Over the years I have written extensively about what I call the “Rightward Imperative and the Republican Party.” The “Rightward Imperative” is the movement ever rightward of Republican politicians, from the presidential level to the lowliest, if they have any serious interest in getting elected. The Rightward Imperative sometimes focuses on the real issues that are at the center of the Republican ideology, policies and programs. For example, Eric Cantor lost his Congressional seat because he wasn’t tough enough on spending and taxes.
Indeed, he was “Tea Partied.” (Yes, indeed, most U.S. have never met a noun that they did not want to verb.) But more often than not the Rightward Imperative focuses on the mis-named “social issues,” which are really the issues of religious dogmatism and authoritarianism, racism and xenophobia.
As I said, in the column cited above, Ronald Reagan initiated the historical stream of GOP-led right-wing reaction which we now see in front of us, every day. They do have real policies which have underlain the Party’s programs since that time. As is well-known, the GOP represents major sectors of the US economy: the extractive/fossil-fuel industries, the military industrial complex, the prison-industrial complex, corporate agriculture, the “health” insurance and pharmaceutical industries, and of course corporate and “investment” finance.
But they could, and hardly can, run on a platform of “let the oil and coal companies do whatever they want to,” “we want the rich to get richer, donchaknow,” “we want to export as much American capital overseas where it can make larger profits than it can here, so we really want to de-industrialize our country,” “we don’t care about the health of the American people but we do care about the profits of the health care industry,” “we would like to have permanent war if we can get it,” “we want to completely convert the US economy from industrial capitalism to finance capitalism,” and so on and so forth.
And thus, their real policies have included (see Pretty Boy Ryan, himself a true Far-Rightist): further tax cuts for the rich; creating ever-widening income and wealth gaps; reducing environmental, transportation, workplace, finance, and etc. regulation to the greatest degree possible; further facilitating the export of capital; promoting the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War economy; the abolition of Social Security and the tattered remains of the “welfare” system, and so on and so forth.
And so here came Donald Trump. He may be poorly educated, poorly informed, and possessed of little knowledge about how the extremely complicated U.S. government actually works, but he is a great huckster. He also understood well the Rightward Imperative. Whether or not he consciously set out to employ it, he has proved himself (by lucky instinct) a master of the craft, beginning of course with the “Birtherism Hoax” of which he was the leading perpetrator in the run-up to the 2012 election. To be sure, he is not himself much with the underlying dogmas of the Religious Right, but he surely has known how important it is to get there in appearance if you want to get the Repub. nomination.
And so he did, starting with his Liberty University speech. You may recall that even though he revealed that really doesn’t know the Bible that well, using a mis-citation, it was the content of what he said that enthralled the crowd, and then a much wider audience on the Religious Right. He did it so well, that he swamped the collection of true Religious Rightist Dominionists who had entered the primaries, which included Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Marco Rubio. He has now capped this particular march to the Religious Right by hooking up with Mike Pence. This guy is a genuine religious rightist: a total homophobe who also sponsored highly restrictive abortion legislation. He is also ranked as the Most Conservative Governor in the nation.
This guy wants to use the force of the law to allow holders of one religious view to deny civil and public rights to persons of another religious view. And yes folks, that is exactly what the Pences of this word would do: set one religious view against another, with the state standing behind the first against the second. In the 16th century people slaughtered each other over the issue of whether the wine and wafer of Communion are really the blood and body of Christ, or just symbolic thereof. In the 4th through the 6th centuries, in the region of the Byzantine Empire, people slaughtered each other over the issues of whether Christ was uni-, bi- or tri-partite (the Monophysite Controversy) or whether Christ was really Godlike or rather a totally remarkable human being: the “Arian Controversy.” This is what the Mike Pences of this world would lead us to.
Other examples of the Rightward imperative were on full display at the Convention.
- A Trump advisor, New Hampshire State Rep. Al Baldasaro, calling for the execution (presumably without trial) of Hillary Clinton for the Benghazi affair.
- Ben Carson linked Hillary Clinton to “Lucifer” (which I believe is another name for the devil, no? Of course, there is no proof of any kind that whatever the being is called he, she or it really exists, for the Carsons of the world it does.) He then used that opportunity to promote on national television the Religious Rights’ canard that the U.S. is a ”Christian Nation” (even though the words “Christian” or “God” appear nowhere in the Constitution.
- A pastor with a direct relationship with Trump used his shot at an invocation to make a political speech supporting him. In it, he happened to call upon “God” to defeat (or maybe it was help defeat) Hillary Clinton and the Democrats. It happens that this man is an African-American fronting for this racist party. One wonders how African-Americans can do this — and there are a few — until one knows that in the early days of Nazism there were Jews who supported Hitler. (As there are Jewish plutocrats today funding rabid Nazi militia groups in the Ukraine. History contains many ugly and even shocking surprises.).
- Chris Christie devoted most of his speech to demonizing Hillary Clinton personally (another element of the Rightward Imperative). It’s a sure bet that if Trump winds and appoints Christie as his Attorney General (a real possibility), the latter’s first move will be to fire the current FBI director and his second to seek an indictment of Clinton for a wide variety of offenses. (Indeed, in that way we would be becoming Turkey.) Of course Christie is already running for the 2020 Repub. nomination, should Trump lose, as are Rubio, Cruz and Pretty Boy Ryan.
- Finally here (and there are many more examples one could cite) there’s the Republican Party Platform. While the Repubs., as I have said, are already running on three words, Benghazi, Emails, and Clinton (including, or perhaps featuring, Bill who, I don’t believe is running for President), Clinton might do well just to run against the Republican Platform.
The nomination of Donald Trump is the, so far, furthest projection of the Rightward Imperative. He is running openly, without the usual “dog whistles,” on racism, xenophobia, religious determinism, religious prejudice, Islamophobia, authoritarianism. (Funnily enough, he is against, or seems to be against, certain bedrock Republican principles like “free trade” and the export of capital. However, the Repubs. can live with that for, if Trump wins, the Congress will be more Rightist than ever and such legislation would never stand a chance of passage. Since, as his campaign chairman tells us, he would function more like the Chairman of the Board rather than the CEO [who would be Pence], this wouldn’t make too much difference to him.) If indeed Trump does win, and he very well might, in part because the apparent Democratic nominee is so personally damaged by the email controversy, as well as politically compromised, it will the prime example of how the use of the Rightward Imperative can propel the least qualified major party candidate ever in the United States into the most powerful position in the world. If that happens, gotta give it, and him, credit, for, if the Convention is any example, it sure wouldn’t have been done on policies and programs.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being Senior Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed News.com; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. He is the Editorial Director and a Contributing Author for TPJ magazine.us. Further, he is an occasional Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, BuzzFlash Commentary, and Dandelion Salad.
Dr. Jonas’ latest book is Ending the “Drug War”; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach (Punto Press, 2016). His last political title was the provocative The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel, Brewster, NY, Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, and available on Amazon.