Thursday, November 04, 2004

The Guardian's Take on the U.S. Election Results

This is fun. An outsider often can see more clearly than those who are immersed in an issue, and it might be very useful for us to see what the British press is writing on our election results. The Guardian is a lefty paper in the U.K., but despite this, perhaps astonishingly for many Americans, it is highly respected.

This is their take on the results:

A mood of elation permeated the ranks of evangelical Christians in the United States yesterday as it became clear that the election marked a watershed moment for their chances of implementing a conservative moral agenda - above all on the issues of abortion and gay marriage.
Buoyed by exit-poll results suggesting that moral issues had weighed on voters' minds even more than terrorism, activists vowed to use their victory to push the second Bush administration to ban same-sex unions at a federal level and to move the supreme court to the right. "I think it's quite possible this could be a turning point," said Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Group lobbying organisation.
"We're seeing from the exit polls that conservative Christian voters turned out in record numbers ... so we certainly will be pressing for action on key items of our agenda, and we will not be shy about claiming that our influence was significant in the outcome of the election."
In a post-election memo obtained by the New York Times, Richard Viguerie, a rightwing direct-mailing campaigner, issued a warning to the Republican party. "Make no mistake - conservative Christians and 'values voters' won this election for George W Bush and Republicans in congress," he wrote.
"It's crucial that the Republican leadership not forget this - as much as some will try ... Liberals, many in the media and inside the Republican party, are urging the president to 'unite' the country by discarding the allies that earned him another four years."

This might prove a little inconvenient for the administration who is still talking about working with the Democrats. Not that they ever planned to do so, but it's still the honeymoon period of broken promises. Good of our fundamentalist brethren to remind us that the election was not about the war in Iraq, about the poor economy and terrible failures in education or about the totally incompetent administration we have had in the last four years. No, the election was about moral values, a P.C. term for religious values of the fundamentalist sort.

These are not the kinds of values that you can read about in the Bible, on the whole. There is nothing about feeding the poor or comforting the sick, for example. But there is a lot on abortion which, astonishingly, Jesus failed to comment on.

Anyway, this could prove to be quite interesting in the longer run for the Republican party. The fundamentalists want to get their payment for piping the tune; else they will walk away with the children of the well-endowed, just like the Pied Piper of Hameln. Will the Republicans pay or not?

But a leading moderate Republican told the Guardian yesterday the tactic could prove self-destructive if pushed further. "If Bush deliberately or inadvertently appoints enough judges to overturn Roe v Wade, the worst-case scenario is that it's the beginning of the end of the Republican party," said Jennifer Blei Stockman, co-chair of the Republican Majority for Choice. "It wouldn't be long before the outrage would spill into the voting booth, and it would only be a matter of time before the Democratic party ascends to power that will last for a long time."
In pandering to evangelical conservatives, Ms Stockman said, Republican strategists had "been feeding a monster who now has the party by its tail". At least 75% of Bush voters do not consider themselves evangelicals, she said. "The keynote speakers at the Republican convention were all 'pro-choice' moderates, from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Rudy Giuliani to [New York governor] George Pataki. Was that just a masquerade or was something of substance communicated?"
Conservative Republicans argue that talk of an imminent reversal of Roe v Wade is fearmongering, though they are far from reticent themselves in using lurid and shocking campaign messages.

Why would talk about overturning Roe v. Wade be fearmongering? It is part of the Republican official agenda. Surely we are going to see the end of "babykilling" in the next four years, at least in sanitary spaces and without coathangers. This should be a time for great rejoicing for all true wingnuts. However, as Ms. Stockman points out, if the administration gives the fundamentalists their pound of flesh, what will happen in the next elections? How can the fundamentalists be encouraged to vote again when there is no such burning issue left?

May I suggest banning all contraception. That should do well as the next energizing move for the fundamentalist armies. Then we can consider other measures that you can read about in The Handmaid's Tale. By any luck, the Republicans can stretch this out for a decade or so.