The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Tittering at the Theocons, Too

Per the ending of the previous post, things have come to a pretty turn when I find myself agreeing with Tucker Carson. I mean, I have laughed at some of the Republicans’ evangelical supporters, particularly the ones tramping around the holy land as though they’re checking out the real estate so they can pick out a prime spot when they waft back down for the millennial reign, after all but 144,000 of the current residents have been…well…exterminated. But it turns out I’m not the only one who’s been laughing at them.

The Blue State has video and transcript of Tucker’s confession on the Chris Matthews Show. Watching it makes me think the biggest “outing” wasn’t Foley’s, or the threatened “witch hunt” of closeted gay Republicans, but the “Republican elite” Tucker mentions; chuckling into their cocktails at the antics of the party’s base.

— Partial Transcript —

CARLSON: “The deep truth is that the elites in the Republican Party have pure contempt for the Evangelicals who put their party in power.”

MATTHEWS: “How do you know that?”

CARLSON: “Because I know them, because I grew up with them, because I live with them — they live on my street — because I live in Washington. And I know that everybody in our world has contempt for the Evangelicals. And Evangelicals know that. And they’re beginning to learn that even their own leaders..don’t share their values.”

Then Andrew Sullivan chimes in to answer Mathews’ question about whether all the Republican posturing about same-sex marriage, etc., it just cynical pandering to the base. When I find myself nodding in agreement with Andrew Sullivan and Tucker Carson, flaming liberal that I am, that may be a sign that there’s maybe a grain of truth in there somewhere.

Conservatives are worried about post-Foley turnout, and they may have good reason. It looks like the chickens are coming home to roost. Tucker says evangelicals are starting to figure it out. From the looks of it, he’s right and some of them are rethinking their support for the party. And that’s bad news for the Republicans.

Even a small shift in the loyalty of conservative Christian voters such as Sunde could spell trouble for the GOP this fall. In 2004, white evangelical or born-again Christians made up a quarter of the electorate, and 78 percent of them voted Republican, according to exit polls. But some pollsters believe that evangelical support for the GOP peaked two years ago and that what has been called the “God gap” in politics is shrinking.

A nationwide poll of 1,500 registered voters released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 57 percent of white evangelicals are inclined to vote for Republican congressional candidates in the midterm elections, a 21-point drop in support among this critical part of the GOP base.

Even before the Foley scandal, the portion of white evangelicals with a “favorable” impression of the Republican Party had fallen sharply this year, from 63 percent to 54 percent, according to Pew polls.

If a small shift spells trouble, what does 10% of voters who traditionally vote Republican but probably won’t this year add up to? I’m not sure, but if any of them are looking for an alternative, I’d recommend the newly released Christian Voters Values Guide from the Christian Alliance for progress.

And the “security moms” are peeling off as well.

After winning over moms in back-to-back elections, Republicans have lost their advantage among married women with children this year.

… Poll results and interviews with political analysts indicate the GOP has lost ground with a voting group that helped the party keep hold of Congress and the White House in 2002 and 2004. Married moms have become a volatile swing group just as Democrats need to gain 15 GOP-held House seats and six in the Senate to win control of Capitol Hill.

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll this month found that support is now evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans among married women with children in the house. Republicans won this voting group by 18 percentage points in 2002 and Bush won it by 14 percentage points in 2004.

And though the article doesn’t mention the Foley scandal, I can’t imagine many “married moms” having warm thoughts about a party or candidates who can’t or won’t prioritize the safety of a bunch of teenagers running around on the Hill over maintaining their political power. They party that swore all through the 2004 for election that they and only they could keep American families alive in the “post-9/11” world, wouldn’t raise a finger to bring Foley into line or take other action to stop his pursuit of pages.

Cynical? Yup. But I’m conflicted. On the one hand it’s encouraging to think that, particularly where the evangelical right is concerned, that the “Republican elite” understand that what these people really want would never fly with most American voters. But on the other, in the name of political power, they’ve ceded to enough of the base’s demands to cause some pretty horrific circumstances that I posted about here and here earlier.

The only thing I wonder about right now is just how this will play out for the evangelical right. In American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21stCentury, Kevin Phillips explains how the combination of the Scopes trial and the failure of prohibition (among other things) added up to an embarrassment that drove the (largely southern) American evangelical movement at that time to withdraw from politics and focus on more on personal faith, etc. And part of me thinks that may be happening again.

I don’t know if this current scandal will add up to a similar kind of rude awakening or not, but it’s not far-fetched to suggest that a new generation of evangelical conservatives are discovering that even the political party they helped bring to power has a good deal of contempt for them and their values. They may not withdraw from politics altogether this time (there’s to much money to be raised and power to be built on political issues for some of the most successful movement leaders to give that up), but it may mean a shift away from the Republican party that may change both the party and the evangelical movement.

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