One thing that the Bush Administration has been so very, very good at is using and exploiting people for their own ends. They have been shameless about it, playing the unity card one minute, and then hurling their one time friends under the bus the next. No political figure, party or group has been more politicized and exploited by the Bush Regime than the religious, namely the Christian right. Where they saw a fellow born again man of God, Bush and his team saw idiots who could win them elections, toe the line and fight the opposition on any issue. They saw pawns that only had to be rewarded with more neo-conservative policies and practices already favoured by the Bush Drones.
The exploitation of the religious right by the George Bush and his handlers has been an on going experiment. It was they that helped win him the Governorship of Texas back in the ‘90s. Most of them couldn’t have cared less about his conservative policies, the fact that he was an ex-alcoholic now born again warrior for Christ was enough for them. The fact that he was in favour of rewarding rich white people – people he called friends – while also being a Biblical literalist who thought that the death penalty was important to utilise and that evolution and global warming were ‘theories’ just sat perfectly with the lambs of God, the flock of sheep, that swallowed his drivel hook line and sinker.
His first (illegal) election was not, largely, due to the Christian voting, but following 9/11, his drawing of the line in the sand of history, proclaiming that the threat the nation faced was nothing more than a case of good vs evil, repeatedly using phrases like ‘crusade’, and underscoring that the America that believed in freedom, Christ and faith was under threat bought the once fringe idiots of the extreme right of evangelicalism to the forefront of their communities, with the tone that they had been preaching for years now being echoed by the most powerful man in the world.
Next came the ‘faith based intiatives’, the abstinence only sex education programs, the repeated attempts to have creationism taught in science classes and the horror of boys kissing boys. As Bush’s support grew in the wake of 9/11, he and his acolytes began to roll out a litany of strict, conservative policies, that found support in one of the most vocal, overzealous and combative areas of the country; the Christian right. It was this kind of forward thinking from Bush’s election guru Karl Rove that allowed them to roll perfectly into the 2004 elections. Despite the catastrophic failure that the Iraq War had turned into – even at that point – Rove’s concept of pushing ‘traditional American values’ into a battle with ‘elitist, liberal, progressive reformers’ that wanted to do away with everything that America was built on, and pushing gay marriage as a hard issue to battle on, worked perfectly. Bush was re-elected, and then the shit really hit the fan.
The horror of the bungling of Katrina, the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, the scandals involving Scooter Libby, Mark Foley and Ted Haggard, the continual misery coming out of Iraq, none of these things could dent the unwavering support that Bush and company maintained from the religious right. The faithful flock of sheep fought Democrats on every issue they could, whether it benefited the country or not. Torture was a good thing, illegal, warrantless wiretapping was a necessity. George Bush was a good, Christian man who would stand up for God. True to the nature of the extremely religious, they never looked below the surface.
The promises of an outlaw on gay marriage never happened, the idea that prayer would be re-established in schools never materialised. It came to light – and this shows how truly cynical and exploitative Bush’s lackeys were – that Karl Rove, the architect of the Bush Presidency, was an atheist. He didn’t believe in any of these causes, but he knew that playing to this audience of over a hundred million would keep him, his friends and his boss in power.
And what is America left with? What has been the knock on effect around the world? A resurgence of extreme right wing religious values in Christian nations. In this country we have seen theatre shows cancelled and the rise of faith schools, spearheaded by our ex Prime Minister, the formerly Christian, now Catholic Anthony Blair. In America the resurgence of religious right has been far more alarming, with widespread intolerance for alternate lifestyles, religions and viewpoints rising with almost militant ferocity in many red states. We see things like Proposition 8 passing in California, the outright outlawing of same sex marriage in states like Florida, repeated attempts to change school boards and curriculum’s, and even attempts to repeal/challenge Roe vs Wade, the lawsuit that legalized a woman’s right to have an abortion in America.
Bush and his cronies have exploited the religious, feeding their fervour, their paranoia and their conviction that they are the only ones who are right. It has coloured American thinking, American policy and American interests abroad. It has, in effect, opened up a Pandora’s box, that will not be quietly closed. Those that were once the fringes of nutty religious society are now the mainstream, with tens of thousands of followers. They attack, relentlessly, until they get their way. They have been led to believe, by Bush and his attack dogs, that they are in a war for their own survival and the survival of the America they love, and they are too gullible, too eager to swallow the misinformation, double speak and lies of the President that they adore, to look at the obvious facts, and the truth and realise that they have been exploited for nothing more than an easy vote.
American culture has been thrown to the wolves, left to fight for its survival in the face of resurgent religious extremists who want a theocracy established in their lifetime. Those that believe in freedom, liberty and equality have been left to fight this battle, all because encouraging these psychopaths, this American Taliban, was an easy way to get public support and faithful votes. Once again, America’s future was up for sale, it was the needs of little George and his minders that came first.