Baseless political speculation Dep’t

Republicans have to move on gay marriage or get left behind, especially by younger votes. Mike Huckabee – nobody’s fool – says that, if they do, the evangelicals will take a walk.

That sounds to me like a plan, not a prediction. And if that’s right, it’s important news. The plutocrat/ Chrstianist alliance has always been potentially unstable, and hatred of poor people and minorities might not be enough to hold it together forever. And Huckabee has a populist/ redistributivist streak; it’s not obvious that he would be unhappy destroying the GOP and leading one of the two new parties that would likely emerge from the wreckage.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

87 thoughts on “Baseless political speculation Dep’t”

    1. Perhaps:
      |—Plutocrats (The Romney Remnants)
      |—Tea Party (The Huckleberries)

      1. Rats. My graphic got messed up by the edit software suppressing leading spaces. You have to imagine lines two and four shifted to the right. Or better, imagine these silly periods are invisible.

        . |–Plutocrats (The Romney Remnants)
        . |–Tea Party (The Huckleberries)

        1. Oh no! I surrender; I cannot defeat the edit software. I refuse to insert all periods to make the lines line up. You’ll just have to imagine it.

          1. How about this, using lots of non-breaking space tags:
                                    |–Plutocrats (The Romney Remnants)
                                    |–Tea Party (The Huckleberries)

          2. I have no idea if the <pre> tag works, but if it does, the following should line up:

            |—Plutocrats (The Romney Remnants)
            |—Tea Party (The Huckleberries)

  1. “The plutocrat/ Chrstianist alliance has always been potentially unstable, and hatred of poor people and minorities might not be enough to hold it together forever.”

    I’m curious: Is “Christianist” intended to be something like “Democrat party”, a subtle insult? Because, unlike “Democrat”, it’s not even a real word, and otherwise it’s kind of redundant, what purpose is the “ist” serving here?

    Anyway, I’m not sure how the party of Soros and Bloomberg is entitled to be slinging words like “plutocrat” around, and the whole bit about attributing “hatred of poor people and minorities” to anyone who disagrees with you is more your usual level, so you should probably avoid foredoomed efforts at being subtle with your insults, and just stick to four letter words.

    Personally, I think the Christian/economic conservative alliance is probably safe so long at the Democratic party thinks forcing churches to subsidize birth control and abortion is a good PR move.

    1. thin-skinned, argumentative, and funny– i mean that last line, you’d have to be living in some alternative universe to see that as anything but funny. thanks for starting my day off with a smile mr. bellmore.

    2. “Christianist” is a term quite widely used by the sort of Christians who don’t take their orders from the likes of Pat Robertson or Al Mohler to describe those whom they see as paying more attention to religious identity politics than to following the example of Christ in their lives.

    3. IIRC, “Christianist” was invented as a parallel to “Islamist.” (Sully? Hitchins?) It’s a damn sight less unfair than Molly Ivins’ “Shi’ite Baptist” although maybe not as evocative. I once tried coining “Brylcreem Taliban”, but it never caught on. “Christianist” is a pretty standard term on the Internets.

      1. Andrew Sullivan, actually. ( following the Schiavo affair.

        Per William Safire:

        “I have a new term for those on the fringes of the religious right,” wrote the blogging Andrew Sullivan on June 1, 2003, “who have used the Gospels to perpetuate their own aspirations for power, control and oppression: Christianists. They are as anathema to true Christians as the Islamists are to true Islam.”

        FYI, Brett it is in Webster’s New World Dictionary. We do thank you for this morning amusement.

    4. I will note for the record that “forcing churches to subsidize birth control and abortion” is the (R) spin on the policy. Hospitals are not churches.

    5. Since Bloomberg is famously not a Democrat, it’s nice that you threw that in since it illustrates your own tenuous grasp of the whole reality based thing.

      1. Since Bloomberg is famously a life-long Democrat who merely switched his party affiliation to spare himself a contested primary, I see no reason why we should go along with the pretense. He’s a Democrat.

        1. No one said all millionaires are Plutocrats, or Sadists; those tend to gravitate to one certain Party………….yours.

          1. NY-Paul:
            Brett says he is not a Republican. He sometimes says that the Republicans are only marginally less bad than the Democrats. That doesn’t keep him from reliably parroting the Republican line, except where drugs are involved.

