Maybe It Is a Battle Of Civilizations

This is the only post I am going to make today. It is the final part in my series on future demographics, and it took a lot out of me--Chris

Back in December, MyDD diarist Descartes quoted Edward Said:

How finally inadequate are the labels, generalizations and cultural assertions. At some level, for instance, primitive passions and sophisticated know-how converge in ways that give the lie to a fortified boundary not only between "West" and "Islam" but also between past and present, us and them, to say nothing of the very concepts of identity and nationality about which there is unending disagreement and debate. A unilateral decision made to draw lines in the sand, to undertake crusades, to oppose their evil with our good, to extirpate terrorism and, in Paul Wolfowitz's nihilistic vocabulary, to end nations entirely, doesn't make the supposed entities any easier to see; rather, it speaks to how much simpler it is to make bellicose statements for the purpose of mobilizing collective passions than to reflect, examine, sort out what it is we are dealing with in reality, the interconnectedness of innumerable lives, "ours" as well as "theirs."(...)

Then there is the persisting legacy of monotheism itself, the Abrahamic religions, as Louis Massignon aptly called them. Beginning with Judaism and Christianity, each is a successor haunted by what came before; for Muslims, Islam fulfills and ends the line of prophecy. There is still no decent history or demystification of the many-sided contest among these three followers--not one of them by any means a monolithic, unified camp--of the most jealous of all gods, even though the bloody modern convergence on Palestine furnishes a rich secular instance of what has been so tragically irreconcilable about them. Not surprisingly, then, Muslims and Christians speak readily of crusades and jihads, both of them eliding the Judaic presence with often sublime insouciance. Such an agenda, says Eqbal Ahmad, is "very reassuring to the men and women who are stranded in the middle of the ford, between the deep waters of tradition and modernity."

But we are all swimming in those waters, Westerners and Muslims and others alike. And since the waters are part of the ocean of history, trying to plow or divide them with barriers is futile. These are tense times, but it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis. "The Clash of Civilizations" thesis is a gimmick like "The War of the Worlds," better for reinforcing defensive self-pride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time.

This is the sort of article I would usually resist writing. I wrestled with it for hours this morning and afternoon, even for the past two days (which is an eternity for a blogger). However, after my series of posts about demographics and religion from earlier this week, I kept looking at the numbers. Something really stood out, and I had to write about it. Maybe there is a clash of civilizations taking place. At least there are a lot of people fighting a battle between, in the words of one conservative commentator, "civilization identities." The role of the contemporary progressive, both now and for the next forty years, is not to enjoin this battle, but to end it. Though perhaps too pedantic, the above passage from Said, or least its sentiments, can serve as our touchstone, our center for this struggle.
Democrats have not won the majority of the white vote in this country since 1964 (and before that, since the 1940's), but that does not mean they do poorly among all whites. In particular, Kerry won the white non-Christian vote (14-15% of the total electorate) 66-33, which was slightly better than Gore's 61-30 margin (also among roughly 14-15% of the electorate). Without question, the white demographic where Democrats do the best are non-Christians. Interestingly, Kerry's margin among non-Christian whites is almost exactly the same margin by which he won the non-white vote (70-30).

I think readers can see exactly what I am getting at here. The quickest way to summarize the developing demographic trends of the two coalitions is a white Christian coalition versus a non-white and / or non-Christian coalition. The voting habits of non-whites and white non-Christians are rapidly approaching parity, just as the voting of white Protestants and white Catholics are doing the same. Further, race and religion are now far better at determining how someone will vote than region, income, union membership, or pretty much anything else you could name.

Although I hope it does not happen and we should work to make sure it does not happen, as time goes on I fully expect that white Catholics will continue their Republican trend until their voting habits are nearly indistinguishable from those of white Protestants (who are also turning sharply Republican). If they do not, Republicans will be in a world of hurt at the voting booth. Winning 60% of a rapidly shrinking 60% of the electorate is not enough when your opponent is winning 70% of a rapidly growing 40% of the electorate. Further, white Christians make up less than 40% of the under-40 population of the United States, so the change will only accelerate in the coming years. Already, nearly 60% of Democratic voters are non-white and / or non-Christian. By comparison, less than 25% of Republican voters fit that description. That is a shocking difference in diversity.

