The GOP…Yuck!

By Harold W. Anderson, Ph.D., M.Div., LMFT

Ok, I have to say it; I intensely dislike the GOP.  This is not to say that I dislike people who are Republicans, but I really loath the GOP.  In my mind, the GOP is represented today by blood-thirsty fascists like Ron DeSantis, who is threatening to shoot the drug cartels “stone cold dead” or worse, that he will seek out the “deep state people,” by which he seems to mean Federal Employees he doesn’t agree with, and “start slitting throats on Day One.” (“DeSantis’ Threat to Slit Throats Draws Response”). This sort of violent language is horrible and speaks mostly to those people who already harbor hatred for our government and a democratic way of life while intensifying the emotional tone of everyday people stoking their passions and quieting their reason.  God knows, I hate the drug cartels as much as the next person.  I used to be an 

addiction counselor and have seen first-hand how drugs destroy lives.  But last I heard, there’s something that truly does make this country great.  It’s called “due process” and whether we are talking about the indictments that charge Donald Trump with basically, well…treason or we are talking about an accused drug dealer, all deserve their day in court, and they are innocent until proven guilty!  What does this mean?  Well, it means that we take all means necessary NOT to shoot suspects stone cold dead or slit the throats of all those who disagree with our political ideology.

Donald Trump—the apparent leader of the GOP—is no exception to misleading, cruel and mean-spirited tactics and has perfected his skills of vilifying those who oppose him over a long period of time dating back to his adolescence (See Mary Trump’s book, Too Much—Never Enough).  Trump’s skills were intensified after he inherited his father’s business (see David Johnston’s The Making of Donald Trump).  However hateful and belittling his rhetoric then, it was amped up following his election to the presidency and especially following his loss in 2020.  His escalation of “The Big Lie” and his wonted disregard for the facts has facilitated his rants against anyone who might stand in his way including some of his past supporters.  Throughout his presidency and even today he continues to refer to immigrants, especially from south of our borders as “criminals, junkies, Marxists, thugs, radicals and dangerous refugees that no other country wants” (“Trumps Speaks at CPAC 2023 Transcript”) a generalization that glosses over the political turmoil experienced by many refugees fleeing their homes for their lives and ignoring the legitimate reasons so many wish to come to the United States to find work and security for their families.  He continually vilifies his political opponents as he did Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign (chants of “lock her up”), a person who was not indicted for breaking the law while Trump himself has so far been indicted by three different courts for multiple felonies.  He may or may not be found guilty of these infractions, but moral equivalency is not on the side of this twice impeached president. 

According to a recent report by NBC, only 4 of the 44 cabinet members who worked for Trump will support him for president.  Yet, with a few exceptions—William Barr, Chris Christie and very few others—most GOP leaders are reluctant to say anything negative about Trump, even those who are running against him.  They may not like him in private, but they are remiss to say anything negative in public.  Why?  I think there are at least two factors feeding into this.  The first is fear.  They fear Trump and what he might do if they say anything negative about him.  We have all heard about the consequences of going against Trump.  Trump vilifies those who are not loyal at one or more of his rallies and then the extremists go after those he belittles with frightening threats towards them and their families.  These threats include even the threat of death.  Some would suggest that the peccadilloes of his followers are not the fault of Trump, but he does little to squash these malicious behaviors and instead, antagonizes the extremists with his words.  The demand for loyalty is strong; the demand for unity sacrosanct; difference of opinion is anathema.

All people should be considered a part of our democracy regardless their heritage, religious preference, gender orientation, or the color of their skin.  Justice demands that all are treated fairly.

The second reason I think many of the GOP leaders don’t take Trump to task is because while they may not agree with the intensity of his tactics, they basically agree with the ends he attempts to achieve, ends shaped by the Civil War and the Reconstruction period.  While the Union won the Civil War and “freed” the slaves, it was unable to win the hearts of many who still harbored hatred and resentment towards the Federal Government. 

The progeny of this hatred and resentment lives on today in the GOP.  This opposition has several parts to it.  First, those who were more tempered in their tactics worked through our political institutions to sow the seeds of equality’s demise.  While today’s politicians are more calculating than politicians such as Strom Thurmond (SC Senator, 1954 – 2003) who wore his prejudices on his coat sleeve, politicians today do not express their resentment so much in terms of race as they do loyalty to their ideology and the ends they seek.  This has the benefit of thinly veiling their prejudice towards persons of color, women, folks mired in poverty, and LGBTQ populations.  Pretending to help those they oppose, these politicians invite those they seek to oppress into the GOP while allowing Trump to express their true feelings.  By doing so, they hope to win the votes of those they seek to oppress resulting in greater power to wreak havoc on these marginalized populations. Trump is a battering ram for these politicians.  He says things they will not say; he does things they will not do; and Trump takes the heat for challenging and perhaps breaking the laws they may not challenge and which they certainly will not break.  By being the bombastic personality he is, Trump takes the spotlight off them, which allows GOP leaders to continue to chip away at freedom and justice for all people while at the same time gravely limiting our democracy.  The genius of this is that they do not have to pay the price of seeking to undermine democracy except for an occasional unflattering piece by the press, which they can easily weather.  No one pays close attention to what they do, nor do they often care.  These GOP leaders and politicians pluck the chicken of democracy one feather at a time and because the attention is almost always on Trump, few notice.

