Much was made, during storied campaign 2008, of the notion that we are all one people, needlessly divided. That from the many would come the one. There is not a liberal America, and a conservative America, there is the United States of America, after all. Heal this nation, we heard. Make us one, they pleaded. A lovely sentimentality, that. And an utterly false affectation, of course, as we've come to see over the last few weeks.
Despite left-wing bloggers' Ministry of Truth efforts at rewriting history, to even the most casual observer it should be clear that the vaunted promise of achieving common goals through compromise or "reaching out" was discarded by the new Democrat regime just as quickly as their suit coats and the "The President's Own" Marine Band. "I Won," says the One. "So say we all," say his attendant masses.
What replaced the fiction was what was underneath it all along. The Democrat idea of becoming one nation is the Democrat idea of becoming one party, one mind. When they claim to want to heal the nation, the cure they fix their sights upon is neither stitch nor coagulant, but amputation. In campaign rhetoric this was always hidden behind the media-made veil of the Obama mythos, but in the wake of the stimulus tragedy that veil is lifted. Through with hiding, the totalitarian impulses of the Obama faithful are free to scurry into full view as they raise their voices to declare what is just and what is not, to determine which life is valuable and which is not; an entirely familiar calculus for Democrats, one might add.
From among the scurrilous, one particularly odious overture is enjoying acclaim on the front page of the Huffington Post this weekend. Frank Schaeffer, once an evangelical he'll be sure to remind you every few seconds, has penned an open letter to the President urging him to drop his nonexistent overtures to the Republicans. Not, mind you, in terms regarding the cynicism any of us may have regarding politicians, particularly of the opposite party. No, in a much more sinister and chilling assault on the Republican voter, or "rabid core constituents" as Schaeffer, once an evangelical, puts it.
Schaeffer, once an evangelical, wants the President to understand the context of this letter, being that it comes from someone who was, in the past and famously, once an evangelical.
As a former lifelong Republican, son of a co-founder of the Religious Right; my late evangelical leader father, Francis Schaeffer, I'm in a unique position to tell you a few things about the Republicans from inside perspective.
The left, they do love to claim authority through authenticity, do they not? Why shouldn't Schaeffer, once an evangelical, try to establish credibility based on his life's story? This is the basis for the Obama legend is it not? Schaeffer, once an evangelical, would have a stronger case if the very next parenthetical weren't "(As you know I left that movement in the mid 1980s.)" As you know? He must indeed be a man of consequence, to be so certain the President knows this. Of course, it is a bit of a reach to still be claiming a unique, insider's perspective on a movement from which one is twenty plus years truant, regardless of the degree to which the current President is already aware of said timeline. Indeed, he is not merely absent from the movement, but a best-selling and self-declared enemy to it, contra his famous father.
Of course, one could argue that Schaeffer, once an evangelical, was gone from the movement not for its rightism, but for its temperance, as during his wilderness wandering in the nineties he was nothing if not far more extreme than the movement he now makes pretense to disown. Perhaps it is his own sordid path for which he seeks forgiveness, and not that of the mainstream conservative Christian movement.
Schaeffer's letter (he was once an evangelical), is crystal-clear in intent, if not grammar, style, punctuation, or presentation. He is the enlightened, formerly the barbaric, here to report on the barbarity of his former fellows; to advise his new spiritual leader to depart from the Republicans. He is here to convince Obama and America to repent of the right, and be reborn the left.
As someone who appeared numerous times on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, as someone for whom Jerry Falwell used to send his private jet to bring me to speak at his college, as an author who had James Dobson giveaway 150,000 copies of my one of my fundamentalist "books" allow me to explain something: the Republican Party is controlled by two ideological groups. First, is the Religious Right. Second, are the neoconservatives. Both groups share one thing in common: they are driven by fear and paranoia. Between them there is no Republican "center" for you to appeal to, just two versions of hate-filled extremes.
His argument throughout is to abandon the conservatives, leave them exposed upon the hillside. Rabid, hateful, despicable, backward creatures are we. Vile and unreachable. The enemy of all that is good, as embodied by the great and wonderful Obama.
Republican voters are the "lunatic fringe." Obama is "a brilliant, articulate and decent man." It is strange, coming from Schaeffer, once an evangelical, to name the religious and the conservative as a lunatic fringe. It was only last year that Schaeffer, once an evangelical, was making the gymnastic argument that Reverend Wright's hateful rhetoric shouldn't be damaging to Obama because his own father (Dad, meet under the bus ... again) apparently said the same thing, so therefore it meant ... well then therefore Obama was as bad as the evang ... err, somehow, therefore, Obama's hands were clean. Only now, the apparent argument is the opposite, that those who reside in the pews are the guilty and the deranged, and Obama must cast them out.
On he goes throughout his letter, intent on urging the new power to set aside childish things, or rather, the things of Schaeffer's childhood (he was once an evangelical.) Do not cast pearls before swine, he urges.
Schaeffer, once an evangelical, is not alone in his newfound freedom to advocate excision of approximately half the country. Janeane Garofalo, inexplicable cast-member on the new season of 24, is certain that conservatives suffer from brain dysfunction and an abundance of the big old meany gene (it's "neuroscience"!) Mike Malloy has designated conservatives "domestic terrorists" for their opposition to Obama. Andrew Sullivan has gone from "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" to naming new dissenters saboteurs and shills, cold to the national interest. He comes shy, but only just, of calling Republicans outright traitors.
In Obama's new America the left has found voice for their will, and it is as shrill as it is fascistic. It rings with the new jingoism of Obama loyalty. The left is prepared to reach across the aisle, but only with a strait-jacket in one hand, and a cattle-prod in the other. It is not even a question of bipartisanship anymore. The hysterics are naming heretics with intent that is clear: ditch the aisle, and all who would remain across it..
And this specter of the silencing of dissent is accompanied not, this time, by the sound of a thousand lockstep boots, but by an eerily echoing refrain ... "Yes we can, yes we can."
- Caleb Howe