Music/Popular Culture

It's the witchcraft, stupid!

The revelation that Delaware Republican Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell admitted to dabbling in witchcraft should not come as a surprise. In fact, it explains everything. The only real question is what constitutes “dabbling.”

Many of us have been hard pressed to find a rational explanation for the rise in popularity of the tea party movement. At first it seemed to be something of a blue collar class thing, but that turned out to be untrue—tea partiers are better educated and better off financially than the average American. Then we moved on to the racism meme, and that explains a lot, certainly—the immigrant bashing, the Obama cartoons. But that in itself didn’t explain the number of otherwise reasonable people who are perfectly prepared to throw the fruits of progressive government of the past seventy years into the trashcan. Of course, white privilege is rebelling against the prospect of modestly higher taxes for the rich, but that doesn’t alone explain the outright glee with which the tea party wants to worsen poverty in America, or take away the recent expansion in healthcare coverage.

None of this makes rational sense. Tea party candidates around the country can’t wait to shut the government down. None of the Republican senatorial candidates (now that Mike Castle has lost to Christine O’Donnell in Delaware) believes in Global Warming. We’re seeing the largest organized bout of irrationality in the United States in decades, perhaps even longer.

But now that we know that at least one of the tea partiers messed around with witchcraft, it all makes sense. Who knows what demons have been released through “dabbling.” I mean, no one really understands this stuff anymore, right? How do we know this O’Donnell person is who she says she is, after all? She told us about a date with some guy that seemed to involve a satanic alter, but other details are surprisingly sparse for such a blabbermouth, who, unsurprisingly, since she’s a Republican, also turns out to be a crook. She says she’s moved on, but how do we know this is true? Because she continues to spout nonsense? You know, I bet that if we dropped her in water, she’d float. Isn’t that how they did it in medieval England? Isn’t there some test or something we could devise to find out whether she really isn’t a witch? I mean, it’s just her word that she isn’t, and we’ve already seen what that’s worth.

In fact, the surest sign that O’Donnell is a witch is that in spite of everything, she still might end up a US Senator. Along with a whole bunch of other equally well-qualified people. There was a time when this sort of thing would have been seen as a sure sign that the apocalypse was nigh.

12 replies »

  1. Simply amazing. Way to dialog. “…the outright glee with which the tea party wants to worsen poverty in America…” You obviously are unwilling to take on the issues here. It’s so much more fun to call names. I know, they do it too. Some people honestly – HONESTLY – want smaller government. It has nothing to do with race, or class, or devilry. Some people see “the fruits of progressive government” as a huge burden placed on the shoulders of the future, guaranteeing poverty will expand, not go away. And it’s not wishing for the good ol’ days, it’s trying to take care of the here and now and the future.

  2. And lets not forget that the deep pockets behind the tea party movement are the billionaire Koch brothers.

    As a neopagan myself, the media coverage of the O’Donnell witchcraft angle has been disrespectful and dismissive. I may not be Wiccan myself, but there are millions of Wiccans in the US today (Wicca was one of the fastest growing religions in the US in the mid90s – I don’t know about today, unfortunately) who deserve better than to be laughed at by ignorant journalists.

  3. Robert, you raise valid points, and these are all propositions worthy of debate. And I’m sure some people are willing to debate them. I certainly am, if I could find people outside the nexus of The American Conservative magazine (where people actually give these issues some serious thought), as opposed to just generating mis-spelled signboards. However, this does not appear to include the “leadership,” if that’s the word, of the tea party movement. Debate and dialog, in my experience, relies first and foremost on getting your facts right, not making them up.

    An interesting debate to have, for example, would be on your statement that the fruits of progressive government is actually “a huge burden placed on the shoulders of the future, guaranteeing poverty will expand, not go away.” This may or may not be true, depending on lots of things–assumptions about economic growth, tax rates, demographic shifts, currency exchange rates, the whole lot. We might think that if nothing else changes, this burden will increase. OTOH, there are lots of things that could change that would make the assumptions underlying this statement highly speculative at best, particularly the “guaranteeing poverty will expand” part. It sounds as if you and I might have this dialog. What are the odds of my being able to have this dialog with Christine O’Donnell, or the majority (maybe the entirety) of the Republican leadership who keep flat out lying about Social Security going broke? Sorry, but my patience for mendacity and duplicity has worn thin. As Daniel Moynihan once said, everyone is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts.