Under Fascism, the mission of citizens is to serve; the government's job is to rule.

Second, as Trump is to the more subdued politician, so white nationalists and hate groups are to the average Republican voter.  Based upon my conversation with most of my Republican friends, I don’t think they are wanting nor are they willing to engage in armed insurrection to overcome the government of the United States.  I don’t think they are the ones doing the dirty work for the GOP.  However, white nationalists and hate groups are a foil for today’s GOP leaders.  Unlike Trump, GOP Leaders seldom embrace groups such as the Proud Boys, but like Trump, they are sympathetic to their cause.  Trump and the GOP look forward to a time when those in power will be “white nationalists” forcing this country to embrace policies most in the United States do not accept.   Put differently, many GOP leaders of late—Marjorie Green, Lauren Boebert, Paul Gosar, Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Tommy Tuberville, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, etc.—say things suggesting that they support a radical reconfiguring of our democracy and the Constitution that governs it, a reconfiguring that limits the rights of citizens and increases the power of government to interfere in the private lives of those living in the United States.  Like Trump, white nationalists and hate groups run interference for these politicians and the extremism of the latter makes the extremist policies of GOP congressional leaders seem tame despite their shared values and ends.  This gives the GOP little incentive to oppose Trump and his support of white nationalist groups.

Finally, the GOP sanctifies their political scheme by enlisting like-minded Evangelical leaders and engaging these religious leaders in a weird transactionalism that supports the religious leaders’ xenophobia and makes an idol of the GOP’s version of democracy.  Many books have been written on this subject and I will not belabor this point here (see a list of some in my library below).  Suffice it to say, the religious right’s loyalty is to their deity; their loyalty is not to democracy.  Like theologian, Rousas John Rushdoony (1916 – 2001) who is credited with starting the Christian Reconstructionist Movement, these religious leaders look forward to a time when the United States will be governed by “biblical law” as written about in Rushdoony’s The Institutes of Biblical Law.  In this work, Rushdoony sets out his view of what the United States would be like if it structured itself on Rushdoony’s reading of the Bible.  Suffice it to say, his vision is at odds with what most, including a lot of Christians, think of when they think of living in a democratic nation.  While not all on the Religious Right proclaim the Institutes of Rushdoony, they nonetheless are sympathetic to the idea of a “Christian” nation.  The transactional dance of the Religious Right with the GOP results in a reduction of dogma to political ideology and vice versa.  This combination is dangerous—the Constitution forbids the establishment of a state religion for a reason—for then the political policies of the United States are sanctified by the dogma of a particular religious organization.  I don’t know if GOP leaders actually believe the God-talk of the Religious Right, but again they use the Religious Right to legitimize their political ends.

There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

How does Trump fit into this?  Trump is a religious buffoon.  He knows little of religion much less theology and the dogma of the Religious Right, but taking a page out of Ronald Reagan’s playbook, he knows how to use the Religious Right and the Religious Right knows how to use Trump to achieve their respective ends, ends that often overlap. The result is an uneasy alliance where the leaders of the Religious Right guide their followers down a path of unconstitutional treachery shaped by Trump and the GOP.  Here, an end-justifies-the-means mentality is the rule of law and emotional passion trumps the tempered air of rationality, emotion often dictating policy and attitudes towards those who disagree.  Central to this alliance is a strange definition of faith predicated on loyalty to the party line and intolerant of those who would challenge party beliefs or their leaders, whether leaders of the Religious Right or leaders of the GOP.  In this, Trump is likened to Cyrus of the Hebrew Bible and christened as Messiah by the Religious Right (see God’s Chaos Candidate: Donald J. Trump and the American Unraveling by Lance Wallnau), the one who will lead followers to the promised land of GOP domination.  In this scenario, leaders can do no wrong and if they do something wrong, it is almost always dressed in the garb of GOP policy/Religious Right dogma, and then rationalized as the will of God.  Why would the GOP do anything to challenge this alliance when it makes it look as if everything they do is approved by God?

All of this paints a totalizing picture of what the United States would become if the GOP’s political dreams become a reality.  In Trump, the GOP believes they have found a way of achieving their dream of a one-party system.  To make matters worse, the GOP’s ideology would then be “sanctified” by a branch of Christianity intolerant of any difference, but that speaks with the authority of the federal government since the line between church and state has been erased.   It doesn’t matter if Trump is not able to win the presidential primary, or if Trump loses his legal battles and is convicted of the crimes that he has been accused of committing.  Regardless of what happens to him, “Trumpism” defines the GOP and it moves towards its goals undaunted by what is fair, undeterred by what is just, and ignoring the historical heritage of the United States by rewriting history in its own image.  Regardless of if the GOP’s next presidential candidate is Ron DeSantis or Tim Scott, the political system defined by the GOP political platform will move to erase meaningful forms of democracy and assure that the United States is government by a people, rather than all the people.

