"The lust for power is not rooted in strength but in weakness. It is the expression of the individual self to stand alone and live. It is the desperate attempt to gain secondary strength where genuine strength is lacking."
– Erich Fromm, Escape from Freedom
The G.O.P. of the 21st century bears scant resemblance to the Party of Eisenhower. It has been coopted by authoritarians like James Dobson and Tom DeLay, people who, as predicted by psychologist Erich Fromm nearly 70 years earlier, in an attempt to deny their own human flaws, have risen to power by donning the armor of religious, bullying self-righteousness and imposing their misdirected anger on others.
Certainly, the Left has been quick to point out each example of blatantly hypocritical behavior of these conservative politicians drunk on sanctimony, and religious leaders on the Right who rarely, if ever, practice what they preach. But there’s more to the story than just these acts themselves. Why have these particular actors’ personal psychopathologies of sadism and domination struck a nerve with a sizable portion of the country and had such a major impact on politics?
Picking up from where John Dean’s Conservatives Without Conscience and Jeff Sharlet’s The Family have left off, Max Blumenthal’s < Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party continues the conversation by offering a psychohistorial analysis of the authoritarianism of the Religious Right and the damage it has wrought on the Republican Party as a whole. Republican Gomorrah is more than an exposé of the salacious, outrageous scandals of the "Family Values" party; it is a withering dissertation on the underlying psychological and ideological dysfunction that serves as the emotional foundation for the Mike Huckabees, Sarah Palins and Ted Haggards of this world.
What’s more, Republican Gomorrah is an implicit indictment of a compliant national media that has eagerly rolled over for these über-Christian, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, racist chest-beaters and provided them with a megaphone from which to blast their messages of hate, intolerance, and self-immolation.
Max rose to journalistic prominence as he bravely dug through the pile of toxic rubble that is the fundamentalist Religious Right, unearthing and filming the cynicism, hypocrisy, and general psychosis that runs rampant through its ranks of politicians and religious figureheads. (Who can forget the damning and hysterical YouTube sensation he created in 2007, when he interviewed a group of utterly tone-deaf, apologist College Republican National Convention attendees?) At a time where the Religious Right still manages to control the national discourse, it is vitally important and refreshing to have someone like Max out in the field, continuing to shed new light on this rotting darkness within the Republican Party.
And on that note, it is my distinct honor to welcome Max Blumenthal to Firedoglake.