Have you ever wondered who came up with the arrogant and offensive and inaccurate term “moral majority”? Or have you wondered who brought us the Heritage Foundation, that infamous right-wing group-think tank? Or, worse, who first thunk up the pro-business, anti-worker, culturally reactionary group we all know as ALEC?
The culprit was Paul Weyrich. In 1979, the God-bedeviled theocrat co-founded, along with the god-awful telepreacher Jerry Falwell, the Moral Majority, a political action group that first married conservative Christianity to the Republican Party, a gift from hell that just keeps giving. Weyrich also talked Joseph Coors out of some beer money and helped start the Heritage Foundation, an organization that, from Ronald Reagan’s presidency to the present, has done much damage to the country.
But perhaps the most damage done by a group Weyrich co-founded has been done by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is, essentially, how corporations have been able to get Republican state legislators to toss corporation-written legislation into the hopper and eventually make it state law. Here’s how People for the American Way describes the organization:
ALEC’s agenda includes rolling back civil rights, challenging government restrictions on polluters, infringing on workers’ rights, limiting government regulations of commerce, privatizing public services, and representing the interests of the corporations that make up its supporters.
As you can see, we can thank Paul Weyrich for a lot of what is wrong with 21st-century America. After his death in 2008, the Los Angeles Times noted that Weyrich’s role,
was not just political; it was acutely cultural, concerned with such matters as whether children are taught evolution or creationism in school, or whether homosexuality is portrayed as natural or profane.
“It may not be with bullets and . . . rockets and missiles, but it’s a war nonetheless,” he once said, describing the struggles that began to dominate public discourse in the late 1970s. “It is a war of ideology, it’s a war of ideas, and it’s a war about our way of life. And it has to be fought with the same intensity, I think, and dedication as you would fight a shooting war.”
Bang, bang, in the name of Jesus! Here is a 40-second sample of Weyrich saying something that is quite relevant today:
“I don’t want everybody to vote,” he said. And may he rest in peace for his honesty, if nothing else.
But Weyrich was onto something when he said to conservatives, “As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” He was on to something because he knew his political and cultural conservatism wasn’t really part of a “majority,” moral or otherwise. He knew his efforts to shape the country into a quasi-theocratic state would fail if enough people went to the polls. Thus, the idea, then and now, is to keep as many people from voting as possible, specifically targeting those who are tempted to vote for devilish Democrats.
Which brings us to Missouri. Stacey Newman, a Democrat who represents the people of the 87th district (just west of St. Louis) in the Missouri House, posted the following a few days ago:
As Rep. Newman points out,
This will be the 10th straight year that the Missouri GOP leadership has focused on making it harder for current longtime voters to vote, even though the Missouri Supreme Court has ruled voter ID proposals unconstitutional.
Ten years and counting. Remember what Weyrich said: “It is a war of ideology, it’s a war of ideas, and it’s a war about our way of life. And it has to be fought with the same intensity, I think, and dedication as you would fight a shooting war.” That’s what it’s all about for these people. We best understand that, all of us who are on the other side of this war. These folks are serious. They won’t give up. Neither should we.
HB 30 is, by the way, co-sponsored by Joplin’s own Bill White. Now, I live here in Joplin and there is no problem, not the slightest hint of a problem, with the locals going to the polls and voting illegally. So, there must be some other reason why Bill White is in favor of voter ID laws, right? Could it be that he is worried about all the voters in other places in Missouri? Places like St. Louis and Kansas City, where a lot of the voters there don’t look like Bill, uh, White?
Paul Weyrich told us all we need to know about the motives of the ID-obsessed reactionaries here in Joplin, here in Missouri, and across the country: “our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”
As I said, may he rest in peace for his honesty.
State representative Newman ended her post with this call to activism (emphasis is hers):
What can you do? We NEED people to testify, fill the hearing room in the Capitol, and express their outrage to the Speaker. Contact Speaker Diehl – firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know what you think about voter suppression.
Voting rights is not a game. We cannot afford to remain silent.