Election Takeaway: Fake God Talk Doesn’t Cut It with Americans

There are two Americas today. One is ecstatic about another four years of President Barack Obama. The other America is licking its wounds and coming to terms with the fact that lies don’t always make for good political campaigns. 

President Obama and his team executed a great campaign. Mitt Romney’s campaign could not decide who he wanted to be, and Romney lied at every possible turn. In the quest to court the Tea Party and the religious right for votes, Romney forged political alliances based on disdain for President Obama, and his “socialist” policies. 

Following the lead of John McCain, who jumped the shark with Sarah Palin, he capitulated to conservative religious groups. Romney actually went one better, making the marriage between the Republican Party, religiously conservative ideologues, and its chattering pundit class at Fox News complete. Like a dysfunctional family, the illusion of their harmony was a strong delusion. Karl Rove’s epic meltdown on Fox News’ election night when Fox called the election for President Obama showed the strength of the delusion. Rove hijacked Fox News pundits and their audience, claiming there was still a path for Romney to win in Ohio. 

Now, Rove and the RNC’s fates are linked with the hard-line religious ideologues whose power is on the wane.

From Akin’s “legitimate” rape to Richard Mourdock’s “semi-omnipotent God,” the party looks like a version of Inherit the Wind without the monkeys to provide levity. No matter how much Glenn Beck believed that Romney could win, or Billy Graham’s pretense that he never believed Mormonism was a cult, nothing will take away the demographics that are against the party, or their religious conservatives. To top it off, the Catholic Bishops threw their lot in with this bunch, knowing that much of what they believe is not compatible with Catholic theology.  

After four years of hearing the refrain “Let’s take our country back,” it is clear that 2012 is not only, as Sarah Posner writes, a religious realignment, but also a moral realignment.

Fake God talk doesn’t cut it with Americans. Everyone sees through it. For Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and a host of others, the last four years have been a confidence game, a careful calculation that if they could just promote themselves, their god, their America, and Obama as a socialist just enough, the tide would turn their way and the money would flow. It didn’t. Many Americans want gay people to have the right to marry, recognize that rape is rape, and view women’s reproductive rights as important.

Americans are tired of racist remarks and the denigration of the office of the President of the United States simply because an African American with a dual heritage and a white mother cracked and decoded the American dream.   

While President Obama won decisively, he also must be held to account. Reelection does not mean that the president cannot be judged. The drone war, the continued level of poverty (especially in the African American community), and the injustices of Guantanamo Bay are just a few of the issues we citizens need to hold the president accountable for. Having a black president doesn’t mean that everything is wonderful.

In the end, Mitt Romney was the right candidate for the Republicans. His good looks, his CEO cred, and his ability to lie at the slightest turn were tailor-made for what the Republican party and its religious operatives have become: a bunch of capitalistic prosperity grifters who have turned their backs on the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Gospel of Ayn Rand. Even his running mate, Catholic Paul Ryan, was eager to grift by proposing an untenable budget. Rather than “do unto others,” they raised millions to disenfranchise, to sow hatred, and to bask in a smug cocoon of self-reliance while Americans suffered foreclosures, job losses, and anguish. Now, they have lost. 

I hope that Mitt Romney does some deep soul searching with members of the Mormon faith. In the quest to gain the world, he clearly has lost his soul. What’s worse is that he’s taken 57 million people with him.

Anthea Butler [@AntheaButler] is a Contributing Editor to Religion Dispatches. Her forthcoming book, in’The Gospel According To Sarah: How Sarah Palinin’’s Tea Party Angels are Galvanizing the Religious Right will be out in 2013.