Stolers

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Henry Neufeld has a nice analysis of the Dominionismism stuff. See my comments for an analysis of Chip Berlet's weird view of what Dominionism is.

In reading Berlet's article, it occurred to me that we need a term for the conspiracy theory that George W. Bush stole the presidency in 2000 and again in 2004. Just about no one seriously entertains the idea that 2004 should have gone to Kerry if the process had been followed legally but that Bush's cronies in Ohio stole it for him. Apparently Berlet is one of those "just about no one". I say that's grounds for calling him a conspiracy theorist even apart from his Dominionismism.

I would contend, further, that thinking Bush stole the election in 2000 is even a conspiracy theory, given that the recounts done by the Florida newspapers ended up concluding that Gore could have won only if they had done a recount using the most liberal standard available, one many Democrats had been opposing.

(Not to mention that I think Bush v. Gore, while not the best opinion the Supreme Court could have produced, was generally rightly-decided. That the crucial premise of their decision was supported 7-2 indicates that there probably really is something to their concern. I'd call that bi-partisan. That the solution of the 2 who didn't join the majority but accepted that point would have violated federal law suggests that the majority were probably in the right direction, even if they weren't right on all the details. But I need not rely on that to claim that it's a conspiracy theory to think that Gore would have won but for some manipulation on the part of the Bush team. All it requires is that Gore would almost certainly not have won no matter how the Supreme Court had decided, unless they had just declared him the winner and done what the left has consistency pretended they did with Bush.)

In any case, I'm proposing a name for this conspiracy theory in the spirit of Birthers and Truthers. I call these people Stolers. It's just as bad a term as the others, and it perverts the language just as mightily, so I think it will do nicely. Besides, it's the right number of syllables. With 'Dominionismists' I failed at achieving that parallel. But if Henry is right on the different kind of mechanism producing Dominionismism, then maybe it shouldn't be parallel. (See his response to my comment on his post.)

2 Comments

1) I noted in my response to your comment on my blog that "dominionismists" is a tongue twister that just doesn't have that ring to it! I suppose it may be memorable for that reason, but yuck!

2) I would, of course, distinguish those who simply don't think the federal government had any business interfering in the Florida process from those who call it "stealing" the election. Even if it reversed the election (and I don't think it did), and the Supreme Court was wrong (and I think it was), the legal process was followed. I would regard that as more important than the actual count. Incidentally, I was not a Bush voter; I voted third party that year. So I didn't really have a dog in the hunt.

I wasn't intending "Dominionismists" to be catchy and flow off the tongue easily. It was actually supposed to capture the irony that these people invented a term out of whole cloth that takes up four syllables when already-existing terms ('Christian', 'evangelical', 'Reconstructionist', 'theonomist') cover the bases already without leaving out any important and influential group. So I made the term even more ridiculous than the one they were using, which I judge to be ridiculous already.

You're right about the process issue. That's a point that I remember making frequently at the time. It did far more damage to the political process to treat Bush as illegitimate, given that the proper process was followed (even if you disagree with how the people in the proper process did what they did) than it did that Bush was president, even on the false premise that he was a terrible president (I think history will judge him as one of the better presidents of my lifetime). I think the proper blame for the current environment stems initially from the divide that occurred primarily from the left-wing response to the 2000 election and the right's response to it. The issues over the war on terrorism and Iraq, and then the Jesusland values voters stuff in 2004, fell into place during an already-angry divide over the mere election results of a close election, and 9/11's brief unity didn't dispel that divide. There are plenty of other factors, but I think that response to the 2000 election played a much bigger role than it's sometimes recognized for.

I should say that I don't think it's a conspiracy theory to disagree with that Supreme Court decision. After all, two justices disagreed with it without holding such a conspiracy theory (but two didn't). The conspiracy theory I have in mind is holding that the justices in the majority took the views they took merely to influence the outcome of the election, and I think that's both viciously uncharitable to those in authority and in flat contradiction to where the evidence points, since their major premise was held in common with two justices who disagreed with the outcome (and the solution of the other two was illegal according to federal law, which didn't allow courts to extend the deadline that the legislature had set for the election's completion, which suggests that it was those other two justices who had let their desire for a different outcome affect their proposed solution). So I disagree with those who criticize the majority opinion, but those who do disagree don't necessarily hold the conspiracy theory that I think is nonetheless too widely held.

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