Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Nader Of The GOP

The lessons learned of the 1992, 1996, and 2000 elections apparently did not sink in to the Republican party:
To many values voters, Giuliani's rise is one more insult in the wake of the serial GOP sex scandals in Congress, the failure of George W. Bush's Administration to amend the Constitution to outlaw gay marriage, and a hunch that religious voters register on the Republican radar only when Election Day is in sight.
No duh!

We get a bit of an insight into why Karl Rove bailed out on the Republican party just when they need him most: for the past seven years, his hand-picked choice for President, the man to whom he delivered 3.5 million additional conservative Christian votes in 2004, has failed miserably, not just in imposing freedom in Iraq, but also in imposing a clear, conservative Christian agenda on America.

Sure, he's made inroads, no question about that: the nominations of Justices Roberts and Alito have all but cinched a conservative agenda for the next four decades in the court system, barring a sudden change of heart with a new President.

But look what hasn't happened, what was promised to the religious right: an anti-gay marriage amendment to the Constitution, overturning Roe v Wade, an end to the sex scandals that plagued government during the Clinton administration (suddenly, Monica Lewinski giving the Big Dog a hummer doesn't seem nearly so outrageous, when he was derided by people who "meat up" in men's rooms in airports), and other Christian stances that were, in fact and deed, repudiated by Bush (on issues such as saving the environment and assisting the poor such as in the Katrina tragedy).

There are two dynamics at work here: the first and overarching one is the hubris the Christian Coalition has shown over the past twelve years when in point of fact, its harsh stances and inflexibility has created many of the legislative logjams and moral morasses we see now.

After all, would Larry Craig have been such an huge hypocrite if his constituency, egged on by people who have their own moral matters to contend with-- like Ted Haggard or Ralph Reed-- hadn't insisted he tow a hard line in order to win their votes?

Pardon the pun.

On the flip side, the Republicans bear a lot of the responsibility here, too. Just as Democrats are often accused of taking (pick your minority/interest group) for granted, the Republicans assume that Christians have no alternative, having painted themselves as the final arbiters of Jesus' work here on earth.


If you take abortion off the table, the Democratic positions are much closer in fealty with Jesus' teachings than the Republicans, which is why the GOP is terrified of a Hillary nomination.

She's truly the only candidate of either party who is in a position to take a nuanced stance on abortion, as both a women and a Christian, and her "let's make abortion rare, safe, but legal" stance resonates with many more Christian middle class women than overturning Roe v. Wade does, while maintaining a strong position for liberals to embrace.

Meanwhile, the GOP doesn't have anyone in the race or on the horizon who could accept the full embrace of the Christian Coalition while having a plausible presence in the rest of the country's mind as a President.

In other words, the Christian Coalition is looking at itself in a mirror, thinking it sees the country, which it does not.

The sort of hubris that Ralph Nader's supporters saw in 2000, and look what that got us.

OK, that's not entirely fair. Al Gore lost the election (despite the stealing of Florida) for any number of reasons, not least of which was his failure to win his own damned Congressional district, much less Florida.

And yet, Nader got into the race, as his campaign staff put it "to put George Bush in the White House," in order to punish the Democrats for drifting from the left.

You'll notice they've tacked ever closer to the center and actually started winning some elections, Ralph. You might have done more good for the progressive cause by sitting out the 2000 election.

In many ways, this uprising by the conservative Christians is more damaging than Ralph Nader's was. Having seen the failure for two terms of their hand-picked candidate, and the moral incompetence of their handpicked Congress, for them to pull out now would be like taking heroin from an addict.

But then again, Christians were never particularly tolerant of people's weaknesses, even if their Lord is...