Moral Clarity

At breakfast the other day, my husband asked me what I thought today’s Republicans really believe.

I should mention that he and I met when we were members of Mayor Bill Hudnut’s very Republican Indianapolis city administration, so our dismay with and disapproval of what the GOP has become has built over a period of years.  After giving his question some thought, I said today’s Republicans think the world should be run by White Christian men.

In a recent column, Jennifer Rubin made a similar point: The GOP, she wrote, is no longer a party. It’s a movement to impose White Christian nationalism.

People might be confused about how a Republican Party that once worried about government overreach now seeks to control medical care for transgender children and retaliate against a corporation for objecting to a bill targeting LGBTQ students. And why is it that the most ambitious Republicans are spending more time battling nonexistent critical race theory in schools than on health care or inflation?

To explain this, one must acknowledge that the GOP is not a political party anymore. It is a movement dedicated to imposing White Christian nationalism.

The media blandly describes the GOP’s obsessions as “culture wars,” but that suggests there is another side seeking to impose its views on others. In reality, only one side is repudiating pluralistic democracy — White, Christian and mainly rural Americans who are becoming a minority group and want to maintain their political power.

Rubin says that the MAGA movement is essentially an effort to “conserve power and to counteract the sense of a shared fate with Americans who historically have been marginalized.”

The hysteria on the right has led to the virtual abandonment of policy positions, or for that matter, anything remotely resembling adult argumentation. Rather than focusing on governance, the cult that was once a political party has substituted what Rubin accurately calls “malicious labeling and insults (e.g., “groomer,” “woke”), and the targeting of LGBTQ youths and dehumanization of immigrants.” Today’s Republican candidates characterize their opponents in terms that in our time would have made them outcasts in the party–they label Democrats (and rational Republicans, to the extent those still exist) “as sick, dangerous and — above all — not real Americans.”

No one should be surprised that the “big lie” has become gospel in White evangelical churches. The New York Times reports: “In the 17 months since the presidential election, pastors at these churches have preached about fraudulent votes and vague claims of election meddling. … For these church leaders, Mr. Trump’s narrative of the 2020 election has become a prominent strain in an apocalyptic vision of the left running amok.”

If anti-critical-race-theory crusades are the response to racial empathy, then laws designed to make voting harder or to subvert elections are the answer to the GOP’s defeat in 2020, which the right still refuses to concede. The election has been transformed into a plot against right-wingers that must be rectified by further marginalizing those outside their movement.

Rubin is correct when she says that America’s very real  political problems are minor when compared with what she calls  “the moral confusion” exhibited by millions of White Christian Americans. My only quibble with that observation is that White Supremacy isn’t really “moral confusion.” It is immorality.

What I find depressingly ironic is the fact that the “morality” preached in so many Christian churches is focused exclusively on individual (primarily sexual) behavior–as though “morality” is exclusively a matter of what happens below the waist and in the uterus, and has little or nothing to do with how we treat our fellow humans.

A morality that avoids grappling with people’s social behaviors–a theology that ignores questions of basic social justice–is no morality at all.

America may avoid a replay of our “hot” civil war, but make no mistake: we are in the middle of an existential battle for the soul of this country–and those fighting to retain their dominance are unrestrained by morality, by fidelity to the rule of law, or by allegiance to the (yet-to-be-achieved) principles of the Declaration, Constitution or Bill of Rights.

I firmly believe that a majority of Americans support pluralism, democracy and fundamental fairness. But I also know that people fight harder–and dirtier– when they feel cornered.

We live in a very scary time.


  1. Prof sums up with
    “We live in a very scary time.”
    ANY time the R’s are in charge has been dangerous to many Americans. Like when Ronny Reagan and the Christian soldiers and the astrologer, ran the country. HIV was killing thousands of Americans but the R’s seemed to enjoy it. GOD was having his way with THOSE people. They did NOTHING to slow the spread of illness. They did nothing to protect those who were in danger. They sat on their asses and enjoyed the death of a generation of Gay Men. And that was the GOOD Republicans of years gone by. The R’s have always been scary in my lifetime.

  2. An animal is most dangerous when it is trapped or cornered. This is the behavior of a political party that sees its inevitable demise and is desperately struggling to maintain its grip on power.

    I have often wanted to read a book that can help me understand how the GOP went from the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Eisenhower to the cult of Trump. Do you have any suggestions?

  3. Using the terms “moral” and “Republican” in the same sentence is an oxymoron; with concentration on “moron”!!!

    And yes, John, I am aware that I am reversing my position on name-calling which I commented on yesterday. But; what choice do I have when the title of today’s blog is “Moral Clarity”?