    And on my comment on poverty, see here. I don’t see any Republicans (or tea partiers) objecting. I’d be curious to know Christine O’Donnell’s views on the food stamp program during a recession. Now, I don’t know, but if I had to wonder, I would wonder whether they were similar to or different from those of Alaskan tea partier Joe Miller, who believes that unemployment benefits might be unconstitutional, and wants to do away with the Department of Agriculture.

  4. The idea of small, efficient – dare i say elegant – government is different than the idea of dismantling the government piecemeal.

    It’s rare that i hear anyone arguing for “small government” and including a significant reduction in the DoD as part of that government downsizing, even though it is by far the largest portion of government expenditure. SS doesn’t really count because it’s funded differently than the DoD and the rest of the government departments. I also find it interesting that many who argue for small government want expansions of government power in other areas, like having the government legislate morality (you know, like abortion).

    Or there’s the question of where all the “small government” people were when Bush the Lesser was overseeing the largest expansion of the USG since LBJ. Maybe i missed the small government conservative backlash to the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. Wish i hadn’t, i might have joined.

    Brian, i don’t think she claimed to be a Wiccan (which isn’t so much witchcraft as neo-paganism, i.e. neo-animism). I think it was more 80’s heavy metal Satanism in which she “dabbled”.

  5. Well said, Lex. Some blogger (can’t remember who) recently pointed out that this whole discussion seems to run at cross purposes. There are people who are for small government in principle. Then there are people who want the government to do certain things. And since the two are often disagreeing, the default status of the second group somehow magically becomes people who favor large government. Now, I don’t favor large government in principle, the way a number of people favor small government in principle. It’s a false opposition. I just want the government to do certain things, and to do them reasonably well. But according to the first group, that makes me a fan of big government. Sigh.

  6. Witchcraft in the Satanism aspect? I got the other feeling, but that could be me misreading something or not caring to read more.

    Satanism isn’t witchcraft – it’s Christianity turned around. But that’s a discussion for a different post.

  7. wufnik, I like your point about wanting the gov’t to do some things, but that doesn’t automatically make you Big Government fan. Hadn’t really thought of that.

    There were several of us frustrated with the Bush increases. How could the Republicans have the House and half the Senate, and still grow the size of the government? There were some who were vocal, but not enough.

    You may want to check out http://www.isi.org/ for some reasonable, thinking conservatives. Though sometimes they express some extreme positions, they do it thoughtfully, not with slogans. Also check out http://booksandculture.com/.

  8. Robert, yes, it hadn’t occurred to me either until someone pointed it out, Sadly, though, that’s how the debate has gotten framed. It’s a more complicated debate, obviously, but I don’t have the sense that there are a lot of tea partiers who actually really want to have that debate in the first place. That Joe Miller interview with Chris Wallace was just embarrassing. Lots of sound bites and slogans, not a single thought in sight. My irony meter enjoyed this, though.

    I know books and culture–it’s an interesting site. Will check out the other one. One of my favorite sites, btw, is Front Porch Republic, which is populated by a whole raft of Wendell Berry fans, like me. I think the interesting discussion to be had is the one on localism, and how we can get there. Which is not the same as small government. I’ve lived in England for the past 12 years, which, for all its federalism and dreaded NHS (which is fine, actually), has a whole lot more localism than pretty much anywhere in the US. I know what farms my food comes from. There aren’t that many places in the US where you can say that. One of the interesting aspects of the UK (and much of Europe, for that matter) is that large federal interventionist governments have managed to preserve a degree of localism that has largely, if not completely, disappeared in the US.

  9. Brian, her original comment (@ Politically Incorrect) included the phrases “Satanic altar” and “drops of blood”. Now, she could have mistaken any sacrificial altar for Satanic simply because it wasn’t Christian…disregarding that Jews were making animal sacrifices to the One True God for a long time and that her concept of Christianity is almost certainly confined to the White Jesus sort. And blood is a likely decorating touch on any sacrificial altar; at least until you get all transubstantiated and substitute wine/grape juice. But i think if we accept her statement and put it in the context of the times her dabbling occurred, then we’re looking at 80’s metal good times.

    I wish i could see the context in the Politically Incorrect segment because she tells the story in order to prove her bona fides when talking about someone/something.

    Robert, I’ll check those out. I know that there were some, but you’re right that they weren’t vocal enough. More importantly, it appears that those who weren’t vocal about it then are very vocal about big government now.