In 1999, I met with the Reverend Pat Robertson. It’s a conversation I’ll never forget—because I’d hidden my micro tape recorder inside my hollow cigarette lighter.
In his dressing room, while the reverend took off his make-up, I asked him about the time God told him to run for president.
How, I wanted to know, could he lose with a campaign manager like that?
Robertson grinned. “He told me to run, not win.”
Was that some kind of heavenly practical joke, like “Reverend, I was just kidding”?
Nope. The Lord had something more important in mind for Rev. Robertson: to create, he said, a Christian Coalition, by using the campaign to build a giant mailing list of The Saved. This Christian Coalition, basically a huge database of three million names, addresses, and bank account numbers, would forever rule the GOP, God’s Own Party.
Today, no one can run for the Republican nomination for dogcatcher if the Christian Right vetoes it. The Lord’s army now controls the Republican Party.
I firmly believe that there is a Message in Pat Robertson’s computerized coalition for those of us who have been Chosen to take God’s Word to the world. That this commandment came to us via a goyish Elmer Gantry con man like Robertson, well, the Lord moves in mysterious, if not downright weird-ass, ways.
And the Meaning is? Mailing lists. Cohesion. Long-term base building. Purposeful action.
And His Message is this: We need everyone’s e-mail address. Like Robertson’s Coalition crusaders, we need to make it clear that when the election is over, no matter the outcome, we are not going away; that when we make a call to action, that the call is answered.
My problem with the Ralph Nader campaign back in 2000 was not that it took away enough votes to elect George W. Bush, but that, right after the election, the Nader campaigners vanished. This could have been our permanent power-building tool, an Un-Christian Coalition that could take over the national discussion as Occupy Wall Street did last year.
Never again. We need, like the Christian Right, to remain permanently connected. So, where can you send your name, your email address, your funds (besides tikkun.org and thepalastinvestigativefund.org, thanks), and your tuchas when needed for street actions and registration drives?
Answer: everywhere. The Right will always have its Christian Coalitions, its Karl Roves and Kochs and their “DataTrust” mailing lists pumped by hidden funds and organized like Mussolini’s railroads.
Progressives, with our born-at-Woodstock souls, will never get it together like that. But we don’t have to. Let a million mailing lists bloom! Be everywhere and give them a scare! I write for both Harpers and Hustler, for a readership both Left- and Right-handed.
What is wrong with doing everything all the time everywhere? Tweet, occupy, register, donate––then debate and date a Republican.
It’s time to ask: For what purpose have we been Chosen? After wandering around for forty years in New Jersey, where the hell is the Promised Land?
The answer is: in your computer, your wallet, your feet, your time, your in-laws’ voter registration form, your commitment never to shut up. Look, voting and spending four days in Newark registering voters isn’t going to change the planet, but neither will a 52” flat-screen TV, a good resumé, or Louboutin heels.
Yes, I know that the president has disappointed you just like you’ve disappointed your parents. But it’s not about Obama or about electing a bunch of schmucky Democrats. Partisan ain’t the point. The point is that I’d like to go back to Pat Robertson and say, “Our list is bigger than yours.”
Now, wouldn’t that be a kick in the kishkas?
(To read more Fall 2012 online exclusives on American Beyond the 2012 Election, click here.)