The New York Times> Opinion> Jon Danforth: In the Name of Politics:
By a series of recent initiatives, Republicans have transformed our party into the political arm of conservative Christians. The elements of this transformation have included advocacy of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, opposition to stem cell research involving both frozen embryos and human cells in petri dishes, and the extraordinary effort to keep Terri Schiavo hooked up to a feeding tube.
Senator Danforth, you have a reputation as a decent guy, but I'm not sure the man who was single-handedly responsible for the elevation of Clarence Thomas should be pointing fingers. But you know me, it's your fight. I'm just here for the catcalls.
High-profile Republican efforts to prolong the life of Ms. Schiavo, including departures from Republican principles like approving Congressional involvement in private decisions and empowering a federal court to overrule a state court, can rightfully be interpreted as yielding to the pressure of religious power blocs.
It's early days yet, but I'm gonna show my cards anyway. Spare me the claims that this is some recent development. It's the result of thirty years of cross-breeding experiments. The whole Right to Life business has been money in the bank for your party for a generation. Reed and Falwell and Robertson were supposed to keep their people in check, as when they swallowed hard and backed Dole or when they agreed to stay off the convention dais during prime time. They got to enrich their licensed beggar operations via the public airwaves, they got to funnel money in who knows how many directions with no oversight, and they got whatever personal perks were thrown into the bargain. They've had veto power over Republican nominees for AG and education, until they finally got the appointment power ceeded to them. And that's not to mention the real money behind it all. This was always a bargain with the devil and you knew it. Now it turns to bite you and you say, "I just blinked and there they were"?
The problem is not with people or churches that are politically active. It is with a party that has gone so far in adopting a sectarian agenda that it has become the political extension of a religious movement.
Nah, it's with a party that thought it could buy religious radical votes with biennial Anti-abortion and School Prayer amendments it had no real interest in passing, a party which now finds its pet-food empire patricians encircled by the rabble. The Republican party could have prevented this continual traffic-jam of debate over 19th Century theology by putting the extremists in their minority place. Instead you stoked the fires. The Reagan FBI never investigated anti-abortion violence. "Just a series of local incidents." You could have done your job and upheld the rule of law. It would have cost votes and money, though.
Then came the time when your boy had to play the Jesus card to grab the office. Oh, Lord, who coulda foreseen it?
As a senator, I worried every day about the size of the federal deficit. I did not spend a single minute worrying about the effect of gays on the institution of marriage. Today it seems to be the other way around.
And it's been that way for a decade. C'mon, effective control of Congress, and the Executive, for most of the last quarter-century, and the only time we've cut the deficit was with a Democrat in the White House. Where is the Republican legacy? It's not in deficit reduction, jobs, or smaller government. We don't have term limits, voluntary or otherwise. Our military is fractured, our international standing is nil, our very words are suspect. The boats in that rising tide sailed for India with our jobs. And the national debate centers on the wording of the Plejuleejunce and whether pharmicists should fill prescriptions.
The historic principles of the Republican Party offer America its best hope for a prosperous and secure future.
Were you listening to what I just said? Massive deficits, cuts in Social Security threatening not just the future of the elderly, but the disabled and homeless as well. Increasing disparity between rich and poor. Deplorable health care and prescription costs. Monopolistic control of the airwaves. Foolish and ill-considered international adventurism. Of course, if by prosperous and secure future you mean one in which our elected officials will spend every non-fundraising moment searching for communists in Hollywood, or ordering Ten Commandment accessories for the courthouse lawn, or keeping science out of our public school rooms, then, yeah. I'd have to agree.