Rebirth of Reason

Intellectual Ammunition

The Real Republican Divide
by Alexandra York

It’s not between Left/Right-leaning Republicans, though there are plenty of riffs there.  The operative chasm is between religious and secular Conservatives.  There couldn’t have been more Bible toting, Scripture quoting presidents than Clinton and Carter, but Democrats tend to use religion to support their politics, whereas Bush and the Religious Right use politics to support their religion.

The big losers of last election were the secular Conservatives, who abhor both the Liberal Left and the Religious Right.  No Centrists, these are Conservatives in that they defend a Capitalistic free-market economy and individual rights but demand individual responsibility and accountability.  They support both the first and second amendments and decry big government and big spending.  But, like most Democrats, they stand for separation of Church and State.  Even though some may be Christians, themselves, they oppose the Religious Right’s desire to impose their moralistic values on others’ behavior as strongly as they oppose the Liberal Left’s desire to finance a Socialist State by redistributing wealth. 

Furthermore, they are disturbed by popular “Conservative” talk show hosts, who advance the religious cause by anointing themselves as “true” Republicans, and while often on target with many conservative values, attempt to co-opt them into the Christian religion by waving the Cross along with the flag.  Sean Hannity pushes God more fervently than many preachers, claiming airplanes were ordained because God meant us to fly. Rush Limbaugh claims that if global warming is a real threat caused by human beings, it must be part of God’s plan and even if the entire human species is to become extinct due to global warming or any other cause, never mind because it’s all part of God’s purpose.

Let’s consider God’s purpose: Most American Christians believe that the United States is God’s chosen country in the same way Jews believe they are God’s chosen people and Muslims believe that “infidels” should be dominated if not annihilated. Remember that all these three religions claim the same God, who has His own agenda —“It’s God’s Will,” but “Let’s pray” it’s an agenda advancing their own particular belief system. And remember the carnage wrought for centuries by all three religions vying for power here and there, then and now.

Remember also that, regardless of certain accepted “givens” of the seminal period of America’s birth that put “In God we Trust” on our currency, many forward-looking Founders were Deists, embracing the Enlightenment view of God as Architect of the world/universe, but after His Creation was finished, we were on our own with free will and reason to guide us.  The U.S. Constitution is a masterpiece of reasoned thought, not a God-delivered scroll.  And, although, historically, most Americans may pray on their knees at night, they pull themselves up by their bootstraps in the morning to get on with “can do” human efforts that have made us into the great country we are.

The past ranting and raving presidential race provides an unprecedented opportunity to pause and examine alternatives, because not one of the candidates from day one of the primaries to the time when the election took place was qualified to serve that office, especially in this volatile world of international turmoil and domestic rancor.  The time may finally be ripe to create the only genuine alternative to the Left’s collectivism and the Right’s religiosity by forming a new political party of Secular Conservatism. The circus acts being performed by candidates representing both major parties should stimulate serious thought toward the establishment of a real third party choice based on solid secular conservative premises, split off from all parties but primarily from the now existing Republicans.  Let’s call it the “Independence Party” and create it to offer not a partisan change in leadership, nor change for the sake of change, but a sea change of ideas supported by objective, rational values consistent with the Constitution and twenty-first century knowledge and needs.  A whole new party will take thought and time, but the concept of Secular Conservatism could be kicked off during the next mid-term election by some quick-witted “Independents” with smart supporters via internet buzz and “write-in” votes available in many states in order to bring the necessity of a fresh party to public consciousness. If nothing else, the sprint might give a preliminary glimpse of the pulse and number of Conservatives disenchanted with both Bible Belt power lust and Libertarian inconsistency, thereby revealing  a tip-of-the-iceberg and here-to-fore-ignored voting force.  Who will raise their hand for this challenge?  It has already been proven that he or she can be a young, unknown newcomer and catch a popular wave riding atop the deep current of discontent against Washington insiders and an evangelical President.  Surely, every individual can cherish their own personal religious beliefs—it’s a free country—but they can at the same time keep God out of government to the benefit of all Americans, be we Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or atheists, and we are all of these now..

Food for thought Republicans:  Uncomfortably united, you were bound to fall.  Divided, the best of you might stand.  You might also find yourself joined by “Independents” from other parties and different walks of life; note that there are more people registered as “Independents” today than ever before because they are fed up with both parties, people who bow to no political God and simply wish to get on with the secular business of governance that represents all citizens individually and inclusively but forces none. 

Art and culture critic Alexandra York is the author of FROM THE FOUNTAINHEAD TO THE FUTURE and Other Essays on Art and Excellence and CROSSPOINTS  A Novel of Choice.

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