Shaken To My Core

I sincerely hope that TNR will forgive me for doing this. However, Brad Carson has written such a remarkable article, that I feel I must repost it in its entirety. Please, sign up for TNR--its free!

Read on only if you have the courage. Be warned--it is not pretty.

I don't remember when I first realized that my campaign for United States Senate was in trouble. But one moment stands out. I was in Sallisaw, Oklahoma, home of the annual Grapes of Wrath Festival, in which locals celebrate John Steinbeck's fictional Joad family and their mythical journey from eastern Oklahoma to California. It was a Sunday morning, one week before the third anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, and I had been invited by the pastor of a local Baptist church to discuss the topic: "How Would Jesus Vote?" Both my opponent in the Senate race, Tom Coburn, and I had been invited to what was more or less an interview before the pastor's congregation. I would go first, then Coburn would speak the following Sunday, and a right-wing talk-radio host--no friend of mine, to be sure--would conclude the three-week inquiry into how Jesus would want us to cast our ballots.

Now, I must confess: My own view is that Jesus would probably not vote at all, given the organized corruption that passes for modern American politics. But the idea that Christ Himself might sit out the 2004 election was apparently not under consideration, so I accepted the invitation--much to the pastor's avowed surprise. As an active Baptist who grew up in the Baptist church, I had no illusions that most of my co-religionists were ardent Democrats, but I rarely turned down any chance to make the case for my own candidacy and that of my fellow party members. After all, wasn't Daniel blessed for braving the lion's den?

As I arrived at the church, my wife and I were given the church bulletin, which outlined the weekly selection of hymns and Bible readings. On the back of the bulletin, atop the blank space reserved for copious note-taking during the sermon, was the heading: "WWJV? PRO-LIFE OR PRO-DEATH?" (I favored the partial-birth abortion ban but opposed overturning Roe v. Wade.) In the sanctuary, a 20-by-20-foot depiction of a fetus looked down upon the assembled throng from a projection screen. Superimposed upon the unsettling image--which morphed to show the fetus in various stages of gestation--was fact after fact about abortions in America.

After the morning rituals, the pastor called me to the stage, and we engaged in a lengthy discussion about abortion, homosexuality, "liberal judges," and other controversial matters. After leaving the stage, I rejoined the congregation, and the pastor launched into an attack on the "pro-choice terrorists," who were, to his mind, far more dangerous than Al Qaeda. Yes, he acknowledged, thousands had died on September 11, but abortion was killing millions and millions. This was a holocaust, he continued, and we must all vote righteously. Vote righteously! In 13 months of campaigning across the vast state of Oklahoma, I must have seen or heard this phrase a thousand times, often on the marquees of churches, where, outside of election season, one finds only clever and uplifting biblical bromides. But it was not until that September Sunday in Sallisaw, one of the most Democratic towns in Oklahoma, that I first understood that the seemingly innocuous phrase "vote righteously" was the slogan not of a few politicized churches, but the cri de coeur of millions--millions who fervently believe that their most deeply held values are under assault and who further see this assault as at least tolerated by the Democratic Party, if not actually led by it.

As a defeated Senate candidate in the most red of red states, many people have asked me for insights into the Democratic Party's failure to connect with culturally conservative voters. Much has already been written on this topic, and scholars will add more. But I do know this: The culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself. Banning gay marriage or abortion would not be sufficient to heal the cultural gulf that exists in this nation. The culture war is about matters more fundamental still: whether nationality is, in a globalized world, a random fact of no more significance than what hospital one was born in or whether it is the source of identity and even political legitimacy; whether one's self is a matter of choice or whether it is predetermined, before birth, by the cultural membership of one's family; whether an individual is just that--a free-floating atom--or whether the individual is part of a long chain that both predates and continues long after any particular person; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only "tolerance." These are questions not for politicians but for philosophers, and, in the end, it is the failure of liberal philosophy that we saw on November 2.

For the vast majority of Oklahomans--and, I would suspect, voters in other red states--these transcendent cultural concerns are more important than universal health care or raising the minimum wage or preserving farm subsidies. Pace Thomas Frank, the voters aren't deluded or uneducated. They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones. The political left has always had a hard time understanding this, preferring to believe that the masses are enthralled by a "false consciousness" or Fox News or whatever today's excuse might be. But the truth is quite simple: Most voters in a state like Oklahoma--and I venture to say most other Southern and Midwestern states--reject the general direction of American culture and celebrate the political party that promises to reform or revise it.

That is what Antonin Scalia famously called the Kulturkampf. And there can be no doubt either that this is a fundamental dynamic in American politics or on which side of this conflict the electorate rests. Last Tuesday, I ran 7 percent ahead of John Kerry, and my opponent ran a full 13 percent behind President Bush. In most states, this would have been more than sufficient to ensure my victory. But not in Oklahoma. At least not last Tuesday. And, while the defeat was all my own, the failure was of the party to which I swear allegiance, which uncritically embraces a modernity that so many others reject.

I first read this one hour ago, but I am still stunned, and shaken. Over at dailykos,. I wrote some pretty inflammatory comments about the "red state rejection of modernity," that Carson describes: That is not our failure. That is our success. Quite frankly, if Carson is right, then the people he is talking with can go fuck themselves. I am not rejecting modernity. If they are, then we call them on it, and make that our war. The last thing we need to do is reject modernity in order to win votes. I not only draw the line there, I draw it way before that. I'll become a violent insurgent in my own country before I let us slink into the confederacy, the ancien regime, or something even more primordial. Quite literally, over my dead body. That was my first thought. My latest ones are not much better. My parents are coming into town tomorrow for the first time in over a year. Combining this article with their impending visit has led to some real introspection about where I am from, how I was raised, how it relates to the people described in Carson's article, and even to my first encounter with the Christian right. Being from New York, even Upstate New York, I think I am from one of the few areas in the country where someone would have to go to college to finally meet real conservatives. White evangelicals only make up 5% of the state's population. Now in Philadelphia, I live in a ward that voted over 95% for Kerry.

The difference is so gaping that I admit I an unable to understand it. I'll have a lot more on this tomorrow.

Tags: Ideology (all tags)



by nkp 2004-11-11 08:56PM | 0 recs
Upstate New York??
Do you mean the Buffalo or Rochester area?

I've lived on eastern LI since I was 7, and went to college in Rochester.  I'd drive back and forth, and be amazed at the contrast between most of the middle part of NY, and NYC.  It's like two different countries.

Most of rural NY tends to be like the mid-west.  Then you have eastern LI, with it's still quite homogeneous, middle-class, suburban white population, who I'd say most are the Reagan democrat type, but tend to be conservative as well.  I've lived in other parts of the country, and people are surprised when they hear about how varied the state is.  Why else would we have a republican governor?  Talk about NY liberals ...

by nkp 2004-11-11 09:11PM | 0 recs
Progressive Values
If the party of Wall Street can wrap itself in heartland values, then Democrats sure as hell can. It's not about rejecting modernity. It's about addressing country, honor, family, courage, responsibility, duty, and faith with progressive positions. This can be done, this will be done.
by coldeye 2004-11-11 09:30PM | 0 recs
I understand it all too well.
I have family members who believe like those in that church.  We can barely speak to one another most times.  My existence as a lesbian is enough to make one of them send me what I call nasty-grams fairly regularly.  Always anti-gay.  But, always claiming that Christians are the ones being victimized and that Christianity is about to be banned.  Yes, they really, really believe that.  Blasphemy is everywhere.  The monster in the room.  

Reality doesn't intrude on those belief systems.  The fact that the right is in control of the government and the corporations and the media doesn't even make a dent in their version of reality.  They see themselves as victims with a true battle to wage.  

And I'm their target.  

Nope, I won't allow the right to win this culture war they've started.  To surrender would be to cease to exist.  We would surrender women's rights to their own lives.  We would give up the right to think and learn freely.  We would cease to be Americans.  

Those folks are so thoroughly brainwashed it is frightening.  Yes, they truly believe what they believe.  And they see us as the enemy to be destroyed.  It is as frightening as Naziism.  That is not an exaggeration as far as I'm concerned.  It's like the Taliban - Christian style - about to decend on all of us.

And those who are in it don't realize it will swallow them up, too.      

by maryschoyc 2004-11-11 09:32PM | 0 recs
Re: I understand it all too well.
Hi mary

You are right about the theocrats; they invoke their religious beliefs to support their Pharisaic aganda and then call any oposition to their non-Christlike  politics "Christian bashing". It's shameful and gives the rest of us Christians a bad name. But I would suggest that things have gotten better in the last 40 years which is why the theocrats are so riled up right now. And I would suggest that strategically the way Clinton campaigned for gay rights in 1992 is a better strategy than a frontal assault that the right wing can falsely characterize as "gays vs. the rest of us". Clinton's campaign for for a general principle of non-discrimination because "we don't have a person to waste"--discrimination on the basis of race, sexual orientation etc. is wrong because all prejudice is wrong. Most people don't suppprt the theocrats' in their desire to roll back gay rights to where they were when gays had to hide their identities, and we can win those people back if we make them see that we Democrats are on their side.


by keith johnson 2004-11-14 12:54PM | 0 recs
Hey, Koolaid Man!
...don't get to worked up over this. The whole thing is a big psych-out/sour-grapes-delusional-wish. Check out the cover of the TNR on the page - one big pysch-out - the lady with the Kerry sticker and one tear rolling down....

Secondly, this quote from Brad is so much passive-aggressive repostioning. A swipe, an accusation/slander, and the repositioning of the factual truth into a lie all in one very small paragraph:
The political left has always had a hard time understanding this, preferring to believe that the masses are enthralled by a "false consciousness" or Fox News or whatever today's excuse might be.
Maybe we're having a "hard time understanding this", because that is EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING! No not everyone, but with out the deceception, Bush doens't get above 32%-36%. He's trying to marginalize/reposition the people who have figured out the game. We're just all fucking nut now, right Brad.

Total psyche job. The Rush Limbaugh's of the world are definitely running it right now, but they're doing it by deceiving! How does that heck does that set them up for long-term success? Screw this guy and the rest of the triumphant jack-asses. Let them have their Al Bundy moment of highschool glory, which they be able to fondly reflect back on when the whole house of cards comes crashing down.

Political Physics
by cgilbert01 2004-11-11 09:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Hey, Koolaid Man!
You raise a good point here -- WTF is going on at the New Republic. John Kerry is precisely the sort of candidate they have been calling for -- economically moderate tending towards conservative (tax cuts, balanced budget), pragmatic on social benefits, intelligent, with a clear vision of the world and the central role of American power in it, personally devout and moral.

Peter Beinart is a secular Jew. He is pro-choice. He is tolerant. Most of the best writers at that magazine, even after its hard turn to the right in the 1980s, have been.

Who the hell do these people want us (I mean Democrats) to be? What is the point of that issue?

Or are they ceding the terrain to TAP and trying to become the house organ of the Heritage Foundation?

by desmoulins 2004-11-12 08:00AM | 0 recs
Calm down Chris
Put your excellent analytical mind to work and ask yourself;

  • Is Oklahoma a representative sample for the US?
  • Is there corroborating evidence i.e. a consensus of post-election polling that supports this supposition?
  • Other than 9/11, what has significantly changed culturally since the 2000 election and the Clinton stigma of immorality?

To me, it simply identifies a coordinated turnout effort that Rove successfully orchestrated.

by Coldblue 2004-11-11 10:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Calm down Chris
Yes...Rove did orchestrate the turnout.  BUT, look at the number of states that Rove turned out.  This is NOT just limited to Oklahoma.  
by elscal 2004-11-12 07:14AM | 0 recs
Religious tyranny, not culture war
The term culture war connotes two streams of thought of equal weight. Not true. What the evangelical and Catholic churches are leading toward is religious tyranny.
by AM 2004-11-11 10:14PM | 0 recs
Don't be surprised how Bush's win will energize...
...the right to increase their attacks on civil rights.  They feel vindicated.  They feel they have power.  And they will absolutely use it.

Even if they don't change the law on abortion or their other pet projects, expect to see an increase in violence against gays, first and foremost, and everyone else, too.  Expect to see the abortion clinic terrorists get energized.  Expect to see a lot more activity on the local levels, esp in the schools.

What has changed?  They won the 2004 election and they want to rub it in in the very worst way.    

by maryschoyc 2004-11-11 10:17PM | 0 recs
Stupidity is not a positive issue.
I find it offensive that a Democratic candinate would even suggest that that we have to become dumber to appeal to the baser instincts of the great unwashed so as keep them dumb and poor.

If people are so stuck in the Dark ages as those people in Oklahoma want to sut of their noses to spite their faces thats fine let them fry in the hell of their own making. Just don't drag me down with you.

Me I'm practicing on how to finish all my sentences with a eh.

by Rational 2004-11-11 10:26PM | 0 recs
Carson's probably a little bitter
Come on,  he just lost to fucking Tom "Sterliization" Coburn.  Tom "Teenage Lesbo Bathroom" Coburn.  Carson is probably in a state of shock.   It wouldn't be surprising if in a fit of frustration he wrote off his loss to a bunch of incorrigibles "at war with modernity itself".

Does he really expect us to believe that he lost because of turmoil over the abstract concept of nationhood?  Or maybe,  those church going voters really want to outlaw all abortions,  not just the partial birth kind.

My question for Brad is what he thinks that these people want after they get bans of abortion and gay marriage.

by zoltar 2004-11-11 10:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
what do they want next?  let's look at what they say and what they do.

They say they want to:

ban birth control
"reform" homosexuals into heterosexuals
enshrine Biblical law as American law
make abortion a capital offense

What they do:

At Bob Jones U, interracial dating was banned.
they bomb abortion clinics
they shoot doctors who provide abortions

Carson may be bitter, but that doesn't mean he's lying or that he's wrong.  Here in WA, we've had Ellen Craswell as the Republican candidate for governor--she proclaimed that she would have only "Godly People" placed in any appointed positions and that HIV-positive people should be marked in some way so that everyone else would know who they are.

The people Carson is talking about aren't just a small aberration, they're a movement.  We need a movement of our own.

by benchcoat 2004-11-11 10:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
Yes, we had Ellen Craswell here in Washington...and she got beaten by a landslide.  (It is speculated that the only reason she got the nomination in the first place was that, under the old "open primary" system we used to have, lots of Democrats "crossed over" to make sure the weakest Republican candidate got the nomination.)  A poor example, if you ask me.
by JDWalley 2004-11-11 11:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
first of all, that's the "late, lamented" open primary--which deserves a short moment of silence. :)  Hopefully this Louisiana-style system will help us get instant run-off voting.

