Political heresy as religious heresy

Has Dick Morris suddenly become a non-person to Republicans?

I noticed his absence at the usual places which once carried his column, so I'm just wondering....

Then I happened to catch this. Morris recently advised the Republican Party to "terminate" the Christian right. What fascinated me the most was his contention that religious conservatives have what amounts to veto power:


the Republican Party has paid the price for its coalition with the advocates of bedroom regulation. The Christian right has so alienated women that it has opened up a gender gap that often swells to more than 20 points, crippling Republican candidates.

The upset victory of Arnold Schwarzenegger in California shows what the Republican Party could do if it broke with the pro-lifers and abandoned their intrusive efforts to regulate private behavior. Moving to the center on the social issues, demonstrating a libertarian commitment to privacy, the actor/governor held the gender gap to less than 10 points, winning 43 percent of the female vote. Schwarzenegger won the top job in the solid Democratic state of California by carrying the women’s vote, a feat that would have been impossible had he embraced the social agenda of his party.
....

It is about time that the Republican Party realizes that the Christian right is doing to it exactly what the radical black Rainbow Coalition of Jesse Jackson did to the Democratic Party in the ’80s — making them unelectable. Their embrace is the kiss of death. It is not that the religious right is wrong. Right or wrong, it gets in the way of so much good that the Republican Party could achieve if it were not in the Christian right’s grasp.

Will the Republican Party escape from the embrace of the pro-lifers so that it can nominate candidates like Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice? Likely not. Those who see each election as an opportunity to hold candidates to litmus tests on key social issues are not likely to relinquish their hold or relax their vigilance.

Is this true? Does the conservative fundamentalist wing of the Republican Party have what amounts to veto power?

The large-margin Schwarzenegger victory must have come as a serious shock to the Republican leadership -- whose party, it should be remembered, barely won the last presidential election, and whose majority in Congress is razor-thin. That Schwarzenegger did so well with women despite the "groping" charges must especially irk moral conservatives, because it was one of the few times they joined the chorus of "feminazis" and agreed upon something, yet the alliance failed.

The McClintock forces (dominated as they were by radical Christian Reconstructionists) also formed an unholy alliance with the left by urging a "No" vote on the recall itself -- placing both McClintock and Bustamante in the odd position of running in an election they opposed "in principle." I think California voters demonstrated that they are capable of seeing past such shenanigans.

As I noted previously, Lou Sheldon's outfit (the name of which tends to whitewash ancient history) went all out to stop Schwarzenegger:

born-again Christian conservatives are mortified by the actor's liberal views on abortion and homosexuality and wary about allegations of drug use, infidelity and juvenile sexual antics. The Rev. Louis Sheldon, head of the ultra-right Traditional Values Coalition, warned in a statement last week of a "moral vacuum" in Sacramento. "It is hard to imagine a worse governor than Gray Davis," Sheldon said, "but Mr. Schwarzenegger would be it."

Sheldon's group has launched an anti-Arnie project called Californians for Moral Government. James Lafferty, a consultant for the group, said its work is just the first rumbling of an earthquake to come.

NOTE: Readers having difficulty getting the entire Salon article cited above can read the rest of the text here.

Naturally, this made me love Arnold all the more, and I think it brought the guy a lot of voter sympathy.

In other words, a voter backlash.

Such a phenomenon is nothing new; the Democrats have tried to capitalize on it for years. What is truly remarkable is that here, the same voter backlash helped elect a Republican. It is equally remarkable that even a double digit McClintock vote failed to thwart the overall will of the voters -- something which must strike terror into the hearts of people whose arrogant assumption has long been along the lines of: "Republicans can't win with us, but we'll show them they can't win without us!"

In the future, the Democrats cannot count on automatically getting the votes of ordinary voters who fear political dominance by religious theocrats. These voters are smart enough to spot a con game by either side.

It also means that the Republicans need to be very careful.

Morris asks,

Will the Republican Party escape from the embrace of the pro-lifers so that it can nominate candidates like Rudy Giuliani, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice? Likely not. Those who see each election as an opportunity to hold candidates to litmus tests on key social issues are not likely to relinquish their hold or relax their vigilance.
Hillary Clinton is counting on Dick Morris being right.

Of course, no one is suggesting that Republicans kick religious conservatives out of their tent or in any way disrespect them. But showing others respect does not mean obeying all their demands. Inclusion in a Big Tent does not mean being its gatekeepers. And as I keep saying, disagreement is not disrespect.

Silencing speech is.

And some of the religious conservatives have demanded that people who disagree with them be silenced -- and not spoken to at all. According to this view, dissenters on abortion or gay rights do not even belong in the Republican Party. And, if Republican leaders even meet with them, speak to them, or have them on their staffs, there'll be hell to pay. Not long before the Schwarzenegger victory, a dire threat was directed to to the White House after RNC Chairman Marc Racicot dared to meet with the Log Cabin Republicans:

Social conservative leaders told Mr. Racicot they had been pleased generally with Mr. Bush's words and actions on social-policy issues but couldn't assure that their rank-and-file members would retain the same degree of enthusiasm for Mr. Bush if the president and his party appeased the homosexual lobby.

"If the Republicans continue to drift in that direction, we will walk," the Rev. Donald Wildmon, president of AFA, told Mr. Racicot. Mr. Wildmon's AFA owns and operates about 200 radio stations across the country and provides programming to about 20 affiliated stations.

Well, that was the threat. Were President Bush politically astute enough to call him on it, and if Wildmon really made good on it, the Schwarzenegger equation would likely mean a net Republican gain.

