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Former GOPer: How Republicans Went Crazy, Dems Lost Their Mojo, and the Middle Class Got Shafted

Bill Moyers talks with Mike Lofgren, a long-time Republican who describes the modern dysfunction of both the Republican and Democratic parties.

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Bill Moyers: What do you mean "apocalyptic cult"?

Mike Lofgren: Well, I mean it literally in some cases. There's a very strong element in evangelical or fundamentalist religion that said the apocalypse is coming. And one sort of sees it subliminally in people like Michele Bachmann when the debt ceiling crisis came to a head and people were warning that we would be downgraded. And if we actually defaulted, we would possibly have to lower our standard of living and credit from abroad could dry up. And her attitude was sort of, "Bring it on. If we're all going to abide in the bosom of the Lord, by and by, it really doesn't matter whether we default."

Bill Moyers: Was that just rhetoric we heard on television?

Mike Lofgren: Oh, that's mainly rhetoric. But I think it does carry over into the mentality of maximalist obstruction, no compromise, because of course when you are with the saints and the opposition is with the sinners, you are doing evil if you compromise.

Bill Moyers: You write that we now have a de facto religious test for public office, notwithstanding that the Constitution says we must not have one. How does this play out?

Mike Lofgren: Well, we saw it in 2008, when a pastor brought Obama and McCain before a live audience and quizzed them about their religiosity. That was Rick Warren. We really don't need that sort of religious test. It's banned in the Constitution. We had it play out last year when some preacher in Texas started criticizing Romney because as a Mormon, this man thought he wasn't a Christian.

Pastor Jeffress:  The Southern Baptist Convention, which is the largest Protestant denomination in the world has officially labeled Mormonism as a cult. I think that Romney's a good, moral man, but I think those of us who are born-again followers of Christ should always prefer a competent Christian to a competent non-Christian like Mitt Romney.

Mike Lofgren: The media went off on that for a few days. And as I recall, some of the reporters were badgering the other Republican candidates as to whether they thought Romney was a Christian. So the media actually allowed itself to be used as a tool in this aspect.  Bill Moyers: Candy Crowley kept pressing Herman Cain and, and Michele Bachmann in the primaries on this very issue.

Candy Crowley: Is Mitt Romney a non-Christian?

Herman Cain: I'm not running for theologian-in-chief. I'm a life-long Christian, and what that means is, one of my guiding principles for the decisions I make is I start with, do the right thing. I'm not getting into that controversy.

Candy Crowley: But it still will beg the question that you dodged a direct question, which is, is Mitt Romney not a Christian?

Herman Cain: He is a Mormon. That much I know. I am not going to do an analysis of Mormonism versus Christianity for the sake of answering that. I'm not getting into that. I am a Christian—

Candy Crowley: Even knowing it will look like you're dodging it [...] And let me just, because I gave Herman Cain the same opportunity, you know that, that by not answering the direct question "Do you think Mitt Romney is a Christian?" you leave open the possibility that people are going to say that you dodged the question, the direct question.

Michelle Bachmann: No, I think what the real focus is here, again, is on religious tolerance.

Mike Lofgren: Well, I'll give them credit. They didn't answer her, because the question didn't deserve an answer. Romney's religion is his own business.

 
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