“If a man is ambitious for power, he can have no better supporters than the poor: They are not worried about their own possessions, since they have none, and whatever will put something into their pockets is right and proper in their eyes.”
Gaius Sallustius Crispus (86-34 BCE) from Jugurthine War 86.3
The very earliest republics quickly figured out that the “great unwashed” were easily roused toward political goals if they were promised material rewards. Ambitious leaders in Sallust’s time took full advantage of the plebian courts, announcing plans to share the spoils of war with volunteer soldiers and redistribute public land to the poor, before discussing his intentions with the senate. Once the word of their promises had spread they could win positions of power with or without the blessing of the consuls or any other elected authority. They used the desperation of the poor as a political tool to gain power and authority. It was during times of economic hardship that both Germany and Yugoslavia fell under the authority of ambitious demagogues. There were many factors leading to the destruction and chaos that followed in each case but fascism seemed an easy answer, the only answer, at the time.
America is facing a similar economic crisis. The government was shut down for 16 days while the nation’s ability to pay its debts was held hostage by those opposed to health-care reform. Manufacturing jobs, which accounted for over 50% of American jobs in the 60s and 70s have been outsourced and replaced by service jobs that, on average, pay much less. I only have a vague understanding of how the deregulation of banks through the repeal of the Glass act allowed Wall Street to intentionally bet against its own investments and walk away smiling. It is enough to know there is a problem and that deregulation is not the answer. Unregulated capitalism will only continue to make the rich richer and poor poorer.
Many of the politicians responsible for the stand-off in the House of Representatives belong to what was a fringe group of ultra right-wing Christian Dominionists. They have used the malaise and dissatisfaction of the American public, in a campaign of deception, to reach for more power. Dominionists make several claims that have no historical merit or are based entirely on a myopic interpretation of the Bible (see part 2). They claim that America was founded as a Christian nation, a claim immediately exposed as false by reading many of the founding father’s writings, or simply by noting that the constitution fails to mention God entirely. They also claim that natural disasters and misfortune are the plight of a nation indulgent in sin. Sins like abortion, acceptance of homosexuality, and inter-racial marriage have all been labeled as the cause of various droughts, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Along with this very mystical worldview there is a natural mistrust of the educated and the informed. The world becomes polarized between “us” and “them,” the saved and the unsaved. Anything that is discordant with their Biblical view is interpreted as the work of evil forces. Opposition is painted as evil and associated with dictatorships, subversive plots, and conspiracy theories. Healthy rational debate becomes impossible when you believe you are fighting against supernatural evil powers. Politics must involve compromise.
Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.
Barry Goldwater, (1909–1998), five-term US Senator, Republican Party nominee for President in 1964*, Maj. Gen., US Air Force Reserves, author of The Conscience of a Conservative.
A pluralist society demands compromise and more than anything an informed public. America is no longer informed and, as illustrated in the shut down, is quickly losing the ability to compromise or even communicate effectively while the lower classes are fooled with mystical promises about the afterlife or an American-Christian utopia. People need to be informed, they need to know they are being preyed upon. They are being used for their numbers and their votes, and most of all what little money or influence they have; used to push an agenda that does not care about them, used like a virus to make more believers and spread the Gospel to anyone that will listen.
Here is a great article about Ted Cruz, an up-and-coming Republican leader whose background is soaked in dominion theory.
Look out for Dominionism Part two, coming soon.