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Understanding the Republican Mindset

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    1) Joshua Holland, Moyers and Company, October 5, 2013: To Understand the Shutdown You Have to Grasp the Mindset of the GOP Base

    2) Democracy Corps, October 3, 2013: Inside the GOP, Report on Focus Groups with Evangelical, Tea Party, and Moderate Republicans

    Bill Moyers website above has an interesting article by Joshua Holland referencing the above report by Democracy Corps in which they conducted focus group meetings to better understand the mindset of three different groups that identify themselves as Republicans: Evangelicals, Tea Party, and Moderates. The group discussions were conducted in Raleigh, North Carolina (moderate and Tea Party), Roanoke, Virginia (Tea Party and Evangelical), and Colorado Springs, Colorado (Moderate and Evangelical).

    Holland's summary of the report peaked my interest and I followed the link into the 30 page Democracy Corps report to get even more in-depth understanding. The report is easy reading and if you have the time I encourage you to read it. Otherwise Holland's summary will sufice. I'll extract a few key observations.

    For the Evangelicals interviewed, social issues dominate their thinking, but homosexuality is their defining issue and threat. They also have strong condemnation for President Obama and liberals in general. They have a deep disdain for President Obama, calling him a liar, manipulator, socialist, worst President in history, and un-American. They associate and identify with the Tea Party because they are the ones fighting back against the Democrats.

    The Tea Party is largely libertarian and their core members do not focus on the social issues that drive the Evangelicals. Rather their hot buttons are big government, Obama, the loss of liberty, and decline of responsibility. They view "Obama’s America is an unmitigated evil based on big government, regulations, and dependency." The Tea Party especially loves Fox News. "It's the only news channel I watch."

    The Moderates express deep concern with the direction of the country is taking economically. Their principal focus is market based economics, small government, and eliminating waste and inefficiency. Unlike the Evangelicals, they are largely open to progressive social policies, including on gay marriage and immigration. Not surprisingly many have disdain for the Tea Party calling them idiots, extreme and a little wacky. They also have a hard time taking Fox News seriously. Many moderates outright reject Fox News as a news channel: “It tells about as much truth as like Jerry Springer does now."

    There is much more in the report covering their differing views on a host of issues including Climate Change. As Holland reports,"Fear of a changing society is one thing that unites all three factions. The battle over Obamacare, write the study’s authors, “goes to the heart of Republican base thinking about the essential political battle.”"

    I have to admit that many of the expressed views of the Moderates were somewhat surprising to me. Their disdain and contempt in some cases for the other two factions was openly expressed, yet when it comes to party loyalty they will vote in unison. I just wonder how far they'll go in the lead-up to the debt ceiling default.
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    I think it comes down to being the only white guy courting a rednecks daughter now a days ...sounds simple but its true! its deeper than it sounds ..even though im drunk and well ill draw graphs and start reaction polls at dawn
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    For anyone that has taken the effort to read the actual quotes of Tea Partiers, Evangelicals and Moderates participating in the Democracy Corps focus group meetings, you might be shocked at not only the ignorance and misinformation, but also the underlying HATE for President Obama. Their minds have been so taken over (dare I say brain washed) that they are incapable of critical thinking.

    Here's just one example of how they view President Obama:

    "When they watch a TV video of President speaking on the Affordable Care Act, the Evangelical women in Colorado Springs wrote down some pretty harsh and dismissive things: “Spin Dr” and “Chronic liar”; “fake”; “lies”; “just a speech”; “liar,” “bullshit.” But the moderate men there were almost indistinguishable: “He could grow some items with the B/S he is spewing”; “Lies, lies, Lies, Lies, Lies!!!!!!!”; “lies,” “disregards real facts”; “Socialism,”
    “Lies, Lies, Lies”; “Health care lies."

    The Evangelicals especially seem to endorse the Birthers: "I don’t believe he’s a Christian. He’s a tyrant." "Not a US citizen. Supports Terrorists." "He supports everything that is against Christianity." "He is going to try to turn this into a communist country."

    There are many other extracts on other subjects, and the hate for Obama is really evident. I mean these Christian evangelicals (as well as the Tea party) really really hate him with a passion.

