After watching the travesty that was the Republican primary in South Carolina, one wonders how a charlatan like Newt Gingrich could get 40 percent of the vote, particularly after his former wife’s revelations about his serial infidelity. The man is like a five-year-old in his utter selfishness. This is who we want for our next president?
How can Evangelicals in particular support such a blatant hypocrite? Gingrich claims he has repented of his sins and asked for God’s forgiveness. But he’s still benefitting from those sins, isn’t he? Gingrich’s idea of repentance is a sham. So why are Evangelicals buying his act? Are they simply clueless--or hypocritical?
Maybe they’re fanatics.
In his 1951 book, The True Believer, Eric Hoffer analyzes “the art of ‘religiofication’ -- of turning practical purposes into holy causes.” What better way to describe Republican rhetoric and the Tea Party?
Honest Evangelicals and Tea Party followers (as opposed to those who exploit them) must see their own lives as spoiled and worthless. They crave a rebirth in a mass movement because they “are attracted by the prospect of sudden and spectacular change in their condition of life.”
Mitt Romney does not appeal to such people because he is so smug about his own “success”--meaning his mega-millions--that he really doesn’t want to change anything, other than to further engorge himself and the economic elite. The price of this free lunch for billionaires, however, may be staggering--and permanent.
The mass of Evangelicals and Tea Party zealots, on the other hand, really do seek change and see their cause as a holy one. As Hoffer points out, “Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves. The less justified a man is in claiming excellence for his own self, the more ready he is to claim all excellence for his nation, his religion, his race or his holy cause.”
Take back our country? Everything is Obama’s fault?
Okay, Evangelicals may say, so what if Gingrich is flawed? We all are; therefore, let’s forgive him and elect him (he may be ruthless and shameless, but at least he’s not a witless buffoon like Rick Perry). Presumably, this is the gift that keeps right on giving. One wonders which sins Newt would need to repent of as president. Quite a list, I imagine.
“Mass movements do not usually rise until the prevailing order has been discredited … and has lost the allegiance of the masses,” Hoffer notes. “The discrediting is not an automatic result of the blunders and abuses of those in power, but the deliberate work of men of words with a grievance.”
Remind you of anyone?
Voters must never forget that politicians like Gingrich are all salesmen, whose only product is themselves. Salesmen aren’t necessary when a need already exists for a product. Their only purpose--other than to enrich themselves--is to create a need for their product.
Gingrich may be a great salesman, but he’s also a lousy human being who would make the worst president I can imagine. Unfortunately, Romney may not be much better. When I see how easily the voters of South Carolina were swayed by Gingrich’s outburst at the start of the last debate, I tremble for the Republic.