Craswell is a bad example--although she was running pretty well even prior to the crossover idea getting out there--the split between the Foreman and Maleng camps may have gotten her into the top-spot on the ticket anyway.  She is a good example of the mind-set that we are fighting against.  Much as I dislike her viewpoint, I don't think she her statements were intended just to try to motivate support through fear--they were her honest statements about what she wanted to do with the office.

she's also a good representative of a significant portion of the Republican party--not just in OK, but in a fairly blue state like WA.  I'm in Seattle now, but I'm from rural eastern WA--she's pretty much in the mainstream where I grew up.

Carson's opponent Coburn is a better example--his support for executing doctors who perform abortions may have helped him more than hurt him.

I think it's unwise of us to ignore the radical conservative movement.  They are hate-filled and they run largely on fear, but they are a growing movement.  They truly believe what they say and want to see their policies enacted.

Our own ranks have been shrinking.  We need a movement of our own, not just coalitions trying to win elections.  That means we need ideas and a language that communicates those ideas effectively.  We can win, but we're going to have to work to overcome their head start.

by benchcoat 2004-11-12 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
THAT IS THE REPUBLIAN FEAR MACHINE.  Unfortunately it works on both sides of the isle.  Most Americans are in the center...spending very little spare time doing what they should be doing, investigating and thinking.  But -- THEY DON'T.  So, comments like, "only Godly People would be placed in any appointed positions & HIV positive people should be marked in some way so that everyone else would know who they are" is a FEAR TACTIC.  It infers, or plants the seed in voters minds, that there are "Evil Doers" currently in appointed positions and that the current administration isn't keeping them "safe" from getting HIV (many people don't know how you get it).  

That is what the Republican Party Platform is at the National and Local levels.....FEAR.  It is working.  We can do the same planting the seeds of reality, but we don't.  We keep being PC and playing to both sides.  We have to pick one stand and stick with it.  EDUCATION, EDUCATION, EDUCATION.    

by elscal 2004-11-12 07:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
The fact that a crackpot like Coburn can win says how much trouble the Democratic party is in the "red states".

benchcoat, you greatly exaggerate the size and agenda of the far right. The only people talking about banning birth-control are Mel Gibson Catholics and the extremely conservative fundamentalists, both small majorities of the population at large. Most conservative evangelicals I know are all on the pill unless they are actively trying to have a family. Most of those who oppose abortion do support "reproductive freedom", they just draw the line at abortion.

Almost all pro-lifers reject violence. Many pro-lifers also oppose the death penalty, especially the Catholics. Many are women. Few have called for the death penalty to be applied to abortionists, and most oppose prosecuting women.

As for race, this issue is fading fast. Even Bob Jones has given up the interracial dating prohibition. Even in Bob Jones' home of Greenville County, those who opposed a MLK holiday went down in the GOP primary. The majority of Republicans in Greenville, of all places, rejected this kind of racial politics.

One reason Bush won is because of the very successful Republican outreach to minorities. Bush asked the Urban League if the Democratic Party has taken African-Americans for granted. Increasingly, African-Americans believe that they have. Kerry won the African-American vote by a 7:1 margin. However, Gore won it by 10:1 margin and Bush did better among African-Americans than any Republican candidate in recent history. He also closed the gap among culturally conservative Hispanic voters, even though he lost ground among the very Republican Florida Cubans. (He only lost ground among Florida Cubans because he did so well in 2000 thanks to the Elian incident.)

As for enshrining Biblical Law as American Law, these people are also a small minority, even in the buckle of the Bible Belt, South Carolina. For all you can say about Jim DeMint, he was NOT the candidate of the religious right. That was David Beasley, who DeMint defeated 59-41 in the GOP runoff. DeMint was the actually the candidate of the business right. His anti-gay comments caused him to drop noticibly in the polls and he had to apologize.

As for biblical law, if you ask 5 different evangelicals what "biblical law" means, you will probably get 6 different answers. Many do not even want "biblical law" as much as they want a return to the Organizing evangelicals on most issues is like herding cats. The fact that he was able to do so is why they call Rove the "boy genius". Liberals should pay far more attention to the actions of the Catholic right, like Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, Jeb Bush, Bill Pryor, etc. These are far more organized, far more intellectual, and far more powerful than their evangelical counterparts. (But on the bright side, they don't care if you drink on Sundays.)

As for turning homosexuals into heterosexuals, I've known enough "lesbians until graduation" to say that theory is not totally baseless. Bi-sexuals don't fit a standard homo/hetero dichotomy either. The leading researcher on homosexuality who got homosexuality out of the DSM-IV said that SOME homosexuals could change if they were determined to. That being said, the idea that ALL homosexuals can change or ANY homosexual should be forced to change is crazy. However, the beliefs that ALL homosexuals can change or NO homosexual can ever change are both equally dogmatic and equally not based in reality.

These extremists are nowhere near a majority, even in the reddest of red states. We'll never win these extremists, nor do we have to.

However, the Democrats will continue to lose as long as progressives contiue to think:

Anyone who believes in God is an ignorant hick.
Anyone who takes the moral teachings of their faith seriously is a narrow minded bigot.
Anyone who is proud of their Southern heritage is a racist. (Look what happened to Dean when he mentioned the C-word)
Anyone who owns guns is a mentally unstable freak.
Anyone who opposes abortion hates women and wants to bomb clinics and shoot doctors.
Anyone who doesn't celebrate homosexuality hates gays or wants the bedroom police.
Prayer at a football game or "under God" in the pledge represents an establishment of a state religion.

Keep up the attitude that anyone who doesn't agree with you on every issue is an extremist. Keep the self-righteous attitude. Keep losing elections.

Worse that that, the blue-violet folks in the red states have to deal with very red folks running their local Governments.

Meanwhile Ahnold, Rudy, and Pataki just spoke at the RNC. The last Democratic nominee to win a majority (not a plurality) of the popular vote was a born-again Christian from Georgia. If you can't own guns, love Jesus, and still be considered a good Democrat, then the national party better get used to being a permanent minority party.

by wayward 2004-11-14 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
I apologize if you think I exaggerate the size and agenda of evangelical conservatives--although I don't think I ever mentioned anything about their size. I said that they are a growing movement, which I think is pretty clear.  

As for the agenda, I have been focusing on what appears to be the extreme end of the specrum.  Like I said, their viewpoint is pretty close to mainstream where I grew up.  When I go home to visit I still see friends there, play cards, talk about family, and I listen to their politics.  They think access to birth control (especially condoms) leads teens having sex and out of wedlock sex, both of which they see as contributing to the "moral decline" of our country.  IOn abortion, they condemn it out of hand, and while they don't advocate violance against abortion providers, they don't condemn those who do.  I'm not saying that this is the mainstream of the national republican party, but they are an active and growing part of the party.

I don't think we will win these people over.  I also think it is dangerous to assume these people don't honestly believe their positions.  They really are speaking with moral conviction.  

I have other friends from childhood who haved moved more to the right as we've gotten older, adopting the same rhetoric as the people I just described.  Both groups talk about politics in almost exclusively moral terms.

I agree with George Lakoff that the left needs to create a new language so that people understand the moral underpinnings of our policy positions. If we don't, we are sure to become a permanent minority party.  I think the Democratic party too often sounds arrogant when speaking about issues (too often our speakers come across as telling America "we know what's better for you").

On another note, please don't ascribe positions to me that I have not stated. you presented this list:

"owever, the Democrats will continue to lose as long as progressives contiue to think:

Anyone who believes in God is an ignorant hick.
Anyone who takes the moral teachings of their faith seriously is a narrow minded bigot.
Anyone who is proud of their Southern heritage is a racist. (Look what happened to Dean when he mentioned the C-word)
Anyone who owns guns is a mentally unstable freak.
Anyone who opposes abortion hates women and wants to bomb clinics and shoot doctors.
Anyone who doesn't celebrate homosexuality hates gays or wants the bedroom police.
Prayer at a football game or "under God" in the pledge represents an establishment of a state religion"

I never said any of these things.  I did concentrate on the most extreme part of the anti-abortion movement--sorry if you thought I was talking about all of them.  

I never said anything about people who in God being ignorant hicks.  I think I said they were honest in their convictions.  I forgot to say they are also devout.  I think that much of the rhetoric from the group I was looking at is rooted in hate and fear, but I never said they were ignorant or hicks.  I also never said it was bad to believe in God--i believe in God.  There are many people in both political parties who have strong religious convictions.

I never said anything about the south--I spoke specifically about Bob Jones U.  I was unaware the interracial dating ban was gone.  my bad.  

I never said anything about guns.  I own a gun.

The main point I wanted to make was that the extreme evangelical movement shouldn't be ignored as "just a bunch of whackos."  Coburn's succeeded not just because the Dems were bad in OK, but because the extreme movement is growing and expanding.  I think a good chunk of the reason they are growing is because they've built a movement that speaks and acts from its underlying moral principles.  I'm not saying they're wrong to believe them.  I think the left needs to learn to speak from their moral principles if they hope to become a majority party in the USA.

by benchcoat 2004-11-14 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
I also apologize for not being more clear and precise in wording my positions.  I'm definitely not much of a writer--leaving way too much room for misinterpretation, allowing specific points to look general, etc.  my bad.
by benchcoat 2004-11-14 11:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
And I likewise apologize. What started as a response to your post turned into a somewhat rambling generic rant and I did not distinguish what was what.
by wayward 2004-11-14 04:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
I apologize if you think I exaggerate the size and agenda of evangelical conservatives--although I don't think I ever mentioned anything about their size. I said that they are a growing movement, which I think is pretty clear.  

As for the agenda, I have been focusing on what appears to be the extreme end of the specrum.  Like I said, their viewpoint is pretty close to mainstream where I grew up.  When I go home to visit I still see friends there, play cards, talk about family, and I listen to their politics.  They think access to birth control (especially condoms) leads teens having sex and out of wedlock sex, both of which they see as contributing to the "moral decline" of our country.  IOn abortion, they condemn it out of hand, and while they don't advocate violance against abortion providers, they don't condemn those who do.  I'm not saying that this is the mainstream of the national republican party, but they are an active and growing part of the party.

Evangelical conservatives are the mainstream where I'm from. They do not disapprove of access to birth control, just access to birth control to minors (and possibly the unwed, but I'm not sure.) Likewise, I have never heard of anyone supporting violence against abortion providers.

I don't think we will win these people over.  I also think it is dangerous to assume these people don't honestly believe their positions.  They really are speaking with moral conviction.

I don't think the hard right can be won over. It's the center we have to recapture. And the center is fairly large.

I have other friends from childhood who haved moved more to the right as we've gotten older, adopting the same rhetoric as the people I just described.  Both groups talk about politics in almost exclusively moral terms.

I agree with George Lakoff that the left needs to create a new language so that people understand the moral underpinnings of our policy positions. If we don't, we are sure to become a permanent minority party.  I think the Democratic party too often sounds arrogant when speaking about issues (too often our speakers come across as telling America "we know what's better for you").

I couldn't agree with you more. Let's start talking about the "blue" parts of the Bible. The good Samaratan, the sinful woman of John 8, the penitent thief, the rich young ruler, and of course "whatever you do to the least of these you do unto Me". We need to remind people of the morality of our positions. Our first "born again" President worked for peace, championed human rights, and built a bunch of houses for low income people when he left. Not one American soldier died in combat while he was President, nor did the Soviets ever attack us or our allies. Granted, Carter wasn't a perfect President, but we need to recapture this idea of the behavior of a Christian while in public office. The religious left needs a voice.

I think John Kerry started in this direction, but it's hard to talk about faith when people are debating your excommunication. Also, his Massachusetts background probably didn't prepare him to talk so openly about his faith on the campaign trail. We need people who can express their faith and define our values in terms that people of faith can understand. We also need to make people of faith feel welcome, even if it means occasionally telling our friends to STFU when it isn't helping. (The Republicans do this all the time when someone in the party does not publicly believe in the "big tent" when it comes to race. Even a remark more stupid than racist, like Trent Lott's tribute to Strom Thurmond, was enough to cost Lott the post as the GOP leader in the Senate.)

by wayward 2004-11-14 05:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Carson's probably a little bitter
Frankly, yes. And I agree with him.
by Ben P 2004-11-11 10:52PM | 0 recs
Expressing our values

I talked a while back on my own blog about how Democrats are making a mistake when we say that Republican voters are voting against their best interests. I argued then that the mistake in this argument is in assuming that economic self-interest is the thing that people should be most concerned about. For many voters, there are concerns of a much higher nature than universal health care and social security entitlements.

I quoted the passage from Luke 9:25 ("What does it profit a man to gain the world but lose his soul?") to illustrate my point. We simply can't assume that what we consider to be in our best interest is what others consider to be in their best interest. I would argue that a source of the lot of distrust directed towards Democrats derives from the fact that many of us simply don't appreciate the different priorities that others have.

Carson's column deals with this idea as well.

We could well argue that these voters are being lead down the garden path by the party that only appears to promise the reform of American culture. But in doing so we risk feeding the stereotype that Democrats are just a bunch of arrogant busy-bodies who presume to know what is best for everyone else.

Let me be clear on this: We don't need to change our values to win. But we must understand that the narrative structure of Republican values does have a logical structure to it that works for the people who follow it. We can't win people over by simply tearing down that narrative structure. When we do so we simply inspire its adoptees to defend all the more vigorously. We must, instead, provide a competitive narrative that celebrates our values.

We can't talk them into changing their perceptions of us. We must show them that our values are good and worth defending. The best way to do that is to stick with them regardless of their political viability. It is when we abandon them in the face of tough times that we most live up to the stereotype of having no real values at all.

We will show our real character when we are willing to lose rather than sacrifice our values. Because it is only then that we can begin to win.

by Chris Andersen 2004-11-11 10:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Expressing our values
First we are a secular nation. To quote a few bumper stickers "if you want to live in a theocracy move to Iran" or " The last time religion ruled the world they called it the Dark Ages"

I agree D's must make a stand on principles and the first principle is that cults should have nothing to do with education or governmant.

It is time for us to stop appeasing the theocrats and cultists who want to drag us all back to the 9th century.

by Rational 2004-11-11 10:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Expressing our values
We are not a secular nation, we have a secular government.  The kulturkampf includes religious liberals vs. the Christian mullahs, not just secular vs. fundamentalist.

We need to appeal to the Matthew 25 Christians who tie their religious values to serving the poor and the marginalized -- not just to dismiss religion.

