Monday, March 28, 2005

Shark+Jump=Religious Right?

So, has the Religious Right finally jumped the shark after le affair Schiavo? Jeff Jarvis thinks so. He wrote an interesting entry in his blog today that states that the Religious Right might have gone a bit too far in their latest escapade. He writes:

The religious right is separating itself from the rest of America. The theocrats may have finally gone too far too often.

They have been aided and abetted --- but ultimately undermined -- by a media that bought their PR and presented the loud voices of a few as the voice of the nation marching to the right and up to the altar. But the overdose of overdoing it that we're seeing on TV these last few weeks may just be the catalyst that causes a backlash, that reminds us that we are a secular nation of churchgoers and that we value separation of church and state over either church or state: That is our mainstream.

In the case of Terri Schiavo, we have heard angry, even frightening rhetoric from the religious right: people in Florida and in Congress accusing judges of murdering Schiavo; the Schindlers and their advocates, many of them ministers, turning on even their allies (even on Jeb Bush if he doesn't do enough to satisfy them, if he doesn't do the impossible); online advocates saying that the laws and the courts should be damned; and conservatives throwing over their political philosphy opposing federalism and government interference in service of their religous philosophy.

I tend to agree that the Schiavo affair has ripped the face off the mask that is the Religious Right. People might have thought of them as a nusiciance before, but the rhetoric we've been hearing from some of the protestors is just downright scary and most of America agrees, according to polls.

Jarvis then adds something that cold be both on the mark and missed by a country mile:

This will have impact on politics: I will not be surprised to see the mainstream of the Republican party disassociate itself from the fringe -- especially if the polls continue to scream that they should and especially if the Democrats stop acting politically fringy and self-righteous themselves and start inviting that mainstream in.

Sometimes I wonder though, aren't the theocrats the "mainstream" of the GOP these days? As an old-style Republican (I sometimes think I'm the lovechild of Barry Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller), I feel kinda like the odd duck in the party these days. I guess it leads me to wonder if Jarvis is right. In the past I believed that if the party realized how nutty the theocrats were, they would drop them like a hot potato and move towards the center. But the GOP has come to dominance because it catered to these yahoos or at least the leadership would like to believe that. I want to believe that the GOP will see how dangerous these people are to our democracy, but I'm not certain they will.

It's not like the Democrats are any better. Now that the Michael Moore/MoveOn group has taken over, the party really out in Left field.

It seems to me that for politics to work again in this country, two things have to happen. First the GOP has to give up their quest for dominance. Yes, they now have more power than ever before, but at the cost of its soul. From the sham piece of legislation called "Terri's Law" to the sleazy dealings of Tom Delay, the party has become corrupt and lost its way. Ronald Reagan would not recognize this party.

Second, the Dems have to give up their quest for purity. What you seem among Democrats now is this "who can be more liberal" contest. So you have people strivng for indeological purity and look down on anyone who is a dealmaker. Until the Dems become more pragmatic again, they will never win.

One party has to give up it's power and the other its purity. One would hope both would listen, but power and purity are like drugs that neither side wants to give up. In the middle are the majority of Americans who are centrist and wonder when Washington will stop playing games and get back to the people's business.

This a long way of saying, I hope Jarvis is right and that the GOP will tell the Religious Right where to go. It's just that the pessimist in me, doesn't think this will happen anytime soon.


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