Over on Flapsblog earlier this week, “FullosseousFlap” makes the observation that the one thing that all the stink being raised by James Dobson, Richard Land, Tony Perkins, Richard Viguerie, the Salt Lake City Group, and now Randall Terry about Rudy Giuliani’s likely nomination for President next year will prove is that these self-appointed spokespersons for the religious right really don’t have much of a constituency. According to Flap:
[Their collective opposition] has neither deterred voter support for Mayor Giuliani nor scared GOP operatives to rally behind another GOP Presidential candidate. Moreover, the Dobson, Viguerie, Land Salt Lake Group group appear to be splitting their own constituency.
But the situation is not a simple confrontation between the Christian right and Giuliani. The Gallup [polling] data suggests that Dobson and the Salt Lake City group may be out of touch with rank-and-file churchgoers. A well-known social conservative, who asked that his name not be used, is disturbed by Dobson saying he could not vote for Giuliani under any conditions. Apart from being the lesser of two evils against Sen. Hillary Clinton, Giuliani seems to be the positive choice of millions of religious Americans.
Let me suggest as a rank-and-file churchgoer that I believe this comment is correct – Dobson, and the others, are out of touch. Most conservative Christians understand the difference between the ideals of the heavenly kingdom and the realities of the kingdom of men; that purity in politics is never going to be found; that settling for less than what one would want in politics is always the way it works in politics; that getting 80% or even 50% of what you want in politics is better than getting zero. When is anything in life perfect? These self-appointed “leaders” are allowing the “perfect” to be the enemy of the possible.
So Rudy Giuliani isn’t a stereotypical pro-lifer. I’m still waiting for Dobson, or Land, or Perkins to explain why that should matter. The mature pro-life supporter will conclude that the choice next year will be between Rudy and Hillary, and rather than stomp off in a huff, one will have to seriously consider how to keep the pro-life agenda moving forward, if that is the priority. With Rudy Giuliani opposed to expanding Medicaid-funded abortions beyond the restrictions of the Hyde Amendment, his opposition to funding abortion services in foreign nations, his support for parental notification on abortions for minors, his support for the ban on partial-birth abortions, and his promise to appoint conservative justices to the courts, he’s giving us pro-life voters precisely what George W. Bush gave us in 2000 and 2004. Most pro-life Christians I know understand this.
The mature, thinking, pro-life voter knows what’s at stake and will vote for Rudy. Dobson won’t get most of us to join him on his bus ride over the cliff and into the political abyss. And the polls seem to indicate that the real stress lines this election year are not between Rudy Giuliani and conservative Christians, but between Dobson, Richard Land, Tony Perkins, and others of their ilk, and conservative Christians. Maybe these self-appointed “leaders” will, through their short-sightedness, render themselves irrelevant for this and every election in the future.