Credit for the Senate's rejection of the U.N. Disabilities Treaty yesterday belongs to the Values Wing of the Republican Party, which mounted a vigorous campaign against it.
Sure, it was an opportunity for the GOP to hand President Obama a post-election defeat. But with wheelchair-bound Bob Dole showing up in the chamber to support ratification, approval could easily have been spun as a victory for its former standard bearer. That a mere handful of Republican senators voted in favor is testimony to the fact that the Family Research Council & Co. is every bit as powerful as Grover Norquist and the Plutocrats.
The question is, what big value was the Values Wing defending? Right Wing Watch cites chapter and verse to show how the Treaty, which tracks the Americans with Disabilities Act, threatens none of the horribles that Rick Santorum, Bryan Fischer, MIchael Farris et al. alleged. The National Right to Life Committee itself denied the charge that the Treaty would promote abortion.
Behind all the straw men, I'd submit, is the metaphysical anxiety described in Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
What the Disabilities Treaty threatened, opponents kept saying, was American sovereignty--because that is the result of binding ourselves to any international treaty (especially one sponsored by the demonic U.N.). Not that the opponents are happy when America exercises that sovereignty by, for example, mandating health insurance. In that context, they count the federal government among the powers and principalities.
According to a new poll, 49 percent of Republicans think that the defunct grassroots organization ACORN stole the election for President Obama, and 25 percent would like their states to secede from the Union. Not that state government can't also be a high place serving up wickedness.
Richard Hofstadter famously called this the paranoid style in American politics. Over the next four years its grip on the Republican Party promises to be stronger than ever.