It gains power through the democratic process by demonizing its opponents — preferably a small, mostly-invisible “enemy”. It blurs the line between civil government and religious ethics, and it wraps itself in the flag while proudly displaying its cross. It makes ridiculous statements and takes advantage of your blubbering disbelief that something so asinine could have just been said to move on and present a call to action. It is doing it, today, in the form of Iowa Congressman Steve King. Quoth Congressman King:
… [I]f we don’t save marriage, we can’t remain pro-life. The values we have we pour through marriage into our children and into the next generation. Our religious values. Our values of faith. Our values. Our work ethic. Our entire culture comes through a man and a woman joined in holy matrimony, being blessed with children and pouring those values into the children and then living vicariously through them as they go off and we are blessed with grandchildren. …[I]t has been thus since the beginning.
Note the reversion to Biblical language at the end there. The demonization of a small minority came later (although it was hardly necessary):
We have no residency requirement in Iowa law, which means that people can come from all over this country — a man and a man, a woman and a woman — it could be, I suppose, a father and a son or a mother and a daughter. They can come to this state and get married and then go back to the state where they reside. And then what they will do — and this will be a national effort — is file suit in their own state.
See, what people like me don’t realize is that gay people only want to get married to their same-sex parents and they’re coming to Iowa to do it! To arms, to arms! It makes me wonder if Congressman King even knows any gay people at all. (Come on, he has to. He works with Barney Frank — who is not married to his own father.) Bear in mind, this guy is probably running for Governor of Iowa in 2010 and no doubt harbors ambitions to end his political career in a slightly off-white house on Pennsylvania Avenue.
It’s enough to put me off my food, I tell ya.
The good news is, King was only able to muster about fifty people to listen to this hateful speech. In a state as socially conservative as Iowa that’s a good sign. The bad news is that there are still plenty of people out there who seem to have forgotten that “Live and Let Live” is a distinctly American ethic, one we should be proud to espouse.
EDIT: Please read the comments, in which trumwill rightly takes me to task for deviating from the Principle of Charity.