Thursday, February 11, 2010

HuffPo Column 11 – The Enemy Within: Republican Fundamentalism Confirmed

What do Islamic fundamentalists have in common with the far-right core of the Republican Party? And what do your average, non-extremist Muslims have in common with the (slim) majority of the GOP who are not right wingers?

The answers, of course, is obvious - the first two treat their worldview as the only correct, God-given view and treat anyone who demurs from this as worthy of any sort of attack up to and including destroying them, and the second pair remain silent, as in Burke's admonition that "all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good [people] to remain silent.

As reported elsewhere on HP, The Daily Kos, a liberal/progressive blog, employs a very reputable and neutral polling organization called Research 2000 to do polling for them on a weekly basis and posts their results no matter what they show, including demographic information about those polled.

Recently they posted the results of the Daily Kos/Research 2000 Republican Poll 2010. For this poll, conducted between January 20 and 31, 2010, the interviewed 2003 self-identified Republicans by phone. This was a random sample selected by random variations of the last four digits of phone numbers. The margin of error was 2%, which means that there is a 95% probability statistically that the true figure for all self-identified Republicans would fall within 2% plus or minus of the sample's results. Interviews were conducted in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia - 11% of respondents were from the Northeast, 42% from the South, 22% from the Midwest, and 25% from the West.

So here we have 2003 people, selected at random who identified themselves as Republicans and were willing to answer poll questions over the phone. Now it's axiomatic in the polling business that you only get answers to the questions you ask, and I don't know who designed these questions - let's say, worst case, they were designed by the Daily Kos, and so the questions reflect liberal/progressive concerns about Republicans, and don't tell the whole story, only that which reflects those concerns. Nonetheless, the answers are what they are. It's a long poll, so I'll just highlight some of them here. For the full set go here.

Under the heading "Obama and America," we find that 39% of those surveyed say Barack Obama should be impeached with 32% saying no, and 29% not sure. Really? For what? The Constitution is pretty clear - high crimes and misdemeanors is the criterion. Can anyone point out even one thing he's done in the past year that qualifies? But 68% of Republicans (±2%) say he should be impeached, or at least it's a possibility.

Maybe this will shed some light on why: 63% said yes to "do you think Barack Obama is a Socialist, with 21% saying no and 16% not sure. Seriously? 79% of those surveyed don't have a clue what Socialism is?

And the grand prizes: 36% believe Obama was not born in the US and 22% aren't sure, and 24% believe Obama "wants the terrorists to win" and 33% aren't sure. This is not just being divorced from reality, it's having left reality far, far behind.

There's a lot more - on Issues (anti-union, anti-immigrant, pro-death penalty), gays, (anti-serving in the military, anti-same sex marriage, anti-benefits for gay couples, and astonishingly 73% against openly gay men and women teaching in public schools with 19% unsure). Schools (anti-sex education by a slim margin, but overwhelmingly for public schools teaching that the Book of Genesis explains how God created the world).

The last category was women, where some of the results were surprisingly encouraging - 76% with 11% unsure said that marriages are equal partnerships and 86% with 4% unsure said women should work outside the home. But then it all goes horribly wrong: "Should contraceptives be outlawed?" 31% yes, 13% not sure. "Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?" 34% yes, 18% unsure. "Do you consider abortion to be murder?" 76% yes, 16% unsure.

And finally, "Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is through Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith? 67% Christ, 15% other faiths, 18% unsure.

All of which leaves me wondering - exactly what America do these people live in? Not the America of Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and the Constitution, apparently.

Actually, there are three groups - the right wingnuts, the mainstream, and the Republican politicians. The group best positioned to make a difference in the party are the politicians. Maybe Markos Moulitsas, creator of the Daily Kos, said it best, though. Those politicians are "beholden to conspiracy theorists who don't even believe Obama was born in the United States, and already want to impeach him despite a glaring lack of scandal or wrongdoing. They think Obama is racist against white people and the second coming of Lenin. And if any of them stray and decide to do the right thing and try to work in a bipartisan fashion, they suffer primaries and attacks. Given what their base demands -- and this poll illustrates them perfectly -- it's no wonder the GOP is the party of no."

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