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Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Is the Democratic Party Operationally Bright?-I stepped into some later feedback from the Dennett Bright rights article; Dean Esmay has an interesting piece both declaring himself a Bright and distancing himself from the depth of anti-religious fervor of the group. PoliBlog summed up my sentiments with this bon mot-"Announcing that one hold a secular humanist view of the universe, and renounces the supernatural at an academic conference is like announcing that one likes beer at a frat party." As I went to bed last night, my mind turned to this piece from last fall, "Our Secularist Democratic Party." The secularists that Bolce and De Maio map out are marked by a dislike of evangelical/Fundamentalist Christianity. They vote overwhelmingly Democratic and support leftist positions on sexual and reproductive issues. This bloc only makes up about 15% of the electorate, but it has more veto power over the course of the Democratic party than religious conservatives do in the GOP. Dare I say that Bolce and De Maio are talking about Brights? One of the things that makes Brights staunch Democrats is the animosity that they feel towards "Fundamentalists." The feelings described by Bolce and De Maio mirror the put-upon animosity of Dr. Dennett. The driving force seems not as much agnosticism but an anti-religious and anti-conventional-morality spirit. To call Brights agnostic gives them a wishy-washy moniker; they're not just unsure about God, they're sure that the Bible is horse s**t. Brights can't become Republicans as the party is presently constituted; making the Republican platform libertarian on sexual issues would drive away both religious conservatives and many old-school religious moderates. A Bright-friendly platform might pick up some seats in California and the Northeast, but would be a disaster elsewhere. Bright animosity towards evangelicals would make it hard, if not impossible, to include both blocs at the same time. Evangelicals would have to be driven out of the party in order to include the Brights. That would create a conservative party that would supplant the Bright Republican party in the South and rural Midwest, leaving the Bright Republicans success only in more-secular areas of the country. That leaves the Brights staunch Democrats, since they have no place else to go, save a Green protest vote; a religious Democratic nominee might move the Green vote up to 10%, driven by POed Brights. Since they're a third of the Democratic primary electorate, they can derail Democratic nominees that aren't sufficiently secular in their world-view; hence we see Joe Lieberman, Dick Gephardt and Dennis Kucinich backtracking from anti-abortion stances as they began to see national office or leadership in Congress. When Brights combine with church-going liberals who are operationally Bright in their politics (yes, I'm talking to you, NCC, Hillary and Jesse), they make up a majority of the primary electorate, holding the Democratic party captive to a libertine world-view. The Democratic Party thus is operationally Bright in most of the country; there are some rural areas, some areas of the South and more-religious black districts where God-fearing folks can get a Democratic nomination, but not too many. Baring a Great Awakening that will being large numbers of Brights to Jesus, you're not going to see a unBright Democratic Party for a while.

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