I’m old enough to remember when that phrase was inserted into the pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s, to distinguish us from the “Godless Communism” we were “fighting.”
Before that, in my Catholic grade school, we just went from “one nation” to “indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
I think that’s the way it went. But however it went, we hadn’t been saying “under God” before that.
One of the many strange things about this country is the insistence by right-wingers that they are the true patriots, that they are the true descendents and upholders of the ideals of the Founding Fathers, that they are the ones who “love America” and anyone who disputes their perspective is an “America-hater.”
When, of course, anyone with any knowledge of our history knows that the Founding Fathers were a collection of individuals with various religious beliefs, stretching from not sure there was a God at all, to the majority Deists who believed God created the world and then left it to work itself out as it would, to those who were believing Christians but didn’t take the Bible literally.
Those who would have fit into a right-wing Christian fundamentalist mindset were non-existent, as that mindset hadn’t been created yet.
Now that it has—a product mostly of the 19th Century, as was the Pledge of Allegiance and other patriotic elements the right wing defends as if the Founding Fathers created them too—Mitt Romney has to prove his religion is somehow truly “Christian” for the right-wing Christian fundamentalists to accept him, and that he too is embracing the idea this is a “Christian” nation, or at least a “religious” nation and that “secularism” must be “fought” and defeated.
Like the Bush administration, and the rest of the right-wing that Romney is trying to get to support him, this represents a counterrevolution, overturning most of what the Founding Fathers stood for and bringing us back to the reasons our ‘forefathers” and mothers left England and the rest of Europe in the first place. To get away from governments that demanded allegiance to a particular religious mindset.
What a lot of us who don’t share the limited and revisionist interpretation of our history imposed by the right-wingers who have dominated the federal government for awhile now, as well as most talk radio and media punditry, etc., value most about this country is that it is based on the rule of reason, of law and individual liberty—all the things enshrined in the Constitution and Bill of Rights—and not on some religious interpretation of a particular God’s will.
Why few, if any, of the candidates running for president so far seem willing to talk about that is obvious, they don’t want to be stigmatized as non-believers or “secularists” or even worse, anti-Christian—although the Democrats have and will continue to be portrayed that way anyway in the right-wing media.
Which is why a lot of political veterans worry that Obama can’t win, because despite his avowed belief in Jesus Christ and all the trimmings most Christians believe in, the seed has been planted that he was brought up in a Muslim environment with an Islamist education.
If Romney has trouble with his Mormon faith’s tweaking of Christian beliefs, how much more trouble will Obama have with the general electorate. Plenty. And if you think that most people will be able to see through the smearing that will begin if Obama wins the nomination, remember that a majority of voters easily bought, and most continue to, that Iraq had something to do with 9/11.
I come from depression era FDR Democratic ideals that see “the people” as ultimately knowing what’s best for themselves and if informed making the right decisions for the greater good. But the past two elections have given the lie to that belief, and make me wonder sometimes if Bill Maher’s characterization of the voting majority as “the idiocracy” doesn’t have some truth to it.
What could work to Obama’s benefit would be if young voters came out in greater numbers than they ever have. But I wouldn’t bet on that either. Unfortunately.