    So the question that has always puzzled me for years is how is it that good Christian folks can be taught to hate our president so strongly? I know Fox News and Rush Limbaugh feed the hate, but this hatred has deeper roots. Is it mostly racial? Granted some of it is their hatred for the "homosexual lifestyle" and Obama's agenda to find more equality for gays has struck a strong chord with many evangelicals.

    I admit to being dumbstruck by the findings in these focus groups even to the point of wondering if they are representative of these groups as a whole. If they are, then I can certainly understand why President Obama is having such a hard time getting any of his agenda passed.

    I do believe now that with the shutdown and debt ceiling, some of these people would be happy to destroy our economy and social infrastructure rather than give any support to President Obama. They appear to me to be ignorant fools and bigots.

    Comments invited...

    PS - I should add that I live in Colorado Springs and I know some Christian Evangelicals...good honest people...and they don't appear to me to hate like those in the focus group hate. At least maybe in my presence. Perhaps it's a different story when they get together in a group of think-a-likes.
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    It sounds like you like me found out that BLIND HATRED is the steam behind the engine running our country into the brick wall. These people don't even try to see the truth and it is obvious they only watch Fox. (so-called fair and balanced). Watched O'riely yell and call a senator who disagreed with him trying to be loud enough to block anyone from hearing wha the Sen was saying.. Funny definition of fair and balanced.
    The sad thing is these Traitors have even corrupted the supreme court getting them to reduce the voting rights act despite all the evidence of voter ubstruction in the last two elections. Beware the R Gov's are causing recall elecitons of dem senators so they can possibly get control of the senate as well as the Congress. Watch the Repub gov's they are dangerous to our democracy.

    We need a way to impeech congressmen.!! and a way to stop raises and reduce their pay and exspense accts. Just saw NJ is having to fill and empty senate seat. Pray it is Dem.

    As for the debt ceiling Repubs are LYING to the people who don't really know how this works that defaulting would be "no big deal". Are they looking for CHina to take over our country. They are the ones who started borrowning from China, selling US businesses by; the ;thousands to China, No wonder they are talking about no minimum wage, THe Congress from Texas thinks people should be glad to work for 2-3 dollars and hour!!! Did it ever occur to the radical rich that if people were paid a "LIVING WAGE" the need for food stamps would decrease.?? BUut see the greed of the CEO, and owners won't allow them to consider this fact. THEY WANT TO KEEP THE POOR POOR, THEY DON'T DESERVE THE "AMERICAN DREAM". pEOPLE like the Koch Bros want the american dream only for themselves. After all hundreds of miillions is still not enough money for them. Do they think they can spend it in HELL?? THe BIble says it is harder for a rich man to enter into heaven than going through the eye of a needle. Wonder who He was talking to.

    Must not forget to say a BIG THANK YOU to those good "rich " people who have generously sent money for Head Start and for the Death benefits of our fallen soldiers. YOu didn't hear the tea party pawns offering to make anything better for anyone but themselves.

    We can not stop watching these traitors even if this crisis is solved because they WILL commit voter fraud in anyway they can so they can take SS, medicare, medicaid and an;y other social svs. if we do not STOP THEM.
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    Schmidt, that's some good information, though not news to me.

    I think it is useful to also consider one of the basic differences between Republicans and Democrats.

    Republicans believe legislators and policy makers should act and legislate to enable ambitious, successful people to become as wealthy as they can, without government "interference," reasoning that their great wealth will benefit the whole country and all the people.

    Democrats, on the other hand, believe that we must legislate to make the vast majority prosperous, because widespread prosperity will benefit the whole country in many ways.

    In the 1980s Ronald Reagan and the Neo-Conservatives revived the Randian ideology, touting “free enterprise and free markets” and claiming that “big government” was antithetical to freedom. But, unfortunately, all that was propaganda and rhetoric designed to make the American people forget or ignore the lessons of history, and forget or ignore how and why Laissez-Faire government had almost brought about the ruination of America before Roosevelt saved it in the 1930s and ‘40s.

