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Ken Houghton

"the Democrats have taken away the Republicans' advantage among Muslim voters"

Well, no, not even with the passive voice.

If I give you a Phil Rizzuto baseball card because I think Scooter is sh*t, without getting anything in return, you haven't "taken away" anything.

Similarly, if one party spends all its time demonising a religious group, the other cannot be said to have "taken away" the loyalties of that group.

Otherwise, spot on.


It's obvious to anyone who's looking that the republicans, and their beltway pundit mouthpieces, have always seen fundamentalist Christian southerners as nothing more than useful rubes, easy to fool and even easier to manipulate.

The fact that almost none of the fundies' most precious tenets have been made into law during the Bush years should have been a clue to them.

Now that this administration has burned nearly all of their bridges to more moderate, reality-based republicans, the ones left in charge are in the process of creating what I fear will be the most fear-mongering, racist, sexist, hateful campaign in American history. Hillary is their dream candidate, but whoever wins the dem nomination is going to have to have balls of steel to survive it.

And after the election, be prepared for domestic terrorism on a massive scale.


"It's obvious to anyone who's looking that the republicans, and their beltway pundit mouthpieces, have always seen fundamentalist Christian southerners as nothing more than useful rubes, easy to fool and even easier to manipulate."

Well, no, not historically. Example: Even as recently as the early 1990s, the Californian Republican party was a very critical part of the Republican base. The two most recent Republican presidents had come out of Orange County, the governors had been Republicans for approaching a decade, and folks as diverse as Weinberger, Meese and many others had come out of California politics. The first Republican Party Chairman who was from the deep South was Lee Atwater, 1989-1991. Before then, only George Bush had been a party chair from any Confederate state. The first Republican leadership in the Congress that was notably from the South was Newt Gingrich/ Dick Armey in the early 1990s.


Hi Lance.

Really good, original analysis.

Excellent work.


Andrew Pulrang

In other words, "We all agree these are idiots we're talking about here, but in America, you've got to pay proper respect to the rubes or you won't get anywhere." Hard to know who should feel more insulted, the voters, the candidates, or the rubes!


Burritoboy, I don't see how anything you wrote contradicts what merciless wrote.

Not letting the southerners into positions of power is entirely consistent with viewing them as rubes. Yes, the California Republicans were/are important and they are exactly the ones that settled on the fundamentalist/christian/southerners as "useful rubes", starting with Nixon's southern strategy and continuing through Reagan's cozying up to the Phyllis Schlaflys and Jerry Falwells.


As the Brits say, "Brill!"


"Yes, the California Republicans were/are important and they are exactly the ones that settled on the fundamentalist/christian/southerners as "useful rubes", starting with Nixon's southern strategy and continuing through Reagan's cozying up to the Phyllis Schlaflys and Jerry Falwells."

But, if they only saw them as useful idiots, why would the leadership shift from being massively dominated by non-Southern politicians (a lot of it Californian) to the current situation, where most of the party leadership actually IS Southern (and many from the deep South). After all, they had got most of the South's actual votes by the early 1990s already.

I'm not saying that the current Southern leadership doesn't view the Southern voters as useful idiots (they probably do) but that there is more going on than just exploitation of Southern voters. Plus, why particularly the strategy of pursuing an ever-more solid South when the Republicans needed more to focus on Northern suburbanites and the Hispanic vote in the period 2001-2007? Sure, you can identify ideological reasons, but not coldly tactical ones (if Republicans were getting even more reasonable minorities among Hispanics, they would be competitive in numerous places where they have no chance now).

Lastly, Nixon's Southern strategy worked nearly as well in the north as it did in the south. He probably would have done something like it even if he didn't get any extra votes from the south.


Thank you for emphasizing that "religious" is not coequal with "white fundamentalist Christian" and "American" is not coequal with "white fundamentalist rural Christian man."

I'm so frigging tired of both false equations that it's a relief to have someone else do the arguing for me!

James E. Powell


The Republican leadership in the Reagan-Bush I years did not include all of the former Dixie-crats who would switch to the Republican Party. Gramm comes to mind, but I am thinking that Helms and Thurmond may also fall into this category.

What is more important is that, beginning with Reagan's 1980 campaign, the Republican Party was dominated by Southern politics, most of it race-coded.

Reagan launched his 1980 campaign from Philadelphia, Mississippi, with a speech declaring that states' rights was back. Once he was president, he took the side of Bob Jones University against the IRS. He and the Republicans steadfastly and very publicly refused to take a stand against apartheid. I could go on, I could find more examples if I took the time, but the point is that the Republicans absorbed and exploited what George Wallace began in 1968.

That the leadership became more Southern in fact as the years went by was the result of seniority and the decline of the Democratic Party in the south after the Civil Rights Acts, the Voting Rights Acts and other similar legislation.

Side note. Whenever this era and this issue is discussed, I am always surprised that no one mentioned busing. It was THE issue throughout the south and in many cities in the north.

pro choice lib

"The Democrats' most loyal constituency includes some of the most devout Christians in the nation, African Americans. But they're not white so their religion doesn't count.

The Democrats are making serious inroads among some of the most devout Catholic voters in the nation, Hispanics. But they're not Prostestant so their religion doesn't count."

Which is why their right to vote will be denied at every turn. In the GOP's collective mind they're not 'Muricans.

Junius Brutus

Outstanding post.

I would only add that if you pander to the minority of religious nutcases on the right, you will simultaenously be turning off the very large bloc of nonreligious voters like me. And while religious people are a declining demographic, the secular demographic is growing like gangbusters.

People like Duffy may not respect us but our views are well supported and we trace our heritage in this country back to the Enlightenment values of the Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, Tom Paine, and all the Deists who took part in the Revolution.

Kevin Hayden

Democrats don't pander to religious types who practice hate. That's a big distinction. CINOs are not followers of Jesus, just as MINOs don't follow Muhammed's teachings.

That's the distinction between what Dems practice and the memes Republicans spread about Dems. Dem candidates should emphasize that distinction clearly.


Why don't the Dem candidates speak as clearly about this as Lance, Digby, and the posters on both their sites? Obama came closest in his convention speach. More of that please.

I wish more speakers would hammer home your point that being religious does not mean white Christian evangelical. It is so obvious, but no one ever says it. Very rereshing!


Yeah, that would be 'refreshing'. Even a preview does not always help me. Sorry!

Ken Muldrew

The separation of church and state worked well for a while, but ethical behavior in collective enterprises only works as long as everyone (or nearly everyone) agrees to act ethically. Once that agreement is gone, it's gone for good. Probably the only way to get back to a state where religion is separate from politics is to get rid of religion. That's going to be a tough nut for the U.S., but there really isn't any other choice available.

It's like a small town where everyone leaves their doors unlocked. One night a thief comes along and cleans everyone out. Now they have to lock their doors for ever after. Nobody is very happy about the situation; they don't thank the thief for pointing out the holes in their security arrangements, but they have to live with the new rules.

Modernity is just incompatible with religion (Serious religion! Not the play acting of the Jews, Catholics, and a few others). Since a thief has come along and stolen the separation ethic, there remains no alternative but to remove religion from the canon of acceptable ways of thinking about the world.

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