Mon 5 Nov 2012
In the last day before the rhetorically cataclysmic 2012 presidential election, pundits are playing (not really something that could be called work) around the clock to predict who will win tomorrow’s final tally. There is no question about the obvious fact that the United States is about as polarized as it has ever been. As both candidates shout out, the choice is clear. It is hard to imagine anyone who is still undecided; indeed, I think it is so unpatriotic not to have made up your mind that anyone still labeled “undecided” should not be eligible to vote. If turnout is anything like the last election (and most pundits think it will not be on either side), some 40% of the eligible voters will not bother to vote at all. Democracy is so taken for granted in this country that some of my fellow citizens are content to let others decide their fate. And given the untold millions of dollars fueling the propaganda machines, it would seem that the political system assumes the rest of the electorate can be bought by 30-second attack ads.
I write this post in my university office, since my home has not had electricity or Internet for over a week, due to the massive destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy. In my home town more than 50 cars are lined up overnight hoping for gas to be delivered to the local Hess station. But despite the brutal infrastructure damage, especially along the southern coast of Long Island, the death toll has been relatively low. All deaths are tragic, but meanwhile the death toll rises daily in Syria, bumped from the evening news in the New York Metropolitan Area. Camping out by my fireplace each night and setting up my Coleman stove, I really have nothing to complain about. In a sense the enforced rest, week off from teaching and catch-up on reading has been a pleasant, even if increasingly cold, experience. But tomorrow the real damage could be done if Gov. Romney is elected.
I have no crystal ball, but the odds certainly favor President Obama at this moment. No president is perfect, but in my mind Obama deserves re-election for a variety of reasons and Governor Romney does not for an even larger number of reasons. Let’s start with the no-end-in-sight “War on Terror” that many on the right in this country see mainly as a war with Islam. Romney’s previous comments on the Islamic faith show that he is only too eager to grovel before the Islamophobic right wing that paints Islam as inherently violent and Muhammad as a pedophile. The more people hate Islam, the more likely they are to vote for Romney. Romney has stoked this fear as well, in his “severely conservative” rightward leap during the Republican primaries. Not once has he said to the extremists and newly christened “teavangelicals” that their antagonism toward Muslims is wrong.
Ironically, Romney will garner the vote of many folk in the Bible Belt who until a short while ago viewed Mormonism as a dangerous cult. The fundamentalist GARBC church I grew up in taught that Mormons were going to hell right alongside the Catholics (bad news for Romney and Ryan if the Rapture occurs before they are sworn in since they will lose a lot of their supporters). The vitriol against Mormons as a cult is easily available online, for example at http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/Mormons.html and http://mormoncult.org/. For the Bible thumpers, Mormons are not Latter Day “Saints” but an unbiblical cult of Satanic dimensions. Islamophobe Bill Keller (who helped lead the assault on the park51 mosque in lower Manhattan) has compiled a “Judas list” of evangelicals supporting Romney; this includes Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Franklin Graham and Ralph Reed. These popular evangelical leaders have endorsed Romney, even though they still view Mormonism as not really Christian. For example, here are some of the problems that are said by the born-againers to define Mormonism as a cult:
* God used to be a man on another planet, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 321; Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 613-614; Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 345; Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 333).
* God resides near a star called Kolob, (Pearl of Great Price, p. 34-35; Mormon Doctrine, p. 428).
* “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s…” (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22).
* God is in the form of a man, (Joseph Smith, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 3).
* “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!!! . . . We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea and take away the veil, so that you may see,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).
* After you become a good Mormon, you have the potential of becoming a god, (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345-347, 354.)
* There is a mother god, (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 443).
* God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine, p. 516).
* The trinity is three separate Gods: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. “That these three are separate individuals, physically distinct from each other, is demonstrated by the accepted records of divine dealings with man,” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, p. 35.).