          2. Yes, I’m aware that contributing huge sums to the Democratic party insulates you from being labeled a “plutocrat”. I believe the Catholic church had a similar institution at one time.

          3. I appreciate that, and, which is why, rather than trying to hit a moving target, I didn’t name a party. But, whatever it is that Brett’s having at the moment, I don’t want it.

          4. Eb, I guess you could call me a “pissed off to have to be” Republican. I was a Libertarian until I finally concluded that the legal and insitutional barriers the major parties had together erected were infeasibly high, and that I was wasting my time in the LP. Today I am registered with the Republican party, because I find them marginally less loathsome than the Democratic, and they have together foreclosed any other options.

            In my experience there are subjects where the Democratic party is nominally better than the Republican, such as freedom of speech. They are generally subjects where the Democratic party doesn’t actually work to advance it’s nominal position. While the Democratic party talks a good game on freedom of speech, in practice it is the chief force for political censorship in America. Republicans are better on that.

            Equally bad on drug war issues.

            Worse than the GOP on economic liberty.

            A lot worse on the 2nd amendment.

            So, while I loath both parties, in practice I have to go with the GOP.

          5. Brett,

            It is not that the Republicans and Democrats have jointly erected “legal and institutional barriers”. The Constitution was written before Condorcet studied voting systems, and so instituted the only system the authors knew: First Past the Post (FPTP).

            FPTP systems have two quasi-stable solutions: one party and two party. As long as we have FPTP voting, minor parties will never be viable.

            If you want to be a Libertarian, then begin campaigning for a 19th Century voting system.

          6. “As long as we have FPTP voting, minor parties will never be viable.”

            Then why have the two major parties spent so much effort erecting barriers to minor parties.

          7. Charles,

            I’m at a loss to think of much that the major parties have done to beat down minor parties. In New Mexico, there is a requirement that parties acquire at least 5% of the vote in any Statewide office in the preceding cycle to have major party status. All major party status gets them is a state-sponsored primary election.

            Any other examples?

          8. 1. Presidential debates taken away from League of Women Voters after they decided to include a third party candidate.

            2. “Party building” money legally restricted. Already built parties don’t need it.

            3. Bipartisan institutions such as compiles election results on election night, omitting third party candidates from coverage.

            4. Denial of matching funds to third party candidates who qualify.

            5. In some states third parties must routinely sue to get on the ballot.

            6. In other states third parties are subject to expensive signature requirements before the election even starts.

            That’s just a starter.

          9. I’m not current in other states, I know my own (New Mexico).

            1. Presidential debates taken away from League of Women Voters after they decided to include a third party candidate.

            The Presidential debates don’t belong to anyone. If the LWV wants to organize debates, it is free to do so. If the Democratic and Republican candidates choose not to participate, they are free not to do so.

            3. Bipartisan institutions such as compiles election results on election night, omitting third party candidates from coverage.

            May I have this one in grammatically correct English, please? I can’t quite parse it. If the objection is over the compilation of election tallies, then to the best of my knowledge, election results are compiled by each County and State’s election officers, and released by them. Counts of third party candidates in New Mexico are duly reported.

            4. Denial of matching funds to third party candidates who qualify.

            Where has the law suit been over this? It seems a clear denial of equal protection.

            5. In some states third parties must routinely sue to get on the ballot.

            Not in New Mexico. They are subject to signature requirements, but major party candidates must meet the same requirements.

            6. In other states third parties are subject to expensive signature requirements before the election even starts.

            See (5.) above. Signature requirements exist for major party candidates as well as minor party candidates. It is easier for major party candidates with party support to meet the requirement, but has ever been thus.

          10. = = =
            1. Presidential debates taken away from League of Women Voters after they decided to include a third party candidate.

            The Presidential debates don’t belong to anyone. If the LWV wants to organize debates, it is free to do so. If the Democratic and Republican candidates choose not to participate, they are free not to do so.
            = = =

            I have to agree with Mr. Bellmore here. The debates are effectively controlled by major television networks, and those networks have agreed with the two existing large-scale political parties – which, in the short term, control the legal and financial future of the networks – to exclude any candidates the two major parties don’t want. Which is any candidate that threatens the agreed-upon narratives.

            Also I deeply dislike the Republican party and find Libertarian Republicans loathsome, I was in strong agreement with their 2012 primary process of several large-scale, open public debates with all the candidates who had declared given at least somewhat equal air time. It actually gave the voters a decent picture of who was running and what they stood for. The Democrats haven’t really been that open since the DLC seized control.


