Sullivan: The Tea Party as a Religion « the Dish
Obama got zero votes from House Republicans for a desperately needed stimulus in his first weeks in office. So I cannot believe he could have maintained any sort of detente with the Republican right, dominated by the legacy of Palin, rather than McCain. But the healthcare reform clearly ended any sort of possibility of coexistence - and the cold civil war took off again. The first black president could, perhaps, clean up some of the mess of his predecessor, but as soon as he moved on an actual substantive change that he wanted and campaigned on, he was deemed illegitimate. Even though that change was, by any standards, a moderate one, catering to private interests, such as drug and insurance companies; even though it had no public option; even though its outline was the same as the GOP’s 2012 nominee’s in Massachusetts, this inching toward a more liberal America was the casus belli. It still is - which is why it looms so large for the Republican right in ways that can easily befuddle the rest of us.
But it is emphatically not the real reason for the revolt. It is the symptom, not the cause. My rule of thumb is pretty simple: whenever you hear a quote about Obamacare, it’s more illuminating to remove the “care” part. And Obama is a symbol of change people cannot understand, are frightened by, and seek refuge from.
That desperate need to certainty and security is what I focused on in my book about all this, The Conservative Soul. What the understandably beleaguered citizens of this new modern order want is a pristine variety of America that feels like the one they grew up in. They want truths that ring without any timbre of doubt. They want root-and-branch reform - to the days of the American Revolution. And they want all of this as a pre-packaged ideology, preferably aligned with re-written American history, and reiterated as a theater of comfort and nostalgia. They want their presidents white and their budget balanced now. That balancing it now would tip the whole world into a second depression sounds like elite cant to them; that America is, as a matter of fact, a coffee-colored country - and stronger for it - does not remove their desire for it not to be so; indeed it intensifies their futile effort to stop immigration reform. And given the apocalyptic nature of their view of what is going on, it is only natural that they would seek a totalist, radical, revolutionary halt to all of it, even if it creates economic chaos, even if it destroys millions of jobs, even though it keeps millions in immigration limbo, even if it means an unprecedented default on the debt.
This is a religion - but a particularly modern, extreme and unthinking fundamentalist religion. And such a form of religion is the antithesis of the mainline Protestantism that once dominated the Republican party as well, to a lesser extent, the Democratic party.
Read the whole piece. It’s very good: The Tea Party as a Religion « the Dish