Friday, October 25, 2013

How Sleazy Christian Con Artists Took Over the GOP

I came across this piece on AlterNet that was just too good to pass up since it describes the consequences of the Christofascist take over of the GOP base, a process that I began witnessing before I resigned from my GOP City Committee position and walked away form the Republican Party. The result has been that sane, serious minded Republicans - e.g., my entire extended family - have bolted from the GOP and the death spiral initiated by the Christofascists seems to be accelerating except in the eyes of those living in an alternate universe or who have shown themselves to be gullible to lies and smoke and mirrors.  Today, instead of advancing problem solving policies and serious program proposals, the entire GOP message has been transformed to attract those motivated by greed, ignorance, religious extremism, a severe fear of modernity and, of course,  racism.  It is not a pretty picture and, in my view, it all ties back to the rise of the Christofascists in the Republican Party.  Here are column excerpts:

The culture of fundamentalist Christianity has had profound impacts on the Republican party in the past few decades, moving Republicans to the right on various issues and forcing Republicans to prioritize gay-bashing and attacks on reproductive rights. The shutdown, however, ended up demonstrating something even more sinister. Republicans are no longer just cribbing their political ideology from fundamentalist Christianity. Increasingly, conservative politicians are abandoning the basic task of representing the interests of their voters and instead are exploiting their voters in the same way televangelists and other fundamentalist charlatans exploit the true believers that come to them looking for spiritual salvation.
Ted Cruz is the most prominent example, at least in the past month. After the shutdown debacle, it became clear that Cruz has no interest in using his position as a Texas senator to work on behalf of the voters who got him there. Instead, his M.O. is pure sleazy televangelist: Lots of public grandstanding to convince his marks, previously known as constituents, that he's on their side, for the sole purpose of shaking them down for money and support without offering anything in return.

The Houston Chronicle lamented ever endorsing Cruz, comparing him unfavorably to his predecessor Kay Baily Hutchinson. Hutchinson actually bothered to represent her voters, putting a priority on the state’s economic development. Cruz is as different from Hutchinson as a miracle-promising conman taking old ladies for their Social Security checks is from the local minister who actually bothers to do the unglamorous work of holding hands, wiping tears and performing weddings and funerals for parishioners.

That Cruz resembles a faith healer selling lies to gullible people more than a politician working to represent the interests of his voters shouldn’t be too surprising. His family is wrapped up with some of the worst of the worst when it comes to sleazy preachers seeking to exploit vulnerable people. Cruz’s father is a member of Purifying Fire Ministries, founded by Suzanne Hinn, the wife of one of the nation’s most despicable fundamentalist conmen, Benny Hinn. Hinn is a minister only in the loosest sense of the word: He goes about the world conducting fake faith-healing “miracles” that make him a lot of money, but he doesn’t actually provide any services real people need. It’s all just magic tricks to con the rubes out of their hard-earned money.

Of course, Cruz is far from the only politician who apparently models his career off fraudulent fundamentalist preachers who love self-aggrandizing drama but don’t care too much about, well, caring for their people. The all-flash-no-substance model is beginning to take over the Republican party.
Obviously, the right has always had a charlatan side, with plenty of self-appointed leaders viewing the faithful as marks to bilk for cash instead of giving people the services promised. Faith healers and other religious conmen have preyed on fundamentalist Christian audiences for over a century now. As historian Rick Perlstein wrote in the Baffler, conservative media has long subsisted on selling snake oil to their followers and running mail order schemes to defraud conservative readers while making the leaders wealthy. But, by and large, Republicans of the past did consider it a duty to actually work for the people who elected them. That relationship has fundamentally changed.  . . . the modern Republican sees the voters as rubes he can hoodwink into sending him to D.C. while not doing any actual work for them.

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