Crossposted on the Moderate Republican:
USA Today has an interesting story on the rise of Christian conservatives in Ohio. It paints a not-so flattering portrait of Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, who is planning to run for Governor of the Buckeye State come 2006. Many conservative pastors in Ohio are supporting Blackwell. He featured in "Ohio for Jesus" radio spots and believes that God wanted him to be Secretary of State in 2004.
Moderate Republicans in Ohio are concerned. Two Republicans are lining up to challenge Blackwell and Neil Clark, a GOP official says that moderate Republicans in Ohio are worried about the state "going back to the Stone Ages of Salem."
The story shows again how narrowminded and exclusionary the far right tend to be. If you don't agree with them 100%, you are deemed evil. Case in point is State Auditor Betty Montgomery, who is running for governor next year. She back the gay marriage ban, but is considered pro-choice. Because of that, she is shunned. She says:
"If you get somebody who is with you 100% of the time and can't win an election, isn't it better to have somebody who is with you 80% of the time and can win?"
She might want to talk to Bill Frist about how he feels. Chargin RINO reports that since his swtich to supporting stem cell research, he has been deemed persona non grata among the Religious Right. He was not invited to "Justice Sunday II" the gathering of Religious Right activists that meets later this month. Family Research Council head Tony Perkins, excoriates Frist in a press release. He notes:
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has now publicly supported human embryonic stem cell research and expansion of President Bush's policy regarding funding of such research. The statement from someone who seeks the support of the pro-life community [and who once had Presidential aspirations] is very disappointing but not a surprise. It is reminiscent of the speech he gave to the 2004 Republican platform committee, where he squelched open debate on the ethics of embryonic stem cell research, as well as a 2001 Senate hearing testimony where he advocated production of hundreds of human embryonic stem cell lines which would have required destruction of thousands of human embryos. This reflects a unwise and unnecessary choice both for public policy and for respecting the dignity of human life.
These two examples notes a distrubing aspect of the Religious Right and what I believe is their contempt for democracy. Part of living in a democratic society means that you won't get all that you want. There are competing interests and they all want something. This is why compromise is so important. But the Religious Right thinks they are following God's will. If your viewpoint is blessed by God, then why bother listening to others? Why work with them? You could even take it to an extreme that you must eliminate dissenting voices. (No, I am not saying the Religious Right is bumping off people.) There is a name for the type of government that brokes no compromise and deems others who disagree as evil: it's called a dictatorship.
I think mainstream Republicans (moderates and conservatives) need to start organizing and countering the religious right come 2006. If we don't want the Religious Right to take this country back to witch trials, we need to get involved and take back the party.
Update:Charging RINO has an excellent commentary on the same USA Today article. His final paragraph is the kicker:
I've said it many times, but I'll say it again - there are those of us in the Republican Party who do not subscribe to the beliefs of the "Justice Sunday" crowd, who put pragmatism ahead of litmus tests and country ahead of party. We've been ignored for too long, because we've been quiet for too long. That silence must end, and 2006 will be the year to end it. 2008 will be too late.
There is a saying by the lesbian poet Audre Lourde that goes, "your silence will not protect you." If we centrist Republicans remain silent, we will lose our party and maybe our country to those who have confused naked power with faith. These people CANNOT control a major political party. Moderates must come together and get organized and take back the party.