Posted by: coloradokiwi | September 21, 2007

So…which one of you is Mephistopheles?

I’ll level with you: I earnestly believed and hoped all this would have happened sooner, but finally, at long last, it appears that great gas giant known as Christian Conservatism is about to collapse. The question now will be whether the movement will eventually turn into a neutron star or a black hole: in other words, is it gonna be smaller but still capable of radiating cosmic bursts of energy, or will it suck down everything that orbits a bit too close? CQPolitics has a nice little piece out about how evangelicals have, well, lost faith. And as a result, they’re working even harder to try to enact their increasingly radical–but somehow less focused–agenda. For the link-lazy, allow me to paraphrase:

1. There are no clear choices for you if you’re an evangelical who wants to ban abortion and keep gays from marrying. Giuliani and Romney are both clearly on the wrong side of this issue, as is McCain (probably). The top of the second tier candidates, Mike Huckabee, probably won’t make the cut, and seems to at this stage be flame retardant.

2. The fundies are finally catching on to the fact that they are being used by the GOP. They’ve been openly pandered to since Reagan, and not much happened until Dubya’s inauguration. Even then, with “their guy” in the WH and control of Congress for most of his term, they’ve made what they consider only modest gains in their agenda (whew! praise Jesus!). This time around they seem to have developed this thing called “skepticism” which is admittedly a rather evolved (yuk, yuk) trait for a true believer. Which brings us to…

3. Values voters they may be, but that doesn’t mean some of them aren’t political calculators. They know the GOP is poised for a huge defeat in ’08. Some of them think that if they can’t get the guy they want, at least they can support an “electable” figure like Mitt or Rudy–because holy hell Jesus help us if Clinton’s elected. This may explain why Huckabee isn’t doing better in the polls–because some evangelicals, crazy though they may be, are not interested in electoral suicide. At the same time, however, some evangelical groups are moving even farther right, saying that this time they’re going to annoint someone who really, really will–really–ban abortion and gay marriage. This is not an insiginificant division, considering how political campaigns–particularly in the primaries–must be managed these days.

4. There are schisms much more profound than mere political tactics, boy howdy. For some evangelicals, creating grizzly placards of aborted fetuses and bashing gays just ain’t as hip as it used to be (sigh….good times). They’re starting to wonder whether God doesn’t have something grander in mind for them, like say global warming, poverty, a peace movement, etc. You know, something that actually reflects the tenets of Christianity.

Although this change in focus is not entirely generational, apparently this “new guard” approach is largely a movement of the young. This is not surprising, given that the problem with Old Testament-style fire and brimstone is that the smell of sulpher kinda kills the mood when you’re trying to be intimate without violating your pledge.

So, okay prognosticators: either the Christian Right’s implosion will mean either only a radical fuckwit will get the nomination (thereby dooming the GOP’s chances of getting the White House), or the Christian Right will grin and bear it with regard to the prez nom, while expending huge resources on Congressional elections.

But here’s the rub: the Christian Right as we knew them may be imploding, at least for now. But they are far from gone. Indeed they will be around in some form or another as long as we have the perfect storm of ignorance, bigotry, zealotry, and the toxic mix of individualistic Protestantism and commodity fetishism. So how can we work with and/or against nutjobs?

I propose this Faustian bargain, which, if handled properly, can at once get shit done as well as kick those horrifically unsavory aspects of the “old guard” while they’re down: the Dems/liberals/lefties/spineless cumstains in Congress need to reach out to the “new guard” on the issues that the GOP has not merely abandoned but disparaged: fighting global warming, poverty, and warmongering. Obviously, this is quite a hurdle to climb given how far apart even a centrist Democrat like Hillary is from the core of what we would normally term the Christian Right. Yea, the extreme distaste runs both directions. However, there are two advantages here that the Dems will have over the GOP if they run this right:

1. The Dems actually want to do something about these issues, unlike the majority of GOP candidates in the past who paid mere lip service to banning abortion, and whose distaste for gay marriage can’t quite trump their distaste for empowering the federal gummint (why this black helicopter crowd then defends something like FISA and the USA Patriot Act, I don’t know–it’s one of the great mysteries of the Republian mind). Therefore movement on these issues should pay dividends.

2. If the Dems make headway here in merely gaining the support of the some of the Christian Right on these issues, regardless of their actual accomplishments on them, at the very least they’ve driven a wedge into the heart of our country’s most notorious wedge drivers. Suddenly it will be easy to dismiss the anti-abortion, anti-gay crowd as merely “radicals,” and not “radical Christians.” Because although I find religion in general to be irksome, we can all agree it was a huge mistake, electorally, for the Dems to abandon “mainstream” Christians, by and large, to the GOP. This should be better for the country, but also better for Democracy: the GOP can no longer rely on a sizeable “base” to be manipulated in a Rovian manner–they have to actually go out and campaign again, properly (or so it would seem to me, naive little shit that I am).

So, that’s the plan. Now, how do we tell the difference between the “old guard” and the “new guard,” and can we rely on them? Well, hit the church circuit and find out, Dems. Just don’t act your way through embarrassing routines on the pulpit.

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