To be sure the Bible Belt is buckling over a no-win doctrinal scenario: either to vote for Obama who many Republicans insist is a stealth Muslim and many more think is a Satanic force or for Romney who belongs to a cult condemned for years as not really Christian. Some of the leaders are lacing their cool-aid support of Romney with doctrinal cyanide: wearing a divinely perspired gas mask as they pull the lever for a Mormon bishop. The Billy Graham Association has removed “Mormons” from their list of dangerous cults just in time for the election. For the “between the devil and the deep blue voting states” teavangelicals, consider Southern Baptist Pastor Jeffries, for example:
Prominent Southern Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress told a syndicated radio host that despite GOP candidate Mitt Romney being a part of the “cult” of Mormonism, Americans should vote for him because President Barack Obama is sinful and “shakes its fist” at God in defiance.
Jeffress told host Janet Mefferd that he has “made peace” with voting for a Mormon, despite it being very clear that Mormonism “is a cult, it is a false religion” whose members “worship a multiplicity of Gods” and “deny the Bible.” He said he prefers the Mormon candidate to President Obama “who absolutely repudiates what Jesus Christ said about some key issues” like abortion and same-sex marriage.
The Texas-based pastor also warned that if Obama is re-elected, America is “about to go over the moral and spiritual cliff from which there is no return,” because the Democratic administration is “openly involved in high-handed sins” and shaking its “fist in the face of God” with its policies on abortion and gay marriage.
So in addition to the fiscal cliff looming before the country because of the intransigence of the Republican tea partyers, we are all about to fall off a spiritual cliff, according to Jeffries. Of course, many of these Baptist preachers have been saying we fell off that cliff a long time ago, as far back as Darwin and giving women the vote and the socialist agenda of Social Security and Medicare. It used to be the communists who were coming over to rape our Christian virgins, now it’s the “Islamists” enforcing shariah law and veiling our women. Those far-right Christians who revile shariah law might be surprised how much it resembles the laws back in Leviticus.
One of the poorly probed issues in this campaign has been the Mormon factor. Since their rather bizarre beginning and sci-fi doctrines about Jesus coming to rule from Joplin, Missouri (if Todd Aiken loses the senate race, he can always wait for Jesus to come and make him part of the Millennium Cabinet in charge of rounding up the abortion providers and forcing them to listen non-stop for the whole millennial reign to George Beverly Shea singing “How Great Thou Art”), the Mormon church has gained rightwing respectability, support of the NRA and “just-say-no” missionaries round the globe. But there is no brotherly love in the union of those who want to stop all abortions and same-sex unions. Should Romney lose, I suspect the Mormons will see a backlash from the same folk who voted for him. Like anti-Semitism and anti-Islamic prejudice, a revival of “Mormons are a cult” is not unlikely; the Billy Graham Association will no doubt save the html site about Mormonism as a cult.
Romney approaches governing as a CEO who owns the company and can do what he wants. He was a very ineffective governor, vetoing bill after bill and having his vetoes overridden in Massachusetts. His foreign policy experience is naive, to be kind. But someone who in the famous 47% video said that the Palestinians will never want peace and we just will have to kick the can down the road is not likely to get a Nobel Peace Prize. His mantra of “No Apology” is red meat to rednecks but pure poison to America’s friends and allies, not to mention enemies. The Bush League neocons who engineered two wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are Romney’s main advisors, so Johnny is not about to come marching home soon and may be learning Persian.
The case for Obama is pretty clear. Despite liberal uneasiness, he is what he always claimed to be: a centrist. Under his watch world respect for the United States has staged a comeback from an all-time low. He has hardly been slack in attacking “terrorism,” as the drones continue to be launched. Recovery from the worst recession since the Great Depression is making progress. Going back to Republican policies that (with Democratic support, I admit) caused the financial meltdown in the first place is hardly the change we need. Forcing women who are raped to have a baby (and insulting us all by claiming that rape is God’s will) and damning same-sex couples are on the wrong side of history, although the bluster of Fox News will continue to encourage Stone Age thinking.
Soon we will know who the winner is; I just hope we do not all end up losers in a Zoroastrian political dualism that turns zero-sum into zero-zero.
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