It wasn't always this way. If white Christians had always voted for Republicans to this same degree, than past Democratic nominees would have lost by, well, what Mondale lost by in 1984--18%. However, I have already documented the dramatic decline of Christianity within the United States over the past fifteen years, and when you combine it with the fact that whites have shrunk from 89% of the electorate in 1976 to just 77% in 2004, you can get a sense of just how quickly the white Christian percentage of the population is shrinking. As they shrink in size, they have voted more and more for Republicans.

As this coalition, which was first forged under Reagan, has shrunk in size and trended Republican, it has also begun to declare war on a number of things. First, there was a War on Drugs, which is really a war on minority youth. Next, there was a Culture War, which really is a war against modernity. Now, we have the War on Terror, which could easily be characterized as a war against interdependence and pluralism. The clash of civilizations that conservatives have regularly visualized as one of the main justifications for their "war on terror" is being carried out at least as much in America as it is outside of America. Is the anti-liberal rhetoric that Curt Matlock quotes in his recent diary really all that different from what we have all regularly heard from the Christian Right about Islam since September 11th? Are the proclamations we hear from conservatives about the end of the family as a result of gay marriage really that different than statement like "they hate us because of our freedom?" Both are viewed as equally threatening attacks against a perceived cultural tradition.

A large faction of America's shrinking white Christian population has coalesced into the dominant political force within the conservative political coalition in our country. As time goes on, they are winning more and more white Christian émigrés from the liberal coalition, a process that shows no signs of slowing. They are using this newfound unity and the power it brings with it to repeatedly declare war on all those who they feel threaten their culture and identity: gays, liberals, seculars, judges, immigrants, Muslims, scholars, entertainers, northeasterners, west coasters, you name it. You know this list of enemies already because you hear them listed, by name, on a regular basis by conservatives in America. They do not shirk from using the identity labels of the identities they despise, and they remember every time when someone uses an identity label as a slur against them. This is because, at least in their idealization, they are fighting a battle of civilizations, a battle in which all of those listed above are the enemies.

By contrast, the liberal coalition in this country is rapidly becoming more and more pluralistic. Already, there is no majority ethnic-religious identity group within the coalition, nor one even approaching a majority. This coalition is repeatedly criticized by pundits for not taking national security seriously enough, not taking faith seriously enough, and not knowing what it stands for. You know this list of complaints by heart as well. Though caricatured by the Right Wing Noise Machine, these criticisms are probably at least somewhat accurate. How can they not be, at least when compared to the other coalition, which is waging what amounts to a war of identity against those it finds threatening? Of course they are going to talk more faith, since they have a far more singular view of faith to discuss. Of course they are going to take national security as a higher priority, since they view the world as a clash of identities rather than as pluralistic and interdependent. Of course, they are going to have clearer positions, since they are way, way more homogeneous. The liberal coalition has become so diverse that it is almost already living in a post-identity world, and it is becoming more diverse all the time. No wonder we love Obama so damn much: he is almost the physical embodiment of the new liberal coalition. His political viewpoints are almost a natural extension of having lived within that world.

The clash of civilizations is thus being fought asymmetrically. One side considers itself the "us" in a battle between "us vs. them," while the other side is trying to destroy the notion of both "us" and "them" in order to end the battle. One coalition wins when the clash of civilizations is being fought, since its existence is predicted upon at least the visualization (if not the realization) of identities that fight such a battle, while the other coalition wins when the clash of civilizations ends or is at least sputtering, since its very existence is predicated upon the possibility of a world without "civilization identities." The end of the clash of civilizations will also result in the end of the two coalitions, as what is currently the main difference between the two coalitions will cease to have any meaning. At that point there will be a major realignment.

But that won't happen for a while. While less than 40% of the national population under the age of 40 is both white and Christian, roughly 70% of the national population over the age of forty is both white and Christian. At some point over the next few decades, the white and Christian population of this country will no longer be a majority, or even close to a majority. It will take forty years for that to thoroughly happen, but when it does the two coalitions as we know them will cease to exist. In the interim, which will form the majority of the rest of our lives, the role of progressives and of the Democratic coalition will be to bring about an end to the current order of identity as visualized by large segments of the country and the world. We will win where identity ends, and our children will thank us for it. Maybe there is a clash of civilizations, a clash we need to end. Maybe that is our role in the world.

