The Merger: Evangelicalism and the GOP

Growing up, I knew there was a close alignment between my family’s evangelical religion and our politics. They seemed to fit hand in glove. Of course we were Republicans! What true Christian could be otherwise? The Republican party stood for good Christian values and Biblical policies while the Democrats stood for everything anti-Christian, from socialism to gay marriage to abortion. I mean, Jesus loves capitalism, right? Right!

But this alliance is not simply something that is natural or a given. In fact, in many ways it’s very unnatural. I’ve actually done a good bit of reading on this topic, and have learned a bit about just how this situation came to be. And watching the current election cycle, all I can say is that it seems to be spiraling out of control. It’s not just about evangelicals “voting their values.” It’s about an evangelical takeover of the GOP, but also in turn a takeover of evangelicalism by political conservatism.

Darren Dochuck reveals in his book From Bible Belt to Sunbelt: Plain-Folk Religion, Grassroots Politics, and the Rise of Evangelical Conservatism that it was during the Cold War that evangelicalism became welded to the free market, capitalism, and private enterprise. Dochuck reveals that many Southern evangelicals had supported the New Deal and had even at times been socialists, but that during the 1950s all this changed and evangelicalism and capitalism became forged in a way they never had been before.

I think this is a key thing to remember. Evangelicalism and capitalism did not have to become equated the way they are. In fact, they didn’t used to be. This wasn’t a natural or inevitable thing. It was a product of the Cold War, and we’re currently stuck with it.

Next, in God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right, Daniel K. Williams explains that while evangelicals have long been politically active (think Scopes Trial) what has changed in the years since WWII is their alliance with one particular party. Williams says that during the early Cold War evangelicals gradually began to favor the GOP, given that GOP politicians were more quick to embrace Biblical morality, and that in the late 1970s GOP operatives intentionally used social issues to get the evangelical vote – and that it not only worked, but actually backfired as the GOP operatives lost control and the party became a hostage to these social issues.

This is another key point. The GOP initially took the positions it did on social issues in order to fish for votes, and then found it couldn’t go back. There used to be moderate Republicans, and even pro-choice Republicans, but they have become completely marginalized within their own party.

In What’s the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Stole the Heart of America, Thomas Frank argues that the Republican party has used social issues to get Americans to vote against their own economic best interests, but that these social issues are more rhetoric than anything else. Frank points out that abortion is still legal, but that millions and millions of Americans will vote for an anti-abortion politician based solely on that regardless of his other policies and regardless of whether he will actually be able to, or even really work toward, ending abortion.

What Frank wrote might have been true in 2005. It’s not true today. The anti-abortion movement has made incredible strides over the past two years, and some states are on the cusp of shutting down their very last abortion clinics. The rhetoric isn’t just rhetoric, and with the Tea Party the evangelical takeover of the GOP is completely. If you are a GOP politician and you don’t come out in favor of evangelical social issues and extreme fiscal conservatism, you are called a RINO, a “Republican In Name Only.”

But this brings us to something confusing. The evangelical takeover of the GOP may be for all intents and purposes complete, but I see something going on in reverse as well – a takeover of evangelicalism by political conservatism. It’s like the two are melding. It’s bizarre. Let me explain by quoting from a blog post:

You know how I’m always talking about the blurred line between modern fungelical Christianity and Republican politics? This is all I need to rest my case AND convince ANY reasonable jury of the blurred line. Liberty University, perhaps the foremost evangelical college in America, with a motto of “Training Champions for Christ since 1971“, with a MORMOM delivering the commencement address to its graduating seniors this past spring. Yes, a MORMON. This is aside from the other MORMON who was chosen to deliver the commencement address in 2010 (btw, Mormon is in all caps to make a specific point – not to deride Mormons). The students selected these MORMONS to deliver these commencement addresses to a CHRISTIAN student body. What does this mean? This: Liberty isn’t a Christian school. It’s a conservative Republican school. Unless “Champions for Christ” and “Champions for the conservative Republican agenda” are the same thing, Liberty really, really sucks at their stated goal. I mean really sucks. Apparently the students are ok with any religious belief, so long as the politics line up correctly. In the linked article there’s a lot of rationalization and excuse making, but anyone who really wants to see what that school is all about can see it.

