Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ten things

The Republocrats must do to APPEAR they want to keep the Religious Vote. Or Ten Things they can do to string the religious voters on until November. Then repeat in August of the next election year.

Sorry if I sound cynical. But I get the feeling that the Republicans don't really care about the religious voters this year. As the power has gone to their heads, they must have forgotten a core part of the voters that put them there. Remember Harriet Miers?

Anyway, the article;

Ten Things Republicans Must Do to Keep the Religious Vote, by Deal W. Hudson.

A recent New York Times article reported a Pew Forum poll showing that significantly fewer people view the Republican Party as "friendly" to religion.

"The survey found that the proportion of Americans who say the Republican Party is friendly to religion fell 8 percentage points in the last year, to 47 percent from 55 percent. Among Catholics and white evangelical Protestants, the decline was 14 percentage points."

Fluctuations up and down to the loyalty of political coalitions are predictable. What's important is how long an up or down cycle lasts and what can be done to insure ongoing support.
It is inversely proportional to how long the party has been in power. As the party corrupts, even the die-hards start to lose faith in the party. What is really important is that we stop the continued loss of religious freedom
With the midterm elections a few months away and the 2008 presidential election already on the horizon, here's my take on what the GOP needs to do to reinvigorate its religious base.

1. Consistently Defend Life: President Bush's decision to allow Plan B, the morning-after pill, to be sold in the United States contradicts his consistent defense of the culture of life. Conversely, we recently witnessed his veto of legislation to fund further research on fetal stem cells!
But the veto of "further research" give away the fact he had okayed the research in the first place. Despite all his talk, I was never sold on his commitment to Defending Life.
2. Emphasize Judicial Appointments: After successfully nominating and confirming two solid Supreme Court justices, Republican leadership lost track of the importance of this issue to religious conservatives. Liberal judges legislating from the bench are one of the main reasons that religious conservatives became active in politics in the late 1970s. Judges will remain in office long after the Republicans are no longer in power, making Bush-appointed judges the most important legacy of religious conservative influence in the present administration.
Again I point out, Why Harriet Miers. And as pro-life as Roberts and Alito are, they have their skeletons. Replacing the men in black robes with people who remember the Constitution is a big reason I voted for Bush is 04, but his record is less than perfect. There were qualified *female* candidates such as Janice Rogers Brown. But she is not an establishment type, hence she was ignored twice.
3. Keep the Marriage Amendment Alive: Homosexual activists have supplanted feminists as the leading agents of extremism in American politics. The proposed marriage amendment to the Constitution should be made a rallying call for the Republican Party in the months and years to come, a clear expression of its commitment to the values of religious conservatives. Half-hearted support for this amendment will turn-off and dispirit the actively religious voter.
Nope! This would feed right into the hands of big government. As tempting as it is to set a national standard, this is a state issue. And the states, even liberal ones like Oregon, are stepping up and making the right choice. But to put this "religious power" in the hands of the Feds would be to serve up our own death warrant if the "other" party ever takes over. Or when the "others" take over the Republican party. See #6 below. The government is right to protect and promote traditional marriage, but again, this defense belongs at the stat level.
4. Treat Immigrants with Compassion: There is a tendency in the GOP to identify the religious conservative with the conservative activist -- this is a mistake. The two groups overlap but they are not the same. For religious conservatives compassion is a genuine value that should infuse political rhetoric and public policy. Polling shows Catholics, for example, who attend Mass regularly, are more supportive of the Bishops' lenient attitude toward illegal immigrants than inactive Catholics. Other religiously active voters may well want to handle this issue without harsh rhetoric or punitive intent. President's Bush's compassionate position on immigration has not been heard above the shouting. The GOP might also keep in mind that most of these immigrants could become part of the religious coalition that has put the GOP into power. Hispanic Catholics are the single most important group missing from the GOP's religious coalition.
Excuse me here, but anyone thinking that law-breaking, anarchist, illegal immigrants are going to vote along side the religious value voters is delirious or smoking something. I am all for compassion. Treat them with human dignity and don't abuse them, but send them back. There is a big difference between Immigrants and Illegal Aliens. Bush's position isn't compassionate, he is advocating amnesty. There is room for compassion here and alot of conservative activist may cross the line into vengeful and rhetoric-filled speech, but Bush's plan isn't what the religious voters want. At least not the ones I know.
5. Don't Compromise on Iraq: Religious conservatives affirm the principles behind the decision to send U. S. soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq. They may join in the widespread criticism of the implementation strategy of the Iraq war, but this is not to be confused with a change of mind about the justness of the war itself. GOP leaders should remember that its religious supporters are patriots whose parents and grandparents invoked their faith to resist both Nazism and atheistic Communism.
