I think the immediate shift in the Republicans priorities will come from wherever the Democrats fail most badly in their governance.
Right now that is hard to forsee because we haven't failed at anything yet, but by 2011 as the primaries start there will probably be something that the Republicans can rally against. In 2008 there was the unknown fear of what Obama might do (which were outlandish, frankly) versus something that Obama has actually done, or something like -- if the economy hasn't improved enough, it would give Romney an opening.
If their time in the wilderness is longer than 4 or 8 years, that's a situation where some new ideas might start popping up, rather than reactionary ones.
I'm with your son. I still am flabbergasted when I wake up in the morning and realize that Obama is not just my candidate, my preference, my hero, but he has been chosen as the whole nation's leader. Not just mine, but ours. I'll never get over how good that feels.
I agree. The fact that Sarah isn't impressing anyone by serving up stock answers to softball questions from Hannity et al. means that she can't really shine in this debate. If it were more freewheeling and she got some good digs in on Biden and came off like less of a puppet, then her stock could have risen. I think Obama agreed to this in a heartbeat because it neutralizes any chance of her resurgence.
Well, there are different factions in the Republican party, who plug into it for different reasons, but my experience with my parents and the folks I grew up with at a Christian school is this: the ideal state for a human being is to be married to a member of the opposite sex and have children together. The stable family unit is supposed to the cornerstone of civilized society; by making a person a part of larger entity, affecting the whole rather than just one's own self, people are assumed to be more restrained, upright, good, and moral.
When the "traditional" family unit breaks down, as in when larger number of people are single for longer and longer in their lives, when divorce happens, when women participate in the workforce, when kids move geographically far from the family unit, then individual freedom happens, and that supposedly leads to a society of weak, selfish, crime-prone, depressed, neurotic, amoral, aimless people. The '60s really pushed this transition to take place, to the point where divorce is just as common in the church as elsewhere, where singlehood isn't shamed by society, where most families have two working parents, where mobility among young twentysomethings is assumed. Because the "traditionalists" were participating in most of these anti-nuclear family practices, new, out-of-the-mainstream practices were targeted as enemies of the family, things like homosexuality, welfare mothers, single parenthood, mixed race marriages. These no longer hold the same sting they once did (no one is really pushing the idea of returning homosexuality to a crime), so the issues have been ramped up to things like homosexual marriages, homosexual adoptions, etc. The idea that banning gay marriage would somehow return the country to close-knit nuclear families is ludicrous, but the idea is that the tide has to start turning back somewhere.
The one issue that's been constant throughout this whole process is the antipathy against abortion, which has never really been accepted by traditionalists like the shoulder-shrugging about divorce; it's still distasteful, but isn't an outrage. This is the one issue that conservative Christians really do believe will turn back the tide, because an outlaw of abortion not only will encourage "mistakes" to create an instant family, but the fear of making such a mistake will cut down on promiscuity and encourage earlier marriages. And unlike gay marriage, which makes some older people's heads spin to think that they're drawing the line so far past what they were comfortable with to begin with (when everyone was closeted), abortion has been a clear line in the sand for decades, and has a feel of a long-time battle that must, at this point, be absolutely won and never given up on.
Essentially, they believe that people are unlikely to make moral choices without outside influences pressuring them to do so. It used to be the church, and the general conservatism of society that applied the necessary pressure, so when that disappeared, the game plan became to use the government as a force to coerce behavior.
My take on it is that conservatives as a whole do not trust the individual to act rightly on his own, but instead selfishly, thereby hurting other individuals. The have a low view of humanity and a high view of rules and of systems, like markets. Democrats are willing to believe that a vast majority of individuals will use their freedoms wisely without coercion. They take a more optimistic view of humanity and are skeptical of rules and systems that give too much power to a select few.
Republicans think they're realists and Democrats are naive; Democrats think Republicans are stuffy grumps who know nothing of hope.
Just to remind everyone, 95% of the polling for these numbers was done pre-convention, so some of the states may be shifting here and there as new numbers come in and the paths to victory may change somewhat.
So far this summer, the toss-ups have been leaning in proportion to the national polls, and I'm curious to see what the Biden and Palin picks have done to specific segments of the population, particularly in the West and in Florida.
Still, the general principle will hold that McCain has to pretty much run the table to win, and Obama has to get just one or two toss-ups to tip his direction.
I don't know that she's the new Obama. I think at best she's the new Huckabee, appealing mostly to one segment (albeit a vocal segment) of the base, the religious right.
Running in a general against other Republicans taking their best swipes at her -- I don't see how she dominates the field in 2008. Obama wasn't just a fresh face with good speaking abilities; he had ideas for how to remake the party and frame our agenda and how to run a disciplined campaign.
Palin's a fresh face and can nail a speech but she's being puppeted up by the people who know what they're doing. She's just following the lead of the party elders, not leading herself. I haven't seen a single new idea she's bringing to the table. She just runs the Republican playbook, but doesn't rewrite it, and it's going to need to be rewritten if they hope to return to power someday.