  4. patmcc – I agree, republicans have always been scary to me too. They often seem to relish punishing people. Lots of judging. I wonder if they will ever get tired of being angry and resentful.

    As for their worship of Drump, republicans attitude seems to be, “Yes, Drump is an arsehole, but he is OUR arsehole.”

  5. James writes, “An animal is most dangerous when trapped or cornered. Unfortunately, this is the behavior of a political party that sees its inevitable demise and is desperately struggling to maintain its grip on power.”

    The cornered animal is NOT the GOP – it’s unfettered capitalism controlled by oligarchs that have corrupted both political parties and the media.

    Like many of her ilk, Rubin is a distractor (apologist) from the obvious. Moral decay has negatively impacted this country’s institutions. Moreover, the decay has created a kakistocracy in this country and beyond.

    Europeans aren’t interested in sacrificing for their failed leaders either. So instead, they wake up and ask why they must sacrifice so the US’s Military-Industrial Complex can enrich itself once again. In other words, the media propaganda charade isn’t convincing anyone.

    Americans are easily distracted by their TVs, but Europeans, not so much. They are beginning to ask all the right questions even though their media tells them to back Zelenskyy and Ukraine over the menace from Russia.

    The people don’t like Putin, but they also don’t trust the USA and its leaders. The folks in Europe are more democratic and educated than we are in the USA, and they can see through the bullshit their leaders and the media are spreading. They see NATO for what it is and has been doing – puppets of the US MIC.

  6. James,

    Your bibliography should include my book, “Killing the Dream: America’s Flirtation With Third World Status”, Jane Mayer’s “Dark Money”, Naomi Kline’s “Shock Doctrine” and my other, more recent book, “Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism.” They’re all available on These books should be required reading for all in civics education courses.

  7. James. A book that I found very helpful in understanding what is going on is “American Fascists,” by Chris Hedges, which was published n 2006. The author is a graduate of the seminary at the Harvard Divinity School, and has worked as a foreign correspondent for many years. My understanding is that after a number of years, he was ordained as a minister, so he has an adequate background to discuss the topics in Sheila’s post.

  8. James
    Book to answer your questions
    HISTORY OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY by Heather Cox Richardson
    There are her videos on you tube which go deeper in explaining the repugs
    Add her to your daily read and 2X weekly video listen
    A well respected trained Americanist Historian

  9. James. I forgot to mention that the subtitle of the book by Chris Hedges is “The Christian Right and the War on America.”

  10. Just an FYI, we still need to codify those things in the Constitution that we were concerned about when 45 was in office. That fact that something is not Constitutional, doesn’t make it illegal.

  11. You forgot to mention that to enforce White Christain Nationalism, the Republicans are resorting to soft fascist tactics. Trying to punish Mikey Mouse for what should have been protected free speech by passing punitive laws is egregious.

    Fascist White Christian Nationalists have taken over the Republican Party. Anything to win. I hope enough people will realize that the end does not justifies the means.

  12. Putin and Republicans offer the same promise. I (we) will restore past culture through the force of government. That sells well because nostalgia recalls not the whole past but the good parts and forgets any bad. In fact the promise is not to just use the force of government to restore culture but all of the past.

    No one has said it better than Rick Scott in his 11 point plan.

    One reason that Republicans like that is because, and they are very happy to tell us this, liberals have been screaming for years demanding that all kinds of different cultures be accepted so Republicans are just fighting back now.

    Except Republicans promise to use the force of government not the force of persuasion and they want not to protect culture that exists individual by individual but to force those different to conform.

    Our Constitution demands of us the same response to Putin and Republicans and to hope Russians join us.

  13. Once upon a time perceived political villains seem
    like saints today in a make believe debate in a side show off carnival main street. Thank God for a silly child’s imagination. Compelling argument with thanks this morning to Shiela. 😇

  14. So, once again, dear fellow/gal commentators, all good vents, but…what’s to be done? Lot of brainpower here…turn it one.

  15. RE the GOP:

    “This party of ours has to realize that they won’t exist unless they become a party of progressive moderates — unless they can prove to the American people that they are a middle-of-the-road party and turn their backs on the extremes of the left and particularly the extremes of the right.”

    Dwight Eisenhower

  16. Number 1, even Switzerland took a side and Todd knows nothing about how Europeans think or feel. I think the women here are spot on, patmcc, Theresa and JoAnn always take the same side I’m on, so bravo, ladies.

    I suggest rewriting the Constitution to apply to this centuries’ needs. We don’t need to abandon everything that was original but we need to truly make a “United” states of America again.

