Monday, November 10, 2008

Go Right, Republicans

The recriminations are still with us. The bloodletting remains. It is beautiful, to the extent that people who frankly deserve to be a political minority are whining about it.

For religious right, election a 'turning point'
The Associated Press

Pundits declared evangelicals among Election Day’s losers. Conservative Christian leader James Dobson confessed he was grieving. Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State said religious right leaders "kept their own flock in line, but the majority of Americans were unmoved."

But few are writing obituaries this week for the Christian right, which has been wrongly considered dead after setbacks like the demise of the Moral Majority and crumbling of the Christian Coalition.

White evangelicals remain a large, loyal and organized Republican voting bloc that delivered Tuesday for John McCain but could not offset the battery of factors working against Republicans in 2008.

One pressing question in the wake of Barack Obama’s historic victory is whether the Christian right can grow its own ranks or take positions with broader appeal. Some Republicans believe that a tight embrace of social conservative values turns off independents and moderates, but many Christian right leaders resist compromise and contend that, if anything, the GOP has strayed too far from its principles.

Once again, conservative Evangelicals engaged in politics find themselves at a crossroads.

"Do they want to be an oppositional force, lambasting the administration at every turn, which can help their organizations raise money?" said Mark Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University. "Or do they find ways to intersect with new leadership and either try to minimize damage to their agenda or move forward issues where they can find consensus? It’s an important turning point for the movement."

Several Christian right leaders, however, pointed to success in California, Arizona and Florida of constitutional amendments that, in effect, banned gay marriage.

"Conservative politicians lost. Traditional values succeeded," said Tom Minnery, a vice president of Dobson’s Focus on the Family. "It ought to tell them to get a clue about the importance of marriage."

Others pointed to how Hispanics and African-Americans — who overwhelmingly backed Obama — sided with white evangelicals in rejecting gay marriage.

"There is a common thread among these different ethnic groups, and it’s church. It’s faith," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "If Republicans want to reach into those ethnic groups, really the only bridge they can cross over are the social issues. But they have to be true to them."

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said immigration is another issue that holds promise.

"Social conservatives are open to some sort of immigration reform that will be far less offensive to Hispanic voters than some of the more nativist forces" within the Republican family, he said.

There are those who are advising the Republicans to become more mainstream and moderate. I am not one of those people. In fact, I want the 2012 campaign to go even further to the right, just to drive the point home. Nothing like a political party that looks like this to guarantee its permanent second party status.

Of course, my guess is they will try the token card in 2012 with Palin and Jindal. It would be smart, as the loss of non-whites and females is electorally killing the Republican Party. Still, Palin was on the ticket in 2008 and the share of the female vote fell from 48% in 2004 to 43% last Tuesday. Just having a non-white male or female will not guarantee the vote of the communities you would just as soon deport or subordinate. That would mean a change in policies, which of course will not be happening, if our Bible believing friends have it their way. Oh, yes, I know they won the California vote, but as awful as it was (and as right as the demonstrators are to target the Mormons and Catholics [bigots that they are]), that is the last gasp, ladies and gentlemen. The same vote several years ago in California was over 60%. It is almost 50-50 now. When they take the next vote, if the courts overturn this one, it will likely go against them (and they know it). We are winning, even when the Democrats betray us (and they will, as they always do). In 2004, 79% of self-described "born again" Christians voted for Bush. In 2008, 74% voted for McCain. They showed up still, probably in large part because of Governor Palin's pick as VP, and they lost.

The 2008 results do not reduce the threat, of course, particularly to and from the courts, but culturally this is the beginning of the end for them (sort of what the 1970s and '80s de-industrialization of our economy by global capitalists have been to labor unions). Once they go from being 25% to 10-15% of the electorate (hopefully, by the middle part of this century), you will then see the Republican Party pretend to care about something other than Jesus Christ. At that point, the corporations will have to find a new trojan horse. There will not be enough gays and aborted fetuses to cover for what the sponsors really want.

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