A Party In the Holiday Spirit, 365 Days A Year

It's nearly impossible to talk about the future of the GOP without hearing an opinion, one way or another, about the future role of "the Religious Right" in the party.  Some would argue it's time for the GOP to drop talk of God, that religion has poisoned the party and has turned away Independents and moderates; others say maintaining a focus on Christian values is essential to the survival of the Right.

But in Barack Obama's 2004 address at the Democratic Convention, he remarked "We worship an awesome God in the blue states...", and he's right - it's not just in the "red states" that folks are pouring into churches tonight to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

So since we're in a spiritual time of the year, what better a time to do some serious reflection on the role that Christianity should play in the Republican Party? For the GOP to position itself as an exclusive club for the devoutly evangelical is to forfeit elections for years to come.  But is there a place for God in the Republican Party?

Yes.  Absolutely. 

But when we think of Christianity in our politics, what do we immediately think of?  We think of angry protests over Proposition 8 in California.  We think of the left angrily denouncing Rick Warren's selection to offer a prayer at Obama's inauguration.  We think of angry clashes over abortion.   We think of angry parents having angry battles over the teaching of evolution in school.  We think of putting up the Ten Commandments in courthouses and lawsuits over nativity scenes. Both sides are guilty of stirring up anger in the name of moral values.

But if those debates are how the Republican Party has supposedly "cornered the market" on Christianity, we sure haven't been dealing with the kind of Christianity that I saw tonight at church, that millions of Americans deal with as a powerful force for good in their everyday lives. 

For all of the emphasis on winning over Christian voters by appealing to a narrow set of "Christian values"- defending marriage, protecting the unborn, teaching Intelligent Design in schools [see comments for edit] - I'd much rather see Republican (or, in fact, all) politicians speaking about the "Christian value" that I think matters just as much if not more to the vast majority of Christian Americans - love thy neighbor.

The idea of "love thy neighbor" isn't an exclusively Christian belief.  And we shouldn't be an exclusively Christian party.

Yet we as a party have painted ourselves into a corner.  Part of driving a "base strategy" means too often we've turned religion into a divider instead of a uniter.  We've focused on the aspects of Christianity that fracture while all but ignoring what Republican policies can do to make sure Americans can afford to buy a Christmas tree, to have a roof over their head and a healthy family to celebrate with. 

And I'll tell you what - the tree and the roof and the healthy family matter more to most Americans than the divisive issues we've primarily used to bring Christianity into our political discourse. 

Moreover, can we claim to be a party that represents Christian values when we run campaign ads that are willfully malicious, disingenuous, or misleading?  When we are focused on tearing down our opponent without discussing how our own personal values shape the sorts of policies we'd like to pursue?  From a political perspective, our brand as the party that isn't afraid to sling mud and go to nasty extremes to win elections (without discussing solutions) has been built up and continues to eat away at the American people's trust in us.  ("Compassionate conservatism" didn't pan out so well.)

And setting politics aside, I'd like to think we can do better.

(On a related note, stop what you're doing right now and go run to Amazon.com and buy yourself a copy of Morris Fiorina's Culture War? The Myth of a Polarized America.)

The notion that every human life is sacred is an important one, and not one that should be cast out of the party, I'll readily agree.  But the dignity of human life is important for the unborn as well as those born and living among us as our neighbors - the alone, the sick, the needy.   We need advocates for the unborn in our party, but so too do we need an agenda that focuses on the dignity of human life and mutual respect in our inner cities, in the third world, in our schools.  We can't focus on one and ignore the other without essentially cherry picking when we decide we care about human life.

Is it easier to appear "compassionate" when you can simply say that the government should provide everything to everyone?  Sure.  The Left has an easier tale to tell in many regards.  The idea of an activist government lends itself to painting a pretty picture of a world where every child gets educated by a great teacher in a class of 12 students, where every American can go to the doctor whenever they need to and receive top-quality health care regardless of their ability to pay, where the poor are given a home and a job.

Wouldn't that be great?  And there, you have an outcome that the other side has articulated.  And it's a pretty good one.  It's one where there's a lot of "loving thy neighbor" going on, even if the love is government mandated.

