What Today's Republicans Believe

self-identified Republicans that between 20% and 50% of the party is either insane or mind-numbingly stupid." I always respect Bruce's view but think rather that this is a function of the GOP becoming more about identity politics and paranoia than individual freedom and hope. Any party that could treat Sarah Palin as a serious candidate for the vice-presidency has lost its mind - almost as surely as she has lost what remains of hers.

Of course, I notice the question of openly gay men and women as high school teachers. I notice this because I bet every single one of the respondents who said yes to banning such teachers revere Ronald Reagan, And yet Reagan took a strong stand against exactly that position in 1978 as governor of California. Yes, 1978 - decades before the enormous shift in public attitudes toward homosexuality that has made a new and more tolerant world today.

What you begin to realize is that on a whole host of issues, the GOP is going backward in areas of social tolerance, as they marinate in their own paranoia and purge every non-ideologue from their ranks. And as they go backward and feel, yes, left behind, their virulence and resentment intensify. It's a classic fundamentalist response to modernity.

It has a parallel in the way in which non-violent Islamists have doubled down on medievalism as they feel an overwhelming sense of their own failure to succeed in modernity. There is a profound insecurity and dysfunction in these subcultures which cannot make the transition to modern life and thereby surrender more totally to the ancient past and to hatred of those who succeed. The hatred of Obama - a clearly decent and obviously Christian man - is not about him. It's about them. It's about their resentment of a man who has integrated his own identity and made a place for himself in a pluralist world. They cannot do that - so, like Palin, they invent a world of ancient virtues and moral absolutes that they routinely fail to live up to in reality. I mean: look at Palin's family and Obama's. Whose is the more traditional? And yet Palin is allegedly the avatar of family values - and Obama is a commie subversive.

It would be funny if it weren't so sad.