Progressive Writers Bloc

American Theocracy

By Bill Becker

Bill BeckerJuly 10, 2006. Now that the primary election is over, let me make an early appeal to all voters who are represented by a Republican in the House of Representatives to send him or her packing in the November mid-term election. It does not matter how nice, how decent, or even how competent that Republican legislator may be; he or she is a loyal foot soldier in the Republican Party coalition, currently the most dangerous threat our beloved republic faces.

As my favorite humorist, Dave Barry, likes to say: I am not making this up. But don’t take my word for it. Instead, read Kevin Phillips’s new book: American Theocracy — The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money. Phillips’s credentials are impeccable: his first book, The Emerging Republican Majority (1969) catapulted him to fame and a position as a major Republican Party strategist. Not much later, though, Phillips became disillusioned with the Republican coalition. He now calls it The Erring Republican Majority.

In his Preface to American Theocracy, Phillips introduces the reader to “the three major perils to the United States of the twenty-first century”: “reckless dependency on shrinking oil supplies, a milieu of radicalized (and much too influential) religion, and a reliance on borrowed money—debt, in its ballooning size and multiple domestic and international deficits.”

Phillips continues: “Despite pretensions to motivations such as liberty and freedom, petroleum and its geopolitics have dominated Anglo-American activity in the Middle East for a full century.” (Yes, Virginia, the invasion of Iraq really was about oil, just as you thought. Iraq’s oil reserves are virtually untapped, and the real goal of the invasion was a “military base-cum-oil reservoir” in the Middle East. For the U.S. energy sector, control of Iraqi oil would add a few more years’ delay of serious efforts to develop alternatives to oil, and billions of dollars to the bottom line.)

Nor is Phillips kind to America’s fundamentalist, born-again religious sector, well represented in Washington by President Bush and the top layers of Republican leadership. “... the last two presidential elections mark the transformation of the GOP into the first religious party in American history.” And not for the good: Citing the condom promotion usually included with "abstinence only" education for Third World youth, the U.S. refused to support the International Planned Parenthood Foundation and the UN Population Fund. Europe and Britain filled the “decency gap.”

Finally, Phillips discusses the “rapid ballooning of government, corporate, financial, and personal debt over the last four decades.” He quotes from The Indebted Society:

“Since 1980, firms, politicians and others have regularly used debt to rationalize conduct that has been damaging to workers and to the poor. ... Debt, directly or indirectly, has decayed the very soul of America.”

The financialization of their economies brought massive debt to the Netherlands and to Great Britain, and led ultimately to their downfall as world powers. The U.S. will not likely escape the same fate if we persist in our foreign-financed spending spree.

Phillips’s last words:

“... I have been ... writing about the emerging Republican coalition for about half a century now. I particularly regret this latest evolution under the two Bush presidents, and my last three books—Wealth and Democracy (2002), American Dynasty (2004), and American Theocracy (2006)—could be said to represent a trilogy of indictments, something I never imagined when I began writing The Emerging Republican Majority back in 1966.”

Read American Theocracy. Join me in November, and let’s give our Republican representatives a chance to become real entrepreneurs in the real world. They could use the education.

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