Doce me faces voluntarem tuam quia Deus meus es tu

Monday, November 15, 2004
I was a pretty big Tom Clancy fan when I was in junior high school. It was the conspiracies that intrigued me. I like film noir. I did a paper in the tenth grade on the topic of Who Killed JFK. I like reading about the CIA and smoky bars in Calcutta and shady dealings with shady men. I'll even say that I'm willing to believe a few things about the secret nature of the world. But I thought that sports might be the one part of life without a lot of conspiracy.

Of course I'm an Alabama fan, so conspiracy is the theme around town when it comes to the college athletics and the NCAA. Apparently it's the same story in Lawrence, Kansas. Jayhawks' Coach Mike Mangino accused the officials of a bad call against his team in their loss to Texas. Mangino said the call helped Texas come back to win, and helped their chances at a BCS berth, which would benefit the Big 12 conference. Maybe, maybe not, but after poor officiating costing Florida a win against Tennessee and throwing a huge roadblock in Alabama's momentum against LSU, I'm willing to believe a lot.

Believe. Key word these days. Democrats are trying to figure out what they believe, and Republicans are winning elections because they already know. But where does that leave us? Republicans believe an awful lot, and no small portion of it is uniform. As I pointed out Saturday, the rush to claim the victory is on. I had hoped that the skirmishes could wait a while, but no dice. Randy Pugh's comments about the Cheney family are more than unnecessary. They're dumb. The comments demonstrate a profound misunderstanding about the American electorate. They demonstrate an obscenely arrogant assumption that all Bush voters think the same. This is the same sort of groupthink that is currently undoing the Democrats.

Libby Sternberg struck this chord in the Weekly Standard's online edition last week. Swing voters swung for Bush on moral issues because they didn't like a naked Janet Jackson (who does, really?) and a coarse Michael Moore. They don't want Massachusetts being responsible for gay marriage in Nebraska. They probably don't want gay marriage in Nebraska at all. Yet it's reasonable to say that a great many of them don't want to berate Dick Cheney because his daughter is a lesbian. There's the morality voter who sends money to Focus on the Family, but there's also the morality voter who is still trying to figure a few things out. In 2004, they chose George W. Bush because on political - not abstract moral - levels, he wasn't an absolutist. Republicans may not be so lucky the next time around.

Remember Arnold's speech at the GOP Convention? It read like a Jeff Foxworthy skit, with its "You Might Be a Republican..." list of qualities, none of which mentioned white sheets or cross burning, incidentally. The Governor talked about how Republicans believe in a strong military, low taxes, community involvement and personal responsibility. He didn't talk about gay marriage. There's a reason for that, and it's not because Arnie has no issue there. It's because while opposition to homosexuality may be a lasting moral position, it is not always a lasting political position. We could wake up tomorrow in a country with gay marriage in every nook and cranny, but conservative economic policies would still carry weight.

That doesn't mean the party shouldn't have a stance on moral issues. Both parties do, and I'm glad to support and encourage the GOP's efforts. Christian leaders simply need to understand that is politically dangerous to build a party on what are traditionally moral issues. I say "traditionally," because I do believe our foreign policy and economic policy have a moral component, for good or for ill. This is purely anecdotal, but I'd wager that roughly a third of American voters fall into the James Dobson camp. The other third fall into the Rosie O'Donnell and Madonna camp. The other third just aren't sure, and while they'll vote for a party with conviction, they're not likely to vote for a party that carries its dogma to the point of belligerency. They're going to vote, as Americans have done since the 18th century, for the party and the candidate with whom they feel the most comfortable.

Do I like that tendency? Nope. Do I find it to be politically mature? Not for a second. I'd vote for a can of Mountain Dew if it advocated a flat tax, but then again, my roommate came home to find me watching Newt Gingrich giving a speech to GOPAC on C-Span. And there was a football game on, no less. At any rate, issues-based groups of any stripe are going to find this point irritating (Lord knows I do), but them's the facts. If Republicans - ALL Republicans - want to keep winning and slowly but surely enact conservative legislation, we need to continue to find innovative ways to deal with the situation on the ground.
7:17 PM :: ::
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