31 July 2012

Randall Terry's divine terrorism

Most political begging letters are like solicitors ringing your doorbell; you expect them to turn up in a certain location. Randall Terry's begging letters are more like a panhandler on the street. A local supporter left a handful of envelopes stuffed with begging letters laying on tables in my downtown post office. The temptation to pick one up was too great to resist. Terry, the founder of the anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue is running a double campaign this year. He's an independent candidate for President -- his headquarters are ironically located in Romney WV -- and an independent candidate in Florida for the House of Representatives. Whatever the race, the theme is the same: Terry proposes to save this nation from God's wrath by stopping abortions. "Until We Stop this Slaughter," he writes, "God's Punishments Will Increase Upon Us."

Terry is convinced that "there is a direct connection between national evils and national calamity." In his Congressional letter, he attempts to prove this premise by referring to scripture. Needless to say, it's not difficult to find attributions of national calamities to divine wrath in the Bible. In particular, Terry wants to demonstrate that God punishes nations for slaughtering innocent children. He hopes to persuade the devout that abortion is an equivalent sin to those for which God punished the Hebrews back in the day. Since the Hebrews made a habit of slaughtering innocents, however, it's possible, should you condescend to take scripture seriously, to show that slaughtering innocents itself is not sufficient to spark God's anger. Using only the verses Terry himself cites, you can make a contextual argument that God did not avenge the slaughter of children on general principle, but slaughter for the specific purpose of idolatry -- the sacrifice of children to foreign gods. While Terry may believe that "Obama is an evildoer, a murderer of babies, an enemy of marriage and the Church, and an ally to Islamic terrorists," it'd be a stretch even for him to imagine the President as an idolator -- unless he thinks Obama a Muslim and Islam idolatry, which we can't rule out. 

Terry is running for President because "INNOCENT BABIES and MARRIAGE and RELIGIOUS FREEDOM are more important than money and the economy." He is "NOT a Romney fan," in part because "we all know that Romney is NOT going to make babies and marriage and religious liberty key issues in his campaign." However, since his first priority is getting Obama out of office, Terry has to reassure potential donors that his efforts will not hurt the presumptive Republican nominee. He apparently intends to appear on the Presidential ballot only in three "red" states -- West Virginia, Kentucky and Nebraska -- where he should not tip the balance in Obama's favor. However, making the ballot in three states will entitle him to run a national advertising campaign. He believes that the FCC will require TV stations to run his ads, which will show aborted fetuses, in more than a dozen additional states. For the moment he needs volunteers to collect signatures in the three target states and money to run ads for his Florida congressional campaign.

The Terry campaign might not be so harmless to Romney as he wants donors to believe. Few tactics succeed so well in getting liberals to circle wagons around the Democrats as opposing abortion in tones of biblical wrath. Political advertising will get no more wrathful than Terry's proposed spots. No other politician, probably, so daringly threatens voters. "I will boldly declare that if Christians vote for Obama, they share in the guilt of his sins, and pave the way for more of God's judgment on America," Terry writes, "I will run ads in Florida to tell Christians: 'You CANNOT ethically vote for Obama. If you do, you share in the guilt of his sins against God and human life, and procure God's judgments.'" In the face of such vehemence, liberals are unlikely to make distinctions between Terry's single-issue fury and Romney's general reaction. They'll only be goaded into thinking that only Obama stands between them and repressive theocracy. Americans vote based on fear and hatred, and Terry will only remind liberals of what they hate. He could galvanize liberal (and even moderate) voters in a way that definitely could hurt Romney, especially if the ads get as wide a distribution as Terry hopes for. I've almost talked myself into donating to Terry. His views are primitive and despicable, but he at least rebels against the logic of Bipolarchy. He may want Obama out of power most of all, but that doesn't compel him to submit to Romney. "He would probably make a better President than Obama," he concedes, "If not, we'll throw him out too!" Assuming Romney will be better doesn't mean Terry has to settle for him anymore than acknowledging that Obama is better than Romney obliges anyone to settle for Obama. Terry may be a loathsome superstitious cretin in every other respect, but his approach to politics, in practice if not in theory, is one more people should emulate.


Calmoderate said...

Wow. And I thought I was a hard core. You REALLY don't like the two party system. Its fascinating to see the plethora of ways in which rational people on the outside react to being stuck out there in the wilderness.

Samuel Wilson said...

Cal,if you're suggesting that we shouldn't encourage people like Terry to run for office I'm sure a lot of Republicans would agree with you. I'd never encourage anyone to vote for Terry but if I write that leftists shouldn't have to settle for the Democrats the same has to apply to the far right vis-a-vis the Republicans. My assumption that an aggressive Terry campaign would hurt the right wing overall does factor into my calculations, but there is a principle at stake as well.