After all, the man who brought the greatest positive change to this country in the 20th century was not a politician, but a preacher -- martin luther king.

by Ragamuffin Gunner 2004-11-12 06:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Expressing our values
We were founded as a secular nation.
Jefferson and others of the founding fathers were not cultists ( christian or otherwise) but were Dietists with personel beliefs that saw a higher power in nature and in the need to help explain the dark and ignorant parts of reality.
They belonged to no cults and tried to keep us free of the persiddous influence of those organizations of organized stupidity.
We need to say cultism belongs in the cultist's homes and whatever temples they have.
It does not belong in the public discourse.
Cultism has been a net negative on the world for at least the last 2 milliuem and has beern used to justify genocide, slavery, apartheid and most, if not all, of the evils that have plagued mankind.
If evil people want to believe in cults to justify their evil so be it but keep it out of the public debate and hidden along with those other shameful and dirty parts of the human experience.
by Rational 2004-11-12 07:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Expressing our values

Then let me appeal to your rational side: the disdain your express for those of us who believe in God helps the theocrat politicians you despise win elections. Calling our religions "organized stupidity" is of course an expression of insufficient critical thinking on your part, and your analysis of the alleged pernicious effects of religious belief ignores the great horror caused by   atheists like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot etc. And it ignores the obvious fact that believing a religion that teaches us not to judge others and to take care of the hungry, the thirsty and the folks in prison is not the danger, that arrogant self-righteousness on either side of the secular/sacred divide is. But even if you don't agree with that, you surely can see that most people believe in God and that calling the majority stupid is no way to gain influence in a democracy. You'll never win an election by alienating people of faith; you probably wouldn't even attract a majority of atheists.


by keith johnson 2004-11-13 03:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Expressing our values
I agree we make a mistake in assuming that voters went against their own self-interest in the heartland. The problem with responses so far and Mr. Carson's TNR piece is that they voted for the party of wealth creation and concentration. They voted for the ideal, conservatism, that champions capitalism at all costs, an economic model based primarily on greed. I do not doubt what Mr. Carson's constituents believe. What I ask is so what? For us to win their votes they must understand that liberalism also does not accept all that is modernity. The evidence is already there though, they don't care. All of that gets trumped by the religious nature of those that define morality. Regardless of how their "cultural" values are put into policy, they will always vote the way of the party they believe most overtly demonstrates their religious leanings. This is not liberals or democrats.

Who amongst us on this blog are the people watching Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI wherever, or all the ludicrous reality shows. Are we not the "throw away your television" people. Who is hanging out in those bookstores reading everything other than Ann Coulter books or those put out by conservative publishers? They are, we are, liberals. The difference is that when we see cultural trash we move to something else. I can point out plenty of white suburban Christians here in south metro Denver listening to the hip-hop they consider part of the cultural decay. We don't say people should not broadcast sex and bad comedy, we just don't watch it. I think the problem for most liberals like myself is not that we don't know about the voters that Congressman Carson refers to, we just don't know why they vote the way they do. For me again it comes down to overt religiosity. I can cede that to them. I can cede elections to them if it means that to win we have to become something we are not. If our candidates are overtly religious and have been for years, so be it. I have no problem there. I just do not see how we win by capitulating to it.

Again, liberals and democrats as a generalization vote against our self-interest. Who are all the people openly talking about rejecting materialism out there. Who screams about anti-globalization and anti corporate governance? I am more than aware that many people don't vote for an issue, they vote for an ideal. My problem with this last election is that if it is the ideal that anti-modernity is the way to go they voted the wrong way. It is the combination of that and the specifics of abortion legislation, the Supreme Court, gay marriage, etc. that lead them down the path they chose.

by joeferguson 2004-11-12 06:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Expressing our values
Great comments Chris.  But, we need to know who our base is.  We are not the "party of science" as Bill Maher and others like him have falsely labeled us as.  There are many "true Christians" that are Democrats.  If we keep it up - they will switch party's.  Don't get me wrong, I love Bill Maher but Bill Maher and those like him have become the poster children for the Democratic Party to a large part of America.  They do not represent the entire base of the Democratic party and their extreme comments like we are the "Party of Science" is their own thoughts that do not represent out party as a whole.

I agree with you completely...We can't talk them into changing their perceptions of us. We must SHOW THEM that our values are good and worth defending. The best way to do that is to stick with them regardless of their political viability. It is when we abandon them in the face of tough times that we most live up to the stereotype of having no real values at all.


by elscal 2004-11-12 07:30AM | 0 recs
We don't need the reddest of the red states
to win.  So screw them.  My (Republican) history professor asked, "can a president win an election without winning a single state in the south?  Doubtful."  Bullshit.  We came awfully close twice and the Western states are trending Democratic.  We will never convince these people so we ought not try.  

"My question for Brad is what he thinks that these people want after they get bans of abortion and gay marriage."

They want creationism taught in schools.  They want no more public schools. They want homosexuality punishable by death. They want women barefoot and pregnant.  Should I go on?

by cls 2004-11-11 10:52PM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
"These people" don't live just in the red states, they are found in the suburban and rural counties a couple dozen miles out from your beloved cities. And who wants to live in the city anymore? Certainly nobody who values nature and freedom. Boggles the mind how people who claim to love the environment spend 95% of their time in a concrete ant farm. No wonder the decaying liberal metropoli are being abandoned at a record rate. America grew up in the wide open spaces and that is where the heart and soul of this country will always be.
by merzbow 2004-11-11 11:09PM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
Okay... so your point is what?  Your post is entirely nonsensical.  Methinks this thread has struck a nerve...
by cls 2004-11-11 11:28PM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
My point is that liberals who want to put their heads in the sand and think they can ignore those who vote 'red' are clueless, since the 'red' is much closer than they think. The cities cannot secede from the suburbs, and one cannot live one's entire life inside city limits (although many certainly try). You HAVE to learn to understand us and get along with us and work with us, period. Plus the cities don't have a chance against us in a civil conflict - seige warfare anyone? :)
by merzbow 2004-11-11 11:38PM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
The red is very close. They're family, friends, and co-workers who are actively voting to destroy civil liberties and the environment.

No one, anywhere that I've seen, has suggested succession between the country and cities. You've pointlessly inserted a non-topic to divert from the real message. So drop the stereotyping tactic, it won't play here.

OUR MESSAGE is this. We understand you. And we don't need you. The radical right has ignited a culture war, yes, but it's also a war against personal freedom, freedom of religion, and free speech. You've thrown down the gauntlet and we're accepting the challenge.

by Green Irishboy 2004-11-12 02:40AM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
Succession = secession. I don't spell worth a damn in the morning... oh well.
by Green Irishboy 2004-11-12 02:42AM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
They're fighting a losing war, and they know it.  The history of moral reformers is one of failure; their biggest 'success' to date was in getting Prohibition enacted, and its results were (1) a move from people drinking relatively weak wine and beer to drinking harder liquors, (2) the rise of organized crime because there was now a black market for a portable and expensive product, and (3) their eventual marginalization when America woke up and decided that they wanted to have a beer if they felt like it.

The red state 'values voters' are doomed to keep being used by the 'money powers' and discarded when they're no longer useful.  Virtue, in this case, will be their only reward.

by beerwulf 2004-11-12 04:38AM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
Not really true. In older suburbs voters are trending more and more Democratic. Fairfax County, Virginia, just voted Democrat for the first time since Johnson. Even the outer Chicago suburbs are trending Democrat. It's the outer suburbs that vote more Republican. Like rural areas ex-urbs are populated by those terrified of other human beings in the close-in burbs, rural people who lost their farms to agribusiness expansion, libertarian types who want low taxes, cheap housing and...oh roads, sewers, schools, etc.  These areas are growing but they change over to the Democratic side once the new generation settles in.
by elrod 2004-11-12 04:29AM | 0 recs
Re: We don't need the reddest of the red states
I love your elitist attitude, merzbow! It's great the way you took an insightful comment regarding how we don't need bigots on our side and warped it into a "country vs. city" debate! How meaningless and base.

Certainly nobody who values nature and freedom. The country conservatives making the headlines are working overtime to destroy ecological protections. And let me ask you, did you live in one of the eleven states that voted to constitutionally restrict freedoms for gays and unmarried couples? Did living in the country cause you to vote for freedom, justice, and civil rights?

by Green Irishboy 2004-11-12 02:34AM | 0 recs
Urban environmentalism
is alive and thriving.  Personally, as someone who enjoys some good nature, I'd take urban density and a few great public parks over a sea of suburban strip malls and cul-de-sacs any day.  See for example EarthWorks Boston.  Also it's a lot easier to preserve open space when you're not paving it over, and to minimize pollution when you can conviniently get around without a car.

I don't mean to knock suburbanites at all, just to stand up for our cities here.  Oh, and if "the decaying liberal metropoli are being abandoned at a record rate", then why are housing prices in the most urban places (NYC, SF, Boston, etc) so high?  It would appear that there is in fact considerable demand for quality urban areas.

by Seth Baum 2004-12-17 06:03PM | 0 recs
The Enemy Within
Carson writes that "[t]he culture war is real, and it is a conflict not merely about some particular policy or legislative item, but about modernity itself."

What he either misses or doesn't mention, and what the Red Culture Voters don't seem to understand, is that modernity, and the disrupting and dehumanizing changes in their lives to which they object are the inevitable products of the consumer culture that is the basis of modern American capitalism.  They may object to or feel threatened by modernity, but that's the way American corporations make money.

People who live in large cities and the industrial cities of the midwest have been dealing with the dehumanizing aspects of consumer capitalism for about a hundred years.  Blue Voters, particularly Blue Voters in large cities, are born into modernity.

Consumer capitalism is, of course, what the Real Republican Party is all about.  Do they feel threatened by a world that says it's okay to get drunk and have sex with twins?  Do they know what political party Mr. Coors belongs to?

So Pace Brad Carson.  The Red Culture Voters of Oklahoma and elsewhere may not be stupid, but they are a little uneducated and maybe a little unwilling to confront reality.  Maybe he should explain it to them.  Somebody should.

by James Earl 2004-11-11 10:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Enemy Within
some good points.

Republicans are selling the problem, dehumanizing consumer capitalism, and the faux cure of cultural backlash.

Also, much of the hippies/60s movements (back to the land, small is beautiful, etc) were also an attack on this modernity.  So depending on how you slice it, there is some commonality across the left/right, red/blue divides.

I think many people on the left are really fighting against some of the same things that rural red states are.  Of course, voting republican is counterproductive, as it only further empowers the megacorporations.  Unfortunately, the democrats aren't much better.  The democrats need to get out of bed with big business and return to their populist roots.

I really hope there is a way we can break through some of the illusions and find some common populist ground in the red states.  Some of these issues like abortion make that very difficult.

I thought maybe the democrats could win some of the culture war voters over with issues that attacked the big media megacorporations.  Our culture shouldn't be controlled by a handful wealthy elitists.  The public airwaves have been hijacked by megacorporations and need to be returned to the people.  We need someway to call the Republican bluff and expose them for being on the side of the megacorps which are destroying our culture(s) for profit.

Power to the people, even those in red states.

by RedStateIndie137 2004-11-12 09:04AM | 0 recs
Re: The Enemy Within
Absolutely. You wrote:

"Republicans are selling the problem, dehumanizing consumer capitalism, and the faux cure of cultural backlash"

they're the ones peddling moral relativism, ignoring the moral effects of their darwinistic "survival of the fittest" economics. The party of the "greed is good" laissez faire economy ought not be allowed to pose as the party where the spiritual is more important than money. But if we Dems don't learn to talk about our moral principles in the language of morality, conservatism will continue to be successful in the red states at calling us the party of moral decay.


by keith johnson 2004-11-13 03:55PM | 0 recs
Re: The Enemy Within
Consumer capitalism is, of course, what the Real Republican Party is all about.  Do they feel threatened by a world that says it's okay to get drunk and have sex with twins?  Do they know what political party Mr. Coors belongs to?

Mr. Coors didn't win.

Oddly enough, Salazar was able to get to Coors' right on some of the issues. IIRC, Coors is anti-death penalty and favors lowering the drinking age to 18 (both of which I agree with). A beer tycoon will not exactly win the hearts of the religious right.

by wayward 2004-11-14 05:42PM | 0 recs
The rise of the religious right coincides with the fall of post-WWII living standards. Poverty and a sense of helplessness breeds religious fervor. People lose economic control, seek cultural control.

By driving down living standards and inflaming cultural grievances, the RNC gains religious voters and grist for their volunteer army (Can't afford college? Got no future? Join the Army and kill the ragheads that are threatening our way of life!)

by coldeye 2004-11-11 10:55PM | 0 recs
My God is bigger than their god
Red State culture isn't under attack by modernity. It's under attack by capitalism. You tell me how Republicans are going to fix that problem. I read that Rupert Murdoch owns 1/3 of Hollywood. This is the great papered over Republican divide.

The conservative attack on liberalism is a game of three card monte to hide the real enemy. What the hell is modernity anyway? Computers? The internet? Outsourcing? Stem cell research? The automobile or the telephone for christ's sake? Maybe it's science itself. How long are we supposed to hold back the hands of time for the red state luddites to give the sun permission to rise in the east?

If they want a culture war, by god let's give them a culture war. My God is bigger than their god.

My God tells me that "Saving Private Ryan" is the greatest war tory ever told and is divinely inspired.

My God inspired the Geneva Accords, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States of America. My God tells me that all people are created equal, including gays.

My God can kick their god's butt. Bring it on baby. If they want a culture war, let's give it to them.

by Gary Boatwright 2004-11-11 11:11PM | 0 recs
His conclusion...
I understand that Brad Carson was pretty much the a Zell Miller-style "Democrat," whose only virtue was that he had a {D} after his name.  This article does little to change my mind.

An extended exercise in "sour grapes," with it's conclusion especially grating:

"And, while the defeat was all my own, the failure was of the party to which I swear allegiance, which uncritically embraces a modernity that so many others reject."

So, it seems as if Brad thinks that we are at fault for not rejecting "modernity."  Which "modernity" is he speaking of?  Not just gay marriage and abortion, he warns.  But then what?  Uppity women not knowing that their Biblical role is to "submit" to their husbands?  Even-more-uppity "coloreds" not knowing that it is their God-dictated duty to serve Massa?  That pesky thing called "reason," that gets in the way of simply using Leviticus as the law of the land, and the first three chapters of Genesis as its scientific textbook?