          11. You know something is going on when the media, in reporting the results of primary elections, reports that candidate A came in first, candidates C, D and E came in third, forth and fifth. And candidate B is never mention.

          12. Hey Charles, I don’t think anti-third party measures disprove the hypothesis that third parties aren’t viable in a FPTP system. Third parties are an annoyance to the big two, threatening to steal votes from them and throw elections. It’s even possible, in extraordinary circumstances, that a third party could take the place of one of the big two – but the system would revert to a duopoly very quickly, just with a new label on one side.

            I guess it depends on how you define “viable.” If it’s just advocating policy, then third parties are absolutely viable if left unmolested and allowed to compete for votes. But they are really, really unlikely to actually advance their policy goals, because of the spoiler effect.

            I’m all for a broader party system, by the way – but greater ballot access and media coverage isn’t going to get us there if we retain FPTP voting.

          13. The GOP demonstrates how viable third parties can be in a first past the post system. Seen the Whig party around lately?

            Anti-third party defenses aren’t based on a concern we might end up with a stable multiparty system otherwise. They’re based on concern that it might not always be the same two parties.

          14. Brett,

            The Whig party was already dead.

            Bottom line: The slavery question split the Whig party. The antislavery faction prevented the renomination of Pres Fillmore. That was it for the Whigs, although it took a while for the party to die completely. The GOP had nothing to do with it: they were merely the survivor in the race to major party status.

    6. Brett, I won’t deal with the Christianist issue except to point out that you’re generally better off searching Google and Wikipedia FIRST rather than claiming that a word doesn’t exist and means nothing. You’re not making a good showing for the supposed flexibility and willingness to change of the Republican party (in a post on that very subject) when your opening words boil down to “all language and concepts invented after I was born are meaningless and I reject them”!

      The point I do want to make is that snarking about Soros and Bloomberg is just stupid. There is a radical difference between a party of plutoCRATS and a party of plutoCRACY, and that’s a language distinction that WAS in place prior to your birth, so don’t give me BS about how you reject it.

    7. It may be fair to call some righty leaders Christianists, but I wouldn’t go around using it widely. I think the term professional Christians is more apt for the leaders anyway, and I think the little people may probably be mostly sincere and deserve some respect.

      Plus, as a lib, whenever I hear anyone say Democrat when they should be using the adjective, I assume they are either churlish or not very smart. Either way, they have ended my interest in what they were trying to say.

      So, why would we want to emulate that? Why not save our breath?

      1. After a few years of reading Mark on matters political and not so political, I’ve been forced to the conclusion that he actively aspires to being churlish in the political context.

        1. Now, now, if you really thought that, why would you hang out here? ; > Come on.

          Surely, occasional grumpiness in the face of today’s news is understandable, if not required. Isn’t it what we all have in common, no matter which side? I mean, we can’t say things are going “well,” can we?

          Anyhow, I’m kind of worn out today, but, just fyi, commitment to women’s health is not just PR to us. Just so you know. We think it’s *important.* If people don’t like it, they don’t have to run hospitals.

          1. Well, Mark’s not the only one who posts here, even if it is his blog, and he can be fairly civil if he doesn’t get into politics. But mainly, I’m not such a shrinking violet that Mark’s occasional crudity and hackishness would drive me off. Which doesn’t render them not worth pointing out. I think they’re very much worth pointing out, because they appear to be gradually consuming the civil, reasonable Mark. And that’s a shame.

            “If people don’t like it, they don’t have to run hospitals.”

            Yes, that’s the attitude which will keep a lot of religionists in the GOP: “You can have your religion, just as long as you don’t let it get in the way of following our orders. Want to run a hospital? Follow our rules, including providing services you think are evil. Want to run a charity? Follow our rules.

            Want to live in the world? Follow our rules. Otherwise, join a monastery. We’ll leave you alone, then, for a while.

            It’s the all-consuming nature of the modern liberal state, which can’t accept competing social institutions having any independence. They have to become effectively arms of the state, or cease to exist.

            It’s a serious temptation for religion to work with the state, to see it as a great help in doing good. Actions like the Obama administration’s attack on the Catholic church are a great reminder to those so tempted as to the cost of succumbing to that particular temptation: That the state doesn’t look kindly on people thinking they can make their own choices.

