Republican Squeaky Wheels

The overhyped story of the 2008 elections so far is the role of the Religious Right in picking a GOP candidate, fueled by headlines about Huckabee’s commercial cross, Romney’s speech on “Faith in America,” Pat Robertson’s underwhelming endorsement of Giuliani and the Rev. James Dobson’s serial excommunication of each aspirant as he edges toward supporting his fellow preacher.

But this media melodrama may be obscuring the decline of the so-called God Vote in Republican politics, starting last November when opposition to the war in Iraq overwhelmed candidates of the Bush theocracy and gave control of Congress to the Democrats.

Even as Huckabee rises in the polls, prominent Republicans are questioning what Peggy Noonan calls his “creepy” appeal and, in New Hampshire, the resurgence of the resolutely secular John McCain is threatening Romney.

A new Gallup poll offers some perspective, showing only 32 percent of Americans now feel religion is increasing its influence in national life, compared to the Eisenhower era half a century ago when 69 percent felt that way.

A recent study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that “younger white evangelicals have become increasingly dissatisfied with Bush and are moving away from the GOP.”

In October, Mike Huckabee told the Values Voters summit, “I come today as one not who comes to you, but as one who comes from you. You are my roots.” Nonetheless, Romney won the straw poll after the meeting.

Now that Huckabee is surging and real voting is about to begin, Republicans will give us some answers about what kind of President they want after George Bush’s pious pronouncements and disastrous performance. “Cultural conservatives” may be in for some surprises.

Cross-posted from my blog.

Author: ROBERT STEIN

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32 Comments

  1. In October, Mike Huckabee told the Values Voters summit, “I come today as one not who comes to you, but as one who comes from you. You are my roots.” Nonetheless, Romney won the straw poll after the meeting.

    Mitt paid to transport many supporters to the Iowa straw poll with his own money. Huckabee was an obscure entity previous to his appearance at the Values Voters summit, with many giving him no chance at the nomination. That speech turned the corner for him, and led to him coming in second in the straw poll, which amazed many of the pundits. He had a fraction of the money and organization that Mitt had in Iowa and had less than almost all of his other rivals in the state. That’s what made the results a stunning achievement, and led to his current rise in the polls.

  2. “Cultural conservatives” may be in for some surprises.

    Actually the pronouncement that Social conservatism is dead is just wishful thinking by the left as they pine for the days when they can institute their “Animal House” agenda over no opposition of any kind.

    They hope to run rough shod over America with their version of morality and ethics.

    I think what will ultimately transpire is that those surprised will be the left liberals panting over the suspected demise of the GOP.

    Christianity, social values and conservatism are alive, just not very healthy right now in America. But when push comes to shove and after the horrendous performance of the “Ethical, Democratic End the War Congress” you will see a push back.

    Will a Republican win the house? No. Will they win back a majority? No. But it will be closer then many think because America is and always has been an underdog loving country and the Democrats and the left are beating and pummelling the GOP and the right to such an extent that a backlash will occur bringing balance to the Political force in this country.

    In the meantime I fully suspect the GOP will turn to a candidate who best upholds the Conservative values of the Right. The more the Left(Gay rights, Atheist, Abortion or in other words ANTICHRSTian) bashes the Religious right the more the conservative element of the GOP will focus on a RR candidate.

    It most likely will result in a pretty good defeat in the presidential election but it will once again draw the soccer moms out of the closets of discontent over fiscal failures of this president along with an unpopular war.

    The serious problems facing the GOP is not a result of social values or Christian values. It is a result of an extremely unpopular war that somehow has been twisted into the left perpetuating an obscure belief that the Religious right and Christianity are warmongering, end the world fanatics.

    Great job left. LIES. But great lies for sure.


  3. Actually the pronouncement that Social conservatism is dead is just wishful thinking by the left as they pine for the days when they can institute their “Animal House” agenda over no opposition of any kind.

