Monday, April 17, 2006

The GOP: Onward Christian Soldiers

Any hope that the religious right is losing its iron grip on the Republican Party is illusory.

CNN reports that the Republican-dominated Congress, which has been notable for its utter lack of accomplishment, will be taking action on social issues important to religious conservatives between now and the November elections in an effort to shore up that vitally important part of the GOP's base. These include an anti-gay marriage and flag-burning constitutional amendments and new limits on abortion.

But will coddling conservatives, a formula that worked in 2004, work in 2006? There's evidence that it might not.

Gays are better organized than two years ago. Conservatives are vulnerable on stem cell research, which they oppose but most Americans approve of. Immigration is a touchy subject. While many conservatives support harsh penalties for illegal immigrants and their employers, they risk alienating the very Hispanics who recently have been drawn to the GOP. Many conservative groups are angry over runaway deficit spending. And some believe that they have been used by President Bush when it has suited his political needs and say his support for their causes has been lukewarm at best.

On the other hand, and as Bob Dole famously remarked, "Where's the outrage?"

The electorate seems remarkably disengaged considering the failure in Iraq, an economic recovery that has bypassed the middle class and poor, and a host of other problems. This is a recipe tailor made for a religious right wing that is never disengaged.

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