Michael Crawford

White Right Cracking Up?

Filed By Michael Crawford | October 28, 2007 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media
Tags: conservative politics, evangelical Christian, politics, religion, right-wing

Now, a lot of us have known that the white right had cracked up mentally a while ago, but in a must read article the New York Times chronicles the evangelical political crack up.

As Joe Sudbay points out at Americablog, George Bush's war against Iraq helped foster this crackup. It is also a clear sign of what happens when any group of people deems itself morally infallible and demands that absolutely everyone adheres to their political beliefs. Political perfection exists only in dreams not in the real world.

Just three years ago, the leaders of the conservative Christian political movement could almost see the Promised Land. White evangelical Protestants looked like perhaps the most potent voting bloc in America. They turned out for President George W. Bush in record numbers, supporting him for re-election by a ratio of four to one. Republican strategists predicted that religious traditionalists would help bring about an era of dominance for their party. Spokesmen for the Christian conservative movement warned of the wrath of "values voters." James C. Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, was poised to play kingmaker in 2008, at least in the Republican primary. And thanks to President Bush, the Supreme Court appeared just one vote away from answering the prayers of evangelical activists by overturning Roe v. Wade.

Today the movement shows signs of coming apart beneath its leaders. It is not merely that none of the 2008 Republican front-runners come close to measuring up to President Bush in the eyes of the evangelical faithful, although it would be hard to find a cast of characters more ill fit for those shoes: a lapsed-Catholic big-city mayor; a Massachusetts Mormon; a church-skipping Hollywood character actor; and a political renegade known for crossing swords with the Rev. Pat Robertson and the Rev. Jerry Falwell. Nor is the problem simply that the Democratic presidential front-runners -- Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and former Senator John Edwards -- sound like a bunch of tent-revival Bible thumpers compared with the Republicans.

The 2008 election is just the latest stress on a system of fault lines that go much deeper. The phenomenon of theologically conservative Christians plunging into political activism on the right is, historically speaking, something of an anomaly. Most evangelicals shrugged off abortion as a Catholic issue until after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. But in the wake of the ban on public-school prayer, the sexual revolution and the exodus to the suburbs that filled the new megachurches, protecting the unborn became the rallying cry of a new movement to uphold the traditional family. Now another confluence of factors is threatening to tear the movement apart. The extraordinary evangelical love affair with Bush has ended, for many, in heartbreak over the Iraq war and what they see as his meager domestic accomplishments. That disappointment, in turn, has sharpened latent divisions within the evangelical world -- over the evangelical alliance with the Republican Party, among approaches to ministry and theology, and between the generations.

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Indiana blogger Doug Masson has an excellent blog post about this subject today too. It's definitely worth checking out.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | October 28, 2007 12:15 PM

These are certainly worth pondering, even though I am skeptical about declaring the marriage between evangelicals and the GOP dissolved (can the parties now re-marry elswhere given Christ's statement concerning the adultery exception?) The subject bears watching in Indiana, too. I think there's mouting evidence that some sincere Hoosier evangelicals think the political opportunism of some, in the name of "values" (as if nobody but them has values worth voting for)has gone out of whack. So far they are largely private whisperings, though.

Maybe not dissolved, Don, but certainly on the rocks. When you view yourself as perfect (as the evangelicals do), it is impossible to overlook the imperfections in your spouse (the GOP in this case) for long.

I'm not certain the makeup of the evangelical allows for divorce, so the partnership will likely continue, but I certainly believe the trust is gone. Without trust, it is much more difficult to hold a large group together.

I do like that the actual concerns of Christ (peace, poverty, etc) are beginning to weigh on the hearts and minds of the rank and file evangelical.

I am fearful that the powers that be have discovered the gay boogey man isn't bringing in the dollars as quickly as before and they will move on to the next target (illegals) to shore up the finances. It brings me no joy to be off the chopping block if someone else is taking my place.

This latest round of quarreling between Republicans and totalitarian christians points out that the Republicans need the theocrats more than vice versa.

Their reactionary alliance has worked for over a decade and combined with the war has pushed politics to the right, eliminating centrism as a viable alternative. Both parties have marched in lock step to the right and both Republicans and
D(emo)ixiecrats have made concerted efforts to woo the bigot vote.

The Dixiecrats lurch to the right with DOMA, NAFTA, DADT, attacks on welfare and etc. cost them lots of elections. Even now, in spite of the enormous disapproval of Republican policies the polls are all over the place. The polls illustrate the anger of those who thought they’d voted for a party that would end the war, clamp down on bigoted bosses, and etc. They’re finding out the hard way how little ‘lesser’ there is in ‘lesser evil’. What is clear is that the Dixiecrat Congress is a dismal failure in the eyes of the vast majority. (Even Bush gets about 25% approvals, but the Congress only gets an abysmal 10%.)

The irony of the situation is that just as polling is beginning to indicate that the christian totalitarians grip on US politics is imploding, liberals like Edwards, Giuliani, Clinton and Obama are obsequiously pandering to them. (Both “obscenely” and “obsequiously” fit so I had to flip a penny.)

What is also clear is that the Dixiecrats will continue the war, they won’t impeach Bush, they’ll allow bigots to hire and fire at will, they’ll bust unions and etc. It’s up to us working with allied movements to stop them.

GLBT folks will have to deepen our internal debate and be on the lookout for ways to develop a powerful, militant independent voice to escalate our fight for full equality. A good first step would be for the 300 or so organizations in the proENDA coalition to call for a March on Washington supporting our version of the bill and denouncing the Democrats sellout version.

The presence of a million or so angry demonstrators calling them ‘traitor’ and ‘bigot’ has a wonderful way of clarifying things for lawmakers and everyone involved.

It's not a huge surprise that the next generation of christians doesn't share the view of Dr Dobson and his pals.

They're disillusioned with politicians and religious charaltans who've played them like a cheap guitar and have also met their presumable (gay/liberal/ungodly) neighbors and discovered that they're not so bad.

The coming election cycle is most definitely going to be interesting

I can see it. Although I don't think that Evangelicals fell in line with Dobson et al as much as people thought they did. Yeah, they voted for Bush in 2004, but so did a lot of other people. And I think it was for more than just abortion and gay marriage. I mean, there was that mopey guy the Democrats ran that year who wasn't helping anything.

I like how this article points out that evangelicals didn't care much about abortion until recently. I wonder if the Right took up that issue so that Christian social justice would be more easily co=opted into a larger movement for more tax cuts.

More tax cuts, we need more tax cuts!