There is a case to be made that, in order to win, Democrats must find the way to seriously think about (and, IMHO, make the case for) their values.  But that's a far different matter from just uncritically basing one's politics on what will play at a fundamentalist church in small-town Oklahoma.  But that's probably what you'd have to expect from a Zell Miller-clone with a bad case of sour grapes.

by JDWalley 2004-11-11 11:35PM | 0 recs
Re: His conclusion...
And Carson is also someone that dkos pushed us to donate towards. Having read this, I'm glad I didn't.
by desmoulins 2004-11-12 08:01AM | 0 recs
Re: His conclusion...
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Even if Carson is a bit conservative for your taste, he would have been a hell of a lot better than Coburn.

by wayward 2004-11-14 06:01PM | 0 recs
Get A Load Of This
Talk About "To The Core"

A little excerpt:

" Fuck the South. Fuck 'em. We should have let them go when they wanted to leave. But no, we had to kill half a million people so they'd stay part of our special Union. Fighting for the right to keep slaves - yeah, those are states we want to keep.

And now what do we get? We're the fucking Arrogant Northeast Liberal Elite? How about this for arrogant: the South is the Real America? The Authentic America. Really?

Cause we fucking founded this country, assholes. Those Founding Fathers you keep going on and on about? All that bullshit about what you think they meant by the Second Amendment giving you the right to keep your assault weapons in the glove compartment because you didn't bother to read the first half of the fucking sentence? Who do you think those wig-wearing lacy-shirt sporting revolutionaries were? They were fucking blue-staters, dickhead. Boston? Philadelphia? New York? Hello? Think there might be a reason all the fucking monuments are up here in our backyard?

No, No. Get the fuck out. We're not letting you visit the Liberty Bell and fucking Plymouth Rock anymore until you get over your real American selves and start respecting those other nine amendments. Who do you think those fucking stripes on the flag are for? Nine are for fucking blue states. And it would be 10 if those Vermonters had gotten their fucking Subarus together and broken off from New York a little earlier. Get it? We started this shit, so don't get all uppity about how real you are you Johnny-come-lately "Oooooh I've been a state for almost a hundred years" dickheads. Fuck off. "

by nkp 2004-11-11 11:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Get A Load Of This
Michael Ventura (see URL below) makes many observations in his column, but his one about BEHAVIOR is important to all Democrats who love God and love our country. It is the best thing I've read about how our BEHAVIOR as Democrats can lead us back to winning the HEARTS and MINDS of folks in the red states. Forget THEORIES, PLATFORMS and all that, it's how we behave toward people that will bring the moderates back to our party.

by GreyLion 2004-11-16 10:23AM | 0 recs
Cheer Up!
Remember the other 48% (and the silent majority 55%).

This'll cheer you up, guaranteed!

Sorry Everybody:

by nkp 2004-11-11 11:55PM | 0 recs
New terms you will here more and more of
Reconstructionism: people like Tim Lehaye

and Pat Roberton who believe the church must

clean itself up before the bride groom comes

for its heresy..a theocracy.

Pharisees:The religious power at the time

of Jesus ..according to Jesus, totally corrupt

and at one point Jesus had to count to 10

to hold back from blowing them to smithereens

(the passage of the lady caught in adultery)

the Pharisees were into controling the temple

and its people ...inflating prices on temple

sacrifices to line their pockets...voyuers...

political powerbrokers in bed with the romans

they wanted the law strictly followed but of

course they could skirt it.

Covenant laws: right wing legislation to

rid the states of no fault divorce.

Abstinence: more and more laws to control the

people and have them abstain by law from

vices defined by others.

Pro life : not only in defeating roe v wade

but to defeat the morning after pill.

New Religious Freedom act: an attempt to

protect right wing culture and its agenda

promoting 10 commandments and other verses

into public places.

Religious faith based programs: instead of

using church tithes and offerings as the bible

teaches these new faith based programs will

use tax an attempt to take social

programs away from a secular fair based government

into a religious culture that can and will


others you know about

vouchers... charter schools...

by Aslanspal 2004-11-12 12:32AM | 0 recs
City don't mean dumb either.
A favorite saying I've heard, "Country don't mean dumb." Even the way it's phrased is an intentional way of saying, "you can't judge me based on my accent or my manner of speech. I am able to reason as well as you."

I don't consider the red/country/conservative voters uneducated, stupid, or poorly trained to make decisions. IN FACT, I emphasize this, intelligence is not the domain of any geographic, racial, class, or culture.

The basic problem as I see it is that Liberals and liberal views are perceived as a source for scorn. More to the point, or as Brad Carson was pointing out, we are perceived to stand for things that are "immoral" by some... which is all just so much bullshit.

What we are really seeing is a culture of hate that has been promoted as a backlash to liberalism. And the problem isn't liberalism or liberal philosphy. IT'S A CON JOB. The Republican party, hi-jacked by Christian extremists, has worked hand-in-hand with select big businesses (Sinclair and Wal-Mart come to mind) and radical evangelicals to promote a smear campaign. This goes way, way back before Karl Rove entered the scene. The reds among us and in our lives are not stupid. They've been conned. Frankly, it's a nasty trick that can be played on just about anyone, again, regardless of any of the factors (race, geography, religion, etc.) being played up.

We don't need to do any more soul-searching. I know it's wrong to deregulate environmental protections; morally wrong. It's morally wrong to force your neighbors to accept your religious views in the form of legislation. It's morally wrong to promote wars just because we can. If there's a culture war, then we confront it with our own organized campaign of telling the truth. That starts by confronting person by person, respectfully and with intelligence, not red state by red state.

And I concede, there are many who will not listen to reason. Those we must abandon.

by Green Irishboy 2004-11-12 03:04AM | 0 recs
I can't even begin to deal with a culture or people who claim moral superiority while voting for a President who is committing genocide in Iraq.
by Dorothy Ligon 2004-11-12 03:26AM | 0 recs
Don't be alarmed
by this event.  Remember we lost this election by 3 or 4 points.  When things truly go to hell which we all know they will, we'll win elecions again.  We didn't lose by 25 points.  We lost by 3-4.  Bush won't be running in 2008.  Some other poor slob will have to run with that record of failure, and we'll be back on top.  Remember 3 or 4 points, and we won't be winning Oklahoma any time soon either.  Who cares?
by fred 2004-11-12 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't be alarmed
But on the other hand, his performance in every area has been dreadful, and he has incredibly low approval ratings- perhaps the lowest of any incumbent president who has been "reelected."

Thus, this election should have been ours.

I agree that we should become more like the Right, but I would certainly like to find a way 1. to stop their momentum and 2. to have a base that is as energized as theirs.  Pointing to the margin of our defeat does not seem like the right answer.

by KDMfromPhila 2004-11-12 04:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't be alarmed
coorection: I mean "We should not become more like the right.."
by KDMfromPhila 2004-11-12 08:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Don't be alarmed
correction: I mean "We should not become more like the right.."
by KDMfromPhila 2004-11-12 08:46AM | 0 recs
think about the bell curve...
Sure there are a few fanatics out there (in more ways than one) who are brainwashed and are, in fact, essentially cult members.  And for each fanatical cult congregation, there is a pastor who functions as the local cult leader.

I suspect (and fervently hope) that the number of these enclaves is relatively small.  And so we can't and shouldn't expect to reach these few people.  They are lost to us.

What we can and should hope for and do is to reach the 10-15 million people who swung to Bush with whom we can hope and expect to share common values. We can shine a critical light on the religious right fringe who are now overreaching and claiming 'their due.'  We can ask moderate Bush voters (starting with those we know personally) if this is what they signed on for. We can paint a picture of America as the fringe right would like it to be. We can ask moderate Bush voters to imagine their daughters' lives and the lives of their gay friends and family members under the theocratic vision of the fringe. We can accumulate the zealous quotes that people on the fringe are now giving us. We can and must illuminate the stark constrasts between moderates and the fringe. We can ask moderate Bush voters to act as a moderating influence on the Bush administration. We can make a good case for Republicans DEMANDING moderation in cultural and fiscal policies from THEIR Republican representatives.

We must STOP ridiculing and treating Bush voters as some homogenous group.  We all know better, don't we? We better know better. And we better give moderates the benefit of the doubt...  treat them, talk about them as though we know and trust that we share many values and concerns with them.

The religious fringe can, fortunately, be counted on to show its' true colors in the days ahead. We must make common cause with moderates who swung to Bush.

by sarany 2004-11-12 03:48AM | 0 recs
Part of the job for the Democratic party is to convince the culturally conservative Red-state voters that the GOP doesn't actually give a rat's ass about the moral issues that are so important to them.  Those voters are just pawns in the scam run by operatives like Karl Rove.  The Republican Party speaks in pious terms about issues like abortion and stem cell research, only to the extent that it expands their big tent of voters and facilitates more tax cuts for the economic elite.  
by global yokel 2004-11-12 04:02AM | 0 recs
There are more registered Dems here than Repugs... we have a Dem governor... and while it's true that Carson's campaign was all about denying the charge that he is too "liberal" for this state, this state shouldn't be completely written off.

We just need to convince these people that we DO have morals, and make them step back from their TVs and think a little. Most of the people I know here only vote how their parents/church tells them to - a few stepped back from that cycle, looked around at the parties, and voted Kerry. Not enough, obviously, but if that happened more often, and if the Dem candidates were more appealing to the moral side of things... we could win.

by Tar029 2004-11-12 04:03AM | 0 recs
Truly frightening
Over at my blog, IndependentReport, we have some trollers who seem to come from the camp of morals first, liberties second.  They view abortion as a way for women to justify being sexually irresponsible.  I am left gape-mouted every time I read about their thought processes.

Now then.  What can we Dems do about it?  Certainly we can't start playing to their concerns specifically because the Republican marketing machine will catch us and brand us panderers.

I would propose a two-pronged attack.  Have the Democrats begin revealing their concerns for social justice for all--including the unborn--through various marketing endeavors.  but always keep in our hip pocket the anti-American nature of legislating against personal freedoms.

Have an outside group handle the other aspects of the attack.  First, that the staunchest Republican supporters are at the root of some of the most morally vacuous pieces of culture around.  And second, begin slowly framing the idea of removing personal liberties as anti-American, and begin a reverse smear campaign on all those who have so rapidly wrapped themselves in the flag to push their agenda.

by beloit08 2004-11-12 04:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Truly frightening
"Have the Democrats begin revealing their concerns for social justice for all--including the unborn--through various marketing endeavors."

Do the Democrats actually value social justice for the unborn?  That's not a troll, I'm a liberal, but we DO support abortion-on-demand in the first couple of trimesters, do we not?  And by doing so, do we not forfeit any "social justice" for the unborn?

by ccarollo 2004-11-12 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Truly frightening
Well said.

Safe, legal, and rare. Very rare.

The Democrats need a plan to make abortion very rare. They also need to articulate that making abortion illegal without giving pregnant women better options, will only lead to illegal abortion.

Most importantly, they need to expose the Republicans as all talk, no action on this issue. How many people know that the abortion rate went down (way down) under Clinton and is back up under Bush? How many of you knew that Bush's judicial appointees in Texas voted to make abortion easier to get? How many of you thought Bush was lying when he said he had no litmus test? Look at his Texas record, he doesn't really bcare one way or the other. He vigorously campaigned for Arlen Specter over a pro-life challenger in the primary. But come election time, no one talks about this. Bush wants the pro-life vote, the Democrats the pro-choice vote. And so the Democrats let him say one thing and do another as much as he wants. We'll never face Bush again, but I'm sure you will find a similar pattern among other Republicans.

After all, why would the Republicans ever want to overturn Roe? It's the best vote getter they have. If they did, then all those Catholic union members would vote Democrat again!

by wayward 2004-11-14 06:12PM | 0 recs
There may be a Cultural Values War, but...
...the reason why Democrats have not been winning it is not because they have failed to embrace the values that Average Americans find extremely appealing.  There is a political force that has been driving it.  Both abortion and homosexuality have become political "moral issues" due to the efforts of Republicans who have identified to some degree with Christian traditions.  In their hands, popular Christianity has developed a "moral focus" that selectively ignores the teachings of Jesus that Republicans find...well, a bit unwelcome.  It's time for Democrats to put an end to this.

I would like to suggest that we start attacking Republican Christianity in a way that defines us as morally superior and them as pathetic hypocrites.  After all, Jesus urged his followers to not concern themselves with their wealth ("...sell all you have...") and to be wimps when confronting bullies. Republicans find themselves not wanting to follow such teachings because they sense that obeying them could end up threatening their privileged positions in society. So they've tended to focus their attention (and everyone else's) on moral "issues" that do not threaten their economic fortunes in any way, e.g., the abortion and homosexuality issues.

It's time to put them on the defensive.  The first thing we need to do is accuse them of wrongly suggesting that Jesus would be a Republican if he were a United States citizen today, instead of a Democrat. It is easy to point to specific teachings by Jesus that would clearly define him as a bleeding-heart liberal. Indeed, most Republicans would be quick to describe him as "far to the left" of the majority of Democrats. Did he not teach his followers to give freely of their possessions to others, and to respond to any attack by an enemy from another country with acts of loving kindness? Can there be any doubt that Arnold Schwarzenegger would call him a "Girly Man?"

When they start to defend themselves, Democrats need to point out that it is only logical for us to conclude that Jesus told us which moral issues were the most important to him by the amount of time he spent commenting on them. Which did he emphasize the most? There is little doubt that he thought it was especially important that his followers be willing to deny themselves materially if that was what was required in order to obtain the benefit others. He repeated this theme constantly.

We might then want to point out that neither abortion nor homosexuality were addressed by Jesus. Does this omission necessarily mean that he didn't think either of those practices were wrong? Of course not. But it does strongly suggest that Jesus did not perceive them to be as alarming as other imperfections he saw within human souls, the ones that he commented on most frequently.

If Jesus did think that abortion and homosexuality were more serious "crimes" than failing to love your enemy, then why did he not mention them when he had the chance?

If one examines closely the words that were attributed to Jesus by the authors of the Gospels, there is no evidence that he believed abortion and homosexuality were more offensive than the failure of rich men to deny themselves for the benefit of others. Democrats are clearly justified in believing that they have a stronger claim to a true identification with Jesus than Republicans do.

We need to start publicly pressuring Republican Christians to agree with us that Jesus' specific teachings on moral issues should be taken more seriously than any advice on other moral topics that followers or predecessors might have expressed at other times (like Paul, the Old Testament).

