I've written about this before, in a post titled Give the Religious Right Two or Three Decades and They Realize They're Pigeons. Basically the argument is this; the GOP makes noise about abortion, the religious right votes them in, they get right to work removing the sales tax on Bentleys. The GOP makes noise about gay marriage, the religious right votes them in, they get right to work removing barriers to the international trade of Faberge Eggs. The so-called 'values voters' are prizewinning chumps who'll let themselves be screwed over again and again and will keep coming back for more.
Jonathan Freedland makes this case in a Guardian article, Big business, not religion, is the real power in the White House.
Well, it gave George Bush the presidency once before, so why not use it again? Our old friend gay marriage is back, evoked anew by the man in the White House to scare "values voters", most of them Christian conservatives, into voting Republican one more time. It did the business in 2004, when Bush's efforts to turn the election into a referendum on same-sex unions may well have tipped the pivotal state of Ohio, chiefly by persuading social conservatives to get out and vote.
So it's no surprise to see a beleaguered Bush, facing second-term poll numbers in the Nixon depths, reaching for the same stick now. The Republicans could get whipped in November's midterm elections, unless they can persuade God-fearing values voters to turn out to halt the devil of gay marriage all over again.
Nothing especially new, right? Freedland comes to an interesting conclusion though - maybe the democrats should say, "Screw the religious right."
...The Christian right may be the juicier, more telegenic target, but they are not the sole, or even central, driving force of US policy. To take the most serious example, toppling Saddam Hussein was hardly a priority for evangelicals; but invading Iraq, with its oil reserves, was certainly appealing to US big business.
Where does that leave Democrats? It suggests that in November, and again in 2008, they should train their sights on the real enemy. It does not pay to get into a fight with "values voters". More important is to make a values case of their own, putting the moral, even religious, arguments against poverty, environmental despoliation and a greed culture. That could even work as a wedge issue - splitting "values" Republicans from boardroom ones. As for the rest of us, we shouldn't be distracted by a stunt on gay marriage. We should know exactly what it is we are up against.
It's interesting. Has the religious right become such useful idiots for the right because they only pay attention to their issues? What if every time some rightwinger brought up abortion, democrats said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah... Who cares? Let's talk about why you want to give money to rich people." When gay marriage comes up, they might say, "Whatever. By the way, why do you think Paris Hilton needs a tax break on her inheritance?"
Of course, the right has used straw man arguments for years, so it doesn't matter what democrats actually say on these issues.. Bush does it often. "There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins . . . are a different color than white can self-govern," Bush said of critics of his Iraq war. Who said that skin color has anything to do with governance - and since when did the US have a national skin color?
Democrats are too often drawn into these debates that only benefit the GOP. Outside of the religious right, nobody cares about this stuff. Dems should focus on the issues that matter to the average person - the economy, the war, health care, etc. - and point out that voting for the GOP isn't going to help the crazies any. "Got abortion illegal yet? Got evolution out of schools?" they should ask, "The republicans have been screwing these 'values voters' over for years. They don't plan to address it and neither do I. Here's what we need to talk about..."
That could be a winning message.