Again, he presumes to speak for a group he may not understand. I never considered the Iraq war as a Just War. The Catholics who listened to the Holy Father's statements may still disagree with Rome's stance, but this isn't as black and white as Hudson makes it sound. I don't advocate pulling out now, but it isn't a free, Christian nation we are trying to setup over there. And nation building isn't covered in his reference to the Catechism (CCC 1909) in #7 below.
6. Pick the Right Presidential Candidate for 2008: Polls show Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain leading the pack of Republican hopefuls. Nominating a pro-choice candidate would be disastrous for the Republicans. The argument, "where else can they go," does not work because religious conservatives are religious first and Republican second: They will stay home or form a third party. McCain is attempting to repair his reputation with religious conservatives, but the gap is very wide and the memories on both sides are deep and bitter. Giuliani has estimable qualities but needs to undergo a genuine conversion on life issues. Governor Pataki needs the same conversion. Gov. Romney impresses people wherever he goes, but whether a Mormon candidate can garner Evangelical or conservative Catholic voters remains to be seen. Senator Allen is pro-life but inspires little enthusiasm (and his recent racial gaff did not help him). Senator Brownback, a Catholic convert, is slowly gathering steam but probably not quickly enough for 2008. Senator Frist was the initial frontrunner until he insisted that his medical training made him an expert on the bioethics of fetal stem cell research, thus losing the support of religious conservatives. Former Speaker Newt Gingrich has proven his worth on issues important to religious conservatives, but would they accept his recent marriage and the circumstances leading to it? Other options? If Senator Santorum beats Bob Casey, Jr., which is very likely, he must be considered a candidate. And, of course, there is always the chance Gov. Jeb Bush could be talked into running, especially if Senator Clinton is nominated, thus eliminating the "dynasty" problem.
He nails it with the pro-choice candidate remark, but I don't think I could stomach another Bush in the White House. And Gingrich? Proven his worth on religious issue??? He was worth his weight in gold in stopping the religious revolution in the 90s. Gingrich co-opted the fresh faces and sold the religious voters down the stream.
7. Remember that Terrorism is a Life Issue: The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes that the first obligation of any government is to protect the lives of its citizens: "It is the basis of the right to legitimate personal and collective defense" (CCC 1909). Religious conservatives do not share the left's reservations about the just defense of our nation against aggression; they know those liberals are wrong who try to blame the U. S. for the attacks. Anything on the domestic front that distracts from the continuing war on terror should be put on the back burner.
Just defend our nation without interfering in the politics of nation building. And don't bother enforcing anymore U.N. resolutions with our tax dollars either.
8. Laugh at the "Theocracy" Label: Ever since the fight to save Terry Schiavo, the left and some Republican moderates have been accusing religious conservatives, including President Bush, of turning the United States into a "theocracy." Anyone familiar with the history of religion and politics knows this is a laughable claim and should treat it as such.
The trouble is, the appearance is that Bush and Congress only jumped on the Schiavo wagon because the wind was blowing that way. I don't recall any real resolution by their actions and Terri still died. Congress could have impeached that corrupt judge that was running that circus, but they failed to do that, and their actions looked to be mostly grandstanding.
9. Avoid the Demonizing of Islam: Thus far the GOP has done a good job of distinguishing between the religion of Islam and its extremist groups who make up the international terrorist network. However, until leadership within Islam steps forward to condemn Islamic terrorism there will be growing pressure to equate Islam with "evil." GOP leadership should resist the temptation to write Islam off as evil. Such a move is based on bad history and worse diplomacy. It may appease a loud minority of religious conservatives, but it will certainly not make the party appear more "friendly" to religion.
I will give him this point. I agree that blind hatred won't get us anywhere. Islam should not be written off as evil, but radical Islam should be recognized as our greatest threat from outside our nation.
10. Remind Religious Conservatives of the Record: In its first six years, the administration of President George W. Bush did more for religious conservatives than any other president, including Ronald Reagan. Bush went well beyond signing bills and defining policy that protected life and the traditional family; he created a partnership with the religious community, a "faith-based initiative," that invested in the ongoing work of churches to address our nation's social problems. Nothing, I repeat nothing, has infuriated the political left more than the funding of church-related social services.
I don't want or need the government FUNDING my church services. That is so liberal it makes me sick when I hear people support that. The government should get OUT of that business altogether and get out of funding the evil religious services like Planned Parenthood. This should infuriate the left, as well as the right. It is government dabbling in religion and just because the Feds fund the culture of death doesn't make it right for them to use tax dollars to fund church-related social services. Look at the charity for Katrina last year. The private or religious charities were so much more effective and un-encumbered in their help of the hurricane victims.
The GOP needs to remember what earned them the support of religious conservatives in the first place, and stay the course in the midst of the tremendous pressure to "moderate" its message. Religious conservatives know that in politics "moderate" is a codeword for compromise.
And right now, Republican is NOT the word for the party of the Religious Right.

[updated 8-31-06]

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