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Public Forum: The GOP's Faustian bargain

Why have things gone so wrong for our country?

For at least the past eight years the Republican Party has dominated all branches of the federal government, including the presidency, the administrative agencies, the Congress, and the federal courts.

The party of Lincoln achieved that dominance by entering into a Faustian bargain in which it sold its soul to religious fundamentalists and Southern reactionaries. The Faustian transformation was under way during the Nixon administration, accelerated during the Reagan years, and reached its culmination under George W. Bush.

The transformed Republican Party has cast out the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, along with most moderates and the few remaining progressives. It was once the party of relatively well-educated, middle-class, Northern, respectable folks. It has become the party of the old Confederacy, i.e., the old slave states, by becoming a comfortable home for white supremacists.

The national Republican Party has become a theocratic party, one completely dependent on the endorsements of fundamentalist religious leaders and fundamentalist votes.

President Bush actually encouraged his more fervent religious followers to believe that he had been called to the presidency by God and that God was somehow directing his presidential decisions.

Given the close margins by which Bush was elected and re-elected, it is reasonable to think that we might have been spared his disastrous presidency, but for this delusional thinking. The influence of fundamentalism seems clear in Bush's militarist and unilateralist approach to dealing with the world that has caused so much harm. His is a Manichean world of stark blacks and whites, of good and evil, of no grays and no nuance, and of chosen people called by God to war against evil.

During his presidency, reason, particularly scientific reasoning, was tossed out of decision making at the highest levels and replaced by ideology and pandering to religious fanatics.

As it is presently constituted, the national Republican Party is not fit to govern this country. It needs to first spend some time out of office exorcising its Confederate and fundamentalist demons and reforming itself into the Grand Old Party that it once was.

John Burns