It isn’t unique to Liberty University, either. The guy who gave their 2010 address, Glenn Beck, well, do you remember evangelical leaders falling all over themselves to be a part of his “spiritual” rally in DC a couple years back? Ahem…He’s a MORMON. Even beyond that, one of those evangelical leaders, Pastor John Hagee (a giant in the evangelical world) had Beck in his pulpit to address his church a couple of years ago and his church gave Beck’s political speech a standing ovation. Ahem…He’s a MORMON. But…those politics sure line up nicely. Hypocrites breeding hypocrites is what it all is.

This. So much this. And here’s an image summing it up nicely too:

Yes. Once again, so much this. Me too.

The alliance between evangelicalism and political conservatism is not the natural thing I thought it was as a child. It is possible to be a “Bible believing Christian” and yet believe in socialism – and in fact, that didn’t used to be so uncommon a hundred years ago. It is also possible to be a “Bible believing Christian” and believe that welfare and other government programs are our way of fulfilling Jesus’ commands by collectively helping the poor and needy. It is possible to be a “Bible believing Christian” and yet not oppose big government. None of those things are inconsistent. This alliance is something that was created and shaped over the past sixty years, not something that was just always there.

And in many ways this alliance is tortured. Take a look at this, for instance:

The Rich and Therefore Blessed Young Man

1. As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to him and knelt before him, and asked, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 2. And Jesus said to him, “What have you done so far?” 3. And he said to Him, “Well I was born into a wealthy family, got into a good school in Galilee because my parents donated a few thousand talents, and have a high-paying job in the Roman treasury managing risk.” 4. Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him, for the rich young man was blessed, and said to him, “One thing you lack: A bigger house in a gated community in Tiberias. Buy that and you’ll be all set. And make sure you get a stone countertop for the kitchen. Those are really nice.” The disciples were amazed. 5. Peter asked him, “Lord, shouldn’t he sell all his possessions and give it to the poor?” Jesus grew angry. “Get behind me, Satan! He has earned it!” Peter protested, “Lord,” he said, “Did this man not have an unjust advantage? What about those who are not born into wealthy families, or who do not have the benefit of a good education, or live in the poorer areas of Galilee, like Nazareth, your own home town?” 6. “Well,” said Jesus, “first of all, that’s why I left Nazareth. There were too many poor people always asking for charity. They were as numerous as the stars in the sky, and they annoyed me. Second, once people start spending again, like this rich young man, the Galilean economy will inevitably grow, and eventually it will all trickle down to the poor. Blessed are those who are patient! But giving the money away, especially if he can’t write it off, is a big fat waste.” The disciples’ amazement knew no bounds. “But Lord, what about the Scriptures that tell us to care for the widow, for orphans, for the poor, for the sick, for the refugee? What about all the many passages about justice?” 7. “Those are metaphors,” said Jesus. “Don’t take everything so literally.”

As this retelling of a classic Bible story makes clear, there is a lot in the Bible that isn’t at all compatible with modern political conservatism. And yet, an evangelical who doesn’t come out for political conservatism and the Republican party will immediately have his or her evangelicalism – even his or her very salvation – questioned.

Evangelicals may have gained a stranglehold on the GOP, but political conservatism has gained a stranglehold on them as well.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Kevin Alexander

    Libby, I’m sure that you have been reading Fred Clark’s blog. His take on Christianity is the exact opposite of the Republicans.

    • http://Patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      Yes, and it’s not just Fred – there are lots of mainline and progressive Christians who share some or all of my social justice values. Modern evangelicalism, though, is at this point largely in the GOP’s pocket, and they’re also the ones who are the most vocal at this point. And Fred too is very aware of – it’s one of the big hints he blogs about, and against.

      • Christine

        Did you hear about the uproar when the pope released his encyclical which condemned capitalism? The social conservative faction in the Catholic church started looking to see how seriously it actually had to be taken, because *they* were the ones who followed all the beliefs (the social-justice Catholics were “cafeteria Catholics” because they picked & choose, and only followed the directives they liked).

  • Carol

    Thanks for writing about this, it’s so important and you summarize it so well.