So yes, I need to tell anyone who listens that I have an absolute dislike of the GOP.  Indeed, I believe it seeks to sew the demise of democracy and erase any semblance of justice in the laws and courts of the United States.  This sickens me.  I cannot support their dreams, their ends, their methods and their mean-spirited ways.  It saddens me that anyone can.

Works on the Religious Right and GOP/Trump:
  • Burlein, Ann (2002). Lift High the Cross:  Where White Supremacy and the Christian Right Converge.  This is an examination of the Religious Right that originated in her graduate studies in North Carolina where she listened to and interviewed members of the Religious Right.  It is a critical examination of what she has disovered through these interviews and her research. Back

  •  Camp, Michael (2023).Breaking Bad Faith: Exposing Myth and Violence in Popular Theology to Recover the Path of Peace.  A person who from the evangelical branch of the Religious Right, Camp analyzes what he considers the “bad faith” elements of this movement and argues that the only way Christianity can live up to its promise of peace is if Christians shed the bad faith of the religious Right and begin living by “good faith.”  Back
  • Denker, Angela (2019). Red State Christians: Understanding the Voters Who Elected Donald Trump.  Through interviews and research, Denker traveled the “Red States” of the United States in an attempt to understand how they think and why they were so supportive of Trump.  While identifying with many of the Red State Christians, she was put off by the power-hungry pastors and religious leaders who victimized “women, the poor, people of color, immigrants, refugees, and the LGBTQ community.”  Her hope of writing this book is to encourage people not to be polarized by these leaders but continue to engage those who think differently to discover the unity of spirit that brings us together as a country.  Back

  • Du Mez, Kristin Kobes (2020). Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted a Faith and Fractured a Nation.  Du Mez’s book is an examination of the militant nature of the Religious Right.  He argues that Trump is not an anomaly but is the natural outcome of this militant branch of Christianity.  Back

  • Fea, John (2018). Believe Me: The Evangelical Road to Donald Trump.  In Believe Me, John Fea argues that the embrace of Donald Trump is the logical outcome of a long-standing evangelical approach to public life defined by the politics of fear, the pursuit of worldly power, and a nostalgic longing for an American past.  Back

  • Fitzgerald, Frances (2017). The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America.  In his book, Fitzgerald outlines a comprehensive history of the white evangelical movements in the United States.  His book provides a deeper understanding of evangelicals today and their influence upon the politics of the United States leading to the 2016 election of Donald Trump.  Back

  • Hedges, Chris (2007). American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America.  Hedges book is one of the best books I have read on this topic.  It profiles the rise of the American Christian Right and argues that this group has all the traits of a fascist movement.  Hedges challenges the Christian Right’s religious legitimacy and argues that at its core, it is a movement fueled by unbridled nationalism and hatred for an open society.  Back

  • Posner, Sarah (2020). Unholy: How White Christian Nationalists Powered the Trump Presidency and the Devastating Legacy They Left Behind.  Posner’s book explores how issues of race and xenophobia have always shaped the core of the Religious Right.  According to Posner, the Religious Right’s understanding of Christianity is a response to anxiety that a white Christian America is being threatened by modern democracy.  Back

  • Onishi, Bradley B. (2023). Preparing for War: The Extremist History of White Christian Nationalism–and What Comes Next. Onishi’s book maps the origins of White Christian nationalism.  The book combines the author’s own experience in white nationalist groups as well as his extensive research on the subject.  In this, Onishi examines the steady blending of white grievance politics with evangelical Christianity.  Back

  • Stewart, Katherine (2020) The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism.  Stewart’s book reveals a disturbing truth about the political movement of religious nationalism. It is comprised of think tanks, advocacy groups, and pastoral organizations embedded in a rapidly expanding but decentralized community united by a shared anti-democratic vision and a common will to power.  Back

  • Sider, Ronald J., ed. (2020).  The Spiritual Danger of Donald Trum: 30 Evangelical Christians on Justice, Truth, and Moral Integrity.  This book contains essays from 30 evangelical Christians on justice, truth, and morality and why Trump is a threat to the integrity of evangelical Christians.  Back

  • Weed, Eric (2017). The Religion of White Supremacy in the United States

    Weed, Eric (2017). The Religion of White Supremacy in the United States.  Weed’s book is a theo-historical account of race in the united States.  In it, he argues that white supremacy functions through the Religious Right and the political implications of their efforts.  Back

  • Wilcox, Clyde (2018). Onward Christian Soldiers: The Religious Right in American Politics.  Wilcox’s book explores the history of the Religious Right in American politics from the 20th century to the early 21st century covering the presidency of George W. Bush to the Obama administration.   Back

Published by Harold W. Anderson, Ph.D.

I am a retired United Methodist Minister and recently closed my practice as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, retiring with my wife to Rancho Murieta, CA. Now I have a blog and several hobbies that take up my time. We enjoy traveling and occasionally spending time at our cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

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