Will the Religious Right Revolt & Bolt?
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Fri May 18, 2007 at 12:51:08 AM EST
James Dobson, writing at the religious right news site, World Net Daily, declared:
"Speaking as a private citizen and not on behalf of any organization or party, I cannot, and will not, vote for Rudy Giuliani in 2008. It is an irrevocable decision. If given a Hobson's - Dobson's? - choice between him and Sens. Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, I will either cast my ballot for an also-ran - or if worse comes to worst - not vote in a presidential election for the first time in my adult life. My conscience and my moral convictions will allow me to do nothing else."

The former New York Mayor is also not the choice of early religious right strategist and direct mail entrepreneur Richard Viguerie:

"If the Republican Party nominates Rudy Giuliani as its candidate for either president or vice president, I will personally work to defeat the GOP ticket in 2008."
Much more on the flip:
Viguerie, who is also the author of Conservatives Betrayed: How George W. Bush and Other Big Government Republicans Hijacked the Conservative Cause, added:

"Rudy Giuliani is wrong on all of the social issues, is wrong on the Second Amendment, and is pretty much a blank slate on all other issues of importance to conservatives. If the Republican Party nominates him, it is saying to the American people that it has lost all purpose except the raw political desire to hold power. It will be time to put the GOP out of its misery."

The grand coalition between business Republicans and the religious right is, like the religious right itself, undergoing an historic transformation. It has always been an uneasy coalition, but party loyalty appears to be an increasingly one way street, as Republicans who are also social libertarians on such matters as abortion and homosexuality, or indeed, hold mainstream views on separation of church and state, are deemed unacceptable as national candidates by the religious right. On the other hand, Republicans who do not share the religious right social agenda are expected to fall in.

Meanwhile, the overtly theocratic Constitution Party, the nation's third largest political party, is wondering whether 2008 might finally see a sufficient splintering of the GOP to attract a candidate of sufficient national standing, and sufficient grassroots oomph -- to gain a spot on the national stage. For now, the party seems limited to putting out wistful press releases -- like the one praising the performance of Representatives Ron Paul (R-TX) and Tom Tancredo (R-CO) in the latest GOP debate.

Dobson has threatened to bolt the GOP before, but no one took him seriously. He voted for the candidate of the Constitution Party once, but only told the world after the fact. Thus this may be his most forceful such pronouncement to date, and in the wake of the death of Jerry Falwell, the hospitalization of D. James Kennedy and the marginalization of Pat Robertson, Dobson, along with his ally Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, is certainly the most prominent and singularly most powerful leader of the religious right. And his drawing of the line in the sand is making national news. But he is far from alone.

Meanwhile, the religious right has always been multidimensional, and no one person has ever been the sole spokesman for the movement and its many interactive parts. An overtly prochoice pol like Giuliani was never going to get early primary support from any leader of the religious right, but what is interesting here is that Dobson has closed the door to supporting the GOP ticket if Giuliani wins the party nomination. Richard Viguerie is saying the same thing -- and more than a little more. So far, Viguerie has mostly urged conservartives to withhold support for the party and the leading candidates, and taking a wait and see attitude. But Viguerie, who in the 1970s (unsuccessfully) sought with other movement conservatives to join forces with the American Independent Party of George Wallace, is a different matter than Dobson. Now in his 80s, Viguerie does not have the clout he once did. However, he has the standing to say these things and be heard. Viguerie and other movement leaders quietly worked against Gerald Ford in 1976 when they failed to get Reagan the nomination. They decided four years of Jimmy Carter would be preferable to eight years of Ford.

That Viguerie is ratcheting up the rhetoric to the point of saying if Giuliani is the candidate, "it will be time to put the GOP out of its misery" is significant.

and for everyone else for that matter.

The transition period for the religious right I wrote about the other day is well underway, and happens to have come at a time when there no incumbent presidident or vice president in the running for 2008.  American politics is wide open, and for the religious right, that makes things especially tricky.

by Frederick Clarkson on Fri May 18, 2007 at 01:50:47 AM EST

development considering Dobson on his radio show was just talking up national security issues and Rev. Laarman was suggesting a shift of focus for the religious right towards anti-muslim rhetoric and away from the usual gay and abortion agenda.

by Carlos on Fri May 18, 2007 at 11:21:20 AM EST

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