    Mormon’s religious beliefs are so very, very different from Christian’s beliefs, not that I think Romney believes in anything except how to borrow money, drive up debt that other people have to pay off, and avoid taxes, and I think he uses the church only to gain power, but for religious people you’d think the fact that Mormon’s believe that Jesus came to America, the Garden of Eden is in Jackson County, MO, that there’s a 3rd book in the bible, and all that, would raise some eyebrows, but there’s not even so much as a blink.

    • The_L

      Er…third book?

      The Christian Bible consists of either 66 or 74 different books, depending on whether you go by the Catholic or Protestant canon.

      I’m pretty sure most Christians are more likely to believe that Leviticus is part of the Bible than that the Book of Mormon is. ;)

      • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

        Well, third volume in the series.

    • kagekir

      Yeah. My parents (hardcore fundamentalist Christians) were defending/praising Romney, but got pretty quiet when I started describing who Mormons think Jesus is (alien from outer space, related to Satan, promises to give us planets in heaven, etc).

      My mother’s eventual response was “well, at least he’s not an ATHEIST” (which was a jab at me, as I was the only atheist sitting there), and my Dad was defending Romney’s tax-evasiveness as “well, he’s STILL a good man, think of how much he has and the absolute value of what 13% taxes and 16% charity means! That’s more than YOU give!”

      It was…well, it was incredibly disappointing (and insulting, as they tried all those tu quoque counters to my basic stated concerns). They’re more than happy to drop their hardcore values to support psychotic government formats and to drink up all of Romney’s lies and evasiveness about EVERYTHING.

      I’d already known they were totally brainwashed by fundamentalism; knowing they’d been washed in Republican conservatism EVEN MORE than their religion was horrifying. They’re immigrants originally; my dad used to be super liberal. And the church we’ve attended the entire time is almost entirely Asian immigrants too, but they all push the GOP and American exceptionalism anyway (that church frakking deserves taxes for all their promotion of politics from the pulpit, but that’s another matter..).

      • smrnda

        I’m sure Romney is really straining under the weight of those taxes and donations. I recall that when I used to sell my blood plasma for money, I still volunteered and occasionally donated money. So I doubt Romney can ever claim to have ever really made anything resembling a sacrifice for anyone. I don’t even think wealthy people like that can take credit for being good to their own families – their families are the people they buy so that they have someone to talk about how Romney is so generous – he shuts down a factory in the US or something so he can buy his family oodles of more crap.

  • machintelligence

    To put a positive spin on this trend (at least in my opinion): this election cycle marks the high point for the conservative/evangelical coalition. Current belief trends, especially the growth of the “nones” and the aging of their conservative base, have made for this strange marriage. Politics makes for strange bedfellows, indeed, when each of the three main groups (conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mormons) believes that the other two are all bound for hell. This is not ecumenicism, it is fear that they are on the wrong side of history. If they lose, and I’m predicting that they will, they will never again be able to mount such a strong campaign. We could even see the splintering of the Republican party, since a large number (based on conversations with my Republican friends) are very unhappy with the emphasis on religion.

    • The_L

      Catholics aren’t so big on believing that other Christian sects are hell-bound anymore. That’s more of a pre-Vatican-II thing. The RCC still plays lip-service to the ideal of “reuniting” Christianity, but it’s more often in the context of successfully converting the entire planet, which most people recognize as an impossible goal. So lay Catholics don’t pay any attention to it.

  • http://cfiottawa.com Eamon Knight

    I did my Evangelical thing from 1972 to 1983, in Canada. That, and youthful naivete may have insulated me from the much of the conservatism in the movement, but I likewise never saw the necessary ideological connection (in fact, I leaned socialist). In fact, as I became aware of it I was repelled by the identification of Christian faith with American exceptionalism, Cold War militarism, and laissez-faire capitalism — it seemed to me a form of idolatry. I was appalled when Ronald Reagan rode a wave of evangelical support into the Oval Office. And things have only gotten crazier since — at the time, Reagan looked like an extremist; now he looks like a *moderate*. He said things about gay rights that today would make him unelectable in the GOP.

    And it’s not the least bit surprising that the religious/political takeover has been mutual. Look at church history, as far back as Constantine, and you’ll see that whenever religion gains political power, it becomes corrupted as the political class in turn adopts it as an instrument *of* power. James Madison expressed this well (from Wikiquotes):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.

