Sunday, March 08, 2009

Culturally Conservative, Electorally Valuable

The Wall Street Journal reports on the disappointment of Tony Perkins:

Many party activists hunger for direct confrontation. This past week, Tony Perkins, who heads the Family Research Council, excoriated Republicans for not resisting Kathleen Sebelius, the nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, who supports abortion rights. "If Republicans won't take a stand now, when will they?" Mr. Perkins demanded in an online newsletter.

The answer? when they're in campaign mode. Or as Thomas Frank put it in What's the Matter with Kansas?

Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations....

Values may "matter most" to voters, but they always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won. This is a basic earmark of the phenomenon, absolutely consistent across its decades-long history. Abortion is never halted. Affirmative action is never abolished. The culture industry is never forced to clean up its act.

Social (cultural) conservatives. The far right. The Christian right. Christian conservatives. Though not synonymous, all different terms to describe the wing of the Repub Party whose raison d'etre is to preserve what it believes are traditional american values, as applied to guns, race, and especially, sex (abortion, gay rights, Hollywood). Nevertheless, these voters have become the base of a party which considers them a mere spoke in their electoral machine. Frank colorfully laments of his home state, not unlike the country as a whole:

The state watches impotently as its culture, beamed in from the coasts, becomes coarser and more offensive by the year. Kansas aches for revenge. Kansas gloats when celebrities say stupid things; it cheers when movie stars go to jail. and when two female rock stars exchange a lascivious kiss on national TV, Kansas goes haywire. Kansas screams for the head of the liberal elite. Kansas comes running to the polling place. And Kansas cuts those rock stars' taxes.

The Democratic Party, with its increasing dominance by corporate interests (see: Democratic Leadership Council; Blue Dog Caucus; New Democrat Coalition), has offered little alternative to such voters; Frank observes "we can say that liberalism lost places like Shawnee and Wichita with as much accuracy as we can point out that conservatism won them over." Still, we can hope that Perkins and others so ideologically inclined eventually will recognize that the party in which they've placed their faith reserves its concern with their interests to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

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