GOP’s G-O-D Problem
As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.
Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.
I’m bathing in holy water as I type.
To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.
Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.
Andrew Sullivan agrees wholeheartedly and contends the party’s control by the “Christianists” is the reason they so blindly followed Bush.
You have to see the link between the fundamentalist psyche and the suspension of critical judgment in the Republican party for the past eight years. A non-born-again president would never have been allowed to get away with it.
Jonah Goldberg says “This act is getting really old.”
I don’t know what’s more grating, the quasi-bigotry that has you calling religious Christians low brows, gorillas and oogedy-boogedy types or the bravery-on-the-cheap as you salute — in that winsome way — your own courage for saying what (according to you) needs to be said.
In this one, I’m much closer to Goldberg than to Parker. As with nonsense about how liberals are modern-day Fascists, this business about “oogedy-boogedy” is decidedly unhelpful in shaping the debate.
Goldberg is quite right here:
For the record, I have no problem with arguments about how the GOP has become too religious. I ended my book with pretty much that argument. I opposed Mike Huckabee vociferously because he seemed the quintessential rightwing progressive imbued with a rightwing social gospel. These are all good arguments to make and they have good responses to them. But please drop the nonsense about how the G-O-D people or the Palin people are low brows and beasts. There are low brows and beasts everywhere, on every side of the ideological spectrum.
Indeed. Sadly, Parker gets is right too late in her column:
It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts.
I fully concur that trying to build a majority coalition around Christian Conservatives is a losing proposition. As I noted a couple weeks ago on OTB Radio, targeting one’s public policy so as to appeal to “every last Pentacostal” is a mistake. At the same time, however, there’s no conceivable center-right majority that excludes people of faith. (Indeed, one can argue that conservatism without religion isn’t conservatism at all; but that’s another debate.) The key is to appeal to social values voters without repelling Chamber of Commerce and libertarian Republicans and sympathetic moderates.
Daniel Larison, meanwhile, thinks religious conservatives get too much blame but for a different reason:
Despite their numbers, and in large part because of their reliability as Republican voters, evangelicals and social conservatives draw very little water in the GOP. Each cycle GOP leaders see how little it will take to get these voters to turn out for their candidates, and what that amount of lip service is each cycle they try to reduce it. The voters continue to turn out, despite having less and less reason to do so, and for their trouble they are accused of the errors that the party leaders made and into which the establishment dragged them.
I disagree. All of the Republican Party’s major leaders are from the social conservative wing of the party and that wing dominates grassroots recruitment, get-out-the-vote drives, fundraising, and so forth. It’s true that they don’t have much to show for their power in terms of public policy outcomes. But that’s a function of institutional checks and balances (the filibuster in the Senate, the fealty to stare decisis in the courts, and so forth) than the voting behavior of Republican officeholders.
Really, though, that’s part of the point. We’re simply never going to outlaw abortion again. The culture and the medicine (RU486, morning after pills, etc.) have moved beyond that. We’re not going to have prayer in the public schools. We’re not going to outlaw divorce or return to a mythical time where there’s no sex outside of marriage.
That said, Parker’s notion that religion must be “returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs” is as offensive as it is absurd. Religious folk have every bit as much right as anyone else to speak their minds and to try to shift public policy towards their preferences. For that matter, Christian belief is as valid a motivation as partisanship or ideology or habit or self-interest for forming positions on the candidates and the issues.
The GOP’s goal shouldn’t be to drive out the social conservatives but rather to bring in others.