Thursday, May 10, 2007In What's the Matter With Kansas, Thomas Frank argues that conservative Culture Warriors are nothing more than useful fools for the big business elite in the Republican Party. Every election we hear about gay marriage, abortion, immigration, etc., etc. But after the election all we see are de-regulation and tax cuts. The corporate conservatives don't have the votes to win elections on their own, so they use symbolic rhetoric to win sufficient working class support to ram through their agenda. Once in power, these allies of convenience are safely ignored. Until the next election year, that is.
Frank came in for a lot of criticism for his book, mainly because it implies that cultural conservatives aren't just hate-filled rednecks, but stupid hate-filled rednecks. Setting aside the pejoratives (I've been sun-burned a time or two myself), what I find interesting is the 2008 Republican Presidential race. The top 3 candidates have all waffled on abortion and gay rights over the years - all three of them are social "moderates," or have tried to position themselves as such at one time or another. Meanwhile the red meat Christian Right candidates (Brownback & Huckabee) are practically invisible.
Of course it's been amusing for me to watch McCain, Romney, and Giuliani perform contortions worthy of circus performers in their efforts to ameliorate the religious right. But I must say, if I were a culture warrior I would be pissed. The reason Huckabee and Brownback aren't "top tier" candidates are because they have no money or organizational support. In other words, the elite in the Republican Party just doesn't give a damn about the religious right's agenda. They have too many gay friends, you see. And what if their daughters get pregnant?
I'd like to think that the Christian Right will get so disgusted that they'll just give up and go away. But they've become so conditioned by decades of dog-whistle politics that I doubt it.