m a r k a n d e y a

The Evangelicals are catching on…

Posted by Brian on October 31, 2006

The AP reports:

Of the many disturbing trends for Republicans going into November congressional elections, one of the most troubling is the drop in support among white evangelicals.

The number of conservative Christians with a favorable view of the party has plummeted from 74% to 54% between 2004 and this year, according to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Evangelicals comprise more than one-third of Republican voters.

Why the drop? Part of it can be explained by a general decline in Bush’s support numbers that cut across all demographics. But more specifically in regards to this group, the AP writer continues:

The complaints are familiar. Through every Republican victory since the Moral Majority was formed in 1979, abortion remained legal, gay couples won greater acceptance and prayer was still barred from public schools.

To add a few more, they lost the Schiavo battle, they’re losing the stem-cell fight, and despite the complaints of some of their numbers, kids around the country are excited about going trick-or-teating tomorrow.

So six years into a Republican-controlled congress and executive branch these people who so enthusiastically voted Republican are wondering where their piece of the pie is. They’ve been offered a few small slices, but by and large, on the big issues that dominate the culture wars, “progress” (as they define it of course) seems to have eluded them. And while they probably blame the usual suspects (“activist judges,” the “liberal media,” the 60’s, Bill Clinton, and “the gay agenda”), they might want to look closer to home if they really want to understand what’s going on:

In the book Tempting Faith, An Inside Story of Political Seduction, author David Kuo, a former aide in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, wrote that Bush aides privately called conservative Christians “nuts,” “ridiculous” and “goofy.”

Kuo, a born-again Christian, said Republicans have failed to fulfill campaign promises to evangelicals, yet have kept Christians on their side by portraying Bush as “pastor-in-chief.”

“So much of the support for his presidency comes purely on the basis of his Christian faith,” Kuo said in a telephone interview. “The biblical notion is to defer to your pastor. Christian political leaders have taken advantage of that — portraying themselves as spiritual leaders — but they’re not. They’re political leaders.”

And this is perfectly consistent with one of the main points of Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas, that the GOP plays a bait-and-switch with social conservatives across the country: they run on social issues but govern on economic ones. And the “nuts” fall for this every election cycle, though now it seems that some might actually be catching on.

This could be a major factor in <knock on wood> the Democrats taking both houses of congress next month.

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