According to this conservative analysis,

[A] welcoming attitude toward gays can be a winning strategy since almost 9 out of 10 Americans agree that homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities.

Also, exit polls showed 4% of voters in 2000 self-identified as gay or lesbian (and nearly 75% voted for the Democratic Gore-Lieberman ticket). Exit polling in congressional elections have showed a gay electorate of more than 5%. That's a larger demographic than the Jewish vote. Even shaving just a small slice away from Democrats could prove pivotal to cementing the GOP's status as the majority party. Moreover, many independents are turned off by anti-gay rhetoric, negatively viewing it as a broader barometer of intolerance.

Yet the FRC spent a week recently using its website to expose the Bush administration's ties to the "homosexual agenda." One online installment was "Homosexual Lobby: Follow the Money" -- which, apparently, leads to Republican coffers. What better example of how the religious right's paranoia mirrors the gay left's dementia?

It remains to be seen if the White House can continue to reach out to gays, however tepidly, without making the religious right even angrier.

NOTE: I left in the above link to illustrate another example of a pattern by anti-homosexual activists. They apparently don't want people like me to be able to read or cite their links -- a phenomenon noted by Mike Silverman earlier.

Why would any organization be afraid of its own words?

For the same reason that some Republicans are now afraid of Dick Morris's words, perhaps?


NOTE: The above post (along with many others) can be read at Blogcritics.org. Please visit the site!

posted by Eric on 11.08.03 at 02:27 PM







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Comments

Eric,

Very VERY thoughtful post. I have argued on several occasions that these kinds of religious conservatives, by the actions you describe here, are pushing themselves out of power.

I think that the time is going to come when mainstream Republicans are going to get very tired of being held to a standard that excludes a vast majority of the population, and I think they are going to come to the realization about who is responsible for this - the far religious Right.

I think "equal rights" (a more inclusive form) and more open-mindedness will eventually take hold in the GOP. When that happens, and when gays, blacks, hispanics, etc no longer see the GOP as their enemy, they will then start to think of their pocketbooks and wallets. In other words, there will be nothing left for the Democratic Party to offer them.

Of course, when the GOP comes to this point, the extreme RR will abandon the party, leaving the Republicans without that portion of their base. I think it will be more than made up for with those who flock to the party.

The RR will go off and start their own marginal party. The Democrats will have no base anymore - except possibly Unions and Health care nuts.

You never know. In any case, great post!!!


Michael Demmons   ·  November 8, 2003 11:57 AM

"Of course, no one is suggesting that Republicans kick religious conservatives out of their tent or in any way disrespect them. But showing others respect does not mean obeying all their demands. Inclusion in a Big Tent does not mean being its gatekeepers. And as I keep saying, disagreement is not disrespect.

Silencing speech is."

That's because you're much kinder than I am. I'd far rather be around somebody like you than somebody like me.
Since I'm not a political boss in the Republican party, nor affiliated in any way, with that party or with the Democratic or any other party, I don't have to worry about keeping open a big tent, I can say what I think without concerning myself with any possible political repurcussions.
I myself have precisely zero respect for Sheldon, Wildmon, Robertson, Falwell, or any other ChristiaNazis, who I will _not_ dignify by calling them "religious conservatives". If you want to find religious conservatives, see the Forn Sidr in Denmark who worship the ancient Gods and Goddesses. Disrespect is not censorship.
I am absolutely opposed to censorship. Freedom of speech is for those I despise or else I will not long have it either. Censorship means that _the government_ silences someone's speech, e.g., shutting down a magazine or a website. It does not mean the respect or disrespect that I, as a private individual, choose to show to anyone. I, as a private individual, have the absolute right -- and duty -- to express my contempt for and to refuse to subsidize the ChristiaNazis and others of their ilk. Anything else is what Ayn Rand called "the sanction of the victim." "It is of such pennies and smiles that the destruction of your world was made." -John Galt in "Atlas Shrugged" It's getting to be time for Atlas to start shrugging.

Steven Malcolm Anderson   ·  November 8, 2003 12:12 PM

I'm trying to figure this website out. Are you genuinely in favor of "classical values?" If so, which classical values do you favor returning to? All of them, or only a few?

Do you mean to favor ancient Greek morality, where same-sex relationships between grown men and young boys were common? Would you also be in favor of the enslavement of women and general misogyny, as existed in ancient Greece?

AWH   ·  November 8, 2003 12:38 PM

Thank you Michael, and Steven.

AWH, I suggest you read my blog and study history before engaging in such generalizations. But I will attempt to humor you, as you made a humorous remark in saying that you are "trying to figure this website out." (So am I!)

If you'd bothered to read the last few posts, you'd see I do not advocate sex with children. Nor do I advocate slavery, misogyny, sodomy laws, crucifixion, the whipping post, the ducking stool, the Inquisition, breaking on the wheel, flaying people alive, gladiatorial events, the Crusades, chastity belts, the Nazi Holocaust, Communism, abuse of animals, and a whole host of things. This blog engages in serious satire and modern social commentary, and offers the best of classical culture as an alternative to the dark, theocratic medievalism misleadingly called "Traditional Values." The ancients (and I speak of Greece, Rome, Egypt, Persia, Israel, et al.) were diverse and often tolerant of many ways and many religions, and over vast periods of time; thus generalizations are difficult.

By the way, many people in the United States once favored enslavement of men and women, general misogyny, child abuse in schools, among other things.... Some Americans today favor sodomy laws. I am trying to offer a different perspective.

Eric Scheie   ·  November 8, 2003 2:24 PM

Okay, sounds good. I am surprised that you were attempting to be satiric, though.

AWH   ·  November 8, 2003 9:40 PM

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