    • kisekileia

      Evangelicalism and the political right have historically not been connected the same way in Canada that they are in the U.S.. That has changed somewhat in the past 10 to 15 years, but I remember one of my evangelical cousins doing mission/aid work in Mozambique for a year, around 2005, and being shocked that all the American Christians she encountered seemed to equate being Christian and being Republican. This connection was completely unfamiliar to her. Similarly, I remember a really strong social justice emphasis in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in Canada when I was involved from around 2002-2004. I doubt even a majority of people I knew from there voted Conservative.

  • Rosie

    And you didn’t even touch on how Ayn Rand, a Russian atheist who famously said that the family is not a necessary unit of social organization, has become a hero and “big influence” to all these evangelical-conservative-Christian-Tea-Partyers. The cognitive dissonance necessary to maintain that marriage-of-ideas boggles the mind.

    • jemand

      Rand has influenced American politics profoundly… and not JUST in the evangelical-conservative movement. It is pretty astonishing, really, it may be less hypocritical for other groups to follow it, but STILL. We seem to be the only country with a love-affair with randian ethics.

  • Paula G V aka Yukimi

    I read somwhere, it might have even been here, that both religious voters, conservatives and liberals, liked to think their beliefs resembled Jesus and the Bible the most.

    The conservatives pointed to issues like abortion or the leviticus laws against gays, … and minimized the pretty hippie teachings of Jesus.

    The liberals did exactly the opposite, concentrating on the helping the poor, … thinking they are the most important things.

    I was discussing this with a friend this morning, how extreme the positions in the US have gotten, so much so that the democrats would be almost considered a conservative party in Europe and let’s not talk about what the GOP would be considered.

    • Steve

      The Democrats are a center-right party. They aren’t social democrats as one might assume.

  • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

    You know what’s funny? I was around when the merger really got started at the end of the seventies. When people in my church started talking about getting laws passed to become a more Christian nation, I swear I thought we were all going Democrat. I mean, doesn’t that just make sense? You could have knocked me over when I found out that the Christian party was considered Republican. That’s when I discovered the difference between “morality” and “acting like Jesus”.

    • ScottInOH

      It’s this change in the ’70s and ’80s that really got us headed down today’s road. When the Moral Majority got organized to protest the sexual revolution and civil rights, the link between fundamentalism and politics changed in this country.

      Before that, Christianity was invoked to justify varied causes: the New Deal, civil rights, anti-communism, whatever. Right now, that’s almost impossible, at least in any sustained, organized way. It’s crazy, and it’s one of the (several) reasons I’m so disappointed with organized Christianity in this country.

  • Rachel

    The piece Libby posted reminded me of this gem from Al Franken’s 2003 book, “Lies: And the Lying Liars Who Tell Them — A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right”:

    http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/03/09/17_franken.html

    Supply-Side Jesus!

  • Alan(UK)

    “Freedom is an indivisible word. If we want to enjoy it, and fight for it, we must be prepared to extend it to everyone, whether they are rich or poor, whether they agree with us or not, no matter what their race or the color of their skin.”

    “To suppress minority thinking and minority expression would tend to freeze society and prevent progress. Now more than ever we must keep in the forefront of our minds the fact that whenever we take away the liberties of those we hate, we are opening the way to loss of liberty for those we love.”

    “When we talk of freedom and opportunity for all nations, the mocking paradoxes in our own society become so clear they can no longer be ignored.”

    This is my first comment here. These quotations may be well known in the US but they are new to me. Who made them? Wendell Willkie, who was the GOP presidential candidate in 1940!

    • http://ripeningreason.com/ Bix

      I wouldn’t have been able to identify the quotes, and I don’t think they’re well known in the States. I’m not surprised though, since the two parties have evolved considerably. The Democratic party used to be a bastion of conservatism and the Republican party started life with a much more liberal outlook. My dad likes to talk about how his family used to be old-school Republicans, and how that party doesn’t exist anymore.

  • Rae

    One thing that strikes me is the way that my parents, who were extremely socially conservative and extremely right-wing and saw those things as going together even in the early 90′s, back then explained that it was “wrong” for a woman to hold political office because the Bible said they shouldn’t hold power over men. Fast-forward 15 years, and my mom was as much of an enthusiastic Sarah Palin supporter as you could find. Sure, technically McCain was the President, but the VP has to be qualified to be the President, and I know people – including people to the very farthest reaches of the right wing – did acknowledge the distinct possibility that McCain may not have managed to survive the ensuing 4 years. (Yes, he so far has survived, but not as President – look at photos of Obama now compared to just prior to his 2008 campaign. He looks like he’s aged 14 years rather than 4. Being President is a stressful job!) And, back to the topic, my parents have since enthusiastically supported other women running for political office if they were pro-life, anti-gay-marriage, pro-gun, and so on.

