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How is it that, against the will of the public, a minority sect of religious zealots can be empowered to essentially ban abortion in an entire state? This is the product of a grand bargain that keeps our political system permanently broken. We often don’t notice until it kills us or throws us in jail.

What is the existential purpose of the Republican Party? The existential purpose of the Republican Party is to serve the interests of the rich. The reason why the Republican Party has the incredible resources and power that it does is that rich people, who by definition have many resources, are willing to fund the Republican Party as an investment that will make them money. And politics pays off handsomely. Tax cuts and business deregulation alone make the Republican Party a great investment.

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In a fair direct democracy based purely on the will of the majority, a party serving the interests of the rich would lose every election. Not only are the rich a small minority of the population, but their interests are very often in direct opposition of the interests of the vast majority of people. This is why America was designed as a republic, rather than a direct democracy—to protect the political power of the rich. This is also why, to this very day, the Republican Party engages in the widespread, systematic pursuit of policies that will thwart the will of the majority. This is why voter suppression exists; this is why gerrymandering exists; this is why our campaign finance system allows the wealthy to buy elections; this is why the U.S. Senate exists, as a body that gives much more power to rural states than to urban ones; this is why the Electoral College exists, as a body that has a proven track record of overruling the popular vote. In a nation with only two major political parties, one of those parties exists to serve the interests of a tiny minority of people. And yet it must get more than half of the votes. Most of the blatant injustices of our broken political system can be traced back to this fact.

How does the party of the rich attract the votes of the non-rich? It does so primarily by waving the flag and the cross. Patriotism and religion are the tools the Republican Party uses to gain mass support. Forcing you to work two jobs in order to pay the rent so that hedge fund investors can buy third vacation homes is not popular, but God and Country are. And so the Republican Party makes its public face patriotic and Christian, even as its real business is to funnel as much of America’s wealth as possible into the pockets of its donor class. Guns? Abortion? Standing for the national anthem? These are the issues that the Republican Party loves to talk about most. They appeal to the basic sensibilities of millions of Americans, and inflame their passions, so that they do not notice they are being robbed.

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Christian fundamentalists in America have made a deal with the devil. That deal is to throw their political support wholeheartedly behind the Republican Party. The party will seek to ban abortion, and persecute gay people, and prop up Christian schools; in exchange, the Christian right will ignore the rather un-Christian true face of the party of the rich, as it steals from the poor and starts wars. The spectacle of devout Christians feverishly supporting a self-worshiping billionaire who has committed every sin is just the most recent absurd manifestation of something that has been going on for a long time. This grand bargain has served the narrow interests of both sides well, even as it has been detrimental to humanity as a whole.

Women in Alabama and Georgia will suffer, and probably die, because they now live in kingdoms controlled by religious zealots. History is full of examples of religious zealots causing misery among the masses when they assume power—that much is not surprising. It is important to focus on the question of how these people came to be in charge of us all. The most basic answer to that question is: They came to be in charge because, in a roundabout way, it serves the interests of the rich. They came to be in charge thanks to the support of a vast, decades-long national program to suppress the will of the majority in favor of the desires of a small minority. They came to be in charge because the rich need the Republican Party, the Republican Party needs 51% of the votes, and that means they need all those good Christians to turn up at the polls for something. They probably won’t be motivated by the need for lower taxes on pass-through entities. So they must instead be motivated by the chance to assume control of the female body, on behalf of god. In order to maintain our treasured free enterprise system that allows billionaires to keep the majority of their wealth, some things must be sacrificed. Today, it’s women.

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This happens, and will keep happening, because of that deal with the devil between the Republican Party and its non-rich voters. That may sound distasteful. So let’s call it, instead, a deal with Jesus. The outcome is exactly the same.