Wahhabism is to Saudi Arabia as the Religious Right is to the GOP. Now I either have your full attention or you are wondering why you bother to read this weird stuff. Hang in and it will be worth it. Maybe, if you're interested in this weird stuff. Look, I'll try, OK?
Around the 1740's, Ibn Saud and Ibn Abd-al-Wahhab made a deal. Abd-al-Wahhab was advocating a very strict and controversial form of fundamentalist Islam. He did not originate the movement, which is better known as Salafism. (Also, more accurately known as Salafism.). You've heard that name on the news lately. This sect is causing a great deal of suffering among fellow Moslems as it uses violence to force its beliefs on the world. The moment was not popular back in the eighteenth century, but Wahhab hit on a strategy which has kept it strong and influential to this day.
He offered a mutually beneficial relationship, what a biologist would call a
mutualist relationship. That means, both parties benefit and rely upon each other. By combining religion and politics, each side gained while losing nothing. Wahhab acquired a strong government to support and enforce his sect's tenets, Ibn Saud gained religious sanction for his family's rule. The results are that, in the volatile Middle East, both Salafism and Saudi Arabia continue to hold a secure position.
A similar relationship is developing between the two remaining wings of the Republican Party. The once diverse GOP has utilized a political Inquisition to drive out heretics, aka, Rinos. What's left is primarily the wealthy and the socially conservative. The wealthy Republicans want power to establish their own extended royal family. Those who
already have wealth want it to become entirely hereditary. It is already
largely so, but not so securely as the permanence of the House of Saud.
The religious Republicans want their beliefs to become the de facto religion of the United States. Many of them are willing to state that they would prefer it to be the de jure state religion as well.
Here is the basis for a mutualist relationship. The New Aristocracy gets the support and blessing of the national church. The Religious Right gets the police power of the state to enforce its moral code and to maintain its supremacy. The plan is working well, so far. The rich collect welfare in the form of tax breaks and government assistance to their corporations and the freedom to act without restraint through deregulation, while the ultra religious get radical judges and elected officials to undermine everyone else's religious freedom.
The shrinking number of regular church goers, the anger of the middle class, the rising numbers of minority voters with their own political agendas, the New Evangelicals who have very different goals than their parents, and a number of other trends, will, I believe, bring this effort to defeat. The question is, how much harm will it do before it is finally neutralized? I do not know. The answer depends on how long American citizens are willing to put up with the situation, and how effectively they respond.
I am hopeful, but cautiously so.