    • Anonymouse

      The whole Sarah Palin issue (a woman who couldn’t think her way out of a corner) highlights the cognitive dissonance many conservatives employ. Women can’t lead men…but Sarah Palin was perfect to be a heart attack (or push down the stairs) away from the Presidency?

  • Stony

    My conservative brothers and sisters like to invoke our dead mother by declaring, “Your mother was a Goldwater Republican!!”. They are nonplussed when I tell them that Goldwater would in no sense recognize today’s Republican party. Or that she and my father used to vote in every election and cancel each others’ votes every. single. time. To them, it’s just more important to claim the label conservative.

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  • ThirtyFiveUp

    Southern Strategy. The campaign to make Democrats the party of people of color and Republicans the party of white people. Several dog whistles: law and order, welfare queens, forced busing. etc. The KKK congress critters of the Democratic Party quickly became Republicans and kept getting elected in their communities.

    Romney and Rand are working the dog whistles again.

    Birtherism is the idea that no black is qualified to be USA President. When they whine, “I want my country back”. more dog whistle.

    • Rosie

      Was it Romney that made the “joke” at the GOP convention, “You can tell just by looking at us that we were born here”? And I thought, “no, really, I can’t. You don’t look any more American-born than Arnold Schwarzenegger.”

      • The_L

        Really, Mitt? You don’t look a thing like Pocahontas.

    • Dora

      Really, wow, You are pretty racist for a black person Oh wait I forgot, you can’t be.

  • ThirtyFiveUp

    Sorry, Romney/Ryan

  • Steve

    Goldwater was very worried about what would happen if the Republicans ever lost control of the religious nutters they courted then.

    Here is a great quote by him:
    ” I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in A,B,C, and D. Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of conservatism.”

    • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

      That is an awesome quote! I wish I could needlepoint it on a pillow.

  • http://carsontclark.com/ Carson Clark

    Hello, Libby.

    I’m the guy who created the meme you shared above. It was getting misinterpreted so often that I decided to write a blog post clarifying my intention. If you’re interested:

    How to Rightly Interpret the “Biblical Christianity or Political Conservatism” Meme
    http://carsontclark.com/uncategorized/15770/biblical-christianity-or-political-conservatism

  • Karmakin

    There’s two separate (but related) things going on here, as someone who has watched this stuff as an outsider for quite a while. The talk of some sort of split between economic conservatives and religious social conservatives was on the table until fairly recently. But eventually, some things hit critical mass and the culture changes and there’s no real hope for that anymore.

    First, is the Just World Fallacy. The importance of this is that it justifies evil in a world with an interventionist deity. I.E. said deity is allowing people to suffer because they must deserve it, otherwise they wouldn’t. The fact that most people actually fall for this, even reflexively, shows how persuasive it actually is. This sort of winners deserve to win more and losers deserve to be actively punished for losing is at the core of a lot of economic conservatism these days. There’s no actual split left here.

    The second part of it, is that we’re actually at a point where raw theism..that is the belief in an interventionist deity, matters much more than actually differences between various sects and flavors of Christianity. Thus, there are no problems with Mormons any more. They’re all believing in God, right? It’s all good. You even see this sort of thing coming from high up in Catholicism, which is really weird.

    In short, the most important part now isn’t Jesus. It’s God. This is actually a VERY significant change in terms of looking at religion and morality, and it has massive real world consequences.

  • jemand

    At one point, the idea that conservative Catholics, Evangelicals, and Mormons could forge a viable cooperative faction in order to oppose secularism and liberalism would have been unthinkable. What if demographics change such that adding fundamentalist Muslims to their alliance becomes beneficial too? It would blow my mind given current rhetoric, but nothing really they can say about Muslims is much different from what the various factions used to say about each other– it seems likely the only reason this hasn’t happened yet is the still too small number of Muslims in the US, it wouldn’t be any advantage to add them.