If Democrats start pushing these "talking points" regularly in the mainstream press, we could immediately put Republican Christians on the defensive. Whenever they try to defend themselves from the charge of hypocrisy, all Democrats need to do is ask them why it is that they aren't preaching those teachings of Jesus that condemn Republican policies?  Why is it that they are concerning themselves with the motes they see in the eyes of others when they have beams in their own?

Why does this make sense, politically?  It works in the same way that the Swift Boat Veterans attacks did.  The Republicans took a strength that John Kerry had and tried to tarnish it as best they could.  We need to attack the strengths of the Republican Christians (their claim to moral superiority) and define them as sinners that good people would not want to identify with.

If we do this in good faith, we will be able to bleed away some of the support that Republican Christians have enjoyed.  Devout Christians will be able to see that it is possible for them to be both good Christians and Liberal Democrats at the same time. After all, Jesus was just such a man.

James J. Kroeger

by Linette 2004-11-12 04:21AM | 0 recs
Re: There may be a Cultural Values War, but...
Did someone say Bible?

James 5

Warning to Rich Oppressors

1Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you. 2Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.[1] 6You have condemned and murdered innocent men, who were not opposing you.

Luke 16

The Rich Man and Lazarus

19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[3] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'
25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.'
27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.'

Luke 10: 7  The laborer is worthy of his hire.

1 Timothy 5:18:  For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain." And, "The laborer is worthy of his wages."

Proverbs 29:7   The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.

Psalm 82:3  3   Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4   Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.

Micah 6:8  
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Exodus 23:6  Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.

Exodus 23:10    And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof:
11   But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.

Leviticus 19: 9   And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest.
10   And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.

Isaiah 32:7  The scoundrel's methods are wicked,
he makes up evil schemes
to destroy the poor with lies,
even when the plea of the needy is just.

Proverbs 21:13   Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.

James 2:2-6  Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, "Here's a good seat for you," but say to the poor man, "You stand there" or "Sit on the floor by my feet," 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?

And that's just a start...

by mefishtopheels 2004-11-12 12:51PM | 0 recs
great piece (no idea what to do)
Dems used to be able to win elections because certain areas-- inner cities, college towns-- would vote for our candidate by 65-85%. That meant if we won moderates and independents we would win in most states. With the die-off of elderly Southern white habitual Dems, the transformation of Latinos into a swing vote in many states, and the rise of the Christian right, the Rs can count on similar "solid" votes from whole states, states like OK-- or parts of states, like a large chunk of MO-- fervently opposed to modernity and practically committed to theocracy. These states give the Rs guaranteed Senate seats (which New England does NOT do for us) and also a leg up in national elections comparable to the leg up Dems get in New York and California from large cities. Brad Carson has identified a big, big problem for us, and complaining about him is blaming the messenger. His campaign shows that no Dem can win an OK election in a Presidential year. Knowles shows something similar about AK, Tenenbaum about SC.

I have no good idea what to do about this problem: should we try to demonize the Christian right in the way that the right once demonized hippies and war protesters? Would it work, or would it just drive persuadable devout voters into their camp? Obviously we should think about Latinos more often, and devote more resources to them. We should also think about all those younger voters who picked our guy: how to keep them engaged, and keep them on our side?

by accommodatingly 2004-11-12 04:30AM | 0 recs
Re: great piece (no idea what to do)
The Republicans nationalized the Senate races in OK, AK, SD, NC, GA, and SC.

Alaskans would elect Knowles Governor, but they did not want to give the Democrats another vote in the Senate. North Carolinians would reelect Easley in a landslide, but they didn't want Bowles voting for the Democrats in Washington.

In South Carolina, the GOP made the Senate race as partisan as they could. Jim DeMint reminded voters that he supported Bush and Inez supported Kerry. He would be voting to put Frist in leadership, Inez would be voting to put Daschle in leadership. Lindsey Graham begged the voters to "send help", which caused Fritz Hollings to hit the roof. (He and Strom never campaigned against each other, and he did not campaign against Graham.) Gov. Sanford reminded voters of DeMint's working to cut taxes. It was a team effort that the Democrats could not compete with.

by wayward 2004-11-14 06:23PM | 0 recs
A war of ideas
"whether an individual is just that--a free-floating atom--or whether the individual is part of a long chain that both predates and continues long after any particular person; whether concepts like honor and shame, which seem so quaint, are still relevant in a world that values only 'tolerance.'"

This is the meat of Carson's spiel.  What is eternal?  It's no accident that Nietzche called Christianity Platonism for the masses.  Conservatives see their view of society as eternal truth, conveniently forgetting how much that "eternal truth" has changed over time.  Even if it's mistaken though, the human mind powerfully yearns to believe in those timesless forms.  If the Democrats want to butt heads with the evangelical movement, they need to start emphasizing liberalism's connections to concepts like justice and freedom.  To smite down the beast of the religious right, the left will have to show that the right's "truth" isn't true, that compassion resides more on the left than with conservatives, and that their vision of society is closer to the Good than conservatives.  At one time, that was the consenss of American society, and that's why the left won elections.  

by Randi 2004-11-12 04:35AM | 0 recs
No reasoning with these mutants
Single-bullet theory. Brad Henry's a Dem. Maybe he can appoint a civilized human in place of that pile of dripping mucous Coburn.  
by elrod 2004-11-12 04:37AM | 0 recs
Stop ceding these issues!
IMO, the democrats need to stop ceded these issues, like they ceded the red states.  

If they want to outlaw abortion, we should start proposing legislation that would actually reduce abortions (safe sex education, gov't sponsored adoption programs, etc, etc), which clearly outlawing it wouldn't.

If they want to ban gay marriage, prompt Zell Miller to put forth a constitutional amendment making gay sex illegal.

Meanwhile, we need to create a simplified message of what WE WOULD DO if in power.  Too many people I have talked to say dems just complain, but don't have an agenda of our own.

Time to stop complaining and make the far-right put its money where its mouth is.  As of now, it's too easy for them to have it both ways.

by pkelly 2004-11-12 04:38AM | 0 recs
Not Shaken
I think a lot of people in this thread get it. This is politics. This is democracy. If we want people to vote for us we have to give them a reason to do so. There is nothing inherenly unchristian about modernity or liberalism. There is nothing immoral about protecting the environment, fighting poverty, or respecting the rights of others. Most of my progressive "values" are derived from my Catholic upbringing. We don't have to change what we stand for to reach these people. We only have to show that we understand them and try to address their concerns. We just have to speak to these folks.

Unfortunately, we have ceded the battlefied to the Falwells and the Robertsons. We have let them frame the debate and make all the arguments. If the barbarians are strorming the gates at is only because the Romans have stopped fighting out on the plain.

I live in Louisiana, about as red a state as any. But we have a long history of populism and with moments of socialism and social tolerance thrown in. Progressivism can win in a state like this. We just have to make the right arguments and reach out to everyone. For the good of my state I need to make those arguments. For the good of our country we all need to make those arguments.

by Viguerie 2004-11-12 04:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Not Shaken
Unfortunately, we have ceded the battlefied to the Falwells and the Robertsons

This is exactly right. Chris's interpretation of Carson's words, or more accurately, the import of them is not right.

People are afraid of the future right now. Globalization is ripping apart communities, and people are feeling uprooted. I think what Carson's saying is that these people are scared, we aren't talking to them about it, and they are finding refuge in an autocratic, fervent religious philosophy. We are acting as if better health care is what they really need. When they feel like they need more.

We are the party to give them more. The GOP is really on the side of the very forces that are ripping apart their lives. But we need to understand what is going on and speak in terms that people can feel.

by BriVT 2004-11-12 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Not Shaken
if only the Dems would could stand up against stuff like NAFTA, global megacorps, and some of the forces that are tearing communities and local economies apart, then they might get some more people to listen to them.
by RedStateIndie137 2004-11-12 09:14AM | 0 recs
would the Christian right ever be open to change?
I have lived most my life in one red[neck] state or another. I understand racial and religious bigotry and how these are demagogued by people like Rove and Bush. I like to try to frame this issue with my  "Hatred is NOT a family value" bumper sticker. (see NOW  store: ... However,  the Christian left such as Rohr and Jim Wallis at Sojourners,  may have  a faith-rooted and more successful appeal to some southern  Christians (provided they  have any ability  to critically think).  For Christians  who are not "single-issue"," non-thinking, voters,  Sojourners bumper-sticker slogan: "God is Not a Republican. Or a Democrat" may be more convincing then many other approaches at "growing more liberals".
by rural WNC 2004-11-12 04:40AM | 0 recs
Re: change
They probably wouldn't change, but remember, they don't comprise the whole 51% that voted for Bush!
by pkelly 2004-11-12 04:43AM | 0 recs
Re: change
I would agree, from growing up a born-again baptist in Texas, that some there are certains issues which many of the christian right will not budge on, however I would right them off entirely.

25% of the evangelicals did vote for Kerry.

Many of those now on the christian right used to vote for Democrats.

And some of the christians I know who oppose abortion are willing to accept that eliminating choice is not an option, but they can't accept their tax dollars being spent on abortion.  I personally could go along with that not funding abortions directly (although I wish my tax dollars weren't spent on war).  I think Dems support of tax paid abortions is a cop-out on bigger economic problems issues that are letting people be that poor in the first place.  Also, we could create private charities to fund abortions of those too destitute to scrounge up $300.

A progressive pro-life platform is possible and might could help pull voters toward Dems without them feeling like they are being pro-death.  Progress Pro-life, would protect choice and right to privacy, reproductive freedom, etc, but would try to proactively reduce abortions that have been on the rise during Bush, through family planning, eliminating poverty, etc.  It would also tie pro-life to non-abortion issues.

I also think it's possible to bring up enough other moral issues, like poverty, the golden rule, etc., to at least make them conflicted enough to consider some Dems.  

Also, as others have mentions many people on the left are really fighting a similar war against this horrible, immoral, consumer capitalist culture.  However, we have a long way to go before the Christain Right will be able to see that we are on the same side.

by RedStateIndie137 2004-11-12 09:39AM | 0 recs
that should read

NOT write them off

by RedStateIndie137 2004-11-12 09:40AM | 0 recs
Let's Think This Through
There are important issues here and I hope we all (me included) spend some time thinking them through before claiming wisdom. Here are my interim thoughts:

1. As others have pointed out, Oklahoma is a bit of an extreme case. I would hesitate to draw any conclusions about our country based solely on Oklahoma.

2. I do accept the notion that many people, in all states, vote not based on the relative merits (or drawbacks) of specific programs proposed by candidates. I can think of at least two understandable reasons for this: (a) they don't believe what candidates promise during elections; and (b) for non-policy wonks, it's often hard to figure out what these proposed programs will really do, both because they are complicated and because they are misrepresented.

3. I do believe that there are many people who decry the character of life in 21st century U.S. (and maybe the world). I'm not a regular church-goer, but my wife is. (Granted, she's a member of a "liberal" Episcopal church, rather than a Baptist one, for example.) When I go with her at Christmas, the talk is invariably about the over-commercialism of life, the crass materialism we are surrounded by. And these liberal church-goers see themselves as the force that must combat such tendencies. This isn't a liberal vs. conservative issue. At least, it doesn't have to be.

4. There is certainly plenty in modern U.S. culture to decry. Yes, I'm pro-Enlightment and pro-progress and generally pro-modernity. But I'm not in favor of scantily clad women used to sell almost anything in TV commercials. I'm not a fan of the vast majority of TV shows. I'm not embarassed or offended by nude statues, but I'm disgusted (though neither shocked nor surprised) by the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction.

5. So my view is this: yes, modern capitalist life here in the U.S. has created many dislocations, including cultural and spiritual ones. But not everyone searching for spiritual (in its broadest sense) meaning, for an alternative path of some sort, necessarily believes in the full program of the extreme right-wing. I believe that many, though certainly not all, of these folks would be open to our point of view, if we knew how to reach them better.

6. Hence: yes, we do need to talk about our values. That's our values, not theirs. No retreat on what we believe, but a larger context to understand it in. Liberals are not the ones who are responsible for what many apparently see as an assault on traditional values. Rather, it is corporate capitalism. As Chris has pointed out quite effectively. By "effectively," I mean "effectively" to us. Now we have to figure out how to say it effectively to them.

by Omark 2004-11-12 04:44AM | 0 recs
An ignorant politician
OK, I'm Canadian and so I don't know anything about most US politicians, but my reaction is - Who is this guy Brad Carlson?  Or who does he think he is?  First, he is apparently so ignorant about his own constituency that he doesn't discover until early September that some of them disagree with abortion?  Then he is so out of touch that he is surprised to discover their slogan Vote Righteously actually means something important to them?  And finally his election loss isn't his own fault but is actually the fault of the party to which he belongs, because it "embraces modernity"?  Sorry, but this sounds like sour grapes to me.  I embrace modernity myself, but no politician, right or left, can ever expect to retain support from people he has apparently ignored.
by CathiefromCanada 2004-11-12 04:46AM | 0 recs
now read this as an antidote (of sorts):
On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide
Published: November 14, 2004

by richardinmadison 2004-11-12 04:46AM | 0 recs
Three Words
Seccession, seccession, seccession.

Just have a look at this year's electoral map. The country very logically and neatly divides itself into three separate and distinct entities:

Pacific States of America
North Atlantic States of America

Problem solved!

by nattering nabob 2004-11-12 04:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Three Words
Problem solved until Morontopia decides that they want to go to war against the Pacific States of America and the North Atlantic States of America.  And they would.  No doubt about that.
by LionelEHutz 2004-11-12 05:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Three Words
Hey, man, I'm in Chicago with a whole lotta other Blue-staters. You better not leave me in Morontopia!!
by scottso 2004-11-12 08:02AM | 0 recs
Don't Worry!
I meant 'North Atlantic States of America' to include all the eastern blue states... so perhaps North Eastern States of America would be a better and more accurate name.

I'm from California, but Chicago's one of my favorite towns... no way would I ever consider leaving you guys behind!

by nattering nabob 2004-11-12 08:44AM | 0 recs
So Brad Carson wants to get the
"Mongo Like Candy" vote by dumbing down our party, how about we keep trying to win Mongo's vote without selling out our principles.

FYI - Mongo like Candy is a reference to Blazing Saddles

by LionelEHutz 2004-11-12 05:05AM | 0 recs
Re: So Brad Carson wants to get the
And never forget this line, either:
Mongo straight!
by CathiefromCanada 2004-11-12 05:11AM | 0 recs
Problem is. . .
That this is the sort of article that sends Democrats scurrying for  religion. It empowers the DLC and the so called "moderate Democrats".

As a party we can't go there and we have to make it clear that we  will not turn back the clock.

