A friend of mine drives a lot. He’s in a shitty situation, stuck in a row home in North Philadelphia with his elderly mother after a messy divorce and a failed business. His escape is driving. He’s got a well-worn Toyota Camry with about 200,000 miles on it. I’ve told him that driving is costly, wasteful, environmentally non-friendly, and downright dangerous. But I completely understand his therapy. My friend’s problem is that he listens to the radio during his many hours of driving. And since the civilized world has abandoned terrestrial radio, conservative talk radio hosts who cannot seem to find a home anywhere else have usurped the airwaves. His countless hours burning fossil fuels have allowed these blowhards to brainwash my friend, converting him from a good-hearted Puerto Rican Catholic to a conservative Republican.
Conservatives are firmly convinced that the rich and powerful got that way because God meant them to be rich and powerful. They believe society owes the prosperous, and that our government should not interfere with anyone’s success. Conservatives believe government should just let the chips fall where they may, and everything will magically work itself out. On the other hand, progressives realize it’s the less fortunate who need protection provided by their government. Workers need to be protected from ill-mannered employers, and consumers must be protected from unfair business practices.
Ironically, conservatives consider themselves very religious, and almost always Christian. There’s a fundamental disconnect here. In the New Testament, it’s crystal clear that Jesus Christ was quite concerned about the poor, the oppressed, and the outcast. The Gospels reflect on Christ’s treatment of the poor, generosity to those in need, mercy to the outcast, and scorn for the wealthy and powerful. As a matter of fact, the entire Christian philosophy is centered around loving others. There is no mention of greed or selfishness, and nothing that even remotely relates to a capitalist society run by some invisible hand. Jesus never said poor people were lazy leeches of society, or that we shouldn’t help the poor because it weakens them. There is nothing in any gospel about charity or welfare corrupting a person’s spirit. There must be a new new testament that most of us have missed. Perhaps that is entitled Christianity, But Only When Convenient.
My friend went to Catholic schools for 16 years. He would lecture me on the benefits of Christianity, and my atheist mind would politely let it pass from one ear and out the other. You’d think that brainwashing might have stuck a little better. But that’s how easy it is to sway a typical human being. Simply pound your own flavor of sludge over public airwaves repeatedly, and they’ll begin to believe you. He has conveniently forgotten all of Jesus’ teachings and philosophies, and is committed to voting a straight Republican ticket. What the hell happened to him, I wondered?
“Progressive” or “Liberal” are now considered bad words. These people are considered to be Socialists of Communists. They’re called “soft” and thought to be detrimental to American society. To me, that’s crazy. The Statue of Liberty itself has The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus engraved on a bronze plaque and mounted inside the pedestal’s lower level. “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Have we forgotten what America stands for? Should that plaque be replaced with something that lauds greed, ignorance, and disdain for deplorables?
Look, Conservatives. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t pretend to be a faithful Christian and an anti-government pundit simply because it’s convenient. You cannot support a pussy-grabbing billionaire narcissist simply because he pretends to give a shit about unborn babies. The only reason Conservatives want to keep their guns is because they’re scared to death of being poor like you and me. Have you priced assault rifles lately? When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense. It’s one or the other. You can’t be Conservative and Christian, fool.
I’m about to have this discussion with my high-mileage friend. At this point, he seems pretty well gone. It may require an exorcism.