As you may recall, I’m a friend neither of crony capitalism nor of the religious right.
I hate crony capitalism, because it corrupts honest people just trying to run honest businesses and do an honest day’s work. That’s one of the reasons, I think, why everyone loves the “free market” but despises “capitalism.”
And when it comes to Christian politics, if Jesus were here preaching today— He wouldn’t be preaching by the seashore, of course. But on his YouTube channel, I think he’d more often support the ACLU than the ACLJ. And when challenged by James Dobson and Roberta Combs—as he was challenged by the Sadducees and Pharisees—he’d probably say something about giving unto Obama that which is Obama’s, and giving unto God that which is God’s.
So when a friend sent out a link to this piece on the Psychology Today website, entitled “The Unseen Influence of the Religious Right,” I was truly hoping for some solid ammunition.
Instead, I read the whole thing, and all I got was this stinkin’ blog post.
Being on the Psychology Today site, I expected the piece to go into the motivations and needs of religious voters, and how businesses are leveraging those needs to promote crony capitalism. But I saw none of that, not even an explanation of the political tactics businesses are supposedly using to appeal to voters on the religious right. I wanted the author to cite historical details, to name names, and to explain the psychology behind the phenomena. He barely approached step one.
Yes, I know it’s only a blog post. And you can’t expect a blog post to be as thoroughly researched or as detailed as a feature-length article— That’s bullshit, by the way, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it’s true. Even so, I expected at least a short overview and a few allusions to details that I could research on my own. After all, this blog post you’re reading now, it’s about the same length as Dave Niose’s— And I swear that’s his name, and I’ve spelled it the same way as on the Psychology Today website, and I haven’t turned it into any of a number of very funny jokes. My blog post is about the same size as his, but it does cite details. Not a lot of detail, just enough for a taste.
“unchallenged power of the corporate interests” – No power is ever completely unchallenged. The question is, what is the nature of that challenge. It’s easier, however, simply to dismiss a moderating view off-hand than to explore it with intellectual honesty.
“With the rise of the Religious Right, however, that all changed.” I don’t believe that for a second. Businesses have been using the political system for as long as politics has existed. And I see no fundamental change between pre-1980 and post-1980. And he cites no historical events or trends that might have indicated such a change. David himself admits, “Corporate interests have had great influence in American politics for over a century,” when it serves his purposes, apparently.
He also cites the SEC, Social Security, and Medicare as examples of keeping crony capitalism in check. At first, I thought he was only doing so rhetorically, or as an example of voters’ perceptions in the early-to-mid 20’th century. Because these programs are today widely recognized as politically-motivated, bankrupt jokes. In the minds of more and more voters, the SEC is failing to protect stockholders, Social Security will not pay for your retirement, and Medicare will probably not get you the medical care you need.
“Strangely, public support for these corporate-driven policies is very low…” First of all, he never describes how corporate America has been driving the policies he cites. At least he did cite policy directions, if not specific proposals… I actually would question whether the specific proposals exist in the form he describes. But evidence is so boring and laborious; much easier just to cut to the innuendo. In any case, at least some of the policy directions he cites enjoy broad-based public support, from the left as well as the right.
He never cites even a single instance of a corporation or corporate interest group supporting the political agenda of the religious right. Nor the converse. In a piece specifically about this supposed alliance, I’d think he’d have at least one or two examples to share. How can you write a whole 1000-word article about how crony capitalists are partnering with the religious right, and not mention even one political ad, even one press release, even one speech by a major figure? David seems to think, by merely repeating his thesis, that somehow makes it true. I dunno. Maybe he slept through that class in high school.
And he keeps capitalizing “Religious Right,” as though it were a proper noun— It isn’t, and neither does it refer specifically to the Christian right, which is a subset of the religious right. But he refuses to name specific organizations or movement leaders, so I don’t really know who he’s talking about.
I also had assumed mistakenly that posting on PsychologyToday.com, the author might have something to do with psychology, or psychologists, or the social sciences, or something of that nature. Unfortunately, Dave Niose is neither a psychologist nor a psychological researcher, at least not according to his bio. Rather, he “is an attorney, activist, and writer… [and] president of the Washington-based American Humanist Association.”
Oy, frackin’, vey!
Well, that certainly qualifies him! I mean, I’m not a psychologist either. Nor do I claim to be. But at least I can claim to be a character author, which at least gives me a unique view on human psychology. Even if you wouldn’t want me to counsel you—and you wouldn’t—at least I can claim to be a thinking man with insights into the human condition. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why would anyone want to lay claim to being “an attorney, activist, and writer… [and] president of the Washington-based American Humanist Association”?
So… Why is this one-sided political screed on the Psychology Today website? Disappointing.