Tags: Culture (all tags)

Comments

46 Comments

Good work.
"it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice"

SID LIVES!!!

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-04-15 12:18PM | 0 recs
faithful politics
like Martin Luther Kings and previous progressive movements can co-exist with pluralism, diversity and respect for secularism....
by ihlin 2005-04-15 12:20PM | 0 recs
Yeah, I know
But you seem utterly convinced that I am advocating for the destruction of religion, at least within the Democratic coalition, which I most certainly am not.

For the love of crap, I am not talking about throwing Christianity on the ash heap of history. Accept that, and then we can have a conversation.

Of course the other side needs to gain from the non-white and /or non-Christian coalition in order to survive. Of course they know this. Of course both coalitions will change as a result of this. They would be idiots of the highest order if they didn't know this. You worship Karl Rove and the status quo of opinion. As a Democrat, you should at least open your mind to an alternative.

I believe that this post adequitely describes the main demographic current of the two coalitions. All I'm asking is that we be open to the reality of it. You seem to both be aware of the reality, and then deny that we do anything about it accept what mainstream pundits tell us to do. That is a huge, huge mistake, as far as I can tell. When have they ever given us good advice?

We need to stop the outflow of white Christians and hold or increase our support among non-white and / or non-Christians. Right now, Republicans are gaining in both coalitions, and we need to stop that. Yes, it will take faith to do that. If you ever thought I was implying otherwise, than you were misreading me. Don't have a panic attack every time I point out the reality that no religion is the fastest growing religion, and that Demcorats are the main benficaires of that growth. For crying out loud, with my father, the President of the Syracuse inter-faith council as my witness, I'm am not out to destroy religion or Christianity in this country. Howeever, things are changing, primarily to3ward becoming non-Christian. Acccept that. We all need to accept that, whether or not we are Christian.

by Chris Bowers 2005-04-15 04:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah, I know
We feel powerless now.  The Repugs are passing laws that hurt the average Joe with help from some so called Democrats.  I know you are not advocating for the destruction of the Christian Religion.   But with no power to make a difference during the present, words is all we have.   When we Christians heard the phase "Non-Christian Coalition", we feel that we are not welcome in the Democrat Party.  I know that is due to our insecurity.

We Liberal Christians deep inside are ashamed of the Christian Right.   All we want is for people to know that the true teachings of Christ were love, understanding and tolerance.   We understand the separation of State and Church.  Only by allowing people the choice of belief can a person truly believe.  Christ taught us not to judge others, but to work on our selves.

We just want to be welcome to the fight.  It is time for true Christians to speak up and challenge the hypocrites.  It's what Christ would do.

by SRconbio 2005-04-15 09:57PM | 0 recs
I think you are close, but just miss
I think you've got the battle of civilizations right. I think you got close to nailing the who.... but just missed.

I think if you do some research on "lost cause" theology, you'll nail it. It's not white Christians, it's Southern white Christians, and those they have evangelized into their ugly form of "lost cause" theology.

Want to see some scary stuff?

http://www.mindspring.com/~dennisw/articles/theocon/part2.htm
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3880/is_199907/ai_n8869888

I'm not going to post it on the thread. Too ugly.

by afs 2005-04-16 09:08AM | 0 recs
Great Post
The sooner the American Pluralist Coalition rises to power the better it will for all Americans.

Chris you did a great job with this post.