          2. That argument might have had some force when religious hospitals were run as charities (not a whole lot of force when it comes to equal enforcement of employee protection laws, given the example of the Magdalene Laundries from Ireland and similar long-term corruption in US churches, but a little force), but that time is long past. The hospitals owned by the major US religious sects are full participants in the modern health care economy – for good & ill – and many have handed over their administration to the same medical management firms that operate the big for-profit chains. Massive salaries for executives, acquisition and divestiture, undercutting rivals across town, chopping in-house nursing schools, billing the indigent full freight: the religious hospital networks in the US engage in all these behaviors. Massive change from even 1970, but not to be denied. Allowing those huge employers to carve out exemptions from employee wage and hour laws for activities which are clearly not charitable or religious under the guise of religious freedom would be a horrifying wedge in the Constitution.


    8. What is “subtle” about using the non-grammatical phrase, “Democrat Party” as an epithet? Was Joseph McCarthy–the progenitor of the phrase–ever subtle about anything?

    9. Well, Rehnquist is probably got his ice skates on along with his nice flowered tie today because I agree with Brett that plutocrat party is not a particularly good synonym for the Republican Party.

      I believe that “oligarch” is the perfect name for Masters of the Universe ™ who are today mostly congregated in the Republican Party. Thus, the title should be “the oligarch/Christianist alliance”.

  2. Have to agree that “hatred of poor people and minorities” is not an accurate characterization of conservatives (and I’m a dyed in the wool liberal).

    1. It is accurate. In order to justify a certain “end,” one has to accomplish it by certain “means.”

      The Plutocrats could maintain the current, obscene distribution of wealth by armed subjugation, or, by bribing a political party to utilize hatred as their cornerstone. (Children sick, no health insurance? Look, over there, two queers kissing.)

    2. Question is, does it describe the GOP. Not “conservatives.” Who are mostly homeless now, and some of them know it.

      1. “Contempt” is an appropriate noun alternative for “hatred.”

        But, I would add, “with occasional bursts of “Rage,” which is somewhat like hatred, but different.

  3. People are what they do, not what they say they believe. The policies and actions of the right show that they do in fact hate the rest of us.
    Deal with it.

    1. Eh, the actions and policies of the left show that they so love the poor, that they want to make sure there are a lot of them.

    2. I see. You think that sincere belief in economic growth as a better path to well-being for poor people (which is where many conservatives I know are coming from) equates to hatred. I don’t agree with them, but I can respect that their opinions are not based on hatred. Please also note that many, many people who hold these conservative economic beliefs are themselves far from well-off.

      1. When the (R) party refuses to look at evidence or consider about the effectiveness of their policy regarding income inequality, I tend to believe that they are indifferent (at best) to that outcome.

        Much like their regard toward evidence about abstinence only sex-ed, needle replacement for intravenous drug users, climate change, healthcare policy, etc. It conflicts with their priors, so it must go.

        1. I appreciate your effort to couch your comments in civil terms, however, diluting the reality of what’s taking place by using benign nouns like, “indifference,” I believe doesn’t do the travesty justice. One need only look at the signs and placards at Republican/Tea Party rallies, and then ask, which word realistically describes their message: Indifference, or Hatred?

          Also, I believe no sentient human being could look at the obscenity, euphemistically termed, “Income inequality,” and believe it could have been accomplished without a concerted effort by a powerful political party, utilizing powerful psychological weaponry towards that end. That weaponry is called, “hatred.”

  4. There are a lot of religious people who are single-issue and vote GOP mainly because of the same-sex marriage issue. If the GOP switches positions then that incentive goes away for those people. With regards to that “big” issue both parties become the same. Hopefully some of those good folks will then look at the next items on their issue list and, potentially, switch to the Democrats.

    Despite the general characterization of opponents of same-sex marriage being haters of poor people and minorities there are many Christians who are accepting and compassionate but whose votes are determined by the big issue. If that goes away then they might be more open to consider other issues.

    Of course opposition to abortion probably trumps this argument.

  5. “Christianist” is not linguistically parallel to “Islamist.” Islam is the name of a religion. Christian is the demonym for practitioners of a religion. “Christianityist” would be the parallel, though exceedingly awkward, construction. I rarely use either and prefer “religionist” to encompass all those who would impose their religion (whatever one it is) on others by force of law.

      1. The term dominionist works well. Although it has its roots in the Christian Dominion movement (Rushdoony et al.) it serves pretty well to describe anyone who wants to impose their theocracy on others.

