Thursday, October 26, 2006

An apology for being a forgone conclusion

Will Hinton (I'm dropping the Dignan nom de guerre) has argued over at his group blog, that blacks and socially-conservative Christians should stop being a forgone conclusion for their respective political parties.

Will says, "It is painfully obvious that the Republican party treats conservative Christians as a foregone conclusion." I couldn't agree more whole-heartedly. He seems to argue that since the Republican party has treated conservative Christians as a forgone conclusion that "Maybe we will start seeing the Christian community start rejecting the demogoguery and fear-mongering rhetoric that often comes from Republican politicians."

I would hope they do, but not because I am desperate to see socially-conservative Christians jump to the Democratic Party, but because I want to see less demagoguery and fear-mongering in the body politic.

However, I think there is some value in being a forgone conclusion. Candidates need to know who is in their corner. They need trusted constituents to rely upon for volunteer hours and financial help. Voters need to know who is going to represent them on a consistent basis. Voters want to know who shares their values, ideals and vision for the future. To jump from candidate to candidate in each election cycle breeds no trust and history between constituents and candidate, only frustration and alienation.

More importantly, under our two party system, the Democrats and Republicans usually represent both sides of an argument. Will seems to be suggesting that if a party doesn't take you serious, you should switch to the other one. Can he really be serious? Let's say a fictitious voter values very strict abortion restrictions. Traditionally Republicans have favored these items. During the last 6 years, they've done virtually nothing about abortion law. What is our fictitious voter to do? Renounce his firmly held beliefs? Switch to the Democrats, who have professed no interest in additional restrictions on a woman's body?

Wouldn't we label our fictitious voter a hypocrite if he switched allegiances? Isn't voting your values one of the deepest held beliefs among most Americans? How can Will argue that those values should be tossed out so we aren't a forgone conclusion?

Will might be arguing that Republicans don't represent socially-conservative Christians (welcome to the club, I've been saying that for the last 2 years. ;-) ) and shouldn't receive their vote for that reason. That is a much stronger argument and easier to defend than his original premise. If socially-conservative Christians are looking for a political party in 2006 that represents them, they might have to sit this one out.

Or, since it is clear that the Republicans have failed miserably on virtually everything they've touched in the last 6 years, socially-conservative Christians may wish to punish them for that. That is neither hypocritical or morally unjustifiable.

I'd respect that.

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