Democrats, with the unsolicited aid of some Republicans, have put on a full court press for "values voters" in their bid to regain control of Congress.
Through various tactics, like tarring the entire GOP with the Foley scandal, and capitalizing on defections by some Christians from the GOP, they hope to suppress the Christian conservative voter turnout. At the same time, they are courting the votes of those they can't discourage enough to stay home.
Democrats have been agonizing since Election Day 2004 over how to repackage their message to deceive values voters into believing they truly represent their interests. Never mind their promotion of same-sex marriage, abortion on demand and partial birth abortion. Never mind their ridiculing of Christian conservatives, their comparisons of Christian "fundamentalists" to Islamic fundamentalists or their institutional sneering at Boy Scouts.
Then, serendipitously, as if by divine intervention, Foley fell into their laps. Next, with the pre-election timing that conspiracy theorists couldn't possibly countenance as coincidence, a number of Republican "insiders" released books recommending a downscaling of influence by Christian conservatives on the Republican Party.
Former Sen. John Danforth's book laments the Christian right's apparent hold on the GOP. Former White House Faith-Based Initiative Deputy Director David Kuo charges that while President Bush is sincere about his faith, "he is a politician and is ultimately no different from any other politician, content to use religion for electoral gain more than for good works."
With friends like these on the right, it's no wonder Democrats are feeling so cocky about their November election prospects. While I believe Danforth is a good and honorable man, I couldn't disagree with him more -- assuming I understand his position correctly -- about the involvement of Christian conservatives in politics and, in particular, the Republican Party. They have as much right -- indeed an obligation -- to influence policy consistent with their worldview as any other group. If not Christian conservatives, who will stand up for the unborn? Who will stand up for traditional marriage? Who will better stand up for originalist judges and religious liberty?
Conservative Christians, I might add, didn't start this fight. They didn't issue the unconstitutional federal judicial edict severely restricting state regulation of abortions. They didn't try to change the thousands-year-old institution of traditional marriage. They aren't leading the assault on religious freedoms.
Secular forces are not planning on withdrawing from politics. They don't believe in leaving their worldview out of their policy advocacy, their governance or their law making. How can responsible Christians even consider unilateral surrender? And why are they always asked to make the false choice between their politics and their evangelism? They can and should do both, with vigor.
David Kuo, despite his suspicious timing, appears to proceed from genuine motives, but his concerns and solutions are woefully misguided. He seems most upset that Bush didn't secure the promised funding for his faith-based program and thereby betrayed Christian conservatives, who he took for granted.
Kuo laments the political naivete of certain Christian leaders for putting too much faith in political leaders. He believes they have been duped by the administration and intoxicated through their proximity to presidential power from holding the president accountable for failing to deliver.
But it is Kuo who is politically naive for believing that government handouts should be Christian conservatives' most urgent concern. President Bush might have failed to secure the funding he'd earmarked for faith-based programs, but he has most certainly delivered for Christian conservatives on policy -- and that's what is most important.
Kuo's naivete is further displayed by his reckless recommendation that Christians tell Republicans "we are fasting from politics for a season." To the contrary, it would make more sense for Christian conservatives to become political gluttons for this electoral season. If not, they will be directly participating in the acceleration of the decline of their culture, a cultural climate less hospitable to their evangelical duties and a less secure America, for starters.
In the meantime, Democrats are enjoying their popcorn as they watch the spectacle of these intramural GOP squabbles, hoping to laugh all the way to the polls secure in their knowledge of a depressed values voter turnout.
But, as usual, they can't leave well enough alone, as they are once again playing semantic games to convince values voters they are on their team. Their latest "values friendly" platitude designed to make this case, recently articulated by Bill Clinton, is: Democrats are striving for the "common good." I hope they just keep on insulting our intelligence. If nothing else will motivate Christian voters to go to the polls, maybe that will.