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May 25, 2005
HOWARD FINEMAN SUGGESTS -- perhaps a bit hopefully -- that the filibuster compromise represents a political turning point:
A generation ago, voters turned against the Democrats for the excesses of their welfare-state, big-government thinking. Washington WASN’T the answer to everything.
But, voters may conclude, the Bible isn't either. They could turn against the GOP if they think the party is sacrificing the American tradition of pragmatism and respect for scientific progress – on, say, stem-cell research – in favor of religious fundamentalism, however sincere. Take a look at some of the key supporters of stem-cell research: Nancy Reagan, to name one – not to mention corporate executives who don’t want to see research money and energy drift away to other countries. Two religions are in collision, one of them secular and scientific, the other Biblical.
I've been warning of this for a while, and I think it bears repeating: Americans, for the most part, don't share in the reflexive hostility to religion found in the upper reaches of journalism and the academy. On the other hand, Americans don't like self-righteous busybodies -- whether of the PC left or the religious right -- telling them how to live, either.
There's a relatively small group -- under 20% of the electorate, I'd guess -- that would really like to recast American society under far more religiously determined lines. That's enough to steer the Republican party to disaster, as a similar group has done for the Democrats, but not enough to win elections much. The Democrats' problem, of course, is that they're even more dominated by their fringe than the Republicans, and the fact that the media establishment tends to share those views will make it harder for them to extricate themselves from this fix.