Wednesday, November 10, 2004

on the bright side

Conservative pundits are moving quickly to disown the whole theocrat meme. I'm glad. I think Bill Bennett was out of line to make his claim, which was, after all, unsupported by the evidence. If, however, the conservatives continue to spin this as a purely liberal strategy designed to make the GOP look bad, I'm going to have to remind people of Bill Bennett at inconvenient moments. Don't force me to do that, guys. Own up to your man's mistake, and cut him off from the conservative mainstream. A compulsive gambler should not be the spokesman for your moral platform.

The question of theocracy (see Dr. Vallicella's recent posts on the subject for further clarification) has been around since long before this election. I agree with liberals who feel there's something to fear; those liberals aren't so far apart from conservatives who are also nervous about the influence of the religious right on politics.

My dismissal of the "theocracy" meme is tied specifically to the claim that this election was a referendum on values, as if gay marriage had taken precedence over terrorism in people's minds on November 2. I don't mean for my dismissal to apply more widely to the ongoing values discussion. It's right and good for us to have that discussion; the dynamic tension it creates is healthy.

So when Smallholder posts this disturbing newspaper article about anti-gay sentiment emanating from the religious right, I think he's right to point out exactly the mindset that needs to be combatted. I don't, however, take that article as evidence that the religious right's agenda will inevitably triumph. The current overall cultural trends seem to be away from social conservatism, even among self-described conservatives. Our salvation will be the young and open-minded... though perhaps not today.


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