    1. Andrew,
      Your argument is logically sound, but language isn’t logic. “Christianist” it is. Your term “religionist” also makes logical sense, but I believe that “Godbag” is more widely used.

    2. “Religionist” already has a well-established meaning. From Merriam-Webster:

      relgionist: a person adhering to a religion; especially : a religious zealot

      Although it overlaps with yours, there’s nothing in there about imposing religion by force of law.

      1. not to mention that ‘co-religionist’ is common to mean someone who shares religious belief with someone else (named), with no suggestion of unreasonableness or extremism.

  6. The category “Watching Conservatives” may need re-examination, and here is precisely the context in which the need for a distinction between “conservative” and “corporatist” becomes clear.

    Jeffrey Clements’ book titled “Corporations Are Not People” illustrates the difference by contrasting the judicial views of William Rehnquist (conservative) and Lewis Powell (corporatist). Powell thought of corporations as having free speech rights equal to those of natural persons, but Rehnquist never agreed. He opposed Powell’s doctrines of corporate rights by writing, “all natural persons, who owe their existence to a higher sovereign than the Commonwealth, remain as free as before to engage in political activity…In a democracy, the economic is subordinate to the political, a lesson our ancestors learned long ago, and that our descendents will undoubtedly have to relearn many years hence.” That is conservatism speaking.

    This is why the Citizens United decision does not show that we have a conservative Supreme Court, but a corporatist Court. The Koch Brothers should not be called conservative, nor the US Chamber of Commerce, nor any of the powers that have been so enthusiastically embraced by Karl Rove and the Club for Growth and the other forces who self-identify as conservative and are so designated by the media.

    Too bad you can’t be arrested for impersonating a conservative.

    Too bad the President did not have time in his State of the Union address to give a shout-out in favor of getting Congress to pass the Peoples’ Rights Amendment; after denouncing Citizens United, he has neglected to recommend the constitutional remedy. That is another topic altogether.

    Main point is that the distinction is important and has consequences.

    1. Thank you for posting this, it was nice to hear something righteous about Rehnquist. I like it when I find out something good about someone with whom I wouldn’t normally feel in agreement. (Though a guy who’d wear a flowery tie always gets some points. Too bad those went out of style.)

      1. I doubt if that was enough to get him even into the Eighth Circle. Maybe they gave him a fireproof flowery tie. That would be nice.

  7. I’d love to see evangelicals and plutocrats each confined to their own insignificant political parties, but I doubt it’ll work that way. If the evangelicals bolt from the Republican Party, the Republicans will do anything—anything—to get them back. The result will be even farther to the right of where they are now.

    And, while I’m predicting, I think the Democrats will react to a Republican split by moving to the right to try to snap up some “moderate” Republicans .

  8. I will ask my same question again but less cryptically. I asked where could evangelicals go if they would leave the Republican Party because the modern GOP seems to me to be the natural, and probably only possible, political home for modern evangelicals. Certainly, they would lose most of their political muscle and their sponsored politicians like Mike Huckabee would quickly lose both their luster and their privileged access to important political and financial circles.

    Moreover, evangelicals would seem to have “evolved” in such as way as to be utterly incompatible with and perhaps genuinely imperiled by the only other major party. Years ago, evangelicals were seduced into aligning themselves with the Republican Party by the promise that the power of the state would be harnessed to their social agenda. And, indeed, the alliance that Mark speaks of allowed evangelicals and fundamentalists to become the dominant national faith and, indeed, arguably, the quasi-official state church.

    Two questions become clear:

    1. Are evangelicals ready to renounce the tremendous worldly power they possess? If so, where would they go? Just as the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party felt compelled to coalesce around Obama, evangelicals who leave the Republican Party really have no place to go except political oblivion.

    2. There is also the related question of whether evangelicals are ready to face an America without a wall between church and state. Evangelicals were once among the foremost proponents of the strict separation between church and state but as the term “Christian” came to be understood as mainly referring to their sect they and their stooges in the judiciary, Congress and the Executive embraced the demolishing of that wall with relish.

    It seems likely that if evangelicals walk away from their arguably Faustian bargain, another Christian religious sect will rise to take its place. Given that the history of their antagonism with other sects and even a certain amount of persecution by mainline Protestantism is what probably accounted for American evangelicals’ strong support for the separation of church and state, would the evangelical movement dare to let go of the reins of power for event a moment? Especially since during their ascendency they weren’t particularly nice to anybody they’re likely to meet on the way down.