Thanks

by SRconbio 2005-04-15 12:19PM | 0 recs
faulty
you don't think Karl Rove hasn't parsed this data 15 years ago already and begun to prepare for the day white Christians no longer dominate the country's population?? why do you think the GOP has been so aggressive at courting Latinos and African Americans to peel them away from the Dems, and doing a rather successful enough job? and it's all based on faith and religious appeals that completely elude white secular liberals whose heads are up their ass about the reality of faith and socially conservative leanings of most minorities (most of whom don't callously say to me, "don't like abortion? don't have one" as certain white liberals are wont to do....)
by ihlin 2005-04-15 12:19PM | 0 recs
I call bullshit.
how many fricking times does the idea that the GOP courting of minorities has been "rather successful" have to be debunked before you believe it?
by Teaser 2005-04-15 12:42PM | 0 recs
Relative I guess
It's like if a couple dark-skinned minority members become middle class.  The GOP calls that success in the face of the rest of the facts.  

It is the success of a midget doing a high-jump.  He doesn't have to set a world record to be happy.

by jcjcjc 2005-04-15 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: I call bullshit.
oh, you mean that 16% they got in PA and Ohio and 13% in FL? How bout the fact that Bush broke 40% amonog Latinos in crucial states like nevada and new Mexico, both of which Kerry really needed to win? Bush earned over 60% of the Latino Protestant vote (there are gettinig to be more of them as evangelicalism takes off). how about that every single minority activist i know (including myself) knows that the GOP is doing a very aggressive and good job reaching out to us while the Dems twiddle their thumbs? (guess you haven't seen all the Hispanic Caucus stories about how they are withholding dues from the DCCC unless they get their shit together about minority outreach...)
by ihlin 2005-04-15 01:32PM | 0 recs
The numbers are bunk
The data that came out on election day showing big GOP gains among Hispanics has already been proven wrong.
by GT 2005-04-15 04:58PM | 0 recs
Re: I call bullshit.
rather than saying that there are getting to be more and more Latino Protestants, please, please tell me what percentage of Latinos are Protestant.  Otherwise, that claims sounds likethe Scientologists calling themselves "the fastest growing religion in America"

By the way, the Dems are lagging behind the republicans drasticially in the Scientologist vote.  What is being done to address this?  

by Valatan 2005-04-15 09:32PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
Successful GOP courting of minorities will require a rethinking of GOP rhetoric, which is now often based on racial code phrases such as "urban crime," "welfare," "suspicious persons," etc. That said, it is very true that minority voters are, by and large, much more socially conservative than non-Christian white voters for the simple reason that the minority voters are mostly Christian.

This is the reason the GOP would love to hammer on abortion and homosexuality as much as possible. By replacing their racial messages with anti-abortion and anti-homosexuality ones, they stand a very real chance of adding minority Christian voters to their "values" coalition. This is the only way they can indefinitely dupe enough people to continue their real agenda -- continued enrichment and empowerment of the oligarchy.

--
dal20402

by dal20402 2005-04-15 12:55PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
well, it's a rather successful tactic. Homophobia is the one common tie between white evangelicals and minorities, so it's a rather brilliant divide/conquer. as my ma said when kerry lost, "He didn't stand up enough for family values." never mind she agrees with Dem values on 99% of issues except homosexuality.
by ihlin 2005-04-15 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
I am really sick of this nonsense.

They only people I see tying white evangelicals and minorities with Homophobia is people like yourself. I have seen you play this broken record ad infinitum on dKos and now you are doing it here. Yes, I have read that you live in the "hood" but you are really mistaken and I wish you would stop the stereotypes.

by Parker 2005-04-15 02:06PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
no dork, it's KARL ROVE who is tying it together, along with the rest of the White House and RNC in case you haven't noticed.  
by ihlin 2005-04-15 02:26PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
you have repeated this crap for over a year now...please stop
by Parker 2005-04-15 02:56PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
Cmon, kids.... I think Ihlin was just commenting on the strategy of the GOP here, saying why it's savvy. This is a partisan forum, not a letter-to-the-editor, so I'm sure he/she can be excused for "reinforcing" the stereotype.
by matt w 2005-04-15 06:36PM | 0 recs
Re: faulty
A little advice. Never drink any wine with happy animals dancing on the lable, or a train rushing
straight towards you.

Anything else, you can do like this christian
did. Take it up with the MAN.

See. I am a christian. So I guess you're asking..
is this one post, or two.

Make my day.

>:)

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-04-15 01:22PM | 0 recs
I never looked at it this way:
One side considers itself the "us" in a battle between "us vs. them," while the other side is trying to destroy the notion of both "us" and "them" in order to end the battle.

