Let's Get Our Wedge On
Digby is right - "moral values" - are almost entirely tribal, resentment not based on our condescension or our issues, but on our existence. To the conservative base, not even our total submission would be enough. The problem is that we have let them build a tribe of 51%, a hodgepodge of people that should not be together, sustained only by liberal decency and reticence to ruthlessly politicize private issues. 11/2/04 calls out for a little indecency.
First, let's wedge issue creationism. Some liberals want us to show more "respect" for creationism, but that is a strategy doomed to failure. We aren't creationists, we will never be admitted to the creationist tribe, and recognition of the legitimacy of their beliefs will just strengthen them, which aren't deserving of respect. They are wrong, and their views are bad. Businesses are stronger with a science-literate workforce. We are losing jobs when biotech companies outsource to GBR. Catholics aren't creationists. Seculars aren't creationists. Scientists aren't creationists. Creationism is a perfect opportunity to talk about the economic advantages of investment in social and human capital. Can't you just see the ads that should be running in Atlanta right now? A gloomy picture of a boarded up biotech company, the face of an employer frustrated by the poor education of his employees, a doctor sending home a person in a wheelchair, hands raised in resignation. That's what you get with creationism.
Second, lets inflame the evangelical-Catholic divide. Maybe it's an artifact of our blue-state insularity, but there are huge, vulnerable divisions between Catholics and evangelicals. Catholics don't spend a lot of time thinking about evangelical Christians, but evangelicals spend a ton of time thinking about Catholics. Our job should be to make sure Catholics know it. We should run clip after clip of evangelical preachers condemning Catholics to the firelake. We should run a lot of them in Spanish. As a cultural Catholic, it absolutely disgusts me that so many of my Catholic brethren identify themselves with these revanchists, in parallel to the Likudnik-Apocalyptic alliance.
Third, lets undermine the importance of public proclamations of faith. The emphasis we now place rewards Machiavellian liars, not people of principle or faith. There has been much talk about liberals needing to Godtalk more. Bullshit. It won't persuade many and it will look inauthentic. Liberals don't wear their faith on their sleeves, but in their hearts - getting into a moralizing arms race is bad for the country. Mainline Protestants and Catholics who think John Kerry is a bad Catholic think so because they were internalizing conservative talking points. We can assuage those people's fear, separate them from the Conservative tribe, through a proxy campaign. We need to spend the next 4 years building on John Kerry's faith without works quote, talking about how evangelicals shouldn't be the only people allowed to participate in public life - how they are excluded from the system by evangelical bigotry.
* We need to come up with a single word that references the Christian right. "Evangelical" obviously doesn't cut it, but I'm ok with it for this rant.
Update, 11/10/04, 4:04 PM EST: Sex education too:
Yet according to at least one survey, there are plenty of parents who'd get behind a sex ed bake sale. An August poll commissioned by Protect Our Kids, a coalition founded to oppose the textbooks, found that 90 percent of Texans "favor teaching students age-appropriate, medically accurate information on abstinence, birth control and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV." That's up from 86 percent in 2001. (A recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey yielded similar results nationally.) "People understand that this is no longer a controversial issue," says Dan Quinn, spokesman for the Texas Freedom Network, a coalition member. "It's astonishing to see that this is still a matter of debate."