Friday, November 18, 2005


Right-wing Christian churches, good. Democratic government, bad?

What is it with writers named Brooks?
'Faith talk' and Tammany Hall

by Rosa Brooks

DEMOCRATS SHOULD be wary of jumping to conclusions in the wake of Democrat Timothy Kaine's Virginia gubernatorial victory. Kaine didn't shy away from discussing his religious beliefs during his campaign, and this seems to be leading party strategists to conclude that Democrats can win in culturally conservative states if they talk about deeply held religious beliefs.

But imagining that red-state voters will turn blue if only Democrats talk more about faith misunderstands the role of conservative evangelical Christianity in American politics. Conservative evangelical churches played a big role in delivering voters for George W. Bush in 2004 — but neither that nor Kaine's victory prove that red-state voters are simply hungry for "religion" and will reward whichever candidate speaks most convincingly about his or her personal faith.

Conservative evangelical churches were able to deliver voters for Bush in much the same way, and for much the same reasons, that labor unions and political machines like New York's Tammany Hall were once able to deliver votes for the Democrats: They offer material benefits to people with nowhere else to turn, and that is easily parlayed into votes at election time.


To be sure, progressive and moderate Christians need to speak out against right-wing attempts to hijack Christianity. But if Democrats — religious or not — hope to win back the large slice of middle America that today takes its cues from conservative evangelical Christian churches, they need to get back into the business of creating institutions that provide tangible help to ordinary, struggling Americans.
Um...Rosa...they've spent two centuries doing exactly's called "government" - you may have heard of it? What's more "tangible" than Social Security? What's more "tangible" than Medicare? What's more "tangible" than deposit insurance and Pell Grants and Section 8 housing vouchers? The Republicans have spent most of the last 50 years ceaselessly trying to demolish the Democrats' "institutions that provide tangible help to ordinary, struggling Americans" so that they can replace them with their "commit to Jesus or starve" church-based programs and their failed attempts to privatize everything.

Where the hell has this Rosa Brooks been? What country has she been observing? It's okay for the right wing to help people their way, but not okay for Democrats to help people their way? Why the hell not?
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