Thursday, November 20, 2008

Long Hard Road Out of Heaven


As you know, it's incredibly rare that I crib someone else's published piece wholesale and reprint it here. It has to be something I wish I'd written myself, something that makes a point I think needs to be heard far and wide, or both. Kathleen Parker -- the conservative columnist who may have provided the Cronkite-saying-Vietnam-can't-be-won moment during the election when she admitted that Sarah Palin was unqualified to be vice president -- is once again taking a ballsy stand against the conventional wisdom of her party for the sake of saving her party. Her assertion, and one that rings 100% true, is that "God" is killing the GOP.

"Giving Up on God" by Kathleen Parker (The Washington Post/11.19.08)


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.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth -- as long as we're setting ourselves free -- is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

The choir has become absurdly off-key, and many Republicans know it.

But they need those votes!

So it has been for the Grand Old Party since the 1980s or so, as it has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

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.

With the exception of Miss Alaska, of course.

Even Sarah Palin has blamed Bush policies for the GOP loss. She's not entirely wrong, but she's also part of the problem. Her recent conjecture about whether to run for president in 2012 (does anyone really doubt she will?) speaks for itself:

"I'm like, okay, God, if there is an open door for me somewhere, this is what I always pray, I'm like, don't let me miss the open door. Show me where the open door is.... And if there is an open door in (20)12 or four years later, and if it's something that is going to be good for my family, for my state, for my nation, an opportunity for me, then I'll plow through that door."

Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door.

Meanwhile, it isn't necessary to evict the Creator from the public square, surrender Judeo-Christian values or diminish the value of faith in America. Belief in something greater than oneself has much to recommend it, including most of the world's architectural treasures, our universities and even our founding documents.

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won't get whiter. And the nonreligious won't get religion through external conversion. It doesn't work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base -- or the nation may need a new party.

Related:

DXM: He Blinded Me Without Science/8.12.08

DXM: The Sectarian Candidate/12.6.07

DXM: WWJD? WTF?/11.29.07

DXM: Faith No More/6.8.07

15 comments:

LaughingWild said...

Short break as writer ties blindfold and smokes her last cigarette.

Indeed.

Would it be weird to say "amen" to this article?

Jayne said...

Amen.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen Parker is going to get drummed out of the Republican party. I agree with much of what she says, but I've heard it before, and when I hear it it generally comes from ex-Republicans, or people who identify as "Rockefeller" Republicans and don't have much patience for grandstanding and big symbolic nothing gestures. The divisive base shoring stuff has driven the moderates out of the big tent and the people who are left are disinclined to hear any criticism, especially that aimed at the one thing that holds them together, which is their smug superiority based on their belief in a magical sky god who will destroy their enemies and vindicate them as the bestest of the bestest.

Parker and her ilk will be on the outside looking for awhile.

Deacon Blue said...

I pray to God that political folks will leave Him alone and focus on good, compassionate, secular shit.

And let me add another "Amen!" to that article, even though I'm not Republican and have no vested interests in them cleaning house.

Mack said...

Jesus? He's just the guy that cuts my grass.

Anonymous said...

This is why George Washington advised against having parties. When it becomes "us vs. them", fanatics come out of the woodwork for both parties and eventually the most psychotic party drives away its more "open minded" base to the other side, creating an effective one party system (Which is what we saw in this past election).

And we all should know a one party system is bad (much worse than a two party system, which is also terrible), no matter how much we like our president elect.

The Wamplers said...

I say Hallelujah and Amen.

megbon said...

Kathleen Parker has now been right twice now: Sarah Palin was a bad choice and the Republican party is in too much thrall to radical Christians. Which is hardly some display of profound political acumen. She's still the same woman who still thinks that gay marriage is an assault on "the basic structural unit of human civilization." And who decided the Farrelly Brothers were responsible for Abu Ghraib. Seriously. (http://www.jewishworldreview.com/kathleen/parker050704.asp)

On top of that, she's not saying anything that Andrew Sullivan hasn't been saying for years now.

To be fair - I have read Kathleen Parker in the Trib for years now. She's written 800 horrifyingly wingnutty columns and two in which she makes some sense. It makes me cringe seeing her held up as some sort of beacon of the clear-thinking conservative.

Otis said...

wow. Here's hoping the rest of the GOP doesn't become as self-reflective and observant as this lady.

Then again, that might be a good thing, right?

zombiestories said...

You know, I really like a lot of the true republican beliefs, ie small government, reduced spending, reduced federal government involvement, reduced debt etc.

Unfortunately the party has been hijacked. If you listen (And try not to if you can help it) to talk radio, they talk about real Americans, and god this god that. Its a real shame that one party has gotten this way. Hopefully it will change, but while I wait, im quite content with the Dems and this change guy.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful article. Couldn't agre more.

"Let's do pray that God shows Alaska's governor the door." - I'm LOVING that.

Anonymous said...

Notice how the mother/teacher figure in the image is more fondleing her own left breast than holding her hand over the heart?
My mind is working over more on that than it did the day I found out that the cinderella and snow white characters at disney world a few years ago were lesbians that actualy lived together.

Fifth Generation Leftist said...

Amen. Seems someone has seen the light, though a bit too late. Reagan and his cronies made a deal with the devil and the country has been paying for it ever since. If the Republican Party dies...natural selection.

Heather said...

Ah, Mack! Watched last night's episode of Sons of Anarchy I see. Love that show, and Gemma always says some great things.

Anon 12:13 - I noticed that too!

Anonymous said...

The GOP married the religious right because they had to. Traditionally the Republican party was basically the party of upper-middle and upper class people; the rich.* When put to a number vote though, basic economics make the poor outnumber the rich and if both sides are voting in their own self interest guess who wins? So the Republican party reached out to the most easily courted demographic in America, the religious right. Make no mistake, there are large swaths of people in this country who will get behind any idea or person as long as they have Jesus in their heart. Pass a measure that takes away their pension and allows a chemical company to dump toxins in the local park? Doesn't matter, just sweep that under the rug and give a speech about how important the bible and God is to you. You now have their vote for the rest of their functional life. Republican politicians knew this and went for the easy vote. You think the ultra rich are all deeply religious as the party would make it seem? Of course not, hell the uber-rich and powerful invented decadence. Back when the Church was the de facto power in Europe some of the early popes made Caligula look like the dad from "Leave it to Beaver". It is interesting to see many traditional Republicans questioning where the party is going after this election. It may end up splitting between the traditional conservatives and the religious goofballs they can no longer tolerate but it seems more likely that it just increases the number of swing voters that in the end determine the elections. One thing is for sure, with all the recent alienation felt by many within the party a Palin/2012 ticket would only guarantee another democratic victory in the next election.

* Actually the old republican party was more like the democratic party we see today and interestingly enough the old democratic party was like the republican party today but it underwent a pretty hefty change with Woodrow Wilson. History is fun!