“The Delusional Is No Longer Marginal”
Kevin Phillips has observed the long arc of the GOP’s rightward movement as closely as anyone. In 1968 he wrote The Emerging Republican Majority, which both forecast and offered strategy for the GOP to dominate national politics by using race and religion to retake southern states long allied with Democrats. In later years he became a leading critic of what this new Republican majority had created.
In his 2006 book, American Theocracy, Phillips describes three major pillars of the Republican Party of the 21st century: oil interests, radical religion, and Wall Street. He writes: “Over three decades … the Republican party has slowly become the vehicle of all three interests-—a fusion of petroleum-defined national security; a crusading, simplistic Christianity; and a reckless credit-feeding financial complex. The three are increasingly allied in commitment to Republican politics, if not all in full agreement with one another.”
The religious element has led to the growth of faith-based politics on the right: Not just inserting religion into politics, but a politics where belief trumps empirical evidence. Phillips notes, “In a late-2004 speech, the retiring television journalist Bill Moyers, himself an ordained Baptist minister, broke with polite convention. He told an audience at the Harvard medical school that ‘one of the biggest changes in politics in my lifetime is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seat of power in the Oval Office and in Congress. For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington.’”
Phillips continues, “These developments have warped the Republican party and its electoral coalition, muted Democratic voices, and become a gathering threat to America’s future. No leading power in modern memory has become captive, even a partial captive, of the sort of biblical inerrancy-—backwater, not mainstream-—that dismisses modern knowledge and science.”