Sullivan appropriately rages that "the theo-conservative reaction to Francis [i.e., Ross Douthat's reaction] reminds me a little of the wing of the GOP that simply cannot tolerate the give and take of democratic life, and as soon as a president of the other party is handily elected, and actually dares to enact a clear campaign pledge, declares the end of the republic!" Inappropriately, he backs off: "But, of course, the Catholic church is not a democracy, so the analogy won’t work."
Like hell it won't work. It fact I was going to deploy the analogy myself yesterday, but I decided to give readers a Sunday rest from my chronic bitching about contemporary conservatives' anti-democratic, anti-pluralistic, crypto-fascistic political philosophy. Well, now it's Monday.
In the right's mind, the Republican Party is the one legitimate party; the opposition party is but an unAmerican nuisance that only inhibits the execution of inevitable righteousness--which, for starters, means nihilism. Cripple federal revenue, hack safety nets, gut social programs, obliterate regulations, narrow the electorate to angry white folk and simply unleash the laboratory wisdom of ALEC-bought states. To the right, these aren't policy choices to be debated, negotiated, or in any way modified. They are, rather, religious doctrine, with all of religion's zealous and pious resistance to compromise.
I do not use the phrase "crypto-fascistic" lightly. In authoritarianism there lies the assumption that there is absolute right and absolute wrong--indeed only those two--and legitimate authorities both know the difference and execute only the right, which, conveniently, is what makes them so profoundly legitimate and thus worthy of exclusive rule. And round and round political authoritarianism goes. Compare that with Sullivan's observation about Ross Douthat's column: "there is a clear assumption that his side of the debate owns the church, that any contrary views to his are an outrageous, treasonous and unprecedented attack on the institution itself."
Substitute government for "church" and "institution" and you've a rather precise statement of the right's political philosophy. Whether the right derives its political disposition from its religious fanaticism or its political fanaticism from its religious disposition, I can't say. That they're complementary as well as analogous, though, is undeniable.