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    20 January 2006

    The GOP on the Rebound?

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    My perception after the attacks of 11 September 2001 was that a large portion of the Republican Party, or the right, underwent a huge shift in ideology. They dropped their responsibilities and causes as I viewed them growing up, and replaced them with religious chauvinism and reactionary nationalism. This lead to a resurgence of the almost extremist logic engrained in the right wing today, the same logic that has been used to influence the electorate by imploring them to vote Republican or suffer the consequences. As the attacks become history, it is inevitable that people will lose this passion that came from the aftermath of that morning in September. Two stories today indicate to me that that transformation may be underway. Hopefully it will continue on through '06 and '08. Not necessarily netting a Democratic White House or Senate. But rather leaders that deserve to lead based on merit, not a extreme world view, foaming at the mouth rhetoric, or crafty spin used by the likes of 'Mean' Jean Schmidt or Jim 'Homophobe' DeMint among others.

    The stories I'm referring to are unrelated in the general sense. The first being the party's (GOP) renewed love of Senator John McCain. Not that I particularly like him as a politician, I view him as a great man and a possible President provided he gets a backbone. He is a Republican which I, and many, can see eye to eye with at times. One who won't polarize and manipulate the electorate as the current leadership has.

    For one example, take the recent comments from Senator Rick "what's K-Street?" Santorum: "Obviously, when you're looking at the issue of congressional reform, the first person you turn to in the United States Senate is John McCain, and we've done so". I read this, and perhaps KE's Bullshit DetectorTM could verify, as Santorum saying 'we've been caught. Here is a shot of dignity and honor that surpasses my own or many of my colleagues in the Republican Party. Now we’ll wait for the smoke to clear and start over.' The Culture of Corruption rests heavily on the Republican Party but does not include all Republicans.

    The second story is an Op-Ed by Charles Marsh in which he reexamines the evangelical view of the War on Iraq. Noting that he is an evangelical himself, Marsh observes the enormous political power held by American evangelicals, and the effect this large mass has on national politics. He also examines the rhetoric of the "God is Pro-War" crowd, noting that to embrace this logic may indicate a huge change in Christian doctrine as interoperated in the past. Marsh writes:
    But what surprised me, looking at these sermons nearly three years later, was how little attention they paid to actual Christian moral doctrine. Some tried to square the American invasion with Christian "just war" theory, but such efforts could never quite reckon with the criterion that force must only be used as a last resort. As a result, many ministers dismissed the theory as no longer relevant.

    ...The single common theme among the war sermons appeared to be this: our president is a real brother in Christ, and because he has discerned that God's will is for our nation to be at war against Iraq, we shall gloriously comply.

    Such sentiments are a far cry from those expressed in the Lausanne Covenant of 1974. More than 2,300 evangelical leaders from 150 countries signed that statement, the most significant milestone in the movement's history. Convened by Billy Graham and led by John Stott, the revered Anglican evangelical priest and writer, the signatories affirmed the global character of the church of Jesus Christ and the belief that "the church is the community of God's people rather than an institution, and must not be identified with any particular culture, social or political system, or human ideology."

    Marsh concludes by noting and agreeing that if the evangelicals were to elect some sort of Pope, it could easily be Rev. John Stott (mentioned above) who in conversation with Marsh made his feelings on the war clear:
    "Privately, in the days preceding the invasion, I had hoped that no action would be taken without United Nations authorization," he told me. "I believed then and now that the American and British governments erred in proceeding without United Nations approval." Reverend Stott referred me to "War and Rumors of War, " a chapter from his 1999 book, "New Issues Facing Christians Today," as the best account of his position. In that essay he wrote that the Christian community's primary mission must be "to hunger for righteousness, to pursue peace, to forbear revenge, to love enemies, in other words, to be marked by the cross."

    In conclusion I'll pull from Marsh's piece once more:
    What will it take for evangelicals in the United States to recognize our mistaken loyalty? We have increasingly isolated ourselves from the shared faith of the global Church, and there is no denying that our Faustian bargain for access and power has undermined the credibility of our moral and evangelistic witness in the world. The Hebrew prophets might call us to repentance, but repentance is a tough demand for a people utterly convinced of their righteousness.

    In the Op-Ed, Marsh notes that evangelical support for the war is down, but nowhere near the level of America as a whole and even further from that of world opinion. But progress is being made in the psyche of Republicans as they revert back to the foundation that existed before 11 September 2001 and the pull a few Republican ministers and corporate lobbyist have on a huge portion of the electorate and their representatives weakens. The election of someone like John McCain from the right or a moderate Democrat (or better yet a Progressive) that isn't effectively assassinated by the right-wing noise machine could end the systemic abuse of nationalism that has wrecked our military, marred our reputation, and eroded our rights in the wake of the attacks which, among other things, was a part of the terrorist’s master plan to divide and destroy.

    Posted by Geoff

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