  17. Aging Girl – Watch what you ask for…can you imagine what the MAGAs would do in a constitutional convention? They likely already have detailed plans and control the majority of states to approve it.

    Wish it were that simple….

  18. Aging Girl — I’m with you and the rest of the sistas on this blog! (Una, so glad you mentioned HRC.)

    I would also add to Vernon’s bibliography “Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution” by Elie Mystal, which is VERY irreverent but so interesting. I learned a lot. I’m pretty sure the scholars on this blog won’t agree, but sometimes it’s helpful to read something outside the academic and have a good laugh while doing it. At least read it and let me know what you think , Vernon, Lester, et al.

    BTW — Vernon, I put your list on a private Facebook page for women who are part of the resistance here in South Carolina.

  19. White nationalists are not very Christian or patriotic or Republican and certainly not democratic in their outlooks. Our founding fathers worried about the future of democracy in the hands of uneducated, non-property owning, male folks. I’m understanding the founding fathers better every day.

  20. It is my opinion that the public hearings on the Jan. 6th attack MIGHT restore some sanity, or, at least encourage the sane voters
    to get out to the polls.
    Biden will have to get out to the hustings and do some major encouraging for people to get him some more support in congress!!!!!!

  21. Fear is the overriding feature of the exchange between Aging Girl and Lester. Both sides fear what the other side would bring to the table in updating our Constitution, a certainty in the real world and one my daughter reminds me of when I go off on a rant for a constitutional convention.

    To today’s topic: Trump has almost destroyed the idea that morality is any part of the political equation of old. When 75 million people vote for a liar with a score or so of sex suits pending who upon losing tried to overthrow our government and destroy our democracy we can be assured that morality in the political equatiion is nearing the fate of the horse and buggy. That the rot has spread is proven by the vote of some 150 Republicans in the House who AFTER the failed attempt to overthrow our government refused to condemn it.

    The good news, as Sheila suggests, is that there are more of us than there are of them. I agree, and if we can get turnout and if secretaries of state give us an honest count or are foiled by Trump’s Supreme Court in having state legislatures’ votes rather than raw votes counted – we win – but lotsa ifs have to break our way. Another if > If we have eight consecutive years in the Oval Office I think there’s a good chance that Trump’s immorality glitch will become a Tilden v. Hayes fleeting moment in history and that morality (or a pretense to it) will once again be a consideration in the polity’s voting decisions – or so I hope.

  22. My career has centered on the study of the evolution of US taxation, especially as it affects closely held businesses. Now, this may seem to be about as amoral as a subject might be. Let me assure you that it is not. It really concerns the obligations of persons who share in the benefits of the United States to bear the costs.
    As a Certified Public Accountant, I am expected to stand behind d anything that I put into a report, such as a tax return. My practice in preparing tax returns is unique, in that it actually costs me money. I need to renew my permit with the IRS each year. I prepare returns for family members, and never receive monetary compensation for doing so. I consult with businesses, for which IU do receive monetary compensation. I also write and teach tax matters.
    Truth is essential. Call me paranoid, but I prepare each return, including my own, with the mindset that the government might audit the result. This has happened. Sometimes I am right, sometimes I am wrong, but I have never been subject to a negligence penalty.
    I have testified about a poorly written law, and I have publicly stated opinions which are likely to displease the authorities.
    My moral outrage generally centers around congress, whose members pass laws that they don’t understand. This is tantamount to me signing a tax return and not bothering to find out what it means.
    Back to morality. House Ways and Means Chairman Wilbur Mills, who was married at the time, was pulled out of the reflecting pool on the National Mall, in the company of a showgirl named Fanne Fox. Not surprisingly, he was intoxicated. I’m sure our self-styled “chrisitan” (lowercase deliberate) friends would be shocked at this immoral behavior.
    However, Mr. Mills attempt;ted to understand every tax law that came out of his committee. In my evaluation , he was one of the most “moral” politicians otp serve this country.

  23. Lester, we have to start somewhere! Rewriting our constitution will require that all the IQ45 supporters be banned from Congress. Remove money from politics and publicly fund elections. Hire permanent juries that are trained in law for the courts. Stop the rich and corporations and lobbyists from funding politicians but I repeat myself.

    Women need to be recognized. Immigration reform. Tax reform. Farm and Oil subsidies stop. Military funds refunded to everyone so that we can get something done for citizens.

    Switzerland rewrote their constitution and it’s not perfect but they have proper referendums to vote for specific things like gun control, welfare, healthcare etc.

  24. Aging girl – WADR – Texas, Florida and the other 30+ states run by the GOP are not Switzerland…

  25. Aging Girl – you have definitely made the case for legalizing whatever you are on 🙂 🙂

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