    All of which is a long-winded way of saying that I don’t think these people have anyplace else to go. Huckabee may think he’s talking tough but really he’s just farting in church.

    1. There are Pat Robertson Christians and there are Dorothy Day Christians.

      There are Ayn Rand Catholics (Paul Ryan) and there are Flannery O’Connor Catholics (Thomas Merton, Andrew Bacevich, maybe some others).

      Using “Christian” or “Catholic” as an adjective to modify the proper nouns “Walker Percy” and “Rick Santorum” shows a degree of elasticity that precludes any insistence that either adjective has an exact meaning.

      1. I think you’ve misunderstood my point. I’m not saying that all Christians are evangelicals or that all evangelicals are right-wing, fundamentalist lunatics. What I am suggesting is that the fact that the in common everyday language the word “Christian” is increasingly understood to mean fundamentalists of the John Birch stripe shows just how dominant they’ve become. An amalgam of evangelicalism and fundamentalism is now pretty much the unofficial state religion in this country. Where once evangelicals were a minority fearful of religious oppression by mainstream protestants and worriedly writing to Thomas Jefferson and George Washington urging that the wall between church and state was an essential bulwark of freedom, now it is they who have the power to pursue their religious agenda and it is they who have become the mainstream religious power in this country.

        But I’m also saying it’s irrelevant whether there are bits and pieces of evangelism cut from a softer cloth. The movement’s leadership and evidently a significant majority of American evangelicals strongly wish to impose a fundamentalist form of religious law on this country and are willing to support the agenda of the plutocrats and the Birchers (with whom they seem to share many beliefs and desires) in return for their support of the evangelical agenda. Ultimately, the squishy and ineffectual non-fundamentalists will have to choose between schism or acceptance of their role as useful idiots within the larger, very aggressive fundamentalist movement.

        Also, there is such thing as an Ayn Rand Catholic. There may be people who consider themselves Catholics who are “influenced” by her but as Ayn Rand herself made quite clear, one can either follow her or follow Jesus but nobody can follow both of them. It’s impossible.

        1. Editing! For God’s sake, we must have editing! I wanted to say that “there is no such thing as an Ayn Rand Catholic. There may be people who consider themselves Catholics who are “influenced” by her but as Ayn Rand herself made quite clear, one can either follow her or follow Jesus but nobody can follow both of them. It’s impossible.”

    2. One thing to remember about Governor Huckabee is that he served for more than a dozen years in Arkansas at a low salary relative to other governors and lieutenant governors. He significantly improved his earning power by running for President. IIRC, he cited not wanting to give up his improved financial situation as a reason not to run again for President in 2012.

      I doubt that Huckabee wishes to run again for President, but being a kingmaker in a theocratic political party has its rewards. Follow the money.

      1. I agree but he’s only capable to helping to make a king if he and his supporters can plausibly show that they can afford to walk away and will do so if they don’t get what they want (in this case, a “tougher” or, I suppose, a narrower GOP stance on same-sex marriage). If evangelicals don’t have anyplace to go and if, as I suggested, there might be real risks for them now that the wall of separation between church and state is in ruins, then the GOP’s response to them will be basically the same as the Obama administration’s response to liberals. The distance between the two parties was simply too great for liberals to defect and apparently the same situation will obtain for evangelicals until that gap narrows (which, paradoxically, the presence and strength of evangelicals within the GOP makes impossible)

        1. Evangelicals do have someplace to go. They can form a third parties of their own and pull right-wing Christian votes away from the Republicans. All they have to do is decide that they simply don’t care whether Republicans start losing to Democrats in close districts—and they have already shown evidence that they don’t care. (See O’Donnell, Christine.)

          The result would be that Republicans would start losing in the short run, and they’d respond by adopting the evangelicals’ positions to bring them back and try to rebuild a majority. Before it was over I think the Republicans would be even more right-wing than they are today. That’s how it worked out when conservatives in New York formed the Conservative Party. Today it’s unthinkable that someone like Nelson Rockefeller would be a Republican.

          Liberals could do the same on the left, but they’re afraid if they don’t vote Democratic we’ll have summary execution of criminal suspects on the orders of the President, secret courts, ubiquitous surveillance of American citizens without a warrant, cuts to social services, impunity for crooked bankers.

