And then Jesus instructed the disciples to win at all costs. "Love each other and treat each other with respect, unless you need to win a political battle. Then do what works to win."Or not. But that was all I could think when I read the most recent proposal from Pennsylvania Republicans to change the way the state awards electoral votes. The purpose is a concerted Republican effort to change the electoral college in order to win. It works like this: in battleground states that lean Democratic, but are controlled by Republican state houses, they would split up electoral votes based on US House districts.
An uninformed reader might think, "hey, that sounds fair, and the states have the right to determine how they manage those electoral votes." But a closer reading reveals that this has nothing to do with fairness. Those same Republicans have no intention of doing that in states like Texas that might have a few electoral votes from Austin, Houston and Dallas going blue. No, the states that are Red on the map aren't going to split up their electoral votes. Only those states that matter, and where they can take away votes from the Democrats.
This is the response of ruthless and unprincipled people, make no mistake. It is an attempt to rig the game and displace the votes of minorities and other urban dwellers and allow the rural and more conservative part of the country dominate. They don't want to change, see. They don't want to be nice to Mexicans and blacks. They don't want to appeal to modern women. They like believing that God wants all fetuses to be born, but not all children to be fed. They like believing that rape can be a blessing from God.
What amazes me is the manner in which good, honest, and even moral people of faith find themselves in support of policies like this. How does this happen? How do people who read the Bible often, attend church weekly, participate in Bible Studies and Sunday School, and who say that Jesus Christ is their Savior and guide for life--how do they look at a situation like the one in Pennsylvania and think that is anything associated with their faith? The vote rigging scandal is only one example. Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently accused Sec of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel of accepting money from Iran and North Korea--without a shred of evidence. Can you imagine Jesus doing that?
I suspect there are a lot of reasons for it. Leighton has noted the tribal affiliation and others the low information portion of the conservative pool. Some would suggest that conservatives are more open to authoritarian ideas and so defer to Republican leaders even when they defend the indefensible.
For me, at least today, the reasons are less important than the reality of people of faith endorsing a completely ruthless and scorched earth approach to, well, anything. There is nothing ruthless about Christ. I know I no longer attend church, but even I know that. You don't talk about "turning the other cheek" if winning is the only acceptable option. The GOP's version of Jesus would say that the one lost sheep was more than an acceptable loss.
And my conservative evangelical friends still look quizzically at me when I suggest that they are losing their witness. If you can read about changing the rules of the game with no regard to fairness or justice--only to win power--and not speak out about it? If you can watch a member of your party casually accuse his enemies of treason and not speak out about it?
If your Christ endorses ruthless and brutal tactics, he isn't Christ. You might want to do some thinking about that.