Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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More on evangelicals and politics

Given the size, complexity, and sometime intellectual/theological incoherency of American evangelicalism, it’s probably possible to find evidence for virtually any thesis regarding the political future of American evangelicalism. Howard Fineman finds some who are dissatisfied with the GOP, not for the reasons cited most frequently in recent days (a leftward drift among some evangelicals--see, for example, this piece featuring a triumphalistic Jim Wallis), but because Republicans are insufficiently morally and theologically pure, or perhaps insufficiently conservative across a range of issues.

My bottom line: a religious tendency as capaciously defined as evangelicalism is will inevitably come to be understood as less of a single-minded force in American politics, except with respect to the occasional galvanizing issue. A religion-friendly Democratic Party that accommodated itself to some restrictions on abortion (they’re not there yet) could eat substantially into the Republican advantage, especially if Republican miscues "demobilized" some portion of its religious constituency. In other words, politically evangelicals could come to resemble Roman Catholics--a narrowly divided swing constituency.

Discussions - 8 Comments

At this rate, NLT will be merged with the Bob Casey campaign website ...

Don’t shoot the messenger.

Yeah, T.R.! Don’t shoot Chicken Little!

Like Peter Lawler, I do not think that it’s impossible for Republicans to recover the initiative in this campaign, though they’ve essentially wasted a week and dissipated whatever momentum they’d built in September (remember when the Democrats were beginning to get discouraged?).

I think that the Democrats as a whole are unserious and that too many Republicans are (or at least have been) complacent, a temptation to which it has been easy to succumb, given the gifts the Democratic Left has been handing them.

Stated another way, both parties have essentially been campaigning on the platform that they’re not the other. For the Democrats right now, that may be enough to win a narrow victory next month, although it’s a victory that will, I expect and hope, come altogether without a "mandate."

Republicans, however, have to stand for something, and they’ve managed for the moment to muddy, if not squander, one of their principal domestic messages/assets. They have to get back to speaking, in a compelling and meaningful way, about the various dimensions of family security, which (unfortunately) means facing the "how Foley happened" question more squarely than they’ve thus far faced it.

Republicans, however, have to stand for something, and they’ve managed for the moment to muddy, if not squander, one of their principal domestic messages/assets.

It is not the Republicans who have managed to muddy or squander their principal domestic messages/assets. The DemSM and the agenda driven pollsters have done that to the Republicans. They have been doing that in every election at least since 1992. And the Chicken Little twins have bought into it.

So, let’s see what Glenn Reynolds, no right wing hack he, has to say, shall we?

Oh, Corker’s driving a Ford, Talent is boring but McCaskill is boringer. Hmm...well it isn’t the economy stupid....Well whatdaya know? "Evangelicals Blame Foley, Not Republican Party." This quote rings especially true here, where the Chicken Little twins have talked about Evangelicals as if they’re fickle adolescents, inclined to change their votes as often as the agenda driven pollsters claim:

There is a tendency to assume the morals voters are naive, that you can play them and even talk about how you’re playing them and they won’t see the whole picture that includes you trying to play them.

Uh oh, here’s the real reason Republican "poll" numbers are down. Bush hasn’t signed the border fence bill yet. That’ll surely get Republicans to vote for the party which opposed the fence.

Ah! Here it is Kim Jong Il has nukes, so conservatives are going to punish the Republicans and return power to the good folks who created the atmosphere which enabled N. Korea to acquire those nukes.


Leaving aside for the moment the issue of domestic spending, which some conservatives say is out of control (I’m not necessarily one of them, since I’m basically a compassionate "wet" on some of those issues--I take seriously the possibility that the "responsibility" or "ownership" society might not be possible to create on the cheap), Republicans looked vaguely plausible as the party of character and moral self-restraint until the Foley mess surfaced. Yes, the Democrats are worse, but it’s harder to make that case if it’s possible to allege that you’ve been looking the other way when Foley engages in his apparently notorious indiscretions.

Like many, I’m suspicious of the timing of the Foley revelations, and I’ve said so on many occasions on this blog. The point, I take it, was to get the Republicans off message and to demoralize the "values voter" base, depressing the turnout Republicans need to hold Congress. The first objective surely has been accomplished. We won’t know about the second until November 7th. If it’s plausible to say, as some do, that the GWB drunken driving story kept some evangelicals at home in 2000, then it’s equally plausible to say that allegations of Republican indifference to Foley’s misbehavior will keep some home this year. There can be lots who understand which party more closely conforms to their principles (on a good day, at least), but there doubtless will be some who decide to sit this one out, which could have significant consequences in some close races. I don’t think they should, but Republicans have to recognize this as a possibility and move to address it.

From where I sit, the House leadership hasn’t yet done so.

So, are you going to stay home and not vote for the candidate who shares your moral values?

Neither am I.

I’m going to leave you guys alone now. I’ll be back Nov. 8.

Thanks in large part to the lunacy of the left, this nation has been moving toward conservatism for the past 6 years and especially since 9-11-01. It didn’t turn on a dime when Folley’s follies were publicized. You two have way over reacted. The pollsters have stirred you into a panic. Shame on them for that. You have allowed the pollsters to stir you into a panic. Shame on you for that.

Of course, I’m going to vote, though in my Georgia district there’s no prospect that the incumbent Republicans will be unseated. Tom Price will be reelected to the U.S. House. Sonny Perdue will be reelected as governor. Fran Millar and Dan Weber, my Republican state representative and senator, respectively, will be handily reelected. The state legislature will remain in Republican hands, and I expect that the Republicans (Casey Cagle, to be precise) will take the lieutenant governorship from the Democrats.

I have said recently that long-term trends seem to favor Republicans nationally. I was worried about short-term control of Congress before the Foley news broke (largely on Iraq and a general sense of incumbent fatigue). The last week or so hasn’t helped, in large part because the Republican leadership (I’m repeating myself) didn’t handle the revelations well, and didn’t seem to have handled Foley well in the years he was in Congress. In a close race, you can’t afford to lose this much time. And you can’t afford to give up whatever high ground you hold.

The Rasmussen numbers you cited elsewhere suggest that this mess hasn’t affected Bush, which it shouldn’t have. But if I were a Republican in a close race, I wouldn’t be happy with the way the last ten days have gone. Even if I had been doing everything right, the Congressional leadership has made things difficult.

Let’s hope for better days ahead.

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