We on the Right know that the policies the Left will push to achieve these outcomes only lead to dependency and dead-ends, a stagnant economy and a stagnant nation.  We know that Americans are at their best when they are doing good in their communities, and that private citizens and organizations have a powerful ability to make change in the lives of those in need.  But it can be tough to reconcile believing that everyone should be treated with respect and compassion, that everyone has a right to a happy, healthy life...while also saying it's not the government's job to give it to everyone or to construct a perfect (and "perfectly" managed) society. OK then, if not the government's job, whose job is it? 

I think this is where Matt Moon's earlier posts about the "opportunity society" come in - we on the Right don't think government is the be-all end-all answer to all the ills of society, but we can give everyone a chance.  And we as a party need to talk about these issues instead of running in fear and ceding the ground to the Left because we don't know how to have a conversation about what we believe about poverty, about health care, about education.  If we want to connect to Americans and their values, we can't pretend these issues don't matter or that we can just talk about tax credits and try to change the subject.  

Do our candidates and leaders need to wear their religion on their sleeve? No.  Religion itself is a very personal matter to many Americans, and the blend of religion and politics that is intended to demagogue and divide will hopefully find its way out the door.  A focus on religion as a litmus test for our leaders, as an exclusionary aspect of partisanship, is doomed to failure.  

But many Americans have a place for spirituality in their lives, whatever shape or form that comes in, and there is something important driving millions of Americans to go to church tonight.  God matters to America, and matters in politics - just maybe not in the way we've been lead to believe. The season of hope, happiness and love isn't just a Christian phenomenon; it's something everyone can take part in, and it's a spirit I hope won't be forgotten as soon as the presents are all opened.

This debate will go on and on and on in the coming weeks as we prepare to select our RNC chair and to set our party on a course to bounce back in 2010.   The role that religion, and in particular Christianity, will play in the party will hopefully receive a healthy amount of attention and discussion. 

And in the spirit of the holidays, I'd encourage Republicans to remember that there's a lot more to the Christian faith than the hot-button issues that we're told drive religious voters.  

Tonight in church, I heard a lot about hope, about happiness, about giving and love for one another.  If we want to move forward as a party that takes sound values to heart, I'd suggest these values as the best place to start.

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evolution or Intelligent Design ?

Just to point out ... you say:


For all of the emphasis on winning over Christian voters by appealing to a narrow set of "Christian values"- defending marriage, protecting the unborn, teaching evolution in schools


Unfortunately, the present-day Republican party is perceived more as fighting to teach Intelligent Design in schools rather than evolution.

(The rest of the article makes some good points.)

Yes, indeed

You're right, the sentence would be more clear the way you describe it...as it stands, the sentence looks like I'm saying the GOP wants us to teach evolution as an expression of Christian values, which isn't how I intended it!  Making the edit presently. Thanks!

We need to do a better job tying in social

conservatism with fiscal conservatism; nearly all the Senators who voted against the Big 3 bailout are socially conservative.

Look at it this way, if the 2012 Republican candidate won 80% of white born-again evangelicals and could turnout them out to where they accounted for 30% of the voting population; Obama's 9 million vote margin would be cut in half.  McCain actually did turnout the "base" as white born-again evangelicals accounted for 26% of the electorate with McCain winning 74% of them compared to 78% for Bush in 2004 when they accounted for 23% of the voting electorate.  The electorate is getting more religious and more Christian but we've got to win more of them and I think the way to do it is to stress how closely tied fiscal conservatism is to social conservatism.  After all, even Falwell supported lower taxes and less government intervention into the market.


Religion can be a powerful tool, and anytime it's used to unify vs. divide I am apt to celebrate it. It gives me hope to hear a conservative talking about caring for ones neighbor. I've always thought it a shame that conservative needed the descriptor "compassionate" before it to assert the Right has a heart.

I hope the GOP heeds your call. It's a good one.

I'm not so sure....

I have to dissent here.  I'm all for the positive agenda and communicating it more effectively; I think that's HUGELY important.

That said, the politics of fear/divsion/resentment are a time tested and proven winner.  Case in point: George W. Bush and Richard Nixon both used them shamlessly and both won twice.  Bob Dole and John McCain didn't use them and both lost.  George H.W. Bush used them in 1988 and won then failed to use them in 1992 (when Bill Clinton offered a wealth of targets) and lost.

While the need for better marketing of the positive agenda is obvious, the politics of fear are timeless.  Who cares if we hurt the feelings of a couple crybaby democrats?

