All About Control
According to the most recent polling, 64% of Americans identify as Christian, which is a far cry from what that number was even in the 1990s. Polls also indicate that this number is in decline year over year. This reality is quickly beginning to undermine their ability to direct the narrative or direction that the country is moving in.
For Republicans, this is eventually going to pose an even bigger problem. As I have talked about before, Evangelicals are one of the largest voting blocs of Republican support. As those identifying as Evangelical or even Christians continue this downward trend, this group is going to fall further out of favor for the Conservative political movement.
Enter Ron Desantis.
Appealing to the fear of Conservatives in his state, he has wielded power in a way that Republicans, at least in their rhetoric, despise. He has gone so far as to silence dissenting opinions of his actions and some in his government have proposed legislation requiring bloggers who talk about him to register with the state. He has actively punished businesses that question his decisions by using the authority of the state in an attempt to silence that dissent.
Among Republicans, even though his polling at the national level is dismal, is sort of a hero for the Conservative movement. He seems to champion all of their anti-woke causes despite those same constituents not even knowing what “woke” means.
Cue the protestors.
Students of history see where this is headed. The accusations of fascism are not unfounded. The actions of the current Conservative movement are following, almost play-by-play, the game plan that led to the rise of Hitler. The now cliche poem by Martin Niemöller is as relevant as ever:
First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.
Those in charge of the Republican party apparatus know exactly what they are doing, even if they are not aware of the potential end result. I do not think a lot of the regular people who are going along with it are remotely aware. They are Martin in the poem. They are not socialists, so when the party condemns socialism they are fine with it. They are not trans, so they go along with it. In fact, on the trans issue, they are on the very same page completely. They do not understand it and are convinced that their Bible expressly condemns it. They might even see it as their Christian duty to root out this sin that will potentially hurt their children.
Even at its core, though, none of this is about stopping “woke” or rooting out homosexuality or codifying the “reality” of there only being two genders. It is about control.
The fight for and desire for control sits at the root of who we are as people. I question a bit of the way we tend to talk about “original sin”, but I think there is some truth to the general idea that somewhere down inside we all have something that is not quite right. We are all broken in one way or another. I do not believe that we start out that way, but we all have experiences that leave us incomplete or cracked in some way. But deep down, I think we also all have the desire to be in control.
And this desire is directly at odds with what the Bible, and the Evangelical’s favorite apostle Paul, explicitly state.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
Paul is talking here about some people who had come to this particular church and were seeking to impose new religious rules on them. They were teaching these Christians that God needed them to do certain actions in order to be true Christians. Paul is here telling them that is not how this all works. In fact, he goes so far as to tell them if they resort to a legalistic and law-based religion, then they are actually showing that they are not Christians at all.
This is the fatal flaw of the Christian right seeking to impose its religious ideology on a nation through law. In doing so, they are actually condemning people to hell, which is also what their Bible teaches.
As Christianity continues its decline, and as the generation who most identifies as Christian dies off, we are likely to see more and more of this desire to keep and maintain control. We are going to see more and more men, and it is almost always men, who step up and try to exert their masculine influence on the world around them. We are going to see more and more pushback against those seeking to spread and exemplify a less toxic form of masculinity, or even an end to masculine/feminine gender expression in the first place.
As young people begin to replace the old in our chambers, we are going to see more and more resistance to new ideas by those who are elder. Their desire to cling to power is going to become more and more pronounced and even fascist.
As more and more people of color replace white men, we are going to see more and more resistance to discussions of systemic racism. In fact, we are already seeing this resistance with the push to end diversity and inclusion programs and flat banning discussions of Critical Race Theory.
All of this is opening the door to fascism. And the very people who claim to be champions of freedom are leading the charge.