          1. “… we’ll have summary execution of criminal suspects on the orders of the President, secret courts, ubiquitous surveillance of American citizens without a warrant, cuts to social services, impunity for crooked bankers.”

            So, nothing much will change.

          2. Actually, Don: I would certainly like to see Mike Huckabee’s attempt to form a “third party” along the lines of New York State’s Conservative Party : since that organization is (in this generally blue state) a tiny fringe party whose glory days are long behind it; which exists as a sort of second-rate symbiote on NY’s mainstream GOP; and whose practical influence consists mainly of the occasional sandbagging of other, “too liberal”, Republicans, mostly in Statehouse-level races – who usually lose to Democrats as often as not, even in “red” Upstate. Far from pushing NYS’s GOP to the Right, the Conservative Party has basically stranded itself there. So good luck, Mike!

    3. Kind of spitballing, but here goes:
      1) Political oblivion could be a decent short-term home for fundies who walk. Retrench culturally, wallow a bit in self-pity, take a few years to forget about the gay-marriage thing, then come back to politics with a revised agenda.
      2) While evangelicals (or, these evangelicals, anyway) are certainly a powerful group, they are also fond of describing themselves as powerless. Again, a few years in the wilderness might be just the thing to reinvigorate them.
      Just hypotheticals. I basically don’t want to count on the Christian Right acting rationally in the short term – taking their marbles and going home for the afternoon might suit them fine (although they’ll be back).

  9. “Republicans have to move on gay marriage or get left behind, especially by younger votes. Mike Huckabee – nobody’s fool – says that, if they do, the evangelicals will take a walk.”

    By my reading of Huckabee, he seems to be saying that if the GOP supports gay marriage, the evangelicals will walk. Obviously, there are ways of moving that fall short of outright support.

    I suspect for the foreseeable future (say, ten years or so) that the Republicans will keep the opposition to legalized gay marriage in their platform and nominate for president a candidate who supports that view. Individual candidates, as always, would be left to their own consciences and local politics. They will also tone down the rhetoric, not making it a major campaign theme, showing more deference to those who disagree.

    In 2000, George W. Bush said he believed that a marriage was only between a man and a woman, but that the decision to recognize it should be left up to the states. (Later he reversed himself and supported a Constitutional Amendment.) Bush got a lot of support from the religious right, but also appealed to moderates. In New Jersey, polls show a big majority of support for same-sex marriage rights. However, our governor Chris Christie vetoed a gay marriage bill yet remains popular and is a big favorite for reelection. This shows that there are many who claim to support gay marriage but don’t make it a very important voting issue. Those who do find it a voting will probably vote Dem anyway.

    Christie can win in NJ (although perhaps not for president) and could be a formidable candidate if he can get the nomination. And I think he’s got a good shot at that. On social issues, he’s about as conservative as W. Bush. He’ll have to sell himself to the GOP base, but he’s a very charismatic guy.

    I’m not saying it’s going to be Christie, or even that if he gets the nod, he’ll win the general election. It might be somebody else.

    There is a middle path open to the Republicans that would shore up the base and also appeal to swing voters.

    Support for gay marriage is growing very rapidly among all demographic groups, so ten years from now it might not even be an issue.

    1. I agree that the GOP might keep opposition to same sex marriage in the platform (especially if there a good proxy that speaks to the faithful while remaining unintelligible to everybody else) but that might not be enough to keep evangelicals from pushing primary candidates to take a stand on the issue; which will increase the difficulty of GOP candidates in the general election. The major effect of the evangelicals and the tea bagging wing/John Birch Society wing has been to push the party primaries so far to the right that Republicans have real difficulty winning even in genuinely center-right states. Apparently, most people will shift slightly left when faced with a binary choice between a centrist or even center-left Democrat and an a idiot/lunatic/Bircher Republican. This is basically the same dynamic that has largely kept the GOP out of statewide offices in California for quite a few years.

      Aside from the fact the Christie probably won’t wear well and probably will self-destruct anyway, the Republican primaries are dominated by evangelicals who seem to actually care about their issues and are getting tired of being taken for granted. This is, at least partly, what happened to Mitt Romney. Again, the California experience suggests how unlikely it is that Christie or anybody to the left of Glenn Beck is going to be able to navigate the GOP primary process and emerge as a viable candidate in a nation where most voters aren’t crazy.