    They hope to run rough shod over America with their version of morality and ethics

    Somebody- Um, if you were being fair, you would note that libertarians dislike the imposition of cultural mores as much if not more than the left. The father of the conservative movement, Barry Goldwater decried the hijacking of the movement by the religious right.

    Some of us just don’t want to live in a Christianized nanny state, with the government getting involved in birth control, drug use, religious expression and legislating morality for us. We have a diverse society, where one size does not fit all. We don’t want our taxes going for the War against Drugs and fighting unwanted pregnancy with abstinence only programs, which are expensive and ineffective.

  4. kritt,

    For all of your complaints about the right wing nanny state, you seem to support a left wing nanny state, where what your feed your kids, what your read to your kids, what your kids learn in school will all be heavily regulated. Do you really want to live in world where warning labels are omnipresent, where playgrounds no longer exist, and where children are in car seats until 12?

    If your world, you can smoke all the pot you want but you cannot get experimental drugs because the leftist nanny state has determined that you are too ignorant to give informed consent. You can terminate your pregnancy any time you want but your pregnancy, child rearing will be heavily regulated.

    If you detest the nanny state, you should detest eliminating trans fats as much as the war of drugs.

  5. As Ryan Sager documents in his book “The Elephant in the Room” (my review here)the Fusionist Social/Fiscal Conservative alliance has been and will continue to be critical to GOP presidential electoral success. Sager labels these constituencies as Evangelicals and Libertarians, but whatever you want to call them, the GOP cannot elect a president unless both constituencies agree on supporting a candidate.

    I have seen a number of pundits and bloggers opine that the “Social Conservatives”, “Cultural Conservatives”, “Religious Right”, “Evangelicals”, are the problem with the GOP, and need to be somehow marginalized by the party. This thesis flies in the face of history, and is a prescription for permanent Republican minority status, and possibly the end of the party. The key to Republican success is not marginalizing the evangelicals, but rather finding a candidate that can be supported by both evangelicals and libertarians (again I am using Sager’s labels).

    There are clearly tensions, conflicting goals and different values motivating these factions. The left leaning bloggers who focus on these issues generally do not seem to be equally concerned that the many special interests/factions that make up the Democratic party are also often an odds. We don’t seem to see equally broad (and inaccurate) pronouncements that a specific candidate de-emphasizing one constituency in the Democratic party is a requirement for the Democratic Party to succeed.

  6. Um, if you were being fair, you would note that libertarians dislike the imposition of cultural mores as much if not more than the left.

    Krit I am being fair. Libertarians joinned the GOP for lack of a better evil. Yet for a party that endorses the legalization of drugs, end to the drug war and believes that you should be allowed to drive drunk as long as you dont hurt anyone (basic collective generalization)and on and on they are more precisely who I target when I point to the Left.

    Very few libertarians are right or really even belong in the gop and now that the GOP has gone big government, mindlessly missing fiscal conservativism the Libertarians are deserting the ship faster then rats during the bubonic plague.

    Why do you think Their Libertarian darling is getting so much play this year?

    Some of us just don’t want to live in a Christianized nanny state

    And my suggestion is exactly that. You would perfer to live in an ANIMAL HOUSE nanny state. The type of nanny state is the debate now isnt it.

    Yet my point is that True Conservatism is not a nanny state at all. It is a movement that encourages states rights, limits government and embarks upon fiscal responsibility.

    Morality should be left to the people and more specifically to the states…….not the Federal government. That is conservatism. It is also defines the hopes of many not so far left or not so Anarchistic Libertarians.

  7. SD- My point is that both the left and the right complain about the nanny state- the right doesn’t want business, healthcare and the environment regulated, the left and libertarians don’t want the government involved in moral issues. Conservatives are the ones who rail against the nanny state, yet they ignore their own members who want to control everyone’s sex life, religious expression, and drug use.

    Somebody-Ron Paul is as close to a Libertarian candidate as we are going to get, and he would treat drug abuse like alchoholism- enforce laws that are broken when under the influence of drugs. The money spent fighting the “war” would be better spent on rehab.