The politics of fear weren't used in McCain's campaign?

What about the constant implications that Obama would let the terrorists win? Or the whole Pastor Wright affair? What about Bill Ayers?

I'm pretty sure those led to some fear, division and resentment.

The Republican Party needs another Barry Goldwater

Let's leave God out of politics. We have a secular government, not a Christian theocracy. The last real Republican, Barry Goldwater, didn't want anything to do with the Christian theocrats who infest the Republican party today.

Christian attacks against science education, which is why intelligent design creationism was invented, makes me angry. I've been voting for Republicans for many years, but this year I voted for the Democrats because I'm disgusted with today's brain-dead scientifically illiterate Republican theocrats.


Barry Goldwater lost 44 states...

...Richard Nixon won 4 years later.

Goldwater was ahead of his time

although this appears arbitrary at this point.

Still, no shame in that.

McCain was likely ahead of his time, by some 20 to 30 yrs.

That's why his campaign was so shameful.

I can't even count the number of people (self included) that have said that they would have prefered to vote for the McCain of 10 yrs ago.... 

Yes, he was ahead of his

Yes, he was ahead of his time.  And the last true conservative presidential candidate.  Ron Paul was a candidate in his mold but lacked Goldwater's practicality.  Also agree about the appeal of the 'old' McCain ... the 2008 version was indeed shameful.  I would give my next paycheck to hear Goldwater's take on the current state of the Republican party, its leaders and the behavior of most of of its elected representatives -- now THAT would be entertainment!

You bit off a mouthful....

...and not half of it's been chewed.

One of the wonders of the internet is that I've met a few Jews.  I grew up in a place without any Jews, and I had never met any of them.

I am fascinated by their work in the Talmud.

I know of two, a Rabbi Daniel, and a Rabbi Brenner, both in New York, that I care to read.

Also, I have met muslims.  This is cool, too,  as some of them take care to explain their scriptures.

These people are natural spitfire conservatives that, for some reason, have ben turned-off by the GOP.  If the GOP could effectively disqualify less voters, the results could be telling.


EDIT: Would like to say that most of these Jews & muslims are typically unconcerned about Chirstmas.  They know that it's the Christains' big day, and they're ok with that.

The people making trouble are always the outside. 

It is because I love my neighbor that I vote GOP

I have a number of Christian friends here in Hollywood who voted for Barack because they felt he would do more to "take care of people" than the GOP.  Having seen how well the democrats "take care" of our neighbors, it is precisely because Jesus has called us to love our neighbors that I vote GOP.  Jesus didn't say, "vote for people who will take care of my people," He said, "YOU love your neighbor."  

Liberal policies, in trying to help people, end up keeping them stuck in their situation.  Those in need grow accustomed to looking to the government to help them, rather than getting themselves out.  I'd rather have lower taxes and a smaller government that allows me to take care of my neighbor the way I see best, as opposed to a government monopoly with no competition!

then vote democratic. they're the urban party

and the cities are the only places that can afford smaller government. everyone knows that money flows out of Blue areas to Red areas, at least if they think about it for just a minute.

RE: Party In Holiday Spirit

<<Some would argue it's time for the GOP to drop talk of God>>

To drop the talk of God (or more appropriately, the church), is in direct conflict of the constitution.  The constitution clearly talks of the separation of church and state.  However, that only means that the state cannot decide in matters of the church nor can the church decide in matters for the state.  The fact that the existence of church and state are postulated, indicates that the two entities are core components of American culture.  More so in fact than a democratic party, republican party, libertarian party, etc.

<<For the GOP to position itself as an exclusive club for the devoutly evangelical is to forfeit elections for years to come>>

This statement is an interpretation and in fact, is not logical.  The GOP puts forth a platform.  Just because a significant group of people, who just happen to fall under the category of "evangelical christian" believes in the platform does not infer that the GOP has positioned itself towards christianity or for that matter, any other religion.