      1. I think that instead of taking on SSM head-on, the GOP will just shift towards trying to carve out “religious liberty” exemptions that guarantee individuals and institutions the right to discriminate against same-sex couples.

        Like with contraception — instead of trying to outlaw contraception, they push for laws that would allow pharmacy employees to refuse to fill prescriptions for contraceptives.

        SSM will shift towards being one of those dog-whistle issues where GOP candidates say stuff about “freedom of conscience” and “religious liberty” to reassure evangelicals that they’re still on their side … without alarming non-evangelicals or giving them the idea that the GOP wants to actually forcibly invalidate the marriage of your gay or lesbian neighbors.

        1. Serious question: who is trying to force private and/or religious organizations to recognize gay marriages? Unless I’ve missed something, nobody is–at least nobody major. It’s a matter of recognition from the government. Which is to say, your suggestion seems plausible but would be utterly meaningless except as political messaging.

  10. There is a strain of fundamentalist Christians that has historically disavowed participation in or excessive entanglement with politics. (Recall Jesus’ distinction in Chapter 22 of the Gospel of Matthew between what is Caesar’s and what is God’s.)

    Jerry Falwell (who started out as a hardline segregationist) got a lot of church folks riled up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Bob Jones University tax decision and recruited them in service of the Republican Party. (My favorite bumper sticker from that era read: “The Moral Majority is neither”.)

    The “values voter” crowd aligned with the moneychangers in hope of getting the Falwell agenda enacted. The greedheads tolerate the “values voters” as useful tools to help enact Gordon Gekko’s agenda.

    The danger to the Republican Party is the prospect that the religiously motivated voters will realize that they have been used like a condom and will not try to form their own party, but instead withdraw entirely from politics and return to their historical disdain of “worldly” concerns. If that happens, a passel of Red States will become competitive, and Southern States with significant urban area and/or ethnic populations (Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Texas, Georgia) may even flip.

    1. This also goes to Snoe’s points above — The Christian Right may go sniveling off to a corner and be quite happy for a while there, licking their wounds and complaining about the nasty World and feeling self-righteous. But sure as shooting, they’ll get back involved in Olivia’s after they regroup and take stock eventually (for one ting, their urge toward meddling in other people’s morals is just too powerful to overcome).

      But the important piece is this: in the meantime, the normal rest of us will have over on utterly from the notion of having Talibangeicals monkey in our politics.

      A “marbles break” (as in, take their marbles and leave the Reublican Party) of even a few years will be fatal to their ever gaining political power again, in a nation that is diversifying and moving on. The lean-red and southern states may be out of reach for national office for Talibangelicals utterly at that point.

      (At the local level, it remains entirely possible that Tea-gelicals will maintain a strong presence, in certain local races and in state legislatures — even during their Marbles in the Wilderness sojourn — and afterward. State legislatures have ever been the province of nut jobs and good ol boys, as long as they’re willing to do the bidding of influential yahoo Bigwigs by looking after their interests — highway construction contracts, favorable deals on public lettings, and so on.

      But a hiatus from strong engagement from national politics spells doom for T-gelicals at that level.)

      1. The religionists have learned that there’s nothing to be gained from trying to get out of politics, because politics won’t leave you alone. Getting out of politics just means that the people who don’t like you are unopposed, and come after you.

        IOW, they can’t just render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, (Ambiguous advice, since it doesn’t say what is Caesar’s, and necessary in the context advice to avoid crucifixions for everybody.) because Caesar is convinced EVERYTHING is his.

        Their being involved in politics is the price you pay for insisting that everything is government’s business, and that people aren’t allowed to simply not be complicit in what they find objectionable. The political engagement of your foes is the price you pay for deciding you won’t let them alone.

        1. Right, because those durn libruls just can’t stop themselves from busting into the houses of evangelical Christians and forcing them to have marijuana-fueled gay marriage abortion parties. Oh wait…


          What Mr. Bellmore means by “come after you” is (a) asking you to obey the law of the land, duly passed by Congress (b) sometimes having ‘disrespectful’ things said to you and/or about your religion in the public square (c) requiring you to accept that the United States was specifically founded on the principle of keep all religions out of government, including Christianity, to the equal benefit of the state/polity and the religions.

  11. Durned autocorrect!! “Olivia’s” is supposed to be “politics” and “over on utterly” is supposed to be “moved on utterly.”

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