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The Hard Right: "I'll take my Darwinism without the evolution, please."


"When I die, I hope to go to Heaven, wherever the Hell that is." -- Ayn Rand, (1905-1982)


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It's been said that doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is its twin brother.   This seems particularly relevant these days since, although many hard right conservatives are likely to characterize their lifestyles as "faith" based, it seems doubtful that very many truly see themselves as "thy brother's keeper."   In fact, it's probably safe to bet against the propspect of Jesus being the primary focal point of their inspiration.   In seeking guidance, the odds are that many of these hard-right faith-shouters would be more likely to ask: What would Ayn Rand do?  

That's certainly one way to answer questions that have arisen from some shamelessly callous audience behavior that has taken place during several of this year's Republican presidential debates.   Judging from this behavior, it is quite likely that were she alive today to view the debates, Rand -- one of the conservative movement's patron saints -- could have indulged in several moments of personal vindication arising out of the ruthless homage paid to the traits of social Darwinism that underlie the Russian-born novelist/philosopher's fundamental rejection of "ethical altruism" -- philosopher lingo for something you or I'd probably call: concern for your fellow man.

Actually, it's quite easy to envision Rand -- whose erudite promotion of laissez-faire capitalism has made her the stalwart heroine to many of today's "free-market" conservatives -- being surrounded and high-fived by debate attendees and the candidates following each of a series of fiercely shallow responses to issues involving the humane treatment of fellow Americans.   But for the moment, let's move away from Rand and further into the subject of the GOP presidential debates.

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As many have predicted, they have turned out to be little more than a political dog and pony show presented for the purpose of providing regular opportunities for Republicans to grovel at the feet of America's narrowest, yet most hyper-energized and cringe-worthy voter base; the hard right, quasi-evangelical, Constitution-thumping Tea Party Patriots.  

And indeed, without question, these debates have -- wittingly, or perhaps, dim-wittedly -- served as the stage for the flagrant unveiling of the Jerry Springer --type makeover undergone by the Republican Party since its aggressive takeover by hard right Tea Party groups. In the process they've providing further insight into some of the strange realities that are part of what the hard right considers its American nirvana.

It's almost never a good idea to generalize; therefore the focus is on the extreme right-wing segment of the GOP base -- henceforth identified as "Tea Party conservatives" -- that has made its presence known at the debates.   It's a segment that, by its behavior during these events, has routinely conveyed a perspective about American society which seems to challenge human nature.   Specifically, it is the obvious lack of concern displayed by Tea Party conservatives for the wellbeing of their fellow Americans that some might interpret as an abnormal , even un-American view of America's societal model; a view that seems to closely resemble what some might call social Darwinism.

Outside of the easily-anticipated roars of approval for any kind of harsh, anti-Obama, or anti-federal government rhetoric, also witnessed during these debates was the perhaps unexpected enthusiasm that marked the cheers for death; the graceless boos directed at active-duty members of our armed forces; the abject disdain for the American-born children of the undocumented; and the exuberant support for the idea of allowing sick Americans who are uninsured to simply die if unable to pay for their own healthcare.

Certainly for the non-Tea Party segment of the Republican base, the heartless dispassion that undermines the overt passion exhibited by the boorish insensitivity of their extreme right brethren, illustrates how completely the GOP model exploited by George W. Bush -- that of a party of compassionate conservatives -- has been turned on its head by the Tea Party conservatives now controlling the party.   As a result, the debates have become a dire spectacle of mean-spirited one-up-man-ship leading some observers to question whether ours is an empire whose culture, at least politically, is in stark decline.

"I must say," stated MIT Professor Noam Chomsky in a recent interview published in Death and Taxes magazine, "that politics in this country now is in a state that I think has no analogue in American history and maybe nowhere in any parliamentary system.   It's astonishing."

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A "Turd" blossoms

As is generally the case, Chomsky is on to something. It's almost hard to believe that it's been less than a decade since Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry asked Republican John McCain to contemplate becoming his running mate.   As partisan as the political climate was during that period -- the height of the Bush era -- American society apparently wasn't so deeply polarized that the thought of a candidate of either party proposing such collaboration could be judged as an act of political euthanasia.    However, in today's political climate, one can only imagine the fallout that would ensue were President Obama to suggest, for example, that he's considering replacing Joe Biden with someone like Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown as his 2012 running mate.

Meanwhile, who might have predicted that even the GOP's perhaps most influential power-broker, Karl Rove, would, at this point, find himself in a weepy, "who the bleep did I marry?" sense of appall at the bottom-feeder status of so many of his party's not-ready-for-primetime presidential candidates?    But it's for a good reason; outside of the country's shallow Tea Party base, the vast majority of the GOP presidential candidates are completely unelectable.  

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)

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