    That is why real Democrats and real Christians believe in Jeffersonian Democracy and Roosevelt's New Deal, because they abide by the Golden Rule. Real Democrats and real Christians believe that government must promote the general welfare, ensure justice for all, and properly and sufficiently regulate and oversee big businesses, corporations and banks; that we must provide an adequate safety net to provide for those who need financial assistance and other care; and that we must legislate to make the vast majority prosperous, because widespread prosperity will benefit the whole country in many ways.

    It is crystal clear to me how and why current Republicans violate the intent of the Founders of America, as well as the intent of Jesus. And, sad to say, it is also clear to me that most Democrats have been so intimidated by Reaganism that they are failing to do what they should do.

    For those interested in this point of view, see Partisan Politics: The Best Way to Determine Leadership, Or a Corrupt, Failed System?
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    Guy Dwyer --

    First it's good to see you post again. I hope you are doing well. We missed your commentary, but you have certainly made up for it in your very comprehensive and thought provoking essay on partisan politics in America. I read the entire document and agree with most all of it, although as you know I'm a little less critical of President Obama than you are. Nevertheless, you have brought up many many valid points for thought and discussion. I'm going to go through it again and comment on a few sections that I think are especially important, but mostly reinforcing what you said. But not tonight as I don't have time right now. I'll share my thoughts tomorrow.

    Thanks again for coming back on the website and sharing this.
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    The only Christians responsible for the shut down are the" King James " subscribers. The Tea Party is of Baptist beliefs. In this denomination you can kill Doctors in order to save unborn children...only to deny them any benefits at the moment of birth. The Right-to-life-party praise former president Reagan's Christian values,,,,,,forgetting that Mr. Reagan used astrology to determine the days in which he'd make major decisions.

    Thomas Jefferson was not a Christian. Ben Franklin stated that "lighthouses served better purposes than churches". Ben Franklin was not a Christian. Seperation of church and state originated from the fact that people FLED Europe to escape church persecution. That persecution would not be tolerated in the new country.

    Our founding fathers suffered and struggled. They understood sacrifice. George Washington at any time could have seized power and proclaimed himself KING of the United States...and would have succeeded. Do you see any of our politicians today doing the same thing Washington did???

    That's the difference.
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    If ever any of you want good entertainment and a history lesson at the same time.... I suggest 1776 (Mc Collough-author) and 1812 (David Nevin)
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    Many years ago I read a book entitled "Tensions In American Puritanism", which I believe goes to the heart of the matter. It speaks of two distinct strains in Evangelical thought. The doctrine of predestination versus justification by faith. Those who adhered to the doctrine of predestination believed that an all knowing all powerful God has preordained who is damned and who is saved. Any attempt to get God to change "His" mind is futile. The job of humans is to acertain God's will and determine who amongst them are the elect. With the coming rapture all the elect will gather at the "...shining city on the hill..." (Ronald Reagan cribbing Jonothan Edwards sermon) to make it easier for God to see them and swoop them up. It is not an inclusive theology.

    Here is the key for then and today: How do you figure out who is damned and who is saved?

    Well the method chosen by the Puritans was material success with the reasoning that God would favor those he had predestined to save. You were also required to have a conversion experience where you spoke to God and "He" let you know you were good to go. Church membership; Property Ownership; the ability to vote; were all tied to this creed in early Boston.

    Then there were those who believed in justification by faith. A person who accepted Jesus as their savior could be saved regardless of previous sins; social position; or material properity.

    Flash forward to today: The strains of Calvinism seep through in some parts of the Evangelical movement. Much of it unknown to many of it's practitioners. It's pervasive but largely undefined. But it does win the psychological war on reason by tautological definition.

    Here is where I take a leap:
    If there is a Calvinist core to the extreme wings of the Evangelical movement, then any social program designed to lift people up is seen as an attempt to thwart All Mighty God's will and must be stopped at all costs by this small cadre of the elect. Therefore, voter suppression efforts; anti-racial integration; anti-equality for women; blocking access to birth control and abortion(to name a few); are seen as an attempt to support Gods plan.
    Conversely any attempt to mitigate the harsh consequences of our economic and social order is seen as the work of the devil and must be stopped as though your eternal soul depended on it.

