Tuesday, November 25, 2008

There's Hope: Kathleen Parker Nails It

More and more Republicans are getting it. Here's Kathleen Parker spelling it out clearly:

"As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I'm bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn't soon cometh...

Which is to say, the GOP has surrendered its high ground to its lowest brows. In the process, the party has alienated its non-base constituents, including other people of faith (those who prefer a more private approach to worship), as well as secularists and conservative-leaning Democrats who otherwise might be tempted to cross the aisle.

Here's the deal, 'pubbies: Howard Dean was right.

It isn't that culture doesn't matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party -- and conservatism with it -- eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one's heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they've had something to do with the GOP's erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University's Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can't have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting. "

The entire article is worth a good read. The Republican party is going to have to change to survive, and at a, ahem, fundamental level. Ironically, it was Obama that gave them the recipe for recovery here. It is not, as people like Mike Huckabee and Jonah Goldberg misrepresent, about kicking Christians out of the GOP. How ironic that they would respond to the charge of being intellectually dishonest to please stupid people with an intellectually dishonest argument that would persuade only stupid people.

The needed change is for evangelical Christians, and anyone else of any religious bent, to understand that they must have secular justification for their political positions in order to be persuasive to the ever-growing citizenry that is not so religiously inclined. They must refer to what we all see, not just private religious views that only they see. They must abandon the contradiction they have managed to balance over the last few decades: claiming their religious views were faith-based and therefore should not be subjected to scientific scrutiny, but then expecting those views to be given the force of science when arguing in the public square.

Evangelical politically active Christians have tried to have it both ways, and now that they are a shrinking minority, it simply won't do. Either your religious views are private, faith affairs, not to be exposed to or challenged by others, or they are external claims on reality with political and scientific implications, good enough for the public square, and open to challenge by all. Too many of you think criticism of your views violates your first amendment rights. Get over that.

If you are going to oppose abortion, stem cell research, evolution, and gay marriage, and promote abstinence only sex ed, Bible classes, and sectarian holiday displays, you are going to have to come up with arguments that are not based on your faith-based religion. There aren't enough of you any more to win like that, and the rest of us don't care what your religion says. You may have won some minor victories in 2008 (Prop 8 in Cal.), but there are no demographic trends in your favor for the future. Change, or become a minor, ignored, party.

No comments: