The GOP is the party of hypocrisy. How did it get this way?

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“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote these stirring words in the Declaration of Independence, but Jefferson and many of the other men who signed onto the final draft somehow rationalized (or denied to themselves) the unfathomable contradiction that they enslaved, owned, raised, and sold human beings.

Like many of these “founders,” a great number of world leaders have betrayed their words through their actions throughout history.

More recently, so-called “family values” politicians and religious leaders who vocally and vigorously championed conservative social issues – such as opposition to sex outside marriage, reproductive freedoms, and LGBTQ+ equality – were literally found with their pants down publicly exposing their engorged… hypocrisy.

Donald Trump recently accused President Joe Biden of losing his memory and cognitive abilities, while Trump himself has referred to Nancy Pelosi as Nikki Haley and recently warned that if allowed to continue as president, Joe Biden would get the U.S. involved in World War II.

And though Nikki Haley’s husband is on combat duty in the U.S. military, Trump accused him of abandoning Haley during the campaign. Yet, Melania Trump has not been seen on the campaign trail with her husband since he announced his reelection for the presidency back in 2022.

When Trump took a break from his many court trials for some campaigning, this time in South Carolina, a reporter asked him if he again assumed the Oval Office, would he defend any of our NATO partners if they were delinquent in contributing the required equivalent of 2% of their national gross product?

Trump quickly responded: ″You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent? No I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them [Russia] to do whatever the hell they want. You gotta pay. You gotta pay your bills.”

Really? Trump hired undocumented Polish workers at less-than-standard wages and under horrendous working conditions to construct his Trump Towers in New York City. Though he presents himself as a guardian of workers and jobs, a comprehensive probe found hundreds of people – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he stiffed them for their work.

In addition, Trump argued his opposition to the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States, preferring rather to allow individual states to decide. He asserted that he is in favor of “traditional marriage,” which must be true if one defines “traditional” as a man engaging in numerous extra-marital affairs and getting married three times to three different women.

But hypocrisy and doublespeak is nothing new in political and religious circles.

Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, the “family values” Evangelical conservative, resigned from his job when allegations hit the press that he had sexually abused at least four boys when he coached wrestling at an Illinois high school years before and that he bribed some of them for their silence.

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), who led the impeachment efforts against Bill Clinton for having an affair while in the White House, also had an extramarital affair with one of his aids, as did Gingrich’s almost successor, former Speaker-designate Bob Livingston (R).

In the early 2000s, former Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN) produced a video endorsing sexual abstinence. In the video, his interviewer was a young female aide with whom he was having an affair.

More recently, Christian Ziegler, former chairman of the Florida Republican Party and husband of Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of the anti-LGBTQ+ Christian Nationalist group Moms for Liberty, has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman. Both Zieglers admitted to having been involved with the woman sexually.

Giancarlo Granda, 29, had a sexual affair lasting six years with Becki Falwell, wife of Evangelical Minister and former President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. Granda, their former pool boy, stated that Rev. Falwell watched as he had sex with his wife.  

Minister Jim Baker, Praise the Lord (PTL) founder and creator of the Christian fundamentalist theme park, Heritage USA, paid hush money to a female church secretary to cover up their affair. Prosecutors later convicted Baker of embezzling $158 million from his parishioners. 

And who could forget the tearful confession televised over the airwaves of televangelist Jimmy Swaggart when reports surfaced of him paying a number of women for sex? By the way, Swaggart fiercely condemned Jim Baker just a few years earlier for engaging in affairs outside of marriage.

Former U.S. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), a legislator with a very long anti-LGBTQ+ voting record in both the House and Senate, pleaded guilty to a charge in 2007 of lewd conduct after an undercover police officer arrested him for soliciting sex in a men’s restroom at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Airport. During his career, the far-right American Family Association and Family Research Council heaped praise onto Craig for his consistent conservative voting record.

A co-founder of the Family Research Council, George Rekers, was exposed by the media when he returned home from Europe with a young “male escort” whom he found on the website The young man claimed that Rekers paid him to perform nude body rubs on a daily basis. Rekers is a retired professor from the University of South Carolina and a Baptist minister.

Other recent conservative paragons of virtue who fell off their lofty “family values” perches include former Senator John Ensign (R-NV), who engaged in an affair with the wife of his chief of staff, and former Senator David Vitter (R-LA), who was discovered to have been a client of female sex workers in the District of Columbia and Louisiana.

Kenneth Star, the prosecutor tasked with delving into charges of alleged sexual transgressions by President Bill Clinton, which led to his eventual impeachment, is the same Kenneth Star who had his own presidency of Baylor University stripped from him for purportedly failing to take action against members of Baylor’s football team for allegedly engaging in sexual assault of female students.

Some tout their supposed beliefs simply for expediency by pandering for expected gain and advancement. Others, however, who attempt to juggle the contradictions, may have convinced themselves that they actually believe the policies they espouse, even though they have great difficulty upholding these due to their libidinal or economic default settings.

In the latter instance, individuals often voice unwavering commitment to their values to shield themselves from unwanted desires and impulses while attributing these to others, thereby shifting the blame from themselves onto others. In psychological parlance, this is referred to as “projection.”

For example, in our current national controversy over trans people’s right to use the restroom corresponding to their gender identity, some opponents of trans inclusion project their own impulses to enter intimate spaces of another sex to fulfill erotic or prurient desires.

In actuality, there are virtually no instances of trans people assaulting anyone when they enter restrooms. Trans people, however, often remain at risk for assault by cisgender people.  

A few years back, primarily heterosexual men vehemently opposed openly gay and bisexual men from entry into the military. We heard as the primary argument that allowing these men access to bunks and showers would place heterosexual men at risk for assault and undermine troop cohesion. I contend, rather, that in many instances, the mechanism of projection was in operation within the heterosexual men in order to protect themselves from their own desires to bunk and shower in the women’s quarters. Again, gay and bisexual men are those who stand at greater risk for assault.

Many who adhere to strict fundamentalist religions often oppose the more progressive denominations, as well as women’s equality, women’s reproductive rights, LGBTQ+ rights, atheism, agnosticism, divorce, unmarried people living together, and more possibly as a repressed envy since others enjoy greater degrees of freedom and more options by not accepting rigid social or religious dogma.

Psychologist George Weinberg raised an interesting concept within the overarching system of heteronormativity and heterosexism, which he termed “existence without vicarious immortality.”

Simply stated, in the public imagination, LGBTQ+ people are generally seen as people who either do not or cannot bear children. Though this is often not the case, the very idea of persons without children awakens in some people a fear of death, often unconscious, since offspring provide a continuation of the family line and gene pool of individual members. Therefore, for some people, any reminder of their own mortality can emerge as threatening to the ego, and this fear can transform into prejudice.

So, in addition to considering the political, religious, social, and economic systems that construct, maintain, and enhance issues of control and domination over others and over the environment, we must also consider the psychological dimensions that keep these systems firmly in place.

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