Most lawyers I know–Republican and Democrat alike–are incredulous at the decision of GOP House members to bring a lawsuit against the President. There is simply no legal or factual basis for such a suit, and it is highly unlikely to survive even minimal judicial scrutiny. Even if the allegations against President Obama were all true, the remedy would be political, not judicial.
(There is, of course, the added irony of the GOP’s requested remedy–immediate implementation of a provision of the Affordable Care Act that they tried repeatedly to eliminate. Say what?)
Most commentators have looked at the incoherence and the bluster, and have concluded–reasonably enough–that the whole thing is simply an effort to placate and motivate an increasingly rabid base. And while I’m sure that’s true, it begs the question: why the intense hatred of this President? Why the insistence that he’s a gay Muslim born in Kenya who is intent on destroying the “real” America?
Even Bush and Clinton haters didn’t engage in these levels of fantasy and invective. Of course, Bush and Clinton were white, and the racist component of Obama hatred is hard to miss, but it doesn’t explain everything. I think a recent article from the Daily Beast, by Jack Schwartz, sheds a good deal of light on the phenomenon with which we are dealing.
The mark of a national political party in a democracy is its pluralistic quality, i.e. the ability to be inclusive enough to appeal to the broadest number of voters who may have differing interests on a variety of issues. While it may stand for certain basic principles, a party is often flexible in applying them, as are its representatives in fulfilling them. Despite the heated rhetoric of elections and the bombast of elected representatives, they generally seek consensus with the minority in order to achieve their legislative goals.
But when religion is thrown into the mix, all that is lost. Religion here doesn’t mean theology but a distinct belief system which, in totality, provides basic answers regarding how to live one’s life, how society should function, how to deal with social and political issues, what is right and wrong, who should lead us, and who should not. It does so in ways that fulfill deep-seated emotional needs that, at their profoundest level, are devotional. Given the confusions of a secular world being rapidly transformed by technology, demography, and globalization, this movement has assumed a spiritual aspect whose adepts have undergone a religious experience which, if not in name, then in virtually every other aspect, can be considered a faith.
Religions have doctrines, to which the faithful must subscribe. Nonbelievers aren’t just folks with whom you disagree, they’re heretics. (As Schwartz notes, heretics are primaried only because they can’t be burned at the stake.) And Obama? He’s the Anti-Christ. The Devil.
Allowing Obama to win anything–a court case, a legislative victory, an election–is blasphemy. In the minds of the faithful (if “minds” is the right word), Obama’s continued presence in the White House is the continued triumph of evil.
This is all quite insane, of course. Unfortunately, it’s an accurate description of what the “base” of today’s GOP believes–a description of the beast that party leadership must continually feed in order to stay in power.
Only a massive political loss will lance this boil. If Democrats and sane Republicans don’t turn out in November, the crazy–and the attendant dysfunction– will just continue.