The Republican Moral Model: Are We Good or Evil?

Principles are part but not the complete answer to the question of what draws people to one party or the other. A more complete answer must lie at a deeper level;  a level that is not apparent upon casual observation.

Why?  Because it must be powerful enough to have people ignore their own interests and remain loyal.  And it must be powerful enough to defy conventional logic; for instance, that social justice is an anathema to Christian principles.  By now you must know that I’m questioning the power of the Republican Party to keep loyal supporters when rational analysis fails.

Among other reasons, I think one lies in an understanding of the concepts of good and evil in the world.  How we think of good and evil can open the door to some pretty serious mischief.  To be more specific, I believe a general principle in the Republican moral model is that good and evil exist as an irreducible feature of the universe and as such are autonomous forces, not simply assessments of individual actions and/ or events.

In my opinion, good and evil are judgments made by observers.  They are the observer’s assessments, not attributes of the observed.  Good and evil are not autonomous forces.  They do not exist independently of human values.  They are social conventions that artificially delineate behavior in a society .

An example in Christian theology that might help to explain my point is belief in Satan.  Belief in Satan says that he is the personification of evil as an autonomous force in the universe.  In other words, God and the Devil are representations of something autonomous called good and evil.  The mischief starts when we categorize people into either/or classifications.

For instance, when Bush called three countries, “the axis of evil” he was assessing and condemning entire nations of people because they failed to meet our criteria for being “good”.  When their theocrats call us, “the great Satan”, they are doing the same thing.  These are blanket condemnations that require a belief in the existence of an autonomous evil that can be assigned to a total nation of people.

A belief in these principles complicates the process of developing strategies for solving complex world problems.  A case in point: Think about our present problems with North Korea and how we classify each other.

This is why I am so anti-Republican in principle. The fundamental paradigm of the Republican moral model is that good and evil are autonomous.  Once on the side of good, the rest of the world can be judged an enemy. Among other reasons, the Republican Party and the extreme religious right are attracted to each other  because they share this moral model; the view of a world that can be divided into good and evil.

Think about it. In practical terms, once a born-again Christian accepts Jesus as his personal savior, he moves into the good category as long as he doesn’t retract his acceptance. And once a Republican passes the litmus test of toeing the party line, he moves into the good category as long as he doesn’t stray. This is why NJ Governor Chris Christie has fallen out of favor with his own party. And the only viable Republican presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, didn’t make it through the primary.

I’m convinced that this is why the GOP attracts so many people whose practical interests they don’t serve.  At a subliminal level, it affirms their values and consequently it affirms them.

History is revealing in this regard: President Bush characterized the wars in the Mideast as “wars between good and evil”.  President Reagan called the Soviet Union, “the evil empire” and us “the shining city on a hill.”  Donald Rumsfeld’s presidential daily war briefings had Biblical quotes on the cover pages suggesting that God and good were on our side.  All one needs to do is to tune-in to a right-wing commentator to hear his or her assessment of good and evil people to validate my point.

Have you ever wondered why Fox News has the highest ratings and left-wing radio has never been very successful? Of course, Fox claims that everyone else is left-wing radio but I suspect it might be because left-wing commentators fail when they copy the right-wing methods.  The idea of an autonomous good and evil and the resultant categorization of people doesn’t appeal to most liberals.  It simply doesn’t affirm their moral model.

The Libs I know are more inclined to judge others individually, except when they’re pro-lifers or corporate executives. Forgive me. I know this is a generalization. But I don’t ask you to believe me.  As you listen to and read the news with these distinctions in mind, you will decide for yourself.

A final thought: When you classify someone as evil, what possibilities remain?

Robert DeFilippis

Author: The Blue Route

What say you, the people?