sign anything in front of him.

When Paul Ryan ran for vice-president, he was asked about his enthusiasm for the writing and philosophy of objectivist Ayn Rand, a strong influence on Ryan’s thinking and approach to political power.

A form of cruel social Darwinism, Rand’s objectivism became a topic in the election. Ryan soon qualified his passion for Rand’s objectivist philosophy, which endorses plutocratic/oligarchic rule by monied elites.

That was 2012. Many Republicans in 2017 have no reservations about demonizing and disenfranchising people who are non-wealthy and powerless.

Understanding the perception of greed and cruelty inherent in Rand’s work, Ryan referred back to his Catholic roots. The Romney/Ryan ticket received more Catholic votes in 2012 than Obama/Biden, but many voters do not understand what objectivism really is, a philosophy of culling the herd.

The Catholic church has recommitted for the weak and powerless under Pope Francis, but, within the church, there has been a retrenchment — a reaction to and rejection of the pope’s progressive values.

* * *

This retrenchment is represented by politicians such as Paul Ryan and ideologues such as Steve Bannon. These two Irish-Catholic boys have more in common than they realize.

Bannon’s apocalyptic worldview of a Western war with Islam, the destruction of institutional life in the United States, and the subjugation of the non-rich, is the opposite of Francis’s compassion for the powerless and poor.

And Paul Ryan sees no contradictions between any ideological view he may have politically and Catholicism.

Ryan’s Catholicism bears little resemblance to a faith that is based on sacrifice and goodness that combats racism, environmental exploitation, and economic cruelty and that preserves the dignity of each individual human being.

Republican contradictions and hypocrisy are constants — like gravity.

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