    I'm not a person of faith myself but I know many Christains who are horrified by this. So the Antinomian Armenian conflict is with us to this day and any analysis of the Evangelical mindset would be well served to take this into account.
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    Up until high school I was raised as a Roman Catholic, I became involved in some youth violence not as bad as to/days youth but nonetheless frowned upon back then, I joined the service to avoid further contact with the authorities, I was sent to rather unpleasant places, when I returned home , I still wasn't a religious person, I believed in God, I just didn't worship him on Sundays or any other day for that fact, it wasn't until 8 years ago that I had my moment, not quite as profound as Saul/Paul's moment, but profound for me, since then I have found a certain sense of calm and many of my anger issue's have been put to bed, I don't preach to others because of my uncertain knowledge of all of the Scriptures, I would be afraid that my lack of knowledge would turn someone ,who is on the cusp of disbelieving, into a non-believer, that being said, all that you have mentioned in your post no longer resonates with me because I found my place of solace . I believe everyone should have a place of comfort, a zone if you will, where they can go and become more stress free and not feel weighted down by every day problems.
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    From my understanding.... Calvanism originates from the Scandinavian countries, or am I mistaking it for lutherism. I read somewhere that the Calvanists were the inventors of capitalism in that it was a sin to have they kept investing
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    Max Webers seminal work Protestantism and the Rise of Capitalism wherein he discussed the social/pyschological forces at play in creating the "Protestant Work Ethic" a phrase he coined. Much of his work was in response to Karl Marx written in the latter half of the 19th century. Various Protestant ideologies were surfacing in Europe and on to the New World during the 17th and 18th. John Calvins work was one of the very influential threads that made it's way to England.

    I'm not a religious scholar. I just happened to spend some time in this area as a History and Sociology major a long long time ago. I think it would be fair to say many perhaps most Protestants and Catholics do not subscribe to the doctrine of predestination (or have even heard of it) but it does help account for the intransigence of some Protestants on the religious right.
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    Mike Krechevsky Wrote: Max Webers seminal work Protestantism and the Rise of Capitalism wherein he discussed the social/pyschological forces at play in creating the "Protestant Work Ethic" a phrase he coined. Much of his work was in response to Karl Marx written in the latter half of the 19th century. Various Protestant ideologies were surfacing in Europe and on to the New World during the 17th and 18th. John Calvins work was one of the very influential threads that made it's way to England.

    I'm not a religious scholar. I just happened to spend some time in this area as a History and Sociology major a long long time ago. I think it would be fair to say many perhaps most Protestants and Catholics do not subscribe to the doctrine of predestination (or have even heard of it) but it does help account for the intransigence of some Protestants on the religious right.
    Predestination in getting its definition is associated with "free will". Albert Einstein (my deity) said that free will, or what we believe to be free will is nothing more than our animalistic responses to outside stimuli. Our brains don't "self actualize".

    The" right" are insane. Who in that party of weirdos is in charge of actually defining the new testament for them. How can a person claim to be part of a god cause and have no clue.??????

    I read the bible in prison. I was in the SHU for 2 years and and it was hard getting reading materials. They cannot deny a bible..... Now, in genesis, cain and abel are the sons of Adam and Eve. Cain kills abel. God asked cain.... where's your brother. Cain replies, " Don't know. I'm not my brothers keeper.....God says, You killed god "marks" cain, and kicks him out of Eden......KEEP IN MIND, there are only 4 human beings on earth at this time....Cain replies,..." you cannot do this because when others see me I'll be killed....WHAT OTHERS????

    The book of jubillees tries to address this issue by stating that Adam and Eve went on to have more daughters, and that an incestuous relationship between cain, abel, and these daughters produced all of us .......Bible scholars have announced that the book of jubilees is a fraud based on the date that the church claims that it was written. The book was written long after the 1st century. people back then questioned it. It was a response.

    Genesis isn't open to interpretation in that the cain and abel story,,,,, describes a specific event that took place. The parties, the issue and the location have all be given. This a factual event.