These people complain about the Taliban or extremist Muslims, but they are just like them.

by Defiant 2004-11-12 05:18AM | 0 recs
okay, so cleary the culture war . . .
 ... is a real thing, but let's not lose our heads here. As many have pointed out, Oklahoma is so conservative it makes Alabama look like Brook Farm. And perhaps Carson still has the sting of defeat too hot on him to properly appraise the situation, or to make any kind of extrapolation of the national scene from his experience in Oklahoma, or even to read Thomas Frank's book properly(if he has read it at all). Frank does not insist that red-state voters voting against their economic self-interests are "deluded or uneducated." In fact, much of Frank's book is devoted to making the point of Carson's next sentence: "They simply reject the notion that material concerns are more real than spiritual or cultural ones." But maybe we'll get to talk about that in the book club.

If Carson's prescription for the party's ails is a rejection of modernity and some sort of return to a Victorian (and here I'm being charitable) system of public ethics, then I really am moving to Canada. All this kind of talk does is obscure the real work the party has to do to make itself nationally viable again.

Our biggest problem is not the message gap or the morals gap or even the more techie-tactical linguistic debate-framing gap that George Lakoff writes about so well. Our biggest problem, at nearly every level, from the candidates to the strategists to the operatives to the organizers to the interns, is a talent gap. New blood, new directions, new ideas and new voices--and a DNC that encourages and supports young candidates or potential candidates at the city and state-house level as well as the national level, and supports them full-time, not just during election cycles. That's the real work ahead of us.

by murfarish 2004-11-12 05:19AM | 0 recs
If our problem is a talent gap
then the big state-level victories is some under-the-radar great news.  But we already knew that...
by Seth Baum 2004-12-17 05:11PM | 0 recs
What I want to know is

suppose we have a real, honest-to-god, old fashioned depression. Do you think so many people would still fail to vote their interests?

I think whatever party is in power at that time would be screwed.

by vj 2004-11-12 05:25AM | 0 recs
this truly is a war
I have lurked here for awile but after reading this I am compelled to post.  I live in a red state (North Carolina) but in a county that went slightly for Kerry.  So this is not the most conservative place in NC.  But I know the people that he speaks of and this is war.  There is no reasoning with them and no compromise.  When I read things like Democrats have to compromise on abortion or gay rights, I want to scream.  These "values" people have no doubts at all that they are correct and on God's side.  

I was driving my daughter to preschool yesterday and passed by a SUV driven by a 50-ish woman (looked like anyone's mom) with a bumper sticker reading "Visualize No Liberals".  She has no reservations about having that on her car.  Meanwhile, I had 3 Kerry yard signs stolen and my bumper sticker ripped off my car.  I was also given the finger and honked at(with my 3 year old daughter in the car) more times than I care to admit.

I had a woman at my office distribute little models of aborted fetuses on everyone's desk along with some scripture as she headed out for a Pro-Life March....I confronted her; she didn't understand why what she did was offensive and inappropriate.  I asked her if she would be offended if I distributed little bloody coat hangers...Her mouth hung open, she walked away and hasn't spoken to me since.

These people truly are not reachable.  Our best hope is to truly expose their irrationality, their hate and their hypocrisy.  I had another woman in my office (who voted for Bush) but is now concerned because she read an article about a pharmacist who wouldn't given birth control to an unmarried woman.  My co-worker lives with her boyfriend (and I assume uses birth control).  She said "That is none of their business."  I just said "Honey, that is what they believe and they are in control now".  Again, she just looked shocked!  But she is reachable.  We just need to make it real to her.  

Anyway, make no mistakes - this is truly a cultural war.  Liberals cannot concede anything.

by emmasaint 2004-11-12 05:39AM | 0 recs
Re: this truly is a war
"But she is reachable.  We just need to make it real to her."

You are exactly correct. There are plenty of people out there, probably a majority of the middle/working class "morals" crowd, who are either uncomfortable with homosexuality and abortion or simply feel that the left doesn't speak to their fears and so vote with the hardcore religious right. These people are reachable. The beauty of the situation is that the hardcore right has picked up all the support it can. They aren't going to convince anyone else to vote with them. And once they overplay their hand, as they surely will, and expose the more radical tenets of their philosophy, folks like your coworker will think twice about voting with them. This creates an excellent opportunity for us. SO fight them hard we must.

We can add to our coalition. They can't.

by Viguerie 2004-11-12 10:57AM | 0 recs
Liberals and the Modern World
The recent diary about Brad Carson's TNR piece prompted me quickly to pen the following.

It respresents a statement of values for liberals in the modern world, a kind of civil "credo."  It does not present a litany of policy positions, but it can serve to reframe and introduce the policy positions we all generally support.  Even more, it responds to something Coburn writes about in his piece.  It presents a defense of, and in fact presents the case for the necessity of, liberalism in the modern world.  

I don't pretend to think that this statement of belief is well crafted or in any way final.  But I submit it as a draft for Kos Community review and for comment, editing, additions, etc.  I am taking our conversation in something of a new direction that represents a continuiation of much of what we have been concluding together these past two weeks.

                                     The Conscience of a Liberal

We believe that all men and women are created equal, and are endowed by the Creator by the inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We believe that a free society supported by a responsible government will respect the privacy and liberty of its citizens.  

We believe in work and fair representation for all citizens in the political process.

We believe that America should be a beacon of freedom around the world, principally through our example and our conduct, and not through the exercise our military might.  The use of force may often be necessary to defend our security and our freedoms, or to support our allies, but we recognize that we cannot convert the members of the world to our values through force of violence.

We abhor the culture of irresponsibility, for responsible citizenship is the heart of liberalism.  Government exists to enforce necessary standards of conduct to support a civil society, but does not exist to enforce personal morality.  

We believe that any faith genuinely expressed must come through personal conviction, and not through state coercion.  The endorsement of a particular religious sensibility by government itself undermines and corrupts both our thriving religious institutions and our government.

We believe that a free society is founded on an informed and educated citizenry.  We support and believe in public education as a public good, and believe that government plays a healthy role in supporting scientific inquiry and research that is guided by the researchers themselves.  The wonders of the modern world, from the many consumer goods we enjoy to the marvelous medical treatments that save and extend our lives, all rest on a public value and promotion of free and independent thinking, and a tolerance for divergent views and lifestyle choices.  Indeed, the support of the entrepreneurial spirit demands that divergence of thought be valued, respected and celebrated.

We further believe that public education and the support of public health, especially for children, together represent our core values.  We are optimistic about our future and the future of our ideals for all humankind, and accordingly, we pledge to protect and support the health and growth of our citizenry, especially our children and our families, however those families may be constructed.  We believe that civil marriage should involve the lifetime commitment of two adults to love and support each other until death.

This is America.  These are our beliefs.  We live in a time of great fear and dislocation, as technological transformation creates economic and social instability across the globe.  During such frightening times, it is tempting for people around the world to seek the familiar comforts of absolutes and fixed world orders represented by fundamentalist and totalitarian ideologies of any kind.  The modern world is merely the next step in the evolution of human freedom, and we as Americans must not be afraid.  We are the inheritors of a noble legacy and of a great pioneering spirit.  

The conscience of a free citizen of America demands that we support the underpinnings of freedom even when they seem inconvenient or frightening to us.  For in the end, it is with our ideals and with firmness of purpose that we will create a world, maybe generations hence, where freedom is loved and defended among all the peoples of the earth.

by Pachacutec 2004-11-12 05:42AM | 0 recs
Re: Liberals and the Modern World
Eliminate the comment "creator" since it immediately degrinates any agonstic or atheist to a second rate status if they believe in reason instaed of the intellectual vapid surrender of humanity to some mythical being created by mankinds worse instincts of fear and ignorance. just cut out "by the Creator" and enter the 21st century.

Also lets be accurate all religions are cults. Be clear on that. If you are going to address this at all make it clear that cults that promote hate of others or the sense that one group is more "special" then others or that intrudes on others lifes in any way is not accceptable.

by Rational 2004-11-12 08:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Liberals and the Modern World
In a word: Magnificent.  I'm frightened to think of what you could come up with when you decide to really put some thought and time into something if this was just off the top of your head.
by Mark Adams 2004-11-14 06:03PM | 0 recs
Why, for the love of God and Country do we NOT talk about social issus.  The republican party doesn't care about social issues, they use it as a placebo to provide a fix for those who require it to feel good about themselves.  
Point out that in four years, with a Republican President, House, Senate, and Court, NOTHING has been done for social values.
All that has been accomplished is tax cuts for the rich.
All that has been accomplished is the greatest deficit in the history of the world.
All taht has been accomplished is war and terror.
All that has been accomplished is a loss of civil rights.
All that has been accomplished is more poverty.
All that has been accomplished is worse health for our children.
All that has been accomplished is worse education for our children.
All that has been accomplished is worse infant mortality numbers.

Where are the social issues?  They were elected to transform our great nation, that is what they promise?  But, what they deliver is poverty, illness, terror, and war.

Why NOT talk about social issues.  We might be for civil rights, which they do not believe in , but at least we care about SOCIAL ISSUES.  The same social issues that Jesus cared about.  IF ONLY WE COULD GET THEM TO READ THE NEW TESTAMENT.  Jesus hung out with the poor, it was their plight he was concerned about.
Republicans care about one thing, wealth for the wealthy.  It is clear in their actions, if not in their words.

by Robert P 2004-11-12 05:44AM | 0 recs
Right on, Chuckles!  I have been saying this all over the web.  My Catholic upbringing, which included members of the family in the church, taught me my values along with my grandmother who was raised Baptist in WV.  WWJD?  He wouldn't be with those right wing nut jobs!  He would be with the poor and undeserving.  He embraced all people.  All the Repugs do is use religious values to disguise their real plan, world domination and a return to depotism!!!!
by catholicdemocratmd 2004-11-12 06:48AM | 0 recs
Past Time to Understand the Religious Right
"The last thing we need to do is reject modernity in order to win votes." the estimable Mr. Bowers writes.  That is entirely correct.  What is also correct, and what Carson seems to be saying, is that it is past time for us "effete Eastern intellectual snobs" (in the immortal words of William Safire via Spiro Agnew) to get some sense of why! they are so anti-modern.  Read Garry Wills's "Under God" and Lloyd deMause's "The Emotional Life of Nations." (Try also reading Thomas Frank's "What's Wrong with Kansas?"  I haven't yet, but I will.)

Then we can begin to engage our brothers and sisters on the right.  

by HewittComm 2004-11-12 06:36AM | 0 recs
Culture wars.
It was pointed out to me that what we are seeing is history repeating itself again.  Lookk back 80 years and you will sse the same deep cultural divisions betwen the rural heart land and the big modern cities.  If you look at a map back then the cultrual divided was almost identical as today.  We didn't win the culture war back then we just shifted the battle from moral issues to social issues and what gave us the edge was the great depression.  It is really scary how mush history repeates itself.   I am convinced that Bush and the repubs CAN'T win on a domestic agenda, so the are running on a moral regressive fear based agenda.
After reading the info at, I am convinced that when the bottom falls out of the US economy and we are sent plunging into a deep reccession or depression, the masses will revolt and other than the 1-2% of the most radical right wing loonies, we will once again be swept into power for several more decades.  The "librial policies of the a welfair state don't play well, when the economy is strong and things are going well.  Rember all the welfair reforms under clinton. People felt the poor were taking advantage of the good hard working people.  Well, when this administration and the fically unresposible rebpub crash our economy and cause huge economic grief hear and the ripple affect if felt around the world, those people who think its not about the economy stupid will be singing another tune.  We need to pick our battles and let them hang themselves.  The areas where we need to battle in in the courts and on the envoirment.The courts could have long lasting reprocussions long after thios administration has crashed and burned.  As for the envoirment well, we no thathey will be long term effects for years to come.
by likesun 2004-11-12 06:36AM | 0 recs
Fetus worship
My bona fides:  I was raised an evangelical in the South (I currently live in Clinton, MS).  My father was an evangelical minister.  Most of my immediate family remains in the evangelical movement -- which they do not see as a "movement", it is their life.

It is clear from Carson's description of the visual aids that confronted him that he was in a no-win situation.  That is, and will continue to be, the situation Dems will find themselves in if they try to woo the religious right.  It is my opinion that these people have allowed themselves to be diverted from the Biblical mission for the Church to "Fetus Worship."  It'd be great if they gave half as much concern to fetuses (people) who actually make it out of the womb alive.  But there is no reaching them.  They are blind to their own hypocrisy and are not, generally, open to criticism from people who don't worship the fetus.

IMHO, if Carson wants to be in office, he should leave Oklahoma and find a nice purple/blue state and start over. The battle for the South is over and we lost -- never was much of a fight, it just took a few years for southerners to get over their visceral reaction to the word "Republican".  We might win back a few here or there but, unless the Electoral College is abolished, the South is a waste of time and money for Democrats.

I would like to see the Party establish a SHORT, clear, concise credo that doesn't pander to constituencies we cannot win but lays out a liberal/progressive vision for our future.  That vision should affirm our committment to individual liberty, intellectual freedom, environmental protection, and economic justice among others like universal healthcare.  Call them "values" if you want to, but don't believe that verbiage is going to crack the Christian right.  We need to enuciate a vision that our candidates can coalesce around and that the electorate can use as shorthand when thinking about our party.  If the Dems get defined as the party of individual liberty, isn't it inevitable that the R's will look like they are against individual liberty?  That is certainly the genius of the term "ProLife."  Liberty, Justice, Freedom -- hard words to vote against and concepts that have meaning to just about everyone.

If I were king of the DNC, I'd develop the credo and then spend the next several months drilling it into the electorate.  I'd have ads on TV that each focused on one aspect of the credo and illustrated it in ways that related to the real life experiences of Americans.  When you get through, the electorate would have a clearer idea of what we stand for and how those stands relate to their lives.  Just as I can recite the ingredients of a Big Mac (two all beef patties, special sauce, etc.), my ultimate goal would be to insert the Democratic Credo into the publics' consciousness in a way that that it becomes almost automatic to think of Freedom, Justice, Liberty, etc., when thinking of the Demo Party.  Otherwise, our party label is in danger of becoming an albatross for candidates rather than a brand that inspires confidence.

by erasmus 2004-11-12 07:07AM | 0 recs
Like Chris, I am not rejecting modernity.
Heck, I can't. Those people would kill me or subject me to electric shock to cure me of being a lesbian.

But I can understand why they don't like the modern world. The media monopoly sells a culture that I find as morally repulsive as that of the Christian-haters described by Carson.