    The behavior is out there whether we like it or not. Legislating morality hasn’t succeeded in stopping it.
    17 States have turned down Bush’s funding for abstinence only programs- why? Because it is worthless.

  8. The overhyped story of the 2008 elections so far is the role of the Religious Right in picking a GOP candidate

    Wrong (again). What is overhyped, by the Left, is the role the Religious Right plays in the GOP and in conservative (or activist anti-liberal) politics.

    * * *

    And my suggestion is exactly that. You would perfer to live in an ANIMAL HOUSE nanny state. The type of nanny state is the debate now isnt it.

    Yes. The radical Left (and this has infused the rest of the Left) is extremely childish and destructive, a toddler throwing a tantrum, never wanting any limits, standards, or judgments on their personal conduct — and they cannot stand to hear the word “no.” They demand the “right” [sic] to do whatever they want, without any negative consequences. They expect and demand to be always free of risk, which is assumed by the Nanny State (whatever costs paid for by Somebody Else, Always).

    They are more atomistic and societally destructive (not merely disruptive) than the most ill-mannered otherwise-apolitical boors who claim liberarianism as the (worthless) defense of their own misconduct.

  9. If you detest the nanny state, you should detest eliminating trans fats as much as the war of drugs.

    I don’t like the War on Drugs because so many resources are wasted on locking up casual users, which ends up overloading the prison system. Medicinal use of marijuana has been outlawed- even though many users are terminal cancer patients, and even growing hemp- which is not marijuana is outlawed.

    If eliminating trans fat helps eliminate the cost of treating obesity and heart disease, then why not do so?

  10. I forgot to add that I think the carseat rules, and child-rearing laws are somewhat intrusive— but there should be regulation for vaccinations and to protect kids from child abuse and pedophiles. I guess some libertarians are bothered by the govt spying on porn sites, but if it helps catch pedophiles, I’m all for it.

  11. Libertarians joinned the GOP for lack of a better evil.

    They were the true liberals, who were made unwelcome by the development of the Left in the twentieth century — well before the radicalization in the late 1960s that repelled many liberals as well as non-liberals. We mainstream English-heritage libertarian-based non-liberal real liberals have found a home on the Right by default. And though wisdom, I could add, given where divergence from libertarian theory logically points nearly all the time.

    Amitai Etzioni characterized the basic division (two parts) of the GOP quite well. (You remember him, I hope. He’s the “communitarian” guy as well as the guy whose writeup on race I posted a link to, to see if anyone would have commented about his plea for one-time reparations. I don’t believe anybody chose to comment and may not have read it.)

    The basic division of the GOP (or of the American right, or at least the non-left) by Etzioni is that among “Whigs” (mainly libertarians and other small-government types; “economic conservatives”) and “Tories” (“social conservatives,” which encompass more than the Religious Right, obviously; traditionalists; authoritarian and pro-big-government types; think of them as those holding the largest claim to the “flag and eagle”).

    Hype over the Religious Right has always been just that, hype. (And hatred, all too often.) As with global warming on the Left, attacks on the Religious Right have staying power, in this case because the Religious Right (and non-religious-activist social conservatives, whose goals often are similar to those of the Religious Right) isn’t going away any time soon. It’s not like, for example, the rapid rise to attention and more-rapid disappearance of the militias after 1994.

  12. you seem to support a left wing nanny state, where what your feed your kids, what your read to your kids, what your kids learn in school will all be heavily regulated.

    … when not provided by government in place of the family and the rest of the private sector, the most ambitious typical goal.

  13. Legislating morality hasn’t succeeded in stopping it.

    So we should stop legislating against murder, battery, theft, and such?

    The real question always has been where to draw the line and how much authority is appropriate.

  14. The only larger-than-normal role the Religious Right is playing in this election — and this again is no hype, but fact — is that here in Iowa, the Religious Right is a substantially larger fraction of the electorate than in other states, and so one should not hype the chances of Huckabee nation-wide. (It’s similar to the way threads on this site hype each day’s new poll or other news, no matter how remotely related to the election results several days from now.)

