Monday, October 18, 2004

Mr. Kerry and Evangelicals

In the last debate, Mr. Kerry made a point to publicize the sexual preference of Mr. Cheney's daughter. Though many interpretations can be attached to this, the one I think most likely is that he thought Evangelicals would run screaming from the Bush-Cheney ticket upon learning this dark secret.

Supporting this hypothesis is Mr. Rove's statement that roughly four million Evangelicals stayed home in 2000, because of Mr. Bush's DUI conviction of decades before. Indeed, the DUI conviction hurt, but I think Mr. Rove is wrong. The story bothered me, but it was consistent with Mr. Bush's "repentant sinner" explanation. I think the DUI hurt because it supported the story that Mr. Bush was a "white-knuckle drunk" and he would fall apart when the pressure was on.

After the 2000 election, we saw Mr. Gore melt down, and after 9/11/2001 we saw that Mr. Bush was made of sterner stuff.

Thus I presume that Mr. Kerry's advisors assumed that since Evangelicals condemn homosexual acts, they would hold Mr. Cheney's daughter against Mr. Bush. The rubes must think homosexuality is something like cooties, right? No doubt the bumpkins are so clueless that they didn't know about Ms. Cheney already.

If there's anything not completely bogus in Mr. Kerry's calculus it's that Evangelicals dislike hypocrites: if Mr. Bush is saying all this G-d talk and secretly living like the devil, it will cost him. I believe that's why the Democrats depict Mr. Bush as more than opponent, but a lying skunk. If Mr. Bush is a liar of Clintonian proportions, Evangelicals might just spend election day at a prayer meeting or something else the Democrats think ineffectual.

But isn't it more likely that the Clintonoids would be liars of Clintonian proportions? Thus the "Bush lied" meme falls flat with ne. Mr. Kerry and before him Mr. Gore have manifested a profound ignorance of the Evangelical mind. (Perhaps they think Mr. Carter's thinking is normative.) This has made them tone-deaf when dealing with Evangelicals. If you would manipulate us, you must understand us first.

The thing that the Democrats and their clients in the homosexual community fail to realize is that Evangelicals primarily want to be left alone. In the last century or so, Evangelicals have tried to create "separate" institutions, as seen in Christian radio and cable TV stations, bookstores, schools and universities. When a demographic has a "leave us alone" constituency, it doesn't respond well to "in your face." (A wise politician might use this fact to appeal to otherwise incompatible constituencies.)

The dog in this fight for Evangelicals is homosexual marriage. Marriages often take place in the church. Catholics say that marriage is a SACRAMENT. What gives a judge the right to mess with Rome's sacraments? This puts marriage on the boundary of church and state. When a judge moves those boundaries, Evangelicals feel threatened. Mr. Cheney's daughter is not running for federal judge, federal judges make us feel threatened, and Mr. Bush is less likely to appoint activist judges.

1 comment:

UML Guy said...

I hate to criticize, but I think I can make your point more succinctly:

1. Mary Cheney is a sinner. To Evangelicals, this is equivalent to saying, "Mary Cheney is a human being, as we are all sinners."

2. Taking their words at face value: one candidate respects us all, imperfect as we are, but would endorse steps to protect marriage; one candidate respects us all, imperfect as we are, and claims marriage should be protected but will not endorse steps to do so (except for endorsing changes to the Massachusetts Constitution -- amendments for me, but not for thee). Which position will Evangelicals support?

And if Democrats are basing their strategy on a belief that Evangelicals are uninformed, uneducated bumpkins, well, they'll deserve the drubbing they'll get. You don't plan a campaign around cultural stereotypes. Just ask Howard Dean how well his "God and guns" attitude worked for him.