    • Christine

      There was someone on national radio up here promoting his new book (and this comment would be much better if I could remember the name of the book), which examines the modern anti-Muslim rhetoric. It was written in the wake of the American right-wing response to the Norwegian shooter’s ideology. The author says that pretty much all of the complaints you hear made against Muslims were made against Catholics, and before that, against Jews. So to me, it looks like there is hope.There were a lot of bad things that happened because of this rhetoric, but we did overcome it.

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  • Dora

    You make some excellent points. I have to say as a Mormon I find the misconceptions and distortions predictable and amusing. Truthfully though, the religious in this country have a lot more in common than not.

  • http://www.RBridgesImagery.com robert bridges

    I enjoyed the article and appreciate the links. I agree with your conclusion and concur that this could be a dangerous development should it continue – and should this less than Holy alliance continue to manipulate the media, politics and policy decisions, to continue to legitimize the ongoing institutional corruption through vast sums of money and the equally vast human hubris and greed that continues to drive it.

    You probably know Calvinism and Capitalism laid the theological and social-political-moral foundations for what we are now observing…….

    again, well written, timely, and thoughtful. I posted and re-blogged on forum i belong too.

    Thanks!

  • jerry lynch

    Great post and comments, and it is sad to report I am stunned. Unless there has been “divine intervention” (a newsletter editor removing untoward opinions), this whole experience has been a marvel and model of civility and reasonableness. I am sure all here know how rare that is.
    “That’s when I discovered the difference between “morality” and “acting like Jesus”. Great point!
    The point on an emerging theism by karmakin was brilliant.
    Someone also mentioned that the “paradoxes” are exposed; I prefer the word contradictions. A paradox is only a seeming contradiction, such as “the last shall be first.” We have now in the Conservative Right the old argument of “the end justifying the means.” A congregation of “strange bedfellows.”

  • http://www.withouthavingseen.com Ryan Haber

    Well, something very much the same could be said of atheists and agnostics. One hundred years ago, there was no real alignment between them and a particular party. Whatever the actual religion or lack of religion of conservative leadership, it is clear that irreligious people are not in bed with them. The Democrat leadership, on the other hand, is very much indebted to irreligious causes.

    Another question to ask is how did it come to be this way. To a large extent, average-Christian voters have very much left the Democratic party over social issues. Both of my parents are card-carrying Democrats, one from a Detroit union family, the other from a suburban legal family; one a Catholic, the other an Evangelical; neither is super-religious, but each does care about the values they believe in. Neither has voted Democrat in decades precisely over such issues. In the last four years, each has come to feel not only out of place in the Democratic party, but unwelcome. That is new. Very new. And the GOP didn’t build that atmosphere in the Democratic party. While the GOP has gotten more interested in social issues, the Democratic party could have taken up a line like, “Listen, we are here to help people. We’re not going to go around revolutionizing America’s morals. America’s a good place. We’re going to apply America’s moral commitments to helping the poor, defending the working class, and providing equal opportunity to all comers. The GOP can be anti-gay. We’re not anti-anybody.” And they would not have lost a lot of voters that they did.

    But that’s not what the Democratic party has done. Instead, they have gotten themselves identified very tightly with every crank cause to come down the pike. They’ve squandered a lot of the appeal derived from their original mission by trying to force on the American people a lot of things that most people don’t want or care about. PPACA and the contraceptive mandate are just two examples. The average person – the great bulk of voters – can afford their own contraception and weren’t looking for a handout. So why fight those fights? They haven’t gained the Democratic party a single vote, and has certainly cost them a few.

    • http://patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism Libby Anne

      While the GOP has gotten more interested in social issues, the Democratic party could have taken up a line like, “Listen, we are here to help people. We’re not going to go around revolutionizing America’s morals. America’s a good place. We’re going to apply America’s moral commitments to helping the poor, defending the
      working class, and providing equal opportunity to all comers. The GOP can be anti-gay. We’re not anti-anybody.” And they would not have lost a lot of voters that they did.

      But that’s not what the Democratic party has done.

      No, actually, that’s exactly what the Democratic party has done.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    All this reminds me of Brad Hicks’ essay, “Christians in the Hand of an Angry God”, in which he argues that if Christian doctrine is true, then rightwing religious leaders have literally made a deal with the devil for wealth and power.


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