    Also....In order for anyone to call themselves "A JEW" one must practice Judaism.. Reading the bible I must conclude the Jesus was not a Jew. Jesus clearly in his message, his teachings, and even the miracles ,did not in any way practice Judaism. SO, if Jesus wasn't a Jew, what was he"?????
    Well, The 1st century GNOSTICS have a different description of Jesus. The Gnostics codices have been dated to the time that Jesus lived. Mathew, LUKE, PETER , and PAUL wrote about Jesus long after he was dead. They never knew Jesus. In Paul, There's really no mention of Jesus. Paul is promoting his views. He references Jesus briefly. As I read it it was clear that Paul had his own philosophy.
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    I have always had questions that nobody ever raises when discussing the new testament.....Also in Genesis in the first few pages, man was created in Gods image,,,but then,, a few pages later,,,, we came from the dirt,and god blew life into us......Which one is it???????

    When John the Baptist sat in jail waiting to be beheaded,,,,, he questions himself when he asked Jesus did he make a mistake in proclaiming that Jesus was in fact "the one". Clearly, as I understood it,,,, John the Baptist doesn't want to die. He questioned his own choice.

    Also, I'm no bible scholar....BUT....Anything that is immortal is a GOD. Christianity has two core foundations. 1. Monotheism (one god) and 2. That Jesus died on the cross for your sins. You must accept that in order to call yourself a Christian (Whatever denomination)

    THE DEVIL: Immortal, seems to be in the same weight class as God because he's yet to be defeated, and is the sole contributor to evil on earth.
    The devil does not meet the standards of the practice of Monotheism.

    The Trinity; To stay in the foundation of monotheism,,,,, then Jesus is God incarnate , not the son of god like many claim. There can be no other gods. LEVITICUS. So, God inserts himself into mary,,,,, Born only to allow himself to be murdered, and then goes to phase 3: the holy ghost

    AS I read the bible I did see references to the devil, but mainly, what would happen to you if you didn't follow Christ. You would then meet the devil personally. He's mentioned in the book of Job (as a better).....The devil and his evil deeds really doesn't make his entrance with us until about the Dark Ages.

    The Church during their 800 year run with the inquisitions and the witch hunts,,,,, along with an explanation to the masses regarding the plague. The Devil hits the seen. Since the Bible speaks of hell as a place for non-Christians, then the Devil (FEAR FACTOR) is promoted by the Church because the bad guy is needed to explain that our all loving God wasn't responsible for the bubonic plague, the measles, famine, and poverty.
    During the Dark Ages you better believe that people followed the bible. God was their only salvation through death. Life was almost meaningless during that period.
    As in the Trinity people questioned the existence of a god. I could only imagine what they went through.

    The mere fact that mary is mentioned as anointing the feet of jesus at his burial proves to me that she did live, and she was there....The Roman Catholic Church had absolutely no regard for women. They had to include her. IT was Pope Clement the 10th who proclaimed MARY to be a whore. There are no references to mary ever being a prostitute in the original scriptures. Women were killed for acting as midwives in the dark ages. Her presence is significant. The jews betrayed Jesus. Why??? He wasn't practicing judaism

    With all that said, this is the basis of my refusal to believe in god. I did in fact read the bible to find out what the big problem is. The Believers create the problem....I let history make the point for me.

    When the nag hammadi scriptures were deciphered (Gnostics) Mary is described as Jesus wife and assistant. There's even a description of her kissing his lips....this confirms to me why shes anointing his feet. The Gnostics in the book of judas state that Jesus asked Judas to betray him....Fulfilling his destiny. I cite these codices as proof that there were many different stories out there from other sources. The church decreed the codices as heretical (as expected) The codices talked about these events in the PRESENT....not in the past,,,,,along with carbon dating these codices pre date the new testament

    The BBC did an extensive and well done documentary on these codices,,,,,,found in a cave in 1945 in Israel, stolen and in private collection until returned
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    Sorry I miss-attributed the sermons of Jon Winthrop (ie. Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God) to Jon Edwards. I must have slept through the first Great Awakening. The good thing about Great Awakenings is that if you miss one, another one will come along about every 100 years.

    And how about that Half Way Convenant for the children of the Elect back in the 1700's. You didn't even need a conversion experience to be a member in good standing let alone getting saved. You inherited it. Waddacountry! I guess that was the model for the original affirmative action program for the children of alumni at Harvard et, al.. Nice.