That's a perfect summary of the nature of the conflict. These theocrats believe, and say explicitly, that this country was founded by and for Protestants and should be run with that in mind. They focus on the image of Moses on the Supreme Court building and ignore Confucius standing right next to him.

Of course, they know their market share is declining. The Reep rhetoric of bigotry is full of allegations that they are taking over this country. This is a perfect pretext under which to mobilize your "Christian soldiers" to do battle against them (godless heathens) in any theater the preachers and politicians care to designate as a battleground. They are taking over every aspect of our society and government, with their immoral and indecent behavior.

That they seem to be a different group every week is irrelevant; they're all pawns of Satan, out to destroy America.

by catastrophile 2005-04-15 12:58PM | 0 recs
Never? Damn!
I'm really surprised.
by Paul Goodman 2005-04-15 01:47PM | 0 recs
Specifically,
the idea of a battle between "us versus them" and "we are all us." I'd never looked at the conflict in those terms, though I suppose I've always been among the ranks of the latter.

No, I've always thought of the conflict as a bunch of "us"es competing for prominence. Less than three hours ago, when I posted a comment on the theocratic campaign against the word pluralism, I wasn't thinking of that campaign as symbolic of the fundamental struggle we're engaged in, but it really is.

The theocrats reject the concept of cooperation; only total dominance is acceptable. This jibes perfectly with neocon foreign policy, with single-party authoritarian government, with the elimination of the filibuster . . . total unfettered dominance is the organizing principle of the modern Reep party.

Us versus them. No room for compromise.

I guess I just never thought about it.

by catastrophile 2005-04-15 02:06PM | 0 recs
Battle of Civilizations
Very thought-provoking post. FWIW, I'm going to stream out my reaction before I've really thought through all the implications.

What strategy should Democrats use given the makeup of their coalition as laid out by Chris Bowers? If you are just looking at the politics that benefit that base then you'd probably start with all sorts of minority rights with "minority" defined by more than race. Defense of minorities and down-trodden groups against the aggressive, reactionary Republicans would be the natural way to solidify the base.

Women, non-whites, non-Christians, gays, atheists, drug users, intellectuals, liberals, etcetera. Defend the rights of all people who don't live their lives exactly as the theocrats demand or are labeled as "other" by them.

Democrats should defend the freedom to live life in America in a way that is disapproved of by the Republicans. We should defend individual rights and defend against the tyranny sought by the tightly bound and laser focused Republican coalition.

While defending, we should do as Chris suggests and try to make parts of the Republican coalition care less about their identity as white Republicans and more about their shared identity with us as Americans.

Members of the Republican coalition need to understand that we care about their ideals also and want them to be able to live life as they see fit. But they must learn they aren't going to be allowed to trod over others in an attempt to dictate everyones lifestyle or morality. Persuasion is allowed, authoritarianism is not.

by Curt Matlock 2005-04-15 12:59PM | 0 recs
The true implication
is that politics well evolve from something national to something global. The left has already left the shores of nationalism, and the seeming near-term triumph of the conservatives actually heralds their defeat. Before I die, I will cast a vote for the President of the World.
by Paul Goodman 2005-04-15 01:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Battle of Civilizations
What strategy? simple.  

fianchetta the bishop and let the passed
pawn follow their queens advance.  stagger your
line and watch as they deploy their most evangelical
of queen night combinations.

move across the board and isolate material, collecting it one by one. but do not engage.
watch as they open up a hole in their armour.

but do not attack. simply watch their forward
march and catalogue it carefully until you
see their ability to read the move you passed
and let them know you passed it but use
the opportunity to gain position.

then press the blade slowly and firmly into
the king until his black heart explodes.

its the christian thing to do.
happy tax day.

by turnerbroadcasting 2005-04-15 02:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Battle of Civilizations/ The End Game
The end game is almost always a game that includes pawns, and its the pawn advance to crucial squares that decide the winner.

Since chess has no absolutes and the moves and conclusions are infinite, we know that in playing chess a combination of skill,memory,courage,intuition,strategy,patience, creativity,timing,aggression,and [not to forget the sheer strength of the will to win].

