Newsweek (Oct. 1) is running an article about how Democrats are attempting to reach out to conservative evangelical voters as a way of diluting what has been one of the most solid voting blocks for Republicans over the past 28 years.
This is really not that surprising. What I find astonishing is the reaction of certain so-called evangelical leaders. To quote from the article:
Richard Land had never met one-on-one with a chairman of the Democratic National Committee. The Tennessee evangelist, an influential force in the Southern Baptist Convention, generally views such people as adversaries, if not enemies. So consider his surprise when, at a nonpartisan leadership conference over the New Year’s holiday, Howard Dean leaned in and said he’d love to get together for a private chat. Land agreed to meet for coffee at a downtown Washington hotel. He was wary: “I brought a witness,” he jokes now. Dean was there to chip away at Land’s loyalty to the GOP, and strangely, Land found himself warming to the liberal Democrat.
What impresses Land most about Dean? That he apparently carries his own luggage!
Among other things, he [Land] admired Dean’s frugality. “He hauled his own suitcase around, and the Capitol Hill Suites isn’t exactly fancy,” Land tells NEWSWEEK. “I was impressed.”
The article continues:
Front runner Rudy Giuliani leaves conservative Christians particularly cold. “If the Republicans are foolish enough to nominate the pro-choice Giuliani, that will give the Democratic Party license to hunt for evangelical votes,” says Land, who has been contacted by both the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns. “I don’t know how successful they’ll be, but at least they’ll have that license.”
So let me get this straight: Richard Land, and his ilk, oppose Rudy Giulani – Rudy, who has pledged to appoint conservative judges to the federal judiciary (which, if memory serves, was quite enough reason for pro-life voters to support George W. Bush in 2000); Rudy, who supports parental notification prior to minors getting abortions; Rudy, who supports the restrictions on federal funding for abortion embodied in the Hyde Amendment; Rudy, who more than most pro-life office holders actually reduced the number of abortions while mayor of New York City by increasing adoptions in the city – these self-appointed champions of “traditional values” oppose Rudy, and yet they are willing to consider the possibility of voting for a candidate from the “Party of Death,” the party of abortion-for-convenience, the party that imposes a pro-abortion litmus test on judicial nominees?
As we have argued on this blog, one can still be a social conservative and support Rudy Giuliani. Support for Rudy doesn’t mean we give up our efforts to change the nation’s policies on such issues as abortion or Roe v. Wade. It simply means that we’ve taken a pragmatic and realistic view of the upcoming election, and see a different means to the ends we all support. But this willingness to be schmoozed and courted by the political party that is the embodiment of everything we oppose, is beyond reason. Frankly, when it comes to “single issue politics,” my “single issue” is keeping the Democrats out of the White House.
Since the disastrous results of the 2006 election, I’ve been toying with a hypothesis that American conservatism, at least on the national level, at the level of Washington politics, is something of a spent force. Supposed conservatives in Congress couldn’t seem to hold the line on all sorts of spending, including “pork” for pet projects; couldn’t bring President Bush’s more conservative judicial nominees to a vote in the Senate, despite the fact that the GOP enjoyed a majority in that house (couldn’t seem to grow a spine, in other words); have for years given lip-service to the pro-life agenda, but done precious little to advance that agenda. The failure of American conservatism to produce an appealing, articulate, and visionary leader since Ronald Reagan is testimony to the vacuum of leadership within conservatism in this nation.
Conservatism on the national level appears to be fatigued, intellectually. And now, as reported by Newsweek, conservatism seems to be losing its moral foundation as well.