I didn't believe the polls that told us how horribly vulnerable Midwestern Democrats would prove to be in the midterm. Now, with the acuity of hindsight, I guess I might have seen it coming. It's been coming on for years, of course, as the Republican Party prostituted itself to a few elements of Christian dogma while exploiting fear of crime and people of color to wrest the formerly Democratic "Solid South" into the GOP fold. The most virulent form of this phenomenon is seen in the South as coalitions of fundamentalist Young Earthers, Evolution Deniers, Climate Change Deniers, Holocaust Deniers, Muslim Haters, Gay Haters, Racists and other fellow travelers have joined into a solid, enthusiastic and reliable voting block for Republican candidates who openly espouse extremely anti-American ideas as they continue to push for a theocratic America.
Hindsight suggest that maybe I should have seen it coming. I worked and traveled in political circles in one of those now solidly Red states for most of the 1980s. At the beginning, all the statewide offices were Democrats, including my boss, and both Houses of the Legislature were controlled by the Democrats. The state had only 2 Republican Governors in its entire modern history. But that was changing. Starting in the late 1980's a flood of theocratic, red poison began to tilt state politics increasingly, and at an accelerating pace, converting the state from what political scientists call a modified one party state Democrat, into a modified one party state, Republican. That's what I saw happening around me as I sailed the waters of state politics in the 80's.
I moved my family even deeper into the South in the 90's and saw the same trend occurring and accelerating there as well. Churches and church issue dominating state and local politics. Extremest and narrow minded thinking of pious Christian loons who know how to amplify their message begins to drown out any possibility of rational governance. Living conditions for working people begin to suffer as reactionary thinkers throttle back the ability of government to support important societal interests while simultaneously looting the public fisc to line the pockets of those who least need more money.
I should have foreseen the capability of this virulent politico-religious poison to make inroads into areas bordering the old Solid South, now solidly Republican. When I grew up there, my home state of Missouri was pretty solidly Democrat, with Stuart Symington and Tom Eagleton in the Senate and Democrats in Jefferson City. It is no longer like that in Missouri, largely thanks to the appeal of the old time religion of Republican political tactics in the South which has made inroads in rural Missouri. In the Midwest such influences have seeped into Ohio, particularly Southern Ohio and also leap-frogged to Wisconsin where they turned out to elect an utter loon to the Senate in place of the couragous Russ Feingold.
In the 19th Century, Missouri was a border state. In the 18th Century George Washington and other slave owning Virginia planters coveted and invested heavily in the Ohio Valley and desired all of Ohio. These kinds of historical influences have ripples and don't really die out.
I was mostly content when I thought the Republican Party was on its way to becoming a regional rump party based in a solid red South. Hence, I am disturbed to see evidence of an expansion of this troublesome politico/religious phenomenon beyond the areas where it has thus far been most successful. I've always believed that Sinclair Lewis, in 1935, spoke prophetically in sayingthat if it happened in America, "Fascism will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a Bible."
I shiver more than a little when I perceive a political shift in favor of a lunatic fringe that wants to see a theocratic America abandon all of its traditional values and submit to religious dogma adhered to by only a few. I fear for my country.