    Wait until after the elections next month, and better still, until after February 5.

    And stop the pathological hatred of the Religious Right. Grow up, please. Thanks in advance.

  15. Even though we all can usually spot Robert as a season ticket holder in the left field bleachers, I think his piece above is essentially more moderate observation than partisan-baiting.

    I believe his piece to be saying that religion has indeed been overplayed as a permanent fixture in US politics. It is indeed true that if you lined up the atheists on one side of the street and the lined up “people of some religious conviction” on the other side, you would have a monumental imbalance. (Do you think O’Reilly is actually 4 times funnier than Olbermann or maybe that there are just a whole lot more “regular folks” than “sarcastic paper-wad throwing twits” in the US viewing audience?)

    But for the media to suggest those people with religious conviction are synonomous with Liberty University donors is indeed hype.

    Starting a few elections ago, Falwell, Reed et al actually managed to pull off what Jackson and Sharpton can only flap their gums about……taking advantage of the naturally-already organized “congregations” and simply manipulating them into an “organized voting bloc”.

    It is quite obvious, though, that the real or just perceived potency of that particular “voting bloc” scared the bejesus (pun intended) out of the Columbia University alum journalism majors noshing on brie and chardonnay while staring out at the Queensborough Bridge from their Sutton Place apartments. They have never recovered from the shock of it all……..that people who live in places like Birmingham, Alabama might actually significantly influence who might be elected POTUS……….therefore, every election they trot out their “religious right” pieces exactly the same way the KKK trotted out their hoods.

    It is journalistic garbage, not to mention irrelevant reporting….. as the congregation has long ago realized they are not going to be automatically manipulated into focusing on single issue politics.

  16. So we should stop legislating against murder, battery, theft, and such?

    Don’t be silly, that’s taking things to an extreme. Dont’ put laws on the books that are unenforceable and that waste resources that are needed elsewhere. The Bush administration has used the DOJ to crack down on the casual drug user, which just crowds the prisons, and teaches them to become more hardened. Arnold recently released thousands of these people, because Calif prisons can’t contain them.

    The real question always has been where to draw the line and how much authority is appropriate.

    Yes, I agree. I think the govt should worry more about whether there’s lead in children’s toys and less about whether we wear our seat belts, or if we can use embryos from fertility clinics for research or buy the morning after pill.

  17. DLS wrote: And stop the pathological hatred of the Religious Right. Grow up, please. Thanks in advance.

    Where are you seeing pathological hatred of the religious right ? All I see is requests that their beliefs not be allowed to restrain the personal liberties of others.

  18. Which brings me back to my original point.

    Actually the pronouncement that Social conservatism is dead is just wishful thinking by the left as they pine for the days when they can institute their “Animal House” agenda over no opposition of any kind.

    The left learned well from the right. What goes around comes around. The left needed something to demonize and polarize. Christianity and the Religious Right became their demon and they pulled it off….sending the average christian scurrying for cover scratching their heads in confusion.

    Temporary. This election will be the defining moment for the GOP. It will be their 1994.

  19. The Bush administration has used the DOJ to crack down on the casual drug user

    Drugs are a destructive industry.

    Some people that grow them are murdered for their crops. Some people that push them murder to get their drugs to market. Some people that take them murder to pay for their drugs. Or they become prostitutes. Not all but how many does it take to say umm mabey drugs are not such a good idea.

    No industry so full of hate and crime can dare hope to stand up to “oh peshaw……let us alone……were not harming anyone.”

    A waste of money? Tell that to the children of those dead by the hands of drugs from seed to smoke. Or tell it to the parents of those who have watched their children caught up in drug related gang wars.

    Once again as DLS puts it. Its the left refusing to take NO for an answer and throwing a fit when they are told no.

  20. And this is always the coup de gra.

    We want paid government medical care to pay for all our drug and alcohol related health problems.

