Yesterday I was at the Border Grille for lunch to talk ads with the owner when I ran into an old friend of mine who I haven’t seen in a few years. We talked about the show a bit and our mutual love of gaming when the subject of the election came up and I saw a phenom that I’ve seen a lot lately in the Republican Party.
My friend is an educated man in his 40’s. Both he and his father owned small business and are longtime republicans. We were going through the potential GOP nominees when he declared he was afraid of Rick Perry because of his fundamentalist belief in the Bible (specifically on evolution). He argued that if he doesn’t believe in Evolution what OTHER science does he not believe in?
I’ve already said something in my gut doesn’t care for Rick Perry but this caused me to do a double take; I answered:
“Unemployment is 9.1%, the economy is in the tank and you’re worried about a candidate’s position on how old the planet is?”
This whole “The GOP candidates are religious nuts” motif has been a big theme for the left and the media culminating in Bill Keller’s piece at the NYT yesterday.
Byron York pointed out that there is a method in this belief in madness via a pair of tweets pointing out:
Also on Keller: Time spent discussing religious tests, Trojan horses and ‘fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity’… …is time spent not discussing unemployment. With jobless rate at 9.1%, that’s a major Democratic goal.:
After all to a guy who has just finished his 99 weeks of unemployment and is on food stamps no issue is more vital than if the world is 6000 or 600,000,000,000 billion years old!
The distraction method is important to the Democrats trying to win, but there is something more visceral going on nationally that goes beyond mere party that is being missed. Lisa Graas (my guest on DaTechGuy on DaRadio this week) spotted a piece of the puzzle in this with interview with Rick Santorum in the Colorado Independent:
But at least today I think what you’d see is that Catholics are pretty much all over the board. I mean, when I was growing up as a kid, pretty much everybody I knew that was Catholic was Democrat. That’s not the case anymore.
The question is whether you’re church-going or not.
If you’re a church-going Catholic by and large you’re a Republican, just like if you’re a church-going Protestant by and large you’re a Republican. And if you’re not church-going by and large you’re not.
This goes back to something I wrote about years ago:
Since the 60′s two unifying forces, for good or ill, were removed from the country: the removal of Judeo/Christian values as the semi-official moral code of the public schools) and the death of the draft/aka Vietnam. (actually ending in the 70′s). These two changes had one thing in common, it took two generations for them to have the following effect:
It is now unlikely that a student going to school today, had a teacher or parent who 1. Served in the military or 2. Was taught that moral code in school. To a whole generation now being born these are things that belong to outsiders. This makes the military and religious people outsiders and strange to one group and vice versa. Since the military draws predominantly from those two groups it will become more isolated from the rest of the public as time goes by.
There are now two parallel cultures in the US: One the culture born out of the 60’s that is secular and narcissistic. To that culture the primary sin is to …define something as sin or forbidden. The other is the Judeo-Christian culture that the country has lived under since it’s founding.
The distinguishing characteristic of the secular culture, driven by their lack of belief both in God and in themselves, is fear: Fear of salt in food, fear of traumatizing children by making rules, fear of offending anybody, fear of judgement calls. Simply put fear of being held responsible for anything. That is why it loves government control. Every responsibility and decision that government takes on is one less that they have to make for themselves or can be blamed for.
And Rachel Maddow wonders why we don’t build great things?
This brings us to Rick Perry and my friend’s fear of him. When I look at Perry the remarkable thing about him is how unremarkable he is. Anytime in the last 100 years his background and beliefs would be decidedly uncontroversial. In large swaths of the country where the traditional culture exists he is just another pol (with a good record on jobs).
The problem is in that parallel secular culture where so many of the left live, these views are totally alien and moreover the entertainment & news media that informs them (drawn primarily from that secular culture) alternates between mocking religious Americans as ignorant fools or painting them as murderous inbred fanatics.
It’s reached the point where the left fears the United States return to an imaginary past that only exists in their minds, bearing no resemblance to that time that still exists in living memory.
To them prior to Abington School District v. Schempp, the US lived in a Christian Theocracy where Jews and Gays are slaughtered and all culture was repressed. They are able to look at Pat Robinson and see Bin Laden while at the same time can look at Major Malik Nadal Hassan and see nothing. They look at the era before the sixties and see only segregation and repression while still calling the architects of that era “The Greatest Generation” without blinking an eye. It’s that cultural change that I noted before Obama’s inauguration:
Until 2008 a pastor like Rick Warren would never have been considered a controversial choice to be at any inaugural event. His inclusion wouldn’t have caused an eye to bat once.
Until 2008 a Bishop like Gene Robinson would have been impossible to include in any inaugural event without a massive uproar that would have been politically untenable.
So why all the panic about a Rick Perry now? Consider:
For just about 40 years the levers of our pop and media culture have been firmly in the hands of that secular culture. It was at its peak of power in the 90’s and seemed poised to fundamentally and permanently change the nation when it was hit by two giants jolts:
1. The internet which began the rise of alternate media and the demise of their monopoly on communication
2. 9/11 where reality caused the country to turn to the military, an institution overwhelmingly populated by members of the traditional culture that they feared and distrusted.
For a moment it looked like the nomination of Obama, a person deeply steeped in their own culture, might bring the nirvana they always dreamed of, but instead of the final nail in the coffin of traditional culture, his fecklessness, inability to lead and his multiple failures everywhere but, ironically, in war, threatens to turn the country right back in the direction they thought was totally purged.
Even worse it seems to confirm their culture’s inferiority complex. To a culture that decided to use everything from drugs, to politics to the earth itself to fill the empty space that religion once held the achievement of those who came before towers over them. I suspect they dub their grandparents the “Greatest Generation” because it excuses them from even attempting to achieve what their Grandparents & Great Grandparents did in much harder times. It’s why a person like Sarah Palin disgusts them so. She and people like her are a constant reminder of what they could have been but rejected.
And that’s where the fiscal conservatives come in.
Fiscal conservatives tend to deal with real world business problems. Actual figures tend to ground them in reality. They can see the president’s fiscal policies for what they are and want change, but their immersion in the secular culture gives surrounds them with the cloud of the same fear and loathing of the religious that the far left holds.
Democrats understand this and are playing it for all it’s worth. Can their grounding in reality overcome the irrational fears that the left has with people whose religious beliefs, would for most of the country’s existence be unremarkable and mainstream? That’s the $64,000 question.
We will find out in Tampa next year.
Update: Instalanche, thanks Glenn and if you want another good look at the culture wars, check out Peg post at What-if called Free to be Me:
I thought that the point of the feminist revolution is that then, we would be “free to be me” – whoever that “me” happened to be. For myself, “me” is working as a Realtor, competing in tournament bridge, taking zillions of photographs, and spending time nurturing my relationships with friends and family. I ended up not being fortunate enough to have children. But, had I done so, I might easily have chosen the ranks of the “just housewife and mom” as some others have. I do not find a scintilla of shame in being a wonderful mommy and wife. Indeed; if there were more devoted mommies and wives out there, perhaps so much of the world wouldn’t be in such a shambles. Perhaps – and perhaps not. The point, however, is that we all ought to have the choice.
Read the whole thing
Update 3: If you are interested in my take on God and Science it’s here and on evolution it’s here.
Update 4: Stacy McCain treats me very kind in his own Magnum Opus
Update 5: Captain Ed asks the question I’ve answered above.