The End of the "Values Voter"?
A reader writes:
I read with interest your reader's comparison of the GOP's cynical attitude toward evangelical Christians with the Democrat's attitude toward African Americans and homosexuals. There are some very real parallels there, but with one crucial difference: African Americans and homosexuals are part of historically oppressed groups. They will never forsake politics, because they cannot afford to.
I cannot say the same for the evangelicals. In spite of a persecution complex that the leaders of the Religious Right have been cultivating for years (the secularists are out to get us!), conservative Christians, as a group, have never really felt the sting of persecution. And although many of them have a fundamentalist streak, they also have something that I like to call "world-flight syndrome." As much as they'd like to change the world politically, there's a big part of them that just wants to sit in their corner and pray for the apocalypse, pray that God will take them away from this world that they, secretly, hate and distrust. If they become disillusioned with the Republican Party, they will not hesitate to abandon politics and focus on saving souls.
The Republicans are in a tight spot: they can't give the evangelicals what they want for fear of losing moderates and sane conservatives, but if they don't give the evangelicals what they want, they'll lose them, too. It happened once before, when conservative Christians tried to block evolution from entering public schools - after the Scopes Monkey Trial, many of them abandoned politics, only to be revived in the 80s by the Moral Majority. And it's happening again.
Evangelicals may come back this November for more punishment, but in my opinion, it's only a matter of time. What we're seeing is the beginning of the end of the "values vote."