Just Sign Here

By Don Rollins

Fellow liberals (and otherwise levelheaded Homo sapiens) drop whatever it is you’re doing, get down on your knees and pray after me: Lord (or the god of your choice, as that great American patriot, Kinky Friedman, is wont to say) please let the ideologues who run the Spartanburg County Republican Party (SCRP) become the leadership model for conservatives nationwide. Thanks a bunch. Amen.

Here’s the deal. The resident knuckleheads who run the local GOP office recently passed a resolution requiring that — are your ready for this? — all county Republican candidates and elected officials sign a form stating that they support: a. the South Carolina Republican Party Platform; and b. the US Constitution. (Yes, you read that right, friend.) And if you like that, you’re gonna love this: Opinions to the contrary of said platform must come before county GOP officials. So, it’s doctrinal purity, complete with strong arm tactics from Central Command. Holy Hitler. Double Holy Hitler!

I know what you’re thinking: the cat writing this piece must have done some serious chemicals back in the day. Nope. Word up, the county RP chairwoman is on record in the local daily; that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

If this were a clandestine neighborhood club of preadolescent boys, I’d get it. Come up with some swell decoder rings, a nifty secret handshake, a “No Girls Allowed” sign for the clubhouse door and you’re good to go. But this is no 1960s after-school society; this is a politburo of grownups, elected to the leadership of a county-level, major political party, positing a uniform policy that is utterly antithetical to both the letter and spirit of the very document to which they appeal. This is paranoid, political Calvinism. Man, if there’s a Fascism Hall of Fame, these zealots just punched their ticket.

But the real problem here is not the appeal to the Constitution, bizarre as that is. The real problem is not the platform, wrongheaded as that is. The real problem is not even the county leaders themselves, loony loose cannons as they appear to be. The real problem is that lockstep doctrinal purity, no matter its scope of ideology or severity of punishment, always underestimates the indomitable human urge toward what I’ll call spiritual self-differentiation: basic, irrevocable intellectual, political, social, religious and sexual autonomy. You can excommunicate it, outlaw it, imprison it — even torture it — but sooner or later that deep craving for freedom trumps even the most heinous Final Solution of any given jackbooted regime. Just ask the early Church inquisitors, Himmler, Pol Pot, the Shining Path. The problem with the county RP’s myopic policy is less about ideas and more about the human bent toward simple liberty.

Fellow progressives, the unvarnished political Aryanism that is bouncing around Upstate South Carolina could, if magically exported to the state and national levels of the GOP, be manna from above. No thinking person would come near such a party, and I’ll wager that more than a few of the moderates would bolt. You get the idea.

Okay, that’s enough. I’ve got a prayer meeting to organize …

Rev. Don Rollins is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Spartanburg, S.C. Email donlrollins@comcast.net.

From The Progressive Populist, January 1-15, 2010


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