The ascendant characteristic of America's unholy alliance of the religious right and the political right is fear.
Pat Robertson is an expert with this tool. Never mind the compassion for which the Jesus he professes to follow was famous in history. Fire-breathing Pat said the horrible disaster visited upon Haiti this week was God's vengeance upon a people who made "a pact with the devil." What a humanitarian!
When Katrina devastated New Orleans, several followers of the TV evangelists assured me that the terrible damage was God's vengeance on the city for Madeline Murray O'Hair's atheism. Huh?
The vengeful Old Testament God of Pat Robertson keeps the faithful in line. Who wants to end up dying like a Haitian in an earthquake or a Louisianian in a hurricane?
The theologians of the political right -- Karl Rove, Frank Luntz, Newt Gingrich, et al -- invoke their own pantheon of vengeful gods.
Improve the developed world's worst health care system? It'll kill grandma, deprive you of treatment by a good doctor and force you to risk gangrene at the hands of ill-trained butchers; it'll make you a pauper, turn you into a robot and give you acid reflux, erectile dysfunction or both.
Curb man-made climate change? "They" would take away your SUVs, your air-conditioners, your lovely green golf courses, your half-acre flat-screen TV screens, your jobs, your freedoms and your pride in being the richest, most powerful nation in the whole world.
As long as you're very, very afraid -- of something, anything -- you'll toe the line even as the fear-mongers destroy the economy, savage the Constitution, cancel the Bill of Rights and hold themselves exempt from the laws of decency and ethical behavior.
After all, it's what keeps you safe.
And We Like Being Afraid!
This from Ring of Fire (Robert F. Kennedy and Mike Papantonio): In America, sometimes fear is real entertainment. Not only for those people whose brains are made up of something more than mush but also for the people who love to be afraid.
In 2009, the truly terrified hysterics rushed out to buy guns of every description. There were many times you couldn’t buy 9mm or 40 caliber shells even for target practice because production couldn’t keep up with demand. What was everyone afraid of? Here is the short list: America elected a “Negro president.” Democrats were going to take everybody’s guns. The liberals were planning a “take over.” The immigrant hoards were going to rape and pillage. And there was the threat that some ill-defined world catastrophe was always knocking at our door in 2009. The world was surely ending and only a well-armed militia of trained gun owner with a concealed weapon permit would be ready. We made our love of being afraid into a widespread psychosis. If you don’t believe me, go to one of those tea party rallies and ask the question: Why are you here? At the heart of every response, you will hear vague hysterical fear and loathing of something or someone. It will usually begin and end with an “O.”