We can therefore only be somewhat predictive. The NOW of the moment is part of...........CHECKMATE.

by morris1030 2005-04-16 08:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Battle of Civilizations
"Democrats should defend the freedopm to live life in America in a way that is disapproved of by the Republicans."

I like this formulation except that it is in many ways a negative not a positive.  "Democrats should defend the freedom to live life in a variety of ways, not just in one true, God-approved way."  

But Democrats need to pay attention to the function that churches serve for many people, especially in the "exurbs."  Once the Democratic clubs and urban machines performed this function for immigrants and others in the cities.  We need to get back to the idea of Party as Community not just a copalition of disaprate interests.  The talk of precinct clubs and other groups, more constituent meetings where elected officials and candidates listen to their constituents, etc are very important.  We need a way to physically bring together our disparate people, not just support their disparate ways.  We need to support local institutions like the public schools.

Good, thoughtful post.

by Mimikatz 2005-04-18 07:32AM | 0 recs
Your Bigger Problem is History
The real problem Chris is that most of the disparity between whites in America (in terms of voting) originates in the Catholic-Protestants feud in Europe that is 500 years old. The real genius of guys like FDR and Boss Tweed is that they realized that it is always important to think about the future when building your coalition.

So can the Democrats really get the "white Christian" voter back?. Maybe, but the important thing to realize is that Islamic voters in the US aren't happy with Bush, Asian-Americans aren't happy with Bush, Blacks aren't happy, Jews aren't happy (mostly). The big mistake is that after JFK, suddenly the Democratic Party forgot how to talk to Catholics, and forgot that differences in the Protestant sects are highly exploitable.

In other words, Baptists and Methodists might warm to Republicans today, while Catholics continue to trend Democrat. Now, if you knew that Lutherans were Protestants and that they lived in the Midwest, you might write off Wisconsin and Minnesota as a Democrat. Yet Kerry held onto the Lutheran states in '04.

So what do we do? Democrats have to decide what role they want government to play and what interplay they want between states and the federal level. We simply need a comprehensive message, not gumbo. Let demographics take care of themselves.

by risenmessiah 2005-04-15 01:54PM | 0 recs
Re: Your Bigger Problem is History
No when they realized Truman won on the "nigger vote" the Democratic PArty freaked out... remember this was the original home of the KKK.

The floodgates really opened with Nixon's Southern Strategy which relied on fanning the flames of racism to be successful.

The last nail in the Democratic party coffin was the party being taken over by the racist DLCers (SOUTHERN WHITES) who main aim is to distance the Democratic party from it's core constituents (BLACKS).

The first action LIEberman did when he took the chairmanship of the DLC was try to disband the CBC.

IT AIN'T ABOUT RELIGION IT IS ABOUT RACE

by Parker 2005-04-15 02:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Your Bigger Problem is History
Nixon was a true SOB, the likes of which are seldom equaled, even in politics. He pandered to racists while seriously implementing Brown v. Board of Education and enforcing other civil rights legislation. This duplicity set a pattern that the Republicans have used to be quite successful. (Pander to the social extremists, but give them only lip service.)

The Democratic Party started to have a Catholic problem after Roe v. Wade, not after JFK. This is especially true considering how much the Vatican has preached against abortion during the papacy of John Paul II.

And no, it's not about race. Most white people don't give a damn about race, especially these days. And I fail to see how the man who was called our "our first black President", and those who think like him could be racists.

You seem to be playing the race card where it doesn't fit.

by wayward 2005-04-15 07:11PM | 0 recs
DLC Racism
Clinton is very good at parlaying a white black identity (not for nothing he calls himself Elvis) but this hardly gets him off the hook for racist policies  and politics (ending AFDC, attacking Sistah Souljah, back-stabbing Lani Guinier, etc.)  And Clinton is far and away the most black-friendly presence in the DLC universe.

Furthermore, racism today has almost nothing to do with whether people think about race. It's not what they think that matters. It's what they do. It's the policies they support. The things they pay attention to. In fact, the whole "colorblind" ideology as a means of pushing race off the agenda is at the very heart of today's racism.

