John Leo

But what can the Democrats do to attract social-issues voters? They can't sell out their constituency of gays and feminists, Newsday columnist Marie Cocco said on NPR. No, but they can tamp down the extremists like the ones who censored Casey. Maybe (gasp!) they can even allow a few antiabortion Democrats to run for an important office, rather than forcing them all to convert to pro-abortion stands as the price of getting funding and support. Republicans aren't clamoring for Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rudolph Giuliani to convert.

Democrats might want to tone down the contempt for evangelicals in particular and religious people in general that increasingly flows through their secular-dominated party. This is a very religious nation. If the Democrats aspire to become the majority party, why do they tolerate so much antireligious behavior and expression? They also might have a word with out-of-control adjuncts of the party like People for the American Way, whose mission is apparently to hammer away at religious conservatives, and the American Civil Liberties Union, which is always ready to descend on every 6-year-old who writes a school essay on Jesus or who says, "God bless you" after a sneeze. Do they think religious voters fail to notice?

They might also have second thoughts about the strategy of getting judges to impose solutions that they want but that the voters are unwilling to accept. It is beginning to dawn on many Democrats that John Kerry may have lost the election on Nov. 18, 2003, when Massachusetts's highest court, by a 4-to-3 vote, conjured up a right to gay marriage that nobody else had ever located anywhere in the state Constitution. In a backlash, state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage passed easily in all 11 states that had them on the ballot last week, including Ohio. Incredibly, Democratic leaders and the media didn't see this coming, though polls keep showing opposition to gay marriage of around 60 percent.

The other thing the Democrats might do is to acquire a copy of Thomas Frank's book What's the Matter With Kansas? and then ignore everything he says. Frank seems to be saying that voters are ignorant to vote on social issues. The book is an argument for a return to the same old-time liberalism that has paralyzed the Democratic Party. Frank has no understanding of why cultural issues are important to so many Americans. The fact is that the Democrats are unlikely to win the presidency again until they do something about the cultural divide.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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