( – promoted by Patrick)
One of the more bizarre arguments from the political left is the claim that the Republican Party’s base has an overabundance of religious extremists. I’ve heard this opinion from the left for as long as I’ve followed politics, and I’ve never really understood the rationale for this argument.
The usual claim is that figures such as the late Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jim Dobson exert an extraordinary amount of control over the party, forcing the GOP to pursue a hard-right social agenda. Unfortunately, the left often fails to understand that it is the philosophy of social conservatism that motivates the base’s activism, not the actions of a few high-profile religious/political figures.
The left has long regarded Falwell, Roberston and Dobson as repellent showmen-and in fact, many members of the GOP base would agree that on numerous occasions, all three men have been too obnoxious for their own good. However, just because these figures have been distasteful does not mean that the entirety of their philosophy is.
Most members of the GOP base are not religious zealots who regard every element of American society as being demonically influenced. Rather, the majority of the GOP base is comprised of folks who believe there is a God, that the positive things in life come from Him, that American society should be mindful of God’s existence, and that governmental figures should seek His counsel in times of turbulence.
The left often cites statements such as Falwell and Robertson’s suggestion that cultural liberalism somehow provoked 9/11 as proof of their loathsomeness. Do progressives not realize that the vast majority of conservative Christian Republican voters were similarly horrified by Falwell and Robertson’s ignorant statements? The only conservative approbation that I ever read for Falwell and Robertson’s statements came from a handful of flywheels on FreeRepublic.com.
Conservative Christian Republican voters don’t all follow religious-right spokesmen like mind-numbed robots; these voters would deserve the scorn they receive from the left if they did. However, these voters simply cannot accept what they see as the left’s indifference to their concerns about intemperance in the popular culture.
Yes, the left may find common ground with conservative Christians on the issue of climate change, but so long as conservative Christians remain primarily focused on the cultural climate, they’re likely to stick with the Republican Party. It’s one thing for the left to call their views erroneous–but should those views really be considered extreme?