  21. Somebody,

    You have hit on the ultimate nanny state. A government that nurses you back to health after the good times are long gone and a person has hit rock bottom.

    many people who have decided that civil rights has to do with drugs and sex, always seem to want the government to pay for all of the negative impacts of their own personal decisions. Such an attitude is about as far from libertarianism as there is.

  22. Where are you seeing pathological hatred of the religious right ?

    There’s no excuse for hatred.

    I discussed this on Christmas (how’s that for timing?) with my radical friend in DC because she has a relative whose wife is associated with the Religious Right, and they live on Colorado’s Front Range, which is outside the Bible Belt (the South and Ozark portion of Missouri, in general) but which features one or more foci of some truly hard-core Religious Right elements. (You may be aware of Colorado Springs as a location of more hard-core Religious Right activity, meaning farther to the right than typical.)

    These people claim persecution. The book I got for my friend (I get to read it first), which was from the mid-1990s (when the true far and radical and far-right Religious Right flexed their muscles the most, after the 1994 elections), discusses this “myth” of bigotry and hatred directed at it, and my friend is outraged that any Religious Right member would dare claim to be persecuted.

    They claim too much when they retreat into the world of paranoia as well as fear (Roberson and some of his wackier New World Order UN-and-Lucifer stuff). That is obvious. But what we have seen in modern times, and in particular since the public no longer was reliably Democratic in general after the 1970s, is true hatred toward the Religious Right (and whites in the South, a different but often related target) in addition to gross misconstruction of the Constitutional requirement for Congressional (federal) neutrality on religion, as well as nearly consistent mischaracterization both of the group itself and of its goals. (Relatively few are “dominionists,” the kind who want to impose biblical-based laws on this nation, but that is the impression the Left wants everyone to have.)

    Look at the scummy cartoons and references (replete with Southern dialectical features) to the Religious Right and religious people (at least, to Christians, who are all assumed to be radical Religious Rightists) on this site alone.

    All I see is requests that their beliefs not be allowed to restrain the personal liberties of others.

    That they not impose their views on others is common to everyone else — nobody else wants Sunday “blue laws.” But you would be mistaken if you believe that reforms often sought by the Religious Right in no way are also sought by most of the rest of the public, too.

    Nobody has the right to behave personally whatever way they want, completely free of any intervention or interference whatsoever. That’s what toddlers believe.

  23. We want paid government medical care to pay for all our drug and alcohol related health problems.

    A government that nurses you back to health after the good times are long gone and a person has hit rock bottom.

    What’s ironic is that one day, when health care costs force even lefties to face reality, many elites would say that utilitarian considerations “mandate” that we cease paying for liver transplants and spend the money on attempting rehab with several more potential beneficiaries instead.

  24. I’d rather pay healthcare costs than prison, police , public defender and court costs- which are probably more expensive for the taxpayer. Plus when the person is in jail they can’t contribute to society in any way. Warehousing criminals costs at least 30 grand a year, and crack defendants were pulling 30 year sentences.

  25. kritt,

    You should look up the Peltzman Effect. If government provides full rehab costs for all substance abusers, you can bet that you will get more of them. The government lowers the risks and creates a safety net for stupid behavior. That is a true example of the nanny state.

    An no one is arguing that legalizing drugs will eliminate crime. Did repealing prohibition eliminate organized crime?

  26. Drug reform: I would advocate looking at each drug individually. Many if not most in this country (I’m one) would be in favor of reform of marijuana laws. Certainly few would advocate anything over the counter, at private stores or at government-run monopoly retail sales points.

    Prison term reform: How funny it is, that I remember well a line from the book “Papillon” (about the real Henri Charriere) all the way back to when I first read it at age 12: “Here in Colombia it’s twenty years or death, nothing else.” That would be an improvement over what we have now. Long-term (life) sentences include free provision of health care. People put away for violent crimes should have terms that correspond to what works statistically most of the time, namely to put poeple in their teens and twenties away until they are at least 35 and probably well into their forties. Then they should be kicked out, not provided for any longer, and the scarce, expensive prison space used for another, more dangerous young criminal.

