The piece cites TV adverts produced by the Republican candidate Mike Huckabee team, full of nauseating and reassuring religious messages, which aim, as Chernus observes “to create an image - in this case, of a good Christian with a steady moral compass who sticks to his principles.”
At a time of uncertainty, when money is tight, your job on the line, with your country at war, about war and life in the rate race becoming more and more difficult, such ads “speak reassuringly to such fears, which haunt millions of Americans.” This is one of the keys to the success for the religious right in recent years.
Thus: “[Republican] Mitt Romney was courting the evangelical-swinging-toward-Huckabee vote when he, too, went out of his way to link religion with moral absolutes in his big
Of course, the repukes have not got the monopoly when it comes to capturing the religious vote. Democrat John Edwards, for example, comforted American god botherers, when he declared "the hand of God today is in every step of what happens with me and every human being that exists on this planet." Echoes, then, of Hillary Clinton’s claim that she "had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought. And that's all one can expect or hope for."
Chernus concludes: “Voters reward faith talk because they want candidates to offer them symbols of immutable moral order. The root of the problem lies in the underlying insecurities of voters, in a sense of powerlessness that makes change seem so frightening, and control - especially of others - so necessary.
“The only way to alter that condition is to transform our society so that voters will feel empowered enough to take the risks, and tolerate the freedom that democracy requires. That would be genuine change. It's a political problem with a political solution. Until that solution begins to emerge, there is no way to take the conservative symbolic message of faith talk out of American politics.”
Today, on Counterpunch, in a piece entitled The Presidential Candidates and the Politics of Sex, David Rosen, notes that whilst sex issues, "hot-button issues", have more or less disappeared from this campaign’s agenda, replaced largely with issues over Iraq, health care, the economy and immigration, they …
“…nevertheless, continue as unspoken litmus-tests of what's been dubbed ‘electability.’ Abortion rights remains the principal issue, while AIDS, adolescent sex, homosexuality, pornography, sex predators and even adultery hover over the primaries like unholy ghosts…. While little will probably differ among the final candidates' stands on the
Rosen continues: “The Bush administration, backed by Republicans and a good number of Democratic congresspersons, promoted fundamentally failed domestic and international sex-related programs based on abstinence-only. It filled the federal bureaucracy with innumerable Christian true-believers who revised every program to restrict (and sometimes criminalize) sexual pleasure. If a Democrat, however moderate, wins the presidency, one can only wonder how long it will take a new administration to dislodge this cadre of regressives from their positions of influence.”
Rosen notes that while little separates the candidates over issues on
Republicans Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Fred Thompson, all favour abstinence-only, as does Democrat Hillary Clinton, while her fellow democrats John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich and Barack Obama, support, comprehensive sex education and the promotion of condom use.
Says Rosen, concluding, “Issues like the economy,
Morality, sexual or religious, then seems to galvanise this election campaign, and to the detriment of class issues that should be on the political agenda. And workers should dismiss this moralising from on high as the thought control it is, seeing it as just another weapon in the hands of our masters and used to further their class interests. When it comes to commenting on ways to regulate human behaviour, this corrupt shower of decadents, who continually promote the advantages of a system based on class and privilege, in which the golden rule is “can’t pay, can’t have” are the last people who should be lecturing us.
What all of these candidates are doing with their perverse cant is tightening our collective moral strait-jacket of compliance with our place as wage slaves – as unquestioning, profit-producing members of the subservient class in society. We are taught to hold our social betters in awe, to look on royalty and aristocracy as super people, to grovel in gratitude and admiration of rich and powerful capitalists without whose wisdom, we are taught, the world would be little better than a wilderness. We are instructed that capitalism’s family represents the true and immutable human morality, even if it entails a huge distortion of human drives. Happiness within capitalism, then, is an assured place in the exploitation process until death do us part, a mortgaged home where the curtains are neat and the hedges trim, an average family – and it is all to end in an uncomplaining, unmessy death in a poverty untroubled by ambitions about a more humane and satisfying existence. And when its all over, there is pie in the sky.
Meanwhile, the acceptance of capitalism’s profit orientated morality leads workers into the most extraordinary acts of self-damage. They willingly place themselves into the police and the armed forces, undergoing training in the most advanced methods of coercion or of destroying homes and killing their fellow workers. They come to this through something called discipline – which capitalism prizes highly – but which is really a form of controlled insanity.
And that is how capitalism will historically be regarded, when the world’s workers have come to consciousness and have overthrown the society which keeps them in subservience and which deprives them of the fruits of their labours. The establishment of socialism will see a new morality in the world, based on the assurance that wealth is to be produced for free human access and full human benefit. Socialism will be a society in which human interests take first place; only in an unavoidable extremity will anything be considered, let alone carried out, which would go against those interests.
We can have that society now. For one thing is abundantly clear. The 21st Century so far has proved it can offer little more than the previous one – endless war, widespread fear and insecurity. The working class have only their chains to lose and a world to win.
Here’s class warfare urging the workers of