Monday, May 19, 2003
God, Man and the GOP-Josh linked to this NYT piece of President Bush and religious conservatives; the last two paragraphs aren't quite on task
At the same time, noted Mr. Green, who has studied the Christian right, many local activists have gravitated into the Republican Party as county chairmen and campaign consultants. Once an independent force hammering at the president and Congress, they are now an institutional part of the party base. They must be kept mollified — but in balance with other parts of the coalition, like business, and within the bounds of what a majority of voters will accept. Karl Rove, the White House political genius, has a master plan for enlarging that ecumenical array of believers — churchgoing Catholics, Mormons and Jews as well as the evangelicals — and welding them permanently into the Republican mainstream. The interesting story, then, is not that Mr. Bush is a captive of the religious right, but that his people are striving to make the religious right a captive of the Republican Party.The last paragraph gets two things wrong. First, Dubya's not a "captive of the religious right," he's by-and-large a member. He might be a little bit squishy on a few issues of concern, but he is not a captive. That would indicate that he is being held against his will by the theocons, which doesn't seem to be the case. Bush is a conservative/evangelical Methodist and fits in with other religious conservatives; no Stockholm Syndrome here. The second false premise is that the theocons are a captive of the GOP. It is a marriage of convenience, not a slave-master relationship. If anything, we're very close to the GOP being the captive and theocons being the master. With the Democratic party becoming the party of libertine values on sex, drugs and the lack of sanctity of life, the GOP has become the alternative for religious conservatives. If the Republican party decides to echo the Democratic standpoint, an alternative third party of theocons will spring up, leaving the Republicans a northeastern rump of its former self. Religious conservatives aren't Republicans because of some conniving Karl Rove scheme, but because the Democrats have become the party of abortion-rights, of gay-rights, of amoral sex-ed and of euthanasia. Before those issues were put on the table in the 70s, evangelicals and devout Catholics were a jump ball. Not anymore.
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