Sunday, January 30, 2005

THIS Time We Mean It! No, Seriously...

A few weeks ago I wrote a futuristic article in which the imaginary Christian Independent party worked to form coalition bills with both Republicans & Democrats. I received several questions about that post from folks who wanted to know why Christians would want to form their own party. I don’t know for sure that Christians would or should want to form their own party, but what I do know is that currently we have very little “political capital”, to borrow a phrase from our commander in chief.

Why do I say that? Didn’t 4,000,000 Evangelicals who hadn't voted in 2000 just turn out in November to re-elect the president? Yes, they did… And now, those same Evangelicals who claimed such exuberant victory on November 3rd are saying this:

We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the President is approaching the difficult issue of social security privatization, where the public is deeply divided, and the marriage issue, where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side. … Is he prepared to spend significant political capital on privatization but reluctant to devote the same energy to preserving traditional marriage? If so, it would create outrage with countless voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago, including an unprecedented number of African-Americans, Latinos and Catholics who broke with tradition and supported the President solely because of this issue.

This quote is from a confidential letter that the Arlington Group sent to the White House, which was then leaked to the press. The part of this quote that I really want to draw your attention to is the threat that if Mr Bush fails to voice strong support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, “it would create outrage with countless [Christian] voters who stood with him just a few weeks ago”.

To put it bluntly, so what? The GOP is supposed to fear that Christians are now going to go storming to the other side of aisle to support the Democrats? Conservative Christians have spent the last two decades declaring their unwavering support for the GOP; Republicans have no fears that they might lose Christian voters.

So this is what we can continue to expect: Every election cycle conservative Christians will come up the year’s most important issue (prayer in schools, abortion, marriage, etc.), the GOP will give them plenty of lip service while asking them to rally their congregations, and then after the election you’ll hear something like Mr Bush’s recent comment that “nothing will happen” for now.

And if you don’t think that this has been a pattern of behavior, check out this quote from Dr James Dobson of Focus on the Family in reaction to Mr Bush's new complacence with the Defense of Marriage Act:

If Republicans do what they've done in the past, which is say, 'Thanks so much for putting us in power: now we don't want to talk to you any more', they will pay a serious price.

Really? Why should the GOP take Christians seriously this time?