<<But when we think of Christianity in our politics, what do we immediately think of?  We think of angry protests over Proposition 8 in California.  We think of the left angrily denouncing Rick Warren's selection to offer a prayer at Obama's inauguration.  We think of angry clashes over abortion.   We think of angry parents having angry battles over the teaching of evolution in school.  We think of putting up the Ten Commandments in courthouses and lawsuits over nativity scenes. Both sides are guilty of stirring up anger in the name of moral values>>

A position in itself only becomes contentious when someone disagrees with it.  The level of disagreement can range from verbal argument (teenager wanting to stay out all night) to all out civil war (enslavement).  This is a simple fact of humanity.  You do not term a position negative just because someone disagrees with it and makes a lot of noise.  You hold your position.  You use science, fact, and in our society, a majority (democracy) to affirm position. The fact that you want to "cave" just because someone makes a bunch of noise is akin to being a parent and caving in to the three year old temper tantrum. 

<<We need advocates for the unborn in our party, but so too do we need an agenda that focuses on the dignity of human life and mutual respect in our inner cities, in the third world, in our schools.  We can't focus on one and ignore the other without essentially cherry picking when we decide we care about human life.>>

So the social perception of "dignity" is more important than saving a human life?  You state that we "cherry pick".  Try prioritize.  Your belief that inner city folk and citizens of third world nations have less "dignity" than others says more about your elitist perceptions about financial position than it does about reality.  The simple fact is that many "inner city" folk have a higher net worth than those in suburbia with the house, two cars, credit card bills, etc.  Assets = Liabilities + Equity.  The same arguments hold true for "3rd world nation citizens".  Dignity is a self perception.

And finally, this post seems conciliatory in nature.  I submit that one must hold strong to core beliefs.  Negotiate on positions that have flexibility.  Success of a platform is not measured on any one election cycle.  Rather, it is measured over time.  Consistency is required because the country will need to gravitate to something when this democratic noveau change ideology fails.  Coloring everything to one happy shade of gray is not an option....and is not necessary for success. 

Can you show me where?

You said. "The constitution clearly talks of the separation of church and state."

I've never seen the words "separation of church and state" in the Constitution.  Can you please show me where it says that? 

Our first Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." 

Re: Can You Show Me Where..

You're absolutely right.  By writing "separation of church and state", I used the concept of "settled law" when writing the post. 

Thomas Jefferson himself coined the phrase

Thomas Jefferson himself coined the phrase "seperation of church and state" to explain what the combined effect of the anti-establishment clause and the free exercise clause.

The concept goes back to the Greeks

...and their ideas of 'natural rights.'  This was an effect of the discovery that most non-Greek nations had similar laws over what an individual's rights were.  Our right of habeas corpus is derived from that source.

Later, the rule of the Holy Roman Empire spread the idea that a king could rule only by the will of God, which gave great power to the pope.  This view readily neglects those other regions unknown to the pope which were also ruled by a king.

Anyway, this was one of the big things behind England going protestant.  Nevertheless, the Anglican line was that God wanted their king to be king.

The US was the first nation in history to be founded on the basis of natural rights.

In summary, the opposite of 'separation of church and state' is the 'divine right of kings.'

It is not seemly that so many should argue in favor of the St Bartholomew's Day Massacre

> Do our candidates and

> Do our candidates and leaders need to wear their religion on their sleeve? No.

Oh? How else can they paint the other side as godless, radical, elitist and out of touch with normal, 'god-fearing' Americans, if not by pointing at divine credentials? Cahnman's abhorrent "the ends justify the means" position is absolutely right: divisiveness works, so why not use it? The irony is that these tactics are utterly at odds with what Jesus himself would have preached.

> The fact that the existence of church and state are postulated, indicates that the two entities are core components of American culture.

Wow. Your ability to miss the point is astonishing. This goes for almost everything else you quoted as well. What does net worth have anything to do with the dignity of human life? You might try responding to the post as written rather than your own brand of nonsense.

> Consistency is required because the country will need to gravitate to something when this democratic noveau change ideology fails.  Coloring everything to one happy shade of gray is not an option....and is not necessary for success.

The essence of the post is that religious divisiveness may not lead to success in the future. The OP wants to find a common ground. What you consider a "shade of gray" is what everyone else would call compromise, a necessity in a country as heterogeneous as ours. If you think a Democratic failure to fix the economy would result in a wholesale rush to prayer in schools, so-called intelligent design, and the overturn of Roe, you're living on another planet. 


