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April 26, 2005

Conservative conscience

Posted by Phil on April 26, 2005 10:55 AM

However, on religious issues there can be little or no compromise. There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God's name on one's behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in 'A,' 'B,' 'C,' and 'D.' Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."

--Barry Goldwater, September 16, 1981 (Emphasis pk's.)

Via Andrew Sullivan: "I wonder if Goldwater could even exist within today's Republican establishment."

I've certainly had enough vengeful, Old Testament religion, but to be quite honest, I would welcome a little Sermon-on-the-Mount Christianity (link added 4/29). Instead, while they jamhandle Senate rules to defend "people of faith," the bankruptcy bill is how the pious President Bush and Capitol Hill Republicans (and some Democrats) attend to good neighbors like our daycare provider, who Cindy wrote me about this morning:

I almost made myself late today talking with M__. I knew she was moving, but it turns out they're moving because her husband's company has been downsizing for a long time (they make glass for GM SUVs, and business is drying up). He's gone from making $60K a year to $28K. Three years ago he fell and broke his ankle, and then a blood clot traveled from his ankle up his leg and he missed work, and they got behind on their house payments. She's lived in that house for 31 years, but they ultimately had to claim bankruptcy between being behind and him losing half his income, and they've lost their house. (She said either 40 or 60 percent of the people at his company have lost their houses.) I've been thinking about her all day. As sunny and fun as she is when I drop off Tommy, I had no idea she was dealing with this kind of adversity.

She's the kind of person the credit card companies are now going to punish.

Yes, if, on top of everything else, they're unlucky enough to make too much money.

It's encouraging, though, that strategic panders to the superstitions and prejudices of a bellicose minority is earning Republicans poll results like this.

Perhaps some people in M__'s situation still fret about gay marriage, Terri Schiavo, the estates of America's wealthiest 2% being taxed, or a handful of GOP loyalists being denied judgeships, but the numbers obviously dip.