Who knew that Sarah Palin was going to make a quantum leap in re-framing the American culture wars into a human-rights issue? I have been subjected (against my will) to endless video bytes from the commentators on MSNBC, particularly from the annoying Lawrence O'Donnell, who apparently likes nothing better than mocking people. But they were all the same clips until last night, when I was amazed to hear Palin making a statement to the effect that there were no gay issues and no other issues (she named a couple) but then--she actually said this--there are only "American issues."
As another of America's leading primitive Christians (referring to yesterday's article), Palin has been a walking, talking contradiction to the Sermon on the Mount, with her ostentatious evangelicalism and her witch-doctor pastor from Africa. Pray secretly in your closet, and your Father, who hears in secret, will reward you openly? You must be mad! How many votes does that get me?
Palin isn't actually capable of rocking my world, but she startled me out of the boredom of having to watch video clips that I don't want to watch from CPAC. However, my joy was somewhat alloyed by my strong suspicion that when she says what she said, she doesn't mean what I mean when I say what she said (try saying that fast ten times). But Palin unwittingly put into words the very argument that is before the Supreme Court while it considers the Proposition 8 case.
The attorney team puts it to the American justice system that we do not, in fact, stand equal before the Constitution. When Americans say the Pledge of Allegiance, so dear to the heart of conservatives, they say "with liberty and justice for all." Yet what we have is "liberty and justice for some." There is no such thing as "gay rights," at least not under our Constitution. The whole question is one of human rights. It always has been.
Anyway, she astonished me. It seems that the team of writers who put words in her mouth, her Twitter feed and her Facebook page tripped her up. I don't think that she thinks what she said, to put it bluntly. Palin doesn't believe in American issues, in the sense that all Americans have an equal stake in our nation's well-being. She is part of what Chris Kofinis called the Crazy Wing of the Republican Party, those who twist a religion that they invented--Old Testament Christianity--into a force to repress the most vulnerable citizens in this country, while those who consider themselves young, strong and invulnerable, like Palin, go their merry way, convinced that they are invulnerable.
If I were as venal as Paul Ryan and Palin, I would want to hang out and see them reach retirement age (Palin has aged considerably since her candidacy for vice president), just so that they could arrive at the point when they found that they would not be receiving enough benefits to protect them in their old age. But I am not like them; like the rest of the Democratic Party and mainstream Christianity (which patterns itself after Jesus), we are trying to save the social contract.
In a related development, an interesting thing happened in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Green Street (United Methodist) Church decided as a congregation that there will no longer be any conventional marriages conducted in their church until marriage equality is a reality. One of the members of the congregation was interviewed on camera and her explanation was that one of the things they believe as a congregation is that "all means all." I take that as a reference both to Christianity and American civil law. They remind me of the so-called street Christians of the Sixties, who took their beliefs to social action; their icon was the famous Rev. Arthur Blessitt, whom I met long ago at His Place, the night club that he founded on Sunset Strip in the Sixties. It was basically a rescue mission dressed up in the form of a club, but they took in addicts, put runaways in contact with their families, and performed thousands of unnamed good deeds.
So as opposed to the Crazy Wing of the Republican Party--as long as the crazies continue to call themselves Republicans--is what Kofinis, a Democratic strategist, calls the Wrong Wing of the Republicans. The Wrong Wing is busy this week doubling down on their war of aggression in Iraq, for which they still profess no second thoughts. If you are still calling yourself a Republican, you have the choice before you: do you prefer the Crazy Wing of the party, or will the Wrong Wing do?
As I see it, what is happening here is that there are too many people who are still voting Republican because they think that somehow this dichotomy between the Wrong folks and the Crazy folks is somehow going to go away; meanwhile they will hold the line in the voting booth. They are waiting for the Republicans to come to their senses. This is a grave mistake, as the Republican tickets conventionally get votes from the very people whose futures their candidates are trying to destroy. The horse-blinder Republican voters are voting against the best interests of their grandchildren, and like me they will not be around to see when their precious descendants bump up against the reality of the vicious circumstances that are being set up right now.
Never before has America been so unconstitutional, so anti-democracy, and so open in treasonous hatred of our government. Never has Christianity been twisted into such a caricature of Jesus, with the Prosperity Gospel and hatred of other Christians preached from the pulpit. Something's gotta give here. Watch this space.