Monday, June 20, 2005

Topic of the Week - Father's Day, Father George Bush and The Christian Right

Reflecting on Father's Day yesterday, it reminded me of George Lakoff's book "Don't Think of an Elephant" respective of the different value systems between The Christian Right Conservatives and basically the rest of the country. Specifically, the focus of The Christian Right on how to define morality and what is the one and only true definition of family (and government) specific to their values. Note - the following description of the value system of Conservatives and The Christian Right are not necessarily those of the Republican Party but of the conservative faction within the Republican Party who have permeated our government.

It is important to be aware of these beliefs as it relates to the family and politics. If you recall, some of the most vocal and mobile political organizations of The Christian Right are 'family' organizations; Focus on the Family (founded by James Dobson) and The American Family Research Council (Tony Perkins, President). The Christian Right's primary focus and intent is to define what 'family' is and exude this belief system through our political system. Lets detail their value system and how it relates to our President George Bush.

The strict father model is the basis of The Christian Right Conservatives and a list of their assumptions are as follows:

- The world is a dangerous place, and it always will be, because there is evil out there in the world.
- The world is also difficult because it is competitive and there will always be winners and losers.
- There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong as defined by the father (not mother) of the family.
- Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right, therefore they have to be made good.

What is needed, The Christian Right believe, is a strong strict father who can:

- Protect the family in this dangerous world
- Support the family in this dangerous world
- Teach the children right from wrong.

Lakoff continues "what is required of a child is obedience, because the strict father is the moral authority who knows right from wrong and obedience through punishment, painful physical punishment (spankings, sticks, belts, etc.) of their children when they do wrong. When children do something wrong, physical punishment teaches them not to repeat the wrongful behavior...this teaches them to act obedient and morally. Without such punishment, the world will go to hell and there will be no morality.

Such discipline has a secondary effect in that it is required for success in a competitive, difficult world. If people are disciplined and pursue their self interest in the land of opportunity, they will become prosperous and self reliant. Thus, the strict father model links morality with prosperity. This link is the pursuit of self-interest.

This is part of the reason why The Christian Right Conservatives are against nurturance and care. They are against social programs that take care of people. That is what they see as wrong. This is what they are trying to eliminate on moral grounds. It is not that The Christian Right are necessarily crazy, mean, stupid or greedy people as many of us believe...the scarier issue is that The Christian Right Conservatives believe morally that any social program is immoral, they believe the United States is the 'father' of the world, George Bush is the supreme father, and they believe in the moral pursuit of self-interest. People who have strict father morality who apply it to politics believe this is the only and right way to govern.

Sound or look familiar? Think about how this applies to "Father George Bush." The Christian Right Conservatives see George Bush as the symbol of their strict father morality. Both Bush and Conservatives see the the American people (and the world's people) as their children. Does a strict father ask their children what they should do or do they tell them? What the father says, the children do...and no back talk, complete obedience. Communication is only one-way. If you are a moral authority, you know what is right, you have power, and you use it. (i.e. Invasion of Iraq) George Bush and his regime, his Christian Right Conservative followers, see the United States as the moral authority of the world who knows the right thing to do and the rest of the world is to be obedient and follow along without questioning it.

Have you ever noticed during press conferences how George Bush speaks? He does not speak in 'we' terms, always 'I'...'I am going to cut social security,' 'I am going to lower taxes,' etc. -- this is the strict father morality. The 'father' makes the rules and it is not a 'we,' collaborative leadership. One of the many problems with this type of leadership is that America is a democracy, not an authoritarian regime...and we are not children, but we are adults.

Progressives, on the other hand, believe in a collaborative type of foundation for a family where both parents, not just the father, are involved in nurturing and directing their children - it is gender neutral. Both parents are equally responsible for raising their children. The assumption is that children are born good (not bad) and can be made better. Nurturance is defined as empathy and responsibility. Empathy requires protection...from drugs, environmental destruction, from poisonous additives in food, worker protection, consumer protection, disease protection and safety protection (crime, terrorism, etc.). Nurturance as responsibility in the form of you seek fulfillment and happiness in life, therefore it is your moral responsibility to be a happy, fulfilled person and it is your responsibility to teach your child how to be happy and fulfilled.

Are you beginning to see the difference in value systems between The Christian Right Conservatives and the rest of the population? Although much more complicated, the foundation of The Christian Right Conservatives is a strict father morality who defines what is right and what is wrong and unquestionably acts upon this definition. Do you see why Time Magazine entitled this growing momentum of values and beliefs as "Re-framing Reality" when naming Bush person of the year back in December?

Again, this is not necessarily what the Republican Party believes on a whole...but it is what this conservative regime believes...and acts upon. Approximately 1/3 of the population has this Christian Right/Conservative belief system...a minority but a powerful minority who helped put their "Father" in power as the leader of the free world last November.

This 1/3 of the population, The Christian Right Conservatives, most likely cannot be persuaded to see the world as a place "where we are all in this together," it is the other 2/3's of the population we have to help raise awareness within so this re-framing of reality does not continue to spread. We, as Americans, need to be aware of this belief system within our political system on a grass roots level, a state level and a federal level come the mid-term elections in 2006. Most important.

Any comments? Post your comments below.


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