I don't see how it's a game changer just to have a fresh face to spew Republican talking points. She brought nothing new to the table like Obama did four years ago, with his vision of One America. To a party that had been flirting with the image of Two Americas via the Edwards campaign, it was somewhat gutsy and kind of showed us the way to a new way of framing our ideals.
I had a huge fear that Palin might be a Republican version of Obama, being able to express her ideals and dreams for the country in a palatable, even beautiful way, which, combined with her freshness and youth would point the Republican party off of the broken record they've been playing for years and to which the public has finally caught on. But, no, it was just more of the same -- mean, petty, visionless.
OK, but the point that he's trying to make is that most evangelical and fundamentalist Christians don't consider Mormons to be Christians, and are quite hostile to Mormons, and the Mormons full well know this, and are sensitive to it.
So his point remains that Mitt Romney would have not energized the religious right base, and McCain passed him over for a pick that would appeal to them, rubbing salt in that wound.
It was a real-world argument, not an academic comparative religious exercise.
I know a lot of rabid pro-lifers (my parents, most of my friends growing up) and there's no way they were going to sit out the vote, even with McCain's less-than-dogmatic views on abortion.
What they might not have done is canvassing, campaigning, donating (although the window for that is nearly at a close), advertising, etc. That's the part that has an unknown influence on the next couple months.
Romney doesn't sit well with fundamentalist Christian voters, who view Mormonism with more disdain than any other religion (misappropriating Jesus being worse than ignoring Jesus). And they don't trust McCain already.
The problem is that the GOP needs the religious right, the corporate/economic bloc, and a fair number of independents to win 50%. Huckabee, Romney, and McCain each appeal to only one set of voters, leaving at least one set unmotivated. Unless he announces expanding the office to two vice presidents, he has no perfect pick.
You make many good points, but I would say that on election day, don't simply look at your own financial situation. Look at the financial situations in your neighborhood, in your cities, in your slums and in your gated communities, and come to the conclusion that the worsening economic conditions for those who have the least is an immoral condition.
Lots of people assume that folks will vote their pocketbooks, but at the end of the day, voting in one's own best interest feels selfish. What people want to vote for is an ideal, a moral vision, contributing to a larger movement. What this election needs to be about is the restoration of America as a place where an ordinary person has opportunities to improve and succeed without being crushed by those who have money and power and are rigging the game to only increase it for themselves.
My parents are evangelical Republicans, and they led me, inadvertently, to become an evangelical Democrat.
The message of the New Testament is to love your neighbor as yourself -- to consider others' interests ahead of your own. It's pretty clear, pretty unequivocal. My parents taught me that God wanted that kind of selflessness from me. When my interest turned to politics, it didn't take long to discover the party that actually cared about other people and not about their own interests were the Democrats.
It actually confuses me that any evangelicals are Republicans, to be honest. The best explanation I've heard is from George Lakoff's work where he says that the Republicans have a "strict father" model of what love is. So whereas for most people, to love someone means to respect them, promote their well-being, stand alongside them, etc., the strict father model says that loving someone is like a father controlling his children. Which helps explain why the Republican party is more willing to fall in line behind a candidate and be pressured by authority to do illegal things (read: DOJ) because they have a hierarchy and understand that. Democrats, because they are a respecter of persons, tend to be more fragmented because each faction is given equal consideration.
This helps to explain some of the Republican agenda when it comes to abortion and gay marriage or gay rights. By giving women rights to make choices about their own lives, they are not under the control of their fathers/husbands/government, which undermines the strict father model. By giving gays and lesbians the right to marry or adopt, they are fearing that societal hierarchy becomes muddled. The same goes for the opposition to single parenthood and welfare, which were bigger issues in the '80s, because they reward or accept behavior that undermines external control. Other hot-button issues: Immigration swells the ranks of non-rich, non-white people in this country. Education gives the poor a voice and the knowledge of how to rise up. Race warfare is an attempt to keep the "lesser" in their place. Endless war and unilateralism is a way of scaring the public into deferring to their leaders, "as it should be".
The older generation of strict father Christians imagine that something will "awaken" the public consciousness and that we'll all realize we've gone too far with this tolerance and acceptance thing. They say: How can you love and respect people who go looting during a crisis? How can you love and respect someone who is taking away your job? How can you love and respect someone who might be ending a life in her womb? They fervently desire that people's goodwill will break and they'll draw a line in the sand where such and such is unacceptable.
But the good news is that so-called "collapse of society" continues and fewer and fewer Christians are growing up in a family where the strict father model is practiced. Fewer and fewer young pastors are demanding that their flock submit to their opinion in all matters. Once the idea of "love" through control evaporates, the idea of love through respect and self-sacrifice can push through. The questions we are exploring in our younger churches are: "what does it mean to love your enemy?" "what does it mean to care for society's outcasts?" "what does it mean to live with compassion and to pursue justice?"
These are all questions for which the Democrats have answers, or at least experience in wrestling with, whereas the Republican party is bone dry. As younger evangelicals begin to take over churches and public pulpits from the older generation, expect to see evangelical Christians either leave politics aside and begin serve society through their churches, or to defect outright to the Democratic Party. What we're hearing about now is just the first trickle of support that will eventually burst the dam.