Have you ever noticed how many of those who most loudly claim to be against “big government” are actually the most in favour of enforcing social conformity and restricting individual freedoms?
Consider the Republican Party and its religious-right supporters in the USA, who want to (for example):
- Exert central government control over the physical body of each and every individual woman when it comes to abortion and a woman’s right to choose.
- Restrict individual freedom by denying the right of marriage to gays and lesbians … even though such marriage does not affect the rights of heterosexuals in any way.
- Ban the provision for teenagers of information about contraception, replacing it with the teaching of sexual abstinence until marriage as the “responsible and respected standard of behavior”.
In other words, such folk are gung-ho for big government when it comes to enforcing conformity with their own beliefs and many prejudices.
And in many Republican minds, these belief and prejudices become translated to “morality” … which of course means that something is deemed to be “moral” if they agree with it, but “immoral” if they don’t.
What’s profoundly disturbing in this context is that, in the words of the official Republican Party 2012 platform: “The Founders of the American Republic universally agree that democracy presupposes a moral people (my emphasis) …”
To put this another way, if the Republican Party and its supporters deem the views and behaviour of some people to be ‘immoral’, then those people can be cast as being at odds with democracy itself. Thus democracy can become equated with conformity to Republican moral values … and those who don’t conform can be seen as the enemies of democracy who can thus be rightfully subject to the repression and intrusion of big government.
The theme of supporting big government continues further with the Republicans, who want to:
- Generally increase the funding and powers of American security and intelligence agencies.
- Increase military spending – and hence further boost the power of the American military-industrial complex – despite the fact the USA already has by far the largest military budget in the world.
And it’s Republicans who are the most keen on blurring the boundaries between the different branches of government – and redefining the federal government in overtly religious terms (their official policy documents are littered with frequent references to God and Christianity). For example:
- Proclaiming that “… our rights come from God” (as distinct, we suppose, from being inherent by virtue of being sentient human beings).
- Supporting the appointment of judges who “respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life”.
- Supporting “the public display of the Ten Commandments as a reflection of our history and of our country’s Judeo-Christian heritage.”
- Highlighting George Washington’s notion that “the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained.”
Eternal rules of order and right …. hmmm. From which religion do these eternal rules stem, we might ask? All the more so since there is no reference to Christianity or Judeo-Christianity (nor even ‘God’) in the American Constitution. And, indeed, the Constitution’s 1st Amendment explicitly says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion …”
But speaking of “order and right”, it’s ironic that the individual right which Republicans seem most keen to promote is that of gun ownership (“gun ownership is responsible citizenship”) … supposedly in the cause of defending against a potential tyranny of big government.
The irony here, of course, is that if any federal government in America were to incline towards tyranny – a tyranny in God’s name no doubt – it would almost certainly be one run by the Republican Party … and almost certainly egged on and supported by a wide variety of gun-crazed, bible-bashing, misogynist nutcases.
Thence “One Nation Under God” might be better read as One Social and Moral Conformity Under the Republican Party. So much for small government …
[Note: all quotes in this blog-post, with the exception of one taken from the American Constitution, are from the official Republican Party platform website of 2012.]