    That and other reforms (requiring prisoners to work, to pay restitution to victims or their families, etc.) upset the authors of a book I got for a friend recently, but they are welcomed by most of the public. So would be what a Democratic author has said back in the 1990s, the introduction of rural work camps where the prisoners would have to raise their own food and create their own shelter or not survive.

    I’m not sure what to do about overcrowding (which I’m convinced is the source of some of the stress and cause of some violence in prisons) other than build enough space to accomodate everyone in a reasonable way (solitary confinement at night for all would be much safer) and to engage the prisoners in outdoor work where possible (opposed by many but some prisoners would probably welcome a chance to be outside a prison’s walls).

  27. SD I’m not saying the government should pay full rehab costs. But once the person is in the criminal justice system, you are going to be paying for some of them for the rest of their lives. Many go in for drug offenses and come out with a more hardened criminal mentality and the contacts to go along with it. At least we should try to salvage who we can, and leave the hard time for those who have committed violent offenses. Either way there will be some societal costs, but some of those who go to rehab will recover and be productive again.

  28. SD- Nothing will entirely eliminate crime- most addictive behaviors seem to go along with it. But the organized crime that we still have doesn’t have anything to do with alchohol- since it was legalized. Legalizing drugs would cut back some organized crime.

  29. The government lowers the risks and creates a safety net for stupid behavior. That is a true example of the nanny state.

    Moral hazard! We’re seeing that now with the moves to bail out the banks and the foolish mortgage borrowers.

    (In addition, we’re seeing unconstitutional confiscation in the form of proposed limits on interest rates that replace what is in existing contracts. It’s similar to the theft proposed in Conyers-Kucinish by conversion of medicine to not-for-profit and not compensating for lost profits.)

    An no one is arguing that legalizing drugs will eliminate crime. Did repealing prohibition eliminate organized crime?

    Our Prohibition was actually similar to what decriminalization of marijuana would be like today. There was no abolute ban, no stopping and searching all the time, etc.

    Anyone who can get a copy of this book should read the chapter on Prohibition in order to dispel a number of myths.

    (book)

    (another book)

    Organized crime existed decades before Prohibition.

    Organized crime exists now, long after Prohibition.

  30. The government lowers the risks and creates a safety net for stupid behavior. That is a true example of the nanny state.

    Yes, but it does so for corporate stupidity and greed as well. And many, like the mentally ill,many of whom are homeless, have no safety net aside from temporary shelters or soup kitchens.

  31. From the ops own link to support his story.

    Because 11% said they had no religious identity at all, and another 2% didn’t answer, these results suggest that well more than 9 out of 10 Americans who identify with a religion are Christian in one way or the other.

    About 82% of Americans in 2007 told Gallup interviewers that they identified with a Christian religion.

    There is no better way for me to illustrate the point I was making some time back. This nation for better or worse is a Christian nation. The religious right is alive and well in this country. The GOP will hopefully once again reexamine itself and reestablish that which it has always affirmed and this election will be about that one over riding necessity.

    I would reiterate that the problem with the GOP is not Christianity or the Religious right. It is about a war and fiscal abandonment and a president that failed to lead his party and movement because he was so obsessed with a war.

    There is nothing wrong with Christianity other then some intense screaming by the 11 percent here.

  32. Somebody— aren’t you assuming that the Americans who id themselves as Christians are part of the religious right? I would probably identify myself as Christian in a survey- since I was born half Lutheran and was raised as a Christian (not a religious one however) and still celebrate all of the Christian holidays. I may be a secular liberal, but I still think of myself as a Christian, however loosely.

    And many more Christians in both parties want the separation between church and state maintained scrupulously, which is why Huckabee’s commercials have set off a backlash. No one is questioning whether a majority of Americans are Christians, just the role they think religion should play (if any) in our government.

    The Reagan coalition is coming apart, at least during primary season. It may come back together during the general election as the GOP candidate faces Clinton or Obama.

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