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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Is the religious right relevant?

Today, EJ Dionne weighs in on this question. Here is his response:

I think the answer to that question is "Yes." I don't think evangelical Christianity is finished -- indeed, I think the evangelicals are flourishing and will get stronger as they disentangle themselves a political machine and broaden their agenda, as so many in their ranks already have, to issues related to poverty, AIDS and the environment. But as a political movement, the religious right is far less relevant to this moment than it was, say, in 1980 or even in 2004.

In part, we agree. But that agreement is based on the times we live in right now. In 1980, a mere seven years after the infamous decision by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (the driving issue of this demographic bloc) these people were just getting started. But as time moves on, and different issues rise to the forefront of a political debate, the voices rise and drop like the ebb and flow of the tides.

In 2000, they were key to the election of President Bush, and their message was clear and concise. Return honor, integrity, and morality to the white House after eight scandal-plagued years of the Clinton presidency. The only people unhappy with the Clinton's departure were their hardcore backers and supporters. the nation breathed a sigh of relief with the incoming president. In 2004, they had less of a role to fulfill given that the driving issue then was the war.

Recently people like Tony Perkins and Dr. James Dobson have stated a dissatisfaction with the current crop of GOP nominees. (I believe Mike Huckabee is the lone exception, and it's because he closely mirrors President Bush's "compassionate conservatism.") They have talked about and mildly threatened to support a third-party candidate is the chosen nominee doesn't represent them and their issues.

I'll save the analysis for the 16 October issue of Common Conservative. (This particular issue is one that Marcie and I address directly.) But I will say this: The "values voters" are learning a valuable lesson about political discourse. They can't always be the ones driving the bus. We love them in our tent, and it's mostly due to the fact that they serve as the de facto conscience of the party; a constant reminder that our party should be one based on the moral teachings that made this nation great.

No offense to Democrats, but there doesn't seem to be that type of voice in their party. It's taken up by special interest activists who continually "lobby" candidates and leaders to maintain their current track. (For example, do nothing to jeopardize abortion, don't give into school choice, always stand against cutting spending and taxes, etc.)

There comes a time in a political party's existence where another set of voices must take up the reins of leading the party through certain times. The values voters have had their chance. Now we are in a war where defense and national security are at the forefront of issues. They can continue to espouse their beliefs, and we won't ignore them, but we will take their suggestions in kind and place them where they belong at this current time.

At the risk of offending the values voters, their issue is on the back burner right now. We have a war to win and a nation to defend. Can anyone imagine if the values voters were around in World War II, and piped up to tell the nation that 7 December was just a part of history, and the nation needed to move on? No, we won't move on. Better yet, we'll do that just as soon as we finish off our enemies. Then we can go back to debating abortion, the environment, who does and doesn't suck in the government, and whether our taxes are too bloody high (for the record, they are), but if we fail to accomplish our task in this war, those issues aren't going to amount to much. They'll be the least of our problems.

Are values voters irrelevant? Hardly. Will they be needed in 2008? Definitely. But the question remains if they can set aside their differences with candidates and vote for what is needed in a leader rather than someone who will pay lip service to their supporters, and make mistakes in choosing justices for the high court.

The next president could have as many as four Supreme Court appointments in their first term. This is the only way their issue can be changed, and I'd rather have a president that has an idea of what an originalist jurist is rather than one that makes snafus as previous Republican presidents have done. When it comes to Rudy Giuliani, he has promised this and we take him at his word.

Publius II

1 Comments:

Anonymous Julie Schmidt said...

Wow. I'm a bit taken back by your analysis. You seem to frame your argument in a "we"--True Republicans who understand politics, verses "them"--quirky Evangelicals who don't have an understanding of the current issues that face our nation. You then seem to cast yourself as the defacto "we" who is so wise in your understanding that the Evangelicals should just get off the values thing for now.

Here's a news flash for you. Number 1) Dr. Dobson is well respected in the Christian community because he has consistently stood for values that just happen to be the foundation of our very civilization. 2) I don't think he's a political idiot 3) He has never even suggested supporting a third party and especially now. The other "Evangelicals" who do aren't quite as savvy apparently. 4) He and those who have the same type of values who are part of the Repulican Party are in the big tent and comprise most of it. So I'd think twice about phrasing the argument in the way the the Left classically does--special interest groups are a means to an end. Christian Americans who are Republicans ARE the party not a special interest group. Take a poll sometime. 5)To classify Evangelicals in the narrow "values voter" category is ludicrious. While some Evangelicals are one value voters, the majority come from all walks of life in America and understand the broader issues at stake. 6) This is a primary in case you didn't know that. To say that Evangelicals should set aside their differences to support a primary candidate that does not align with their values is just plain silly. That's the point of the primary, support the one who does. I beleive exploding this into the General election has been done more so by the media and apparently pundits like yourself, than most Evangelicals. 7) The Christian "Right" understands that we're at war, that's why Bush received a large margin of the vote in 2004. So much for the values voter not understanding the value of defeating the enemy and choosing a leader who is needed. 8) Just in case you also didn't know, Republican candidates have been paying lip service to the Right for decades and we're all out there still pounding the pavement to get them elected in spite of it. Taxes are still high, the abortion mills are still churning, deficits are out of control, gays are still trying to destroying the meaning of marriage, Jihadism rose under Republicans and Democrats alike, education is failing, we nearly had Harriett Miers on the SC...need I go on? Maybe the Right is just getting a little fatigued, but I don't believe we're stupid!

So here's a suggestion, quit categorizing Religious Republicans as some special interest group in the Republican party that needs to be tutored on politics, we are Republicans and we know full well what is at stake. Clue phone...its for you.

October 17, 2007 at 8:46 AM  

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