(Title courtesy NoMeansNo, "Every Day I Start to Ooze")
For the last decade I have loathed James Dobson and openly considered him to be the biggest malcontent in American politics. Nothing the Republican Party did was too small to piss and moan about, irrespective of how obsequiously GOP elected officials kissed his ass and caved to his demands. One could also concoct a brain-mutilating drinking game out of the number of times Dobson has threatened, explicitly and implicitly, to stop supporting the party (and take his followers with him) in favor of a third party or independent candidates. And then it hit me; Dobson is not an idiot, a whiner, or a malcontent. He is one of the few people in the Religious Right who understands what the party is doing to them.
First we must understand the contemporary Christian/white/conservative persecution fantasy. No matter how large their majority in Congress, how many Bush appointees are stuffed into the judiciary, or how big a messianic complex the President-for-eight-fucking-years has, the Right is always Outnumbered. Outgunned. Oppressed. Marginalized. Thwarted at every turn by the usual suspects – the liberal media, secular humanists, 60s radicals, big city folk, East Coast elitists, know-it-all Academics, PC police, the U.N., comsymps, fluoridated water, black helicopters, and so on. It never occurs to them that they essentially controlled the Federal government for a 12-year period, six of which were unified control of both Congress and the White House. The Party barely lifted a finger in that timespan to address the "social" issues so dear to conservative religious folk. But they sure did talk about them a lot!
Dobson, then, is not a fool. He is the man standing up and saying "We are being used. These people think we are fucking idiots." Unfortunately for the Doctor, those people are right. It's well beyond the majority of the Bible-wavin', queer-hatin', pro-life, creationist mouthbreathers who do whatever Hannity says to understand that the GOP has absolutely no intention of doing anything about these issues. Gay marriage, abortion, school prayer, creationism, and the rest are so much more effective as red meat to wave in front of salivating dogs who can be easily conned into blaming someone else for the inevitable failure to deliver. It's always someone else's fault – the Democrats in the minority, the nonspecific "liberals" who apparently control the legislative process, the fawning corporate media who would fuck dwarves on the air if it meant 10 additional viewers would tune in – and the only course of action is to send their Conservative Knights in Shining Armor back to Congress for a second, third, tenth, and fifteenth try. We'll get'em this time, we promise!
The simple truth is that absolutely nothing stopped the GOP from outlawing abortion, outlawing gay marriage, banning all stem cell research, or doing any of the other things that send the Brownbacks and Huckabees and Tancredos into histrionics every election year. The Senate GOP leadership proved itself capable of bullying its way through filibuster threats when they felt like it (i.e., for a few judicial nominations) and certainly wasn't shy about loading the Congressional agenda with legislation. That is, the legislation they actually care about – economic and regulatory legislation aimed at recreating 1890s patterns of income distribution in the United States.
It is the classic bait-and-switch. Vote Republican to stop gay marriage, receive a capital gains tax cut. Vote to end the horrific practice of abortion, receive a repeal of the estate tax which affects incomes over $3,000,000. Vote to stop hippies from burning the flag and taking "God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance, receive lame-assed efforts to line Wall Street's pockets with Social Security dollars. Vote to end stem cell research, receive union-busting legislation. Vote to show those fucking big-city elitists a thing or two, receive a huge tax cut for big-city elitists in the top brackets. Vote to mandate Teaching the Controversy, receive a national energy policy (literally) written by petroleum producers. Vote to reintroduce prayer where it belongs, in our public schools, and receive legislation gutting the budgets and regulatory mandates of the EPA, OSHA, Department of Energy, and more.
Congratulations, Dr. James Dobson. I was wrong about you. You are actually pretty smart. It is too bad that you traffic in the kind of rhetoric bound to attract the Not So Bright. It must be terribly frustrating to know what you know and be unable to explain it – "These people are using you like the brain-dead suckers they know you are" – to the army of dolts you attract. But living by the sword means dying by it as well; appealing to the lowest common denominator ensures that, well, the lowest common denominator is exactly what one gets. It's irrational to expect an army composed of Hannity listeners to suddenly develop complex thinking skills when it would suit James Dobson to be so.