Now, I wouldn't go so far as to say it's about race, not religion. I think Chris makes a very good case that it's about both.  But this attempt to muddy the waters about race is not doing any of us any good.

by Paul Rosenberg 2005-04-15 08:57PM | 0 recs
Captain Obvious?
It should come as no surprise that the Republican Party is the party of America's white, Christian, plurality. Look at history.

Originally, the GOP was the party of America's northern, white, Protestant plurality. From the 1960's to 1990's the Republicans expanded southward, becoming the party of America's white, Protestant, plurality. By 2000, this coalition had shrunk considerably, and was at almost exact parity with the opposition, and losing ground. Republican have now heavily courted the white (or more accurately, Anglo) Catholic vote to increase their coalition. The Republicans now want to be the party of America's white Christian plurality.

Democrats are the party of everyone else, and always have been. As Will Rogers famously said, "I am not a member of any organized political party.
I am a Democrat."

by wayward 2005-04-15 06:57PM | 0 recs
Vatican leak
They've picked a guy from Latin America.
by turnerbroadcasting 2005-04-15 08:16PM | 0 recs
Alinsky on Repelling the Repugs
I'd advise everyone to refer to the best organizing work of the Twentieth Century--Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky. Alinsky's books are a celebration of the power of grassroots democracy, but what Alinsky counsels (and the wingnuts are endlessly guilty of) is that the strongest arguments an oppressed minority can make are those where they point out how the power elite violates its own rules. So the consequence of applying Alinsky's formula is that you don't spend so much time saying Democrats are for tolerance, instead we use our ad time to first quote Christ on  loving thy neighbor as thy self and then show DeLay or Bush doing and saying exactly the opposite. Conversely, you can show any one of them changing their statements from one side of an argument to the other. They can deny any accusation except their own words, which time and again make a better case for their unelection than any put forward by Democratic candidates. How about Thou Shalt not Lie and the story of the Good Samaritan? How many lines does Christ devote to taking care of the poor and working for the common good? Christian or no, what is good and compassionate in the Good Book can form the basis of many of our arguments against these unending hypocites.
by Hoomai29 2005-04-16 01:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Alinsky on Repelling the Repugs
This list is from a great piece on the parallel strategies of Alinsky and Christ on speaking truth to power:

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/1216-30.htm

Jesus' Third Way

  • Seize the moral initiative.

  • Find a creative alternative to violence.

  • Assert your own humanity and dignity as a person.

  • Meet force with ridicule or humor.

  • Break the cycle of humiliation.

  • Refuse to submit or to accept the inferior position.

  • Expose the injustice of the system.

  • Take control of the power dynamic.

  • Shame the oppressor into repentance.

  • Stand your ground.

  • Force the Powers into decisions for which they are not prepared.

  • Recognize your own power.

  • Be willing to suffer rather than retaliate.

  • Force the oppressor to see you in a new light.

  • Deprive the oppressor of a situation where force is effective.

  • Be willing to undergo the penalty of breaking unjust laws.
by pammo 2005-04-16 05:27AM | 0 recs
It's so obvious to us but ...
... I don't think the strategy would win the hearts of the guilty.  

Cognitive dissonance.  When the facts don't agree with what they want to believe, they'll resist and choose to continue their beliefs instead.  That's my usual thumbnail explanation why Bush won.  

I'm not a marketing expert but I think both messages are needed.  A successful communication compaign first would invoke cognitive dissonance (it would take a LOT to invoke dissonance in hard core right-wing supporters).  Once the dissonance is invoked, then additional information needs to be provided to help the target market resolve the dissonance--in effect, something to the effect that a progressive cause is a good cause. e.g., tolerance is good.

Let's turn it around.  Can cognitive dissonance explain why has there have been defectors from the liberal side to the conservative side as mentioned in Chris' essay?  What did the Republicans do to invoke dissonance and eventually change partisanship.  I don't have an answer and anyone reading this can ponder as well or better than I about the possible explanations.

by sawgrass727 2005-04-16 09:16AM | 0 recs
By the way
After I poste the note, I mused about members of my own extended family.  One brother's family is centrist strongly tending towards conservative when it comes to "family values."  Chris' essay would describe my brother and his wife well. One of their sons much echoed his parents viewpoint...until he did military duty in Iraq.  That evoked an acute case of cognitive dissonance for him and his parents. Their support of Bush waned.

