Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Ooogggaaa Booooggggaaaa Part I

Jonah Goldberg revisits the Philosophy of Oogedy-Boogedy-ism and the nature of religious thought in conservatism. Jonah outlines his thoughts based on the notion many seem to believe Conservatism and religion have only very recently been fused together and that is driving much of the angst against social conservatives. Jonah reaches back into the history books to find a discussion from 1962 that basically assumes much religious thought as part and parcel of conservatism, in addition Jonah notes that National Review in its early days was often nearly indistinguishable from a religious publication, whereas that is hardly the case now-a-days.

In the wake of all the Sarah Palin mishigas, it occurs to me that lots of people seem to believe that modern conservatism was, until the day before yesterday, a purely urbane, secular, affair with perhaps a good deal of pro-forma nodding to religion but little spiritual devotion. According to this storyline, the religious yahoos have "taken over the party" and places like National Review have become infected with their St. Vitus' dance.
Source: The Corner — Religion and the Right (Jonah Goldberg)
Jonah then goes onto discuss the notion of compelled vs. freely chosen virtue and excerpts a discussion of that debate from 1962. That is an interesting line of thought in and of itself, but that is not my purpose here.

The point is that religion in conservative circles is hardly a new phenomena.

I have noted this before in this venue, but what has changed is the makeup of what I generally call the socially conservative voter. The part of the conservative base that votes based more on their faith than on other considerations is different.

Back before the days of McGovern the Democratic Party was every bit as comfortable with religion in the public square as the Republicans are today, and neither party held an advantage with the religious voter. The religious voter with economically liberal or populist preferences could feel very comfortable in voting for a Democrat. That voter did not feel torn between a candidate they viewed as being hostile towards the bedrock of their world view but in line with their economic values. This is what Mike Huckabee captured:
Mike Huckabee represents something that is either tremendously encouraging or deeply disturbing, depending on your point of view: a marriage of Christian fundamentalism with economic populism. Rather than employing the ­patented Bush-Rove tactic of using abortion and gay rights to hoodwink low-­income Christians into supporting patrician, pro-corporate policies, Huckabee is a bigger-government Republican who emphasizes prison reform and poverty relief. In the world of GOP politics, he represents something entirely new — a cross between John Edwards and Jerry Falwell, an ordained Southern Baptist preacher who actually seems to give a shit about the working poor.
Source: Rolling Stone — Matt Taibbi on Mike Huckabee, Our Favorite Right-Wing Nut Job (Matt Taibbi)

Get over Taibbi's deranged language and you note the only thing standing in way of him liking a former Republican presidential nominee contender is the "G thing". That in a nutshell is what we are going through here.

Ramesh Ponnurru in an National Review article talking about religion in politics noted today's Democrats approach the religious voter as an anthropologist would approach a newly found tribe of humans in the Amazon jungle and this has driven many of those voters to the GOP.

Along with those voters come impulses contrary to conservatism. Sometime ago I read an article warning the GOP of getting too cozy with fundamentalists noting fundamentalists could be just as enthusiastic for big and intrusive government. However, these voters are key in the GOP's ability to win national elections.

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