Kathleen Parker Continues Assault on the Religious Right

If we are to ever regain the benefits of a viable two party system we will need to either see the Republicans move from their extremist positions or see a new party replace them. While many Republicans continue to delude themselves by arguing they lost because they were not conservative enough, some Republicans, such as Kathleen Parker, have been trying to warn them that they are on the wrong path.

Back in October I pointed out Kathleen Parker’s argument that John McCain made a tragic mistake in choosing Sarah Palin to be his running mate, joining  the “pantheon of men who, intoxicated by a woman’s power, made the wrong call.” Steve Benen notes that Parker called on Palin to step down from the ticket in September, arguing that “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.” Parker looked beyond the problems with Sarah Palin in an op-ed today which correctly correlates their affiliation with the religious right with the decline of the Republican Party as a viable national party. Parker writes:

As Republicans sort out the reasons for their defeat, they likely will overlook or dismiss the gorilla in the pulpit.

Three little letters, great big problem: G-O-D.

I’m bathing in holy water as I type.

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

She even does something rare for a Republican–write that “Howard Dean was right.”

It isn’t that culture doesn’t matter. It does. But preaching to the choir produces no converts. And shifting demographics suggest that the Republican Party — and conservatism with it — eventually will die out unless religion is returned to the privacy of one’s heart where it belongs.

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they’ve had something to do with the GOP’s erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

She also notes the demographic trends which work against the Republican Party:

But, like it or not, we are a diverse nation, no longer predominantly white and Christian. The change Barack Obama promised has already occurred, which is why he won.

Among Jewish voters, 78 percent went for Obama. Sixty-six percent of under-30 voters did likewise. Forty-five percent of voters ages 18-29 are Democrats compared to just 26 percent Republican; in 2000, party affiliation was split almost evenly.

The young will get older, of course. Most eventually will marry, and some will become their parents. But nonwhites won’t get whiter. And the nonreligious won’t get religion through external conversion. It doesn’t work that way.

Given those facts, the future of the GOP looks dim and dimmer if it stays the present course. Either the Republican Party needs a new base — or the nation may need a new party.

Even marrying and getting older won’t necessarily change how people vote. Voting is a  habit and once people vote for one part in a couple of elections it is difficult to get them to change. That, on top of exploiting fear of terrorism, is how the Republicans have managed to remain in power as long as they did even when their policies were far to the right of most voters.

Parker might be making the mistake that many Republicans make of confusing tolerance of other life styles with actually living differently. Just because young Democrats marry and have children does not mean they will suddenly vote based upon banning gay marriage and abortion. They certainly will not tolerate a party which desires to prevent embryonic stem cell research or to intervene in end of life decisions as in the Schiavo case.

Despite what many Republicans seem to think, many Democratic voters hold good jobs, invest in the stock market, are married, have children, abstain from drugs, and live what Republicans see as their life style. The battles on social issues are often not over how we live but over whether we want to have a government which tells people how they should live. While the party of Ronald Reagan spoke of getting government off our backs, they have been repudiated because have ignored this principle by agreeing to allow the religious right to use the power of government to impose their views upon others.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Vincent C. says:

    Responding to Ms. Parker’s attack on “don’t ask, don’t tell”
    Ms. Parker,

    The gay community is not being denied any “right” to speak that is granted to heterosexual troops. Heterosexual servicemen and women do not parade around our military bases trumpeting their sexuality. If a man and a woman are involved sexually, they do so in private. Open sexual activity is inappropriate to base readiness and moral, and is punished. So why should gays expect this special privilege?

    The REAL reasons gays want the change in policy is what comes with it:
    The right to actively search for partners on our military bases
    The right to recruit new members to the lifestyle
    The right to actively practice their lifestyles.
    Heterosexual men and women do not join the service to find partners. Servicemen and women are supposed to be concentrated on serving their country, (and perhaps bettering themselves). I don’t think it’s any business of the US Military to act as a “hookup” place for gay couples! Do you think this is what military service is about?
    I don’t know if some people are born gay, but I’ve never seen a baby or small child express a sexual desire for the same gender, without pressure from a parent. Every time I’ve seen a gay “come out”, it was as a teenager or young adult. As a former member of a church young adult group, I’ve seen first hand how gays recruit others to their lifestyle. Older gays joined our group and tried very hard to convince young, naive men that their shyness with the opposite sex was really homosexuality. They were taken to gay bars and encouraged them to experiment with homosexual sex. A few of our members succumbed to this brainwashing. A young man of 16 who had never previously expressed any interest in other men, and had an unrequited crush on one of the girls in the group, was “turned”.   (At least one of these men is now again, a heterosexual.)  They even tried to recruit me. Agressively “outing” me to the whole group because I resisted their advances. (I was not dating at the time due to health problems.)
    I served 4 years in the Air Force as a single enlisted. Despite performing the same work as my married counterparts, (and usually for more hours), I was not allowed to live off base, or draw separate rations and quarters. I had to live in the single mens’ barracks. We had either 1, 2 or 3 assigned roomates. We were not allowed to pick our own roomates. Women weren’t allowed in the baracks, and if caught there, both male and female participants were prosecuted. Imagine how it would be for a single recruit to return to his barracks room hoping to sleep, and find his roomates engaged in oral or rectal sex! Is this something anyone would want to be forced to see? But that’s exactly what will happen if “don’t ask don’t tell” is repealed. He’d have nowhere to go. There are no alternate sleeping quarters in the barracks. He cannot always leave base to go to a hotel. He can’t sleep in the breakroom without breaking regulations and suffering the consequences. He won’t have any recourse to anyone about the situation. Gay relations will be protected. Besides the obvious effect on moral, how does this affect a serviceman with strong religious convictions? To a religious troop such as myself, being exposed to somthing like this is comparable to viewing pornagraphy, live. Our government would be forcing our troops to compromise their religous faith, by exposing them to this behavior.
    What do you do about this? Does the military have to make special provisions for gays? Allow them to pick their roomates? Or draw separate rations and quarters to live offbase like marrieds? How is this fair to other single troops? Why shouldn’t they also get the same privileges? They’re doing the same work!
    The government paid for all those barracks on bases worldwide on the assumption troops would be available 24 hours a day to defend our nation. When I was in the service, the Soviets had thousands of tanks on the border between East and West Germany prepared to invade. The military was counding on all the troops in West Germany to repel the attack. The newsmedia conducted interviews of the troops to find out what their reaction would be to a massive invasion by the Warsaw Pact. Almost to a man, the married soldiers said their FIRST responsibility would be to return to their housing, assemble their wives and children, and get them on flights out of the country. RATHER THAN MAN THEIR STATIONS! Only the single, unaccompanied soldiers and airmen would be left on the lines to stop the onslaught. Are you telling me Ms. Parker that further depleting our bases of troops that can be depended on to man the lines would not have an effect on readiness and national security? That’s what encouraging homosexual coupling would do.
    Please stop promoting the recinding of “don’t ask don’t tell”!

     

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