When their son returned from Iraq and was safe home, the parent's anxiety for his safety disappeared and they were pro-Bush again.  However, the son resolutely changed his opinion of Bush. (He sometimes said, "Things are worse than the media presents over here.")  From his changed perspective and with the real facts about the war, he tried to reverse change his parent's positive opinion of Bush before the election but their minds were set again.  

by sawgrass727 2005-04-16 09:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Alinsky on Repelling the Repugs
This was the strongest strategy of the Eastern European dissidents too.  Try to hold the regime to the letter of the law, invoking every right and procedure they wwere entitled to.  

Of course they also had a strong and mortal message behind that strategy.  This is where the Dems need to get better.  It isn't all strategy and tactics and electoral groups. It is also standing for something positive, like an economic system that provides opportunities for everyone, not just a privileged and wealthy few.

by Mimikatz 2005-04-18 07:55AM | 0 recs
Beautiful
May I live to see it!  I am 62.  But I have childrena and grandchildren, all of whom are on the pluralistic side.  
I will keep working.
by nhselectwoman 2005-04-16 04:38AM | 0 recs
Thought provoking
This post is particularly cogent and hopefully will attract potent discussions.  It would be nice if this were cross-posted over at dKos.  

It's a good tie in today with MLK's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail"

by bronte17 2005-04-16 11:42AM | 0 recs
The Christians Are Scared...
...that God will "throw down" the United States the same way "He threw down Israel" 2000 years ago, if we (the US) fail to "follow God's rules". This is precisely what an evangelical caller told us when he phoned into our local Air America Radio affiliate a few weeks after November 3, and I heard a story of another evangelical saying the same thing more recently.

So, in their own way, they are fighting for America's well-being also, as they see it.  Unfortunately, as I see it, they have been beguiled into believing that BushCo will lead America in accordance with God's Laws, when a cursory look at the Four Gospels, compared with BushCo's actual recent record, shows that they are actually acting more in accord with the Anti-Christ.

However, the unfortunate thing is that the big TV networks go right along with BushCo for the most part, hiding their real record, and apparently an amazing number of Christian leaders (ministers, et al) are doing the same thing to their flocks.  What does it avail to outlaw abortion when millions of already-born children go without medical care, without food, and without a decent education? These are the very things Jesus taught us to provide to "the least of these."

I believe that the Wrong Wing's touted "pillar of strength," their supposed "Christian-ness", is actually their greatest weakness.  If we point out this disjoint between their deeds and what Jesus taught, and point out that what Jesus taught us to fight for and what progressives fight for are by and large the same things, I think that millions of Christians would realize they are being beguiled and act accordingly. I have heard a few anecdotal stories of this happening already, with individual evangelicals.

I used to be a born-again Pagan who had nothing but scorn for Christianity, because I thought it was all about intolerance, hatred, and cruelty to the less-strong.  Now that I have actually read what Jesus taught, I am a born-again Pagan who considers Jesus an ally, considers myself an ally to Jesus and his mission, and I am appalled at how he has been hijacked by these pretenders.

We are not at war with Christians or Christianity. We are in a war for their hearts and minds, in a battle to remind them what the prophet they love so much, truly taught all of us to do.

by ItsBeenCalmingForSomeTime 2005-04-16 12:28PM | 0 recs
This doesn't help
because it's way, way too easy for the Republicans to bat these attacks away and make us look intolerant.  Don't believe me?  Listen here:

"I think that the folks who attended my Bar Mitzvah would be surprised to know that we were a party of white Christians" -- RNC Chair Ken Mehlman, on Dean

Dean threw Mehlman a softball, and Mehlman hit it out.  It's the Republican here who looks calm, good-humored and open-minded, and Dean who looks narrow-minded and intolerant, seeing conspiracies ranged against him.  

We all know what's behind the curtain, but well, we're not really the target audience.  There have to be ways of presenting the contrast between the parties in ways that work more to our advantage.

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