<<The fact that the existence

<<The fact that the existence of church and state are postulated, indicates that the two entities are core components of American culture. Wow. Your ability to miss the point is astonishing. This goes for almost everything else you quoted as well. >>

Unsubstantiated opinion on your behalf AlexD.  Both the church and the state are distinctly referenced in the constitution.  Therefore, the existence has been defined.

What does net worth have anything to do with the dignity of human life? You might try responding to the post as written rather than your own brand of nonsense.

When the original poster references inner-city, third-world nations, etc and the concept of dignity, the poster obviously is making a connection/inference between financial position and dignity. 

Statements are defended.  Do you have anything else to add other than "Wow's and opinion based upon...well...nothing.





War, torture, and Christians

Here in Washington, when we think Christianity and politics, we immediately think of the main issue of the election - opposition to the war and torture.  It's the banners covering the churches, it's what people talk about, it's what drives voters.  And it's what completely baffles Christans - how you can you go to a Christian church and vote for someone who supports war?

What would Jesus do?  Or more to the point, Who would Jesus bomb?

Who would Jesus Bomb???

Well, if he were smart, he'd start with the Iranians.

Re: Who Would Jesus Bomb?

Probably the Romans...or if he liked mel gibson's movie,  maybe the Jews.  In any case, it would be an H bomb.  He's pissed.  He had to carry that cross for miles, that damned thorny crown made his head all but bleed out...and to top it all off, the evil doers hung him out to dry on that hill up there till he died.....all the time listening to that con-artist thief attempting to make one last con.  Oh, he'd be bombing all right. 

Jesus would Bomb

Those who really really really really deserve it.

James, you might want to get out more. Opposition to the war was nowhere on the map for this election, neither was "torture." It was the economy, sir.

War is pretty darn bad - but it's not the worst thing. Living in slavery is worse. Being targets for statist scum is worse. Not being able to defend your family against attack is worse. Obsequious mice giving up their families to despots is worse.

Outstanding post

Really. Quite good. Speaking as a die-hard fiscal conservative who doesn't mind a few commonsense regulations, but would ideally rather the Government go and get shot behind the woodshed, I still feel disappointed in the innate hostility that a lot of my brethren in the fiscal wing (hostility which I have been guilty of) show towards the social wing. This "love thy neighbor" argument ought to be emphasized more by our side, and if we've forgotten the days when Jimmy Carter could promise family values legislation with a straight face, and then stack the "family values" commissions with radical feminists, then we've forgotten how to win. It's true that we need to emphasize the communitarian aspects of our party more to appeal to these folks. I was going to touch on this in one of my own posts, but I think one way to do this is by noting that while libertarians (especially of the Randian variety) want the freedom to be great people, that in itself requires communal notions of greatness by which to measure oneself. And that in itself requires a community healthy enough that it can afford to aspire to greatness. Thus libertarianism is equally dependent on  community to survive, and we need to reconcile th two.

With that said, I have to reluctantly agree with Cahman that this isn't ALL to do. As George Will pointed out, politics is basically the systematic organization of our animosities, and if we can't exploit those animosities for all they're worth, we're a bad party indeed. Democrats do the same thing when they demonize "fundamentalists" of both the "market" and "religious" varieties, and we have to have our "bad  cop" side too, as a result. The Spiro Agnews and Karl Roves are here to stay, but let's hope we don't lose the Goldwaters and the Reagans along the way.

Separation of Church and State

We need to keep God out of politics, like Bob said. Christianity is not the only religion in America anymore, and its fast on its way to becoming the minority. If we continue to only appeal to the minority, we will continue to be the minority party. We are turning people off to our party because some of us use religion way too much. So what if Obama is Muslim? Why should anyone care? The McCain campaign couldn't convince America that McCain should be president because it spent too much time trying to prove that Obama was a Muslim and now, to non-Christians, we look like a bunch of fools.  If people want to pass laws allowing abortion and gay marriage, then that's how it goes. People have as much right to make terrible decisions as much as they do to make good ones. It should matter more what a man does than what sacred text he reads.

Don't like religion? Join the Libertarians

Seriously.  I'm pretty much sick of the atheist/agnostic Right telling Republicans that the problem here is Too Much God.  The Republican Party has always been about moral values, all the way from its very inception.  Republicans were opposed to slavery not merely on purist libertarian grounds but, more prominently, because they believed the treatment of slaves was inhumane, unjust and immoral.  Republicans oppose abortion today for the same reasