The Decade After

     To understand the modern Republican Party, it helps to recall that Puritans have always had a lot in common with Communists: in their zeal for reform, which must be immediate; in their intolerance of dissent, which is portrayed as evil; their enthusiasm for violence, which is portrayed as cleansing; in their insistence on doctrinal purity, which, like cleanliness, is next to their avenging God, no matter how much misery it inflicts, and how filthy it really is; and in their studied ignorance, or denial, of how far their true spirit, which is vengeance, lies from their proclaimed end, the presumed liberation of man – with a Christian God, for the Republicans, or without one for Communists.
     The problem for the rest of us in the United States today is that Republican Puritans have no New World to which they can emigrate. All they can do is try to take over the state. Were they to do so, of course, they tell us openly, though not in so many words, they would try to create the sort of religio-governmental monstrosity from which the original Puritans fled.
     Consider: The Republicans are asking us to believe that they could solve at a stroke what they call the three greatest problems facing the nation today – an enormous budget deficit, profligate government spending, and overweening government power – though the first problem had been solved, and the second one tamed, until we elected our last Republican president, who introduced torture as national policy and got us into two wars from which it would be difficult to find anyone who benefited, outside of Iran and Hezbollah.
     The Republicans are asking us to believe that in their New Jerusalem they will shower upon us all such a raft of glory, wealth and virtues as the nation has not seen since the days of the Founders – and that what is preventing them from doing this – now! today! – is the tyrannical socialism of a president who was elected twice by popular vote.
     To this strain of Republican – which is to say, to the bullies who have taken over the Party – we are all sinners in the hands of an angry God.
     Their cardinal sins are social welfare programs, which not so long ago most of our country considered a form of Christian charity.
     Their angry God is the budget deficit, which, as the economists, and reality, keep pointing out, seems not to be such an angry god, after all, but rather a tolerant one.
     What the Republicans are asking us to believe is that they are men, and women, who are superior to their actions.
     After inflicting enormous, bleeding wounds upon the nation and the world for eight years, now the Republicans are telling us that the Democrats’ bandages are too expensive.
     Well, as Aldous Huxley said: “Everyone feels a little Christian now and then, especially after an orgy.”

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