We have to stand for something genuinely different: a society organized to care for and respect its members, a mix of concern for the weak with a willingness to live and let live. Calling for this amid the din and corruption of contemporary politics may be more than humanly possible. Martin Luther King did it; Archbishop Tutu did it in South Africa.

The politician who can come closest to making a moral appeal to values that transcend the trap of the culture war is the one most likely to lead us back from the theocratic brink. They don't come along very often; the demands of the task are too great and doing this is literally dangerous.

by janinsanfran 2004-11-12 07:20AM | 0 recs
Jesus Christ...
That is scary
by Vermonter 2004-11-12 07:21AM | 0 recs
It's simpler than everybody is saying
He's just acknowledging that pro-choice canidate can't win in Oklahoma.  Duh.
by Geotpf 2004-11-12 07:41AM | 0 recs
Re: It's simpler than everybody is saying
It's more than that.  We are rapidly approaching a point where even pro-life Democrats will not be electable in states like OK, MS, AL, etc.  The reasoning is simple:  even pro-life D's end up being a vote for the D's agenda and leadership and that will inevitably further the pro-choice agenda.  If you truly believe that abortion is murder -- where do you compromise?  You don't.  It is a position that is self limiting.  The rhetoric spirals the believers into intransigence.  

Their position on gay marriage is similarly without compromise.  And the war in Iraq is giving them wet dreams about the Apocalypse and their great Escape.  They are living in the End Times.  

by erasmus 2004-11-12 09:16AM | 0 recs
Good call posting this, Chris.
(Thought I hope you don't get a call from TNR's lawyers.)

I read it the other day and I found his insights remarkably sophisticated. I had no idea we still had any such intellectual people left in Congress.

I think many people posting here have misunderstoo Carson -- he is not making any prescription about what we need ot do to win. The end of his column leads me to believe that he sees this as an unsolvable problem for liberal Democrats -- which is probably true.

As many others here have said, I don't think we can sway these people. However, there are a bunch of other people who are not that far out on the religious right/ secular left spectrum, and those people maybe we can reach. As for this rest, we can't pander to them and shouldn't try. People smell insincerity, which probably has a lot to do with why Kerry lost. GWB may be the most misguided president in modern American history, but he sure is sincere in his beliefs, and people respond to that.

by scottso 2004-11-12 08:08AM | 0 recs
While I would not have used quite the same imagery as Chris did, I must agree with the sentiment in his original comment on this piece.

Let me put it another way: What the fuck is Carson talking about? First off, why does he think he can extrapolate his experience in what he himself calls "the reddest of red states" into a broader picture of what American looks like?

Second, what the fuck is he even talking about? A "war with modernity?" I expect this kind of talk from my ivory tower law professors, not from a guy like Carson. My point is (as Chris pretty much alluded), it doesn't matter whether Carson is right or not. If he's wrong, then he's just wrong and it doesn't matter.

If he's right, then we've found the ultimate battle line, past which no compromise or understanding is possible. The DLC can talk about "blurring distinctions" all it wants, and people can urge that we "move to the right" (or center, or what have you). Those people are wrong, in my opinion, but at least there is some sense in what they are saying.

But with Carson's take, well, you can't exactly reject modernity. Or rather, WE can't. Then we would truly no longer be who we are.

Oh, I'm sure Carson will write a response in the letters section in the next issue of TNR, about how he wasn't counselling that we reject modernity. The only problem is, in a piece as short as this one, where his final line can be read as a potential battle-cry against modernity, what other conclusion should we be coming to?

Anyhow, like I said at the beginning, trying to draw analogies from Oklahoma makes about as much sense as trying to draw analogies from New York. Carson, though, is doing exactly what Republicans from red states do: Insisting that blue staters must respond to how things are viewed in his part of the country, and not the other way around. Sorry, I reject that.

by DavidNYC 2004-11-12 08:49AM | 0 recs
We're being Played like a fiddle
The modern Republican Party is like the kid in Junior High who could cut a fart in a crowd and convince everyone that you did it. You could argue that he just ate beans, you're actually wearing charcoal lined underwear, catch an air sample, do DNA testing and prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that he did it, and you just look more foolish.

Perhaps we should not worry about trying to convince the clique of cheerleaders and jocks who make fun of us that we're cooler than their own friend. We will never get these people. We will, however, get the geeks on the fringe who laugh at our folly, but who get the same treatment.

We may not win or even gain in the House or Senate in 2006 or 2008, and we may not even win the presidency in 2008. But the most compelling thing I've seen written in the aftermath is that we have to make it impossible for Republicans to win in the blue states. If Lincoln Chaffee doesn't switch parties, then we should try to defeat him, and he should have to run with Tom Delay, George Bush, and Tom Coburn on his back.

Only then can we think about how to get a Democrat elected in Oklahoma.

by JohnGor0 2004-11-12 08:52AM | 0 recs
Suburban upstate NY very conservative
We moved to an Albany suburb 10 years ago from NYC. Talk about culture shock! Liberals are hard to find. Even the public-school teachers tend toward anti-union. More and more, the people talk about abortion as the overriding factor, a symbol of vast decay in our society. NY is a blue state only in the cities. The suburbs and rural areas are extremely conservative. Even Falwell's church just opened up a pod for breeding and mobilizing converts right in our area. Wake up, folks! As a big-city guy myself who has now seen the other side (and doesn't like it), I'm warning all of you in NYC, Boston, SF, LA, etc., etc., you'd better burst out of your provincialism and reach out here to the provinces to win people over (or at least learn what it's really like out here). You are the ones who are going to have to reach out. The people here are too scared of the cities and won't reach out to you. That's just the way it is. Now, we'll have to figure out what it would take to win 5 or 10 percent of them back over.
by Rootski 2004-11-12 08:52AM | 0 recs
But how can one reach out from the cities?
I recently moved from Rochester, NY to Boston and no exactly what you're talking about.  Rochester itself is fairly liberal but it's a small city so the more moderate/conservative suburbs have a real presence.  I really enjoy living in Boston, but I do miss the great conversations with people I often disagreed with.  It's a big city here, and there have got to be some conservatives here somewhere, but I sure ain't finding them.  Any suggestions as to how I can do some "reaching out"?  Perhaps online?
by Seth Baum 2004-12-17 05:24PM | 0 recs
Impertinent Question
Why does abortion + gay marriage = modernity?

Hey, I'm a deep blue who lives in one of the bluest areas of one of the bluest states.  But I'm just asking.

by BigModerate 2004-11-12 08:59AM | 0 recs
Yes, the Culture War is Real
but No, the Culture War is not new. Americans have been fighting this internal war since, oh, roughly 1620, when a boat hit Plymouth Rock. This is absolutely fundamental to the core of the American uber-culture, as are race and capitalism and a few other things. We built much of our culture and society around the basic tension inherent in it.

What the Right has done, and has been doing since about 1980, is use and manipulate the images and themes from their side of the culture war very well. On the contrary, the Left doesn't even like to believe the war exists. One of the positive impacts of this election, I hope, will be the long-deserved death of one of the Left's most cherished myths: That a majority of the country is on our side. The sooner that myth dies, the better off we'll be.

As I've written here before, the difference between the Left and the Right in this country is that while the Left is in the minority but refuses to believe it, the Right is also in the minority but knows and revels in it. That's why they use the symbols and images of their side so effectively -- they're a minority in a long war against another minority, and they know how to fight. And by the way, progressives have ALWAYS been the minority, historically speaking, going all the way back to Jesus. And in the end they always win. But "in the end" can mean a very, very long time.

Both the Left and Right are minorities because most of America doesn't give much of a shit. About pocketbook issues or moral issues or anything much else beyond their own families' needs, and they don't believe government does anything for them. They lean Right now because the believing Right is better at using the themes of our common culture in their politicking. They therefore seem like better leaders, clearer, and more compelling.

As several have pointed out above, the Left needs to move away from "issues" that are based on government policies, and toward a language and some themes that express other elements of our commonly understood culture. There are plenty we can use: Fairness, individualism (the ability to express oneself), tolerance, innovation, hope. Being "for universal health care" falls flat. Being for "fairness so that all Americans can have healthy, successful families" is better. We have a long way to go.

by CDem 2004-11-12 08:59AM | 0 recs
Torture, War
Several close relatives of mine supported Bush in the recent election.  After it was over I sparked a discussion about why they had voted for Bush.  After a few perfunctory flip-flop comments and others about Kerry such as "yeah Kerry is a good DEBATER" the meat of the discussion turned to religion and morals.

Abortion was mentioned as the key.  I responded with the Clinton "Safe, Legal, and Rare" line.  That got a lukewarm response.  I challenged them by asking if they thought it was wrong, and murder, to kill the egg the instant it is fertilized.  No?  Well then how about when it is 10 cells?  How about a hundred cells?  What about when it is a million cells but still more or less spherical?  I then moved to the other end of gestation.  What about when it is ready to be born?  I conceded that at that point abortion was wrong.  I then worked backward to try to make the point that the argument over abortion is all about where the line is drawn and that different people put the line in different places.

That argument worked to a degree.  By conceding that I did not favor abortion of a full-term fetus but that I did draw a line before which it is acceptable to abort and after it is not we came closer to an accomodation on the subject.  So progress on the abortion front.

I then asked about the morality of a party that advocates torture (not knowing Bush would appoint the architect of the torture is justified memo's as A.G.).  I asked about the morality of killing thousands of civilians in a foreign country.  I asked about the morality of gay-bashing.

They didn't like those lines of inquiry at all.  Those hit home.

Most people are not going to defend acts of torture, bigotry, and warmongering.  THAT is the moral high-ground that the Democrats can claim.  THAT can make Christian Conservatives actually question the Republican Party.

We need to hit the Republican Party hard as being the party of bigoted, warmongering torturers.

It has the added benefit of being true.

by Curt Matlock 2004-11-12 09:08AM | 0 recs
And Genocide
An opportunity for secular progressives and religious conservatives to unite for some really great actions- no matter which party happens to be in control.  This is not just liberal or conservative, religious or secular; it's humanitarian.

Remember all those people who opposed removing the Taliban from power?  Me neither.

I don't know what it takes to prevent a genocide- I'd guess some combination of diplomacy, military force, and maybe even some of those meditators (because hey, why not? and who knows?).  

But whatever it is, it should be done, so we can finally truly say, "Never again."  That and I really don't like "The Divide", so I think it's worth emphasizing any common views.

by Seth Baum 2004-12-17 05:42PM | 0 recs
Brad Carson is absolutely right.
It's brilliant, and it's absolutely true.  Perhaps he should be the next DNC Chair.

We Democrats have been telling evangelicals, "We may disagree on same-sex marriage, but we agree on the minimum wage; why not vote for us on the latter, rather than the Republicans on the former?"  What evangelicals have been hearing is, "Why not sell your soul for another $2.00 an hour?"  It's no wonder they wouldn't agree.  As a Christian, if I agreed with their moral assesment of same-sex marriage, I wouldn't agree, either.  Until we persuade them that tacit support of same-sex marriage is not a guarantee of eternal damnation, we won't be able to win them with the promise of temporal security.

I've written it a few times before, and I'll probably write it a few times more: if we want to win the culture war, we have to win the culture war.  We've settled for attrition: if you don't like abortion, don't have one; if you don't like same-sex marriage, don't have one.  Well, that doesn't sell.  We must argue that abortion is as moral a choice as pregnancy, and that same-sex marriage is as moral as different-sex marriage.  We can't simply provide a policy alternative; we must provide a moral one, too.  

Most of us already believe this, or something similar; it's simply a matter of articulating it to non-believers, and persuading them that it's true.  Evangelism, as it were.  It should be among our priorities.

by Drew 2004-11-12 09:25AM | 0 recs
Bush Not Such A Stupid Choice?
Carson's article rings more true to me than a lot of the debate about fraudulent votes, ignorant Americans and all that. This was a guy in the heart of the beast, and this is what he saw.

 I think it's time for liberals and progressives to stop talking about fighting and beating back the tide as if people in red states are all evil, and that we had this race stolen from us. I know some will freak out when I say this, but ultimately Americans did not make such a stupid choice. Bush is evil, we all know that, but he was persuasive because he stuck to some simple ideals, and appealed to some very real fear that everyone feels. On the other hand, we had Kerry, who we all tried to look away from, almost pretend like he wasn't there, focusing on getting rid of Bush and nothing else. Well, the rest of the country didn't have that luxury, didn't have the time or cultural space to ignore Kerry. And what they saw was a man who was morally compromised. Who fought in a war, apparently with great verve in the art of killing, and then came home to oppose it passionately. But then, in the election, he was trumpeting himself as having fought for and defended America. It's hard to jibe that with the litany of atrocities he enumerated when he returned from Vietnam. And then even as we're seeing atrocities in Iraq and in Afghanistan still, he's trumpeting how he's going to destroy terrorists and win better than Bush. He's also opposed to the death penalty, except in cases of terrorism. How do you reconcile that morally? It's ok to kill Middle-Easterners, but not white serial child killers? And the list of "nuanced" positions goes on and on.

I spent most of the election trying to persuade myself that underneath it all, Kerry was a good man. Tried to believe in him, even as my belief became more hollow. Americans are not stupid.  They saw this, felt it, and could not persuade themselves out of the bad feeling of seeing a pure politician who doesn't even have the basic ability to speak like a human being.

Bush is at least a believer...his lies and moral compromises can be tolerated because he knows who he is. He has a narrative. Until the Democrats (or another party) can offer a righteous alternative, a man who truly believes in progressive values without bending, there will be no change. When Goldwater lost in a landslide, the Republicans went to work. When Mcgovern lost in a landslide, the Democratic party used his progressive platform as a reason to run away from itself. The Republicans didn't just keep shifting to fit the latest trend...For decades now they've been hammering away at the same belief system, one that as ignorant and intolerant as it is, in many ways has a lot of appeal. America IS heading in the wrong direction, it IS too controlled by material desires and progress IS stomping out a lot of important, and ancient values. The problem with the left is that we don't understand how important morality is. Why can't we meet the moral question head on? Instead of talking about rights and constitutionality, why can't we talk about the immorality of restricting who gets to love who and how they say it?  How long have we yearned for a candidate who can go right into the teeth of that argument with peace and love and persuasion and hope as a moral system? Americans don't want a candidate who is constantly rubbing their noses in the moral compromises of politics. Gore and Kerry weren't just stiff, and bad candidates, they were morally corrupt. Neither had the courage of their convictions, and we're paying the price. I will never again support a candidate who seemingly believes in absolutely nothing, and imagine if I feel that way how some Baptist farmer in the south feels...

by argghh 2004-11-12 09:32AM | 0 recs
There is so much wrong with this article and much of the discussion, it's hard to know where to begin. But here are the low points:

  1. The church described in the article isn't "Oklahoma," it's just one church. Oklahoma is a diverse place just like every other state.

  2. Not everyone in that church buys the message that was communicated there. I was once a member of such a church. They contain all kinds of people, of which only a few believe everything they hear there, and there is a wide range of levels of commitment to act on things heard there. Few of these fundamentalist churches have the effectiveness of cults.

  3. The article implies that somehow a cult of anti-modernity is about to engulf America. What hogwash! Only a small minority of people are fully committed to that attitude. Most Republican voters are not brainwashed. Most are open to better ideas.

  4. Calling for a cultural war plays right into the hands of these fundamentalists, in exactly the same way as the "war on terrorism" plays into the hands of Muslim fundamentalists. It allows a small group to gain a disproportionate amount of attention and influence. Weak leaders fall into this trap. Strong leaders are able to separate what's important from what isn't, and set their own agendas.

  5. This is a transformational time and demands transformational leaders. Bush won by laying claim to that role, and Dems need to propose equally bold initiatives and frames to guide us going forward. People like Carson (if this article is truly indicative of how he thinks), who are willing to let a fringe group set their agenda for them, deserve to lose and we are lucky to be rid of them.
by pdt 2004-11-12 09:56AM | 0 recs
Chris you are always worried
about something.  Calm down, Carson got beat by a man who is obviously insane.  The point is this, we are in a culture war, and as I have written here before we will lose if we try to pick off the fringe right in this country.  The key is to get the moderates in the Republican party.  We were 70,000 moderate Republicans away (in Ohio) from having a Democratic President, so don't feed into this values bullshit. Those people are nuts, and I will not stop until we rip this country from their evil grip.
by partyguy708 2004-11-12 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Chris you are always worried
about something.  Calm down, Carson got beat by a man who is obviously insane.  The point is this, we are in a culture war, and as I have written here before we will lose if we try to pick off the fringe right in this country.  The key is to get the moderates in the Republican party.  We were 70,000 moderate Republicans away (in Ohio) from having a Democratic President, so don't feed into this values bullshit. Those people are nuts, and I will not stop until we rip this country from their evil grip.


Liberal Republicans are more interested in tax cuts than moral issues. Not to mention the GOP still keeps them in the "big tent".

Even if you could win them over, Reagan Democrats > Rockefeller Republicans and always have been. We need to win our old base back.

Carson's loss was one of the three big disappointments for me in the Senate races. The biggest was Bunning over Mongiardo. Everyone knew Bunning was a few innings short of a complete game, yet 51% of Kentucky voters sent him back to the Senate. "Wacky Tom" Coburn over Carson was the second, but not terribly surprising considering how bright red Oklahoma is. The third was David Vitter's win in Louisiana. Chris John could have taken it if the Democrats had remembered to keep Vitter under 50% instead of fighting each other to get into a runoff that didn't happen.

by wayward 2004-11-14 05:55PM | 0 recs
Empathy Bridge Blue & Red Values
"one has to first understand the obstacle that stands before us:  the basic concept of conservative religious doctrine"

I agree wholeheartedly that we must understand the bunch that just defeated us, and I don't mean the RNC generals, I mean the army of volunteers who worked for years to gain victory Tuesday night:  those we keep referring to as the Religious Right.

For many in the Religious Right, New Life has the highest value (anti-abortion) and Sacrificing Life in Service of Our Country (war to avenge or defend) has the highest value.

For many of us who spent childhoods in rural Texas and then left, it is often difficult to recall that in much of that rural `tradition' - violence is a value.

Strength and stubbornly standing your ground are values. Giving your word as bond is a value - never doubting that one's word, once given, would never change - is a deeply held value.

Guns are valued.

Forget the Bible verses they might quote you. If we do not understand the foundation and personal histories these values rest on, we will lose again in the future to this same group living in predominately less populated, rural counties, small towns, and certain suburban areas.

Although I agree that Gay Marriage and Abortion are the primary wedge issues - I am here to suggest it that we did not lose on Gays & God only - we also lost on Guns. We lost because we are perceived as weak on Defense. Remember DuKakis? Remember Jimmy Carter? Bush pounded Kerry as weak on defense - a Liberal voting against bills to fund the military over 30 years time.

For generations we have been perceived as such, and we will continue to be so until we understand the value in violence they hold dear.

I keep forgetting that fact over and over again because I read too many books and newspapers. I've lived too long in a highly sophisticated, urban/suburban area. I moved to the city as a young adult. As a life-long Democrat, I have developed sensibilities about non-violence, fairness and tolerance that I perceive as my highest values. My daughter is gay, and I fear the consequences of the bigotry directed at her and her beloved partner and my grandchild they cherish together. All of us are deeply Christian. We look inward and outward in The Spirit.

I know many in the Religious Right find sexuality a fearsome enemy even when it is heterosexuality that drives their own desire and often their own misdeeds. They fear it because it may lead to both depravity and personal ruin. Homosexuality is again a depravity both feared and reviled, just as a black marrying a white was feared and reviled 20 years ago. Homosexuality or racially-mixed marriage may not be in their personal sphere of experience but it is feared and reviled - and so is the "plague" of AIDS. All this is simply unfathomable for them.

Yet when you live close to Traditional Values (in rural or suburban areas), you may be Christian, Religious Right, or prefer irregular church attendance, if at all. I think Traditional Values is less "about Religion" than it is "about simple daily life" in rural or some suburban areas. Bush often refers to himself as a `simple guy' who loves the simple pleasure of cutting back the brush on his ranch.

There are many traditions stemming from the agricultural past: cycles of planting and harvest, slaughter of animals, and other necessary things requiring one's participation in the violence done to "living things" to maintain family livelihoods. Far too many of us in "Blue" geographies forget that "violence is a part of the whole" of human existence.

In fact, we also forget that `spare the rod and spoil the child' is somewhat of a golden rule to those on the Right - or we forget that the whip tames the horse or drives cattle to behave according to our will.  Earlier this year in New Jersey there was a planned hunt of wild black bears. It was done under court order to weed out well-documented overpopulation resulting from successful endangered species protection. It was demonstrated against by animal lovers. Yet, as a news story on the subject told, animal lovers were forgetting those who lived in rural areas with small children in danger. See how convoluted it becomes? Can we not better understand the "Liberal Elite" label might have some validity? I am an animal lover and yet even I could see the arrogance of the position of the demonstrators. Rather than a compassionate conservative, can we be the Empathetic Democrat? Surely, children have a higher value than bears.

As for the violence of intolerance, I forget also about how rural life demands that we "stand" against those strangers who would steal our cattle or watermelons from the fields. Most men who chased and caught the thieves were held up as models of virtue. Standing up for family and sending sons to avenge Pearl Harbor forms the basis of our current "Traditional Values." Yet this too can breed the intolerance of strangers or the fear of differing cultural values.

I recently attended the opening ceremonies for a war memorial in a very small town in Texas, similar to the Viet Nam "wall" war memorial. All the "sons" of the county were honored there who served in the Spanish American War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, Viet Nam, Desert Storm, etc. It was a very moving experience. My family had 7 names listed there. I could not escape the deep feelings of reverence for the hundreds of names I saw that day on those granite slabs. That reverence is real, and is a vital part of the virtue in violence.

For those of us who are not more than one generation away or a couple of hundred of miles away from our agricultural roots, we need to search our memories and find our empathy. We have to get closer to those who still live in the rural realities of beliefs that protect their way of life and their reverence for sacrifices made. We must understand what they hold dear: their family and the continuation of all they value. We can not educate, mock or shame them into changing to these deeply held values. Empathy is a bridge to Understanding.

We need to find a way to talk about non-violence and tolerance and service to the wider world as John Kennedy challenged us in his "ask not" speech. Yet we must understand the need to hold Traditional Values in respect, and "Build A Bridge Of Empathy between Blue and Red Realities."

by GreyLion 2004-11-12 10:09AM | 0 recs
Re: Empathy Bridge Blue & Red Values
interesting comments.

I grew up and lived in Texas for 36 years (until just a year ago).

I hadn't thought of "stubbornly standing your ground" as as red state or rural specific quality, but I did think that someone like Dean or Nader (as a Dem candidate) would have actually done much better in the red states than Kerry.  I think too many Dems try to reduce it all down to policy and don't understand how much respect and votes they lose by appearing to be wishy-washy moderates with no moral backbone by trying to compromise on policy and principle to gain votes (ironically).

Also, you mention guns, so I have to say I really think liberals need to get a clue and stop all the anti-gun b.s.  I am a staunch supporter of gun rights and I disagree with "liberals" on gun control in principle and in practice.  I also think it's great contradiction to call yourself a liberal and support gun control (oppose gun rights).  For those who diagree, at least consider that the place democrats have the greatest chance to grow is the mountain west like Colorado.  Being anti-gun rights there is shooting yourself in the foot.

by RedStateIndie137 2004-11-12 11:37AM | 0 recs
This reminds me
of the Bush-Feingold voters in Wisconsin.  And of course David Sirota's American Prospect article.
by Seth Baum 2004-12-17 05:46PM | 0 recs
Shave Some Off Here and There
This Brad Carson piece strikes me as immensely important, one to which Attention Must Be Paid.

Remember, this was a Democratic town--and that church, with its barrage of Republican messages, was siphoning off hundreds, if not thousands, of the available Democratic votes in that town.

Now, could Carson have won over the crowd?  Hell, no--no more than David Duke could carry a NAACP convention or Al Sharpton a District Attorneys Association convention.

But could he sway one or two, here or there?  Hell, yes--just as surely as Rove, in 2004, got a few more Jewish votes, a few more Latino votes, a few more seniors' votes, a few more Catholics' votes, a few more of labor's votes than he had in 2000.  Besides mining the base deeper, he also had a less publicized strategy of peeling off a certain part of the Democrat's traditional consituencies--and it worked well.

There has been enough analysis of the electoral maps to show a basic truth: WE NEED MORE VOTES!!  And, we need more states!

How do we get them?  Not by sacrificing our party's, our own principles.  But is there harm, for those of us who are religious, to speak of that, and how it has shaped our choices, our values?  Is there harm in couching policy positions in values terms?  Is there harm in debates and colloquies, in reaching back, and speaking of, first principles and values?  Must we all pretend to be pure secularists, pure materialists ALL the time?  Is there harm in trying to be more appealling to those who do have a concern about the state of values and morals and religion in America?

One other point:  Rush is still beating the drum of the cultural elites' disdain for "the common man", and pushing the politics of resentment.  The progressive side learned from what happened after the Viet Nam war, and how badly the disgust with the troops played.  In both the Gulf War and this time, our side has been carefully and concertedly supporting the troops--while bashing the civilian leadership.  Can't we learn from that reprogramming that we already did on ourselves to DROP THE CONDESCENSION?  Just because someone voted for Bush does not, ipso facto, make them a moron!  Maybe they believed Rove's lies.  Maybe pro-life IS their paramount issue.  Maybe they just couldn't stand Kerry and his ostentatiously displayed millions.  Maybe they don't see distinctions among the Islamic mass, and really do conflate Saddam and Osama.  Maybe they watch Fox too much.  That doesn't, itself and alone, make them bad people!  If you disdain people, they do sense it, and are unlikely to come your way...

by dell 2004-11-12 06:24PM | 0 recs
I Would Agree
I have been involved in politics for almost 45 years and I would say that the rise of the religious right and the fervor that people feel towards those issues is second only to race that I have ever seen drive people.

In the 1960s I saw people that I knew fight tooth and nail to preserve segregation and the southern 'way of life' as it was. But that battle was won although we are still nursing the wounds today. Now we must win the culture war - not by pushing our own versions but by proving their's wrong.

by southerndemnut 2004-11-12 08:00PM | 0 recs
Precisely correct, Chris
The chattering class dismissively laughs at the seemingly through-away talk of "secession" that has been casually mentioned around the blogosphere in the wake of the election, but the crisis we are upon transcends politics and policy to the more fundamental question of culture and social identity. This past election was a cataclysmic event on faultline that divides the diverging cultures of this nation.  If this nation breaks up in the next 20, 50, 100 years -- and IMO it is distinctly possible -- this election will be seen as a watershed event.

It is quite evident that there is no compromise with these people. They will not rest until we live by their values. They need to be made to understand that it will not happen.

They can have their values preeminent or they can have the country whole. But they cannot have both.

The right has declared "culture war."  We in the reality-based, modern community better come to grips right now: We are at war.

War.  Not a few policy differences that can be finessed.  We are in a war to preserve our way of life.  We can either prevail, submit or leave.  There is no compromise middle ground.

by Steve in Sacto 2004-11-12 09:53PM | 0 recs
Carson article
Carson can be forgiven some bitterness--he seemed like as good a Dem candidate as you'll find in Oklahoma.  But he touches on an important point that we Dems will ignore at our peril: how do explain ourselves and our principles in a way thta accounts for the deep moral and religious strain in American political history.  Great liberal movements have had deep roots in religous values and institutions (abolition and civil rights, to name two).  The people who pressed those movements had no qualms about the spiritual dimensions of their efforts--precisely because they unabashedly saw them as moral crusades.  But for those of for whom faith without good works is empty (as Kerry put it), should we not begin to explain our insistence on economic justice, security for seniors great schools for kids in terms of the spiritual values that motivate many of us who work for those goals.  We can debate the details, but Carson has a real point--we're going to continue to lose as long as the other party is seen as having bedrock principles while we're seen as a party that has a laundry list of attractive programs but thinks words like God, spirit and morality can't be spoken.
by bluestatespecial 2004-11-13 06:06PM | 0 recs
Just be real. Be practical. Work with people.
Dont talk down to people. Listen more.

Realize that most Americans are being pushed to the edge, economically. Offer solutions. Don't be lazy, intellectually. I saw that, this election.

The right's goal is to wear us down. Don't let them get away with it. Their threats, etc.

Call them on their hate and lies...

Just be real, dammit.. Open. Human. Honest.

Many parents are working 2 or 3 jobs. So, they are being pushed towards the fundamentalist churches simply because they offer child care - and a support network of sorts. They need this.

The hope of having a community is something we all have.

We need to return to our Depression-era roots..which were a partnership with the religious (not fundamentalist, just family-centered) and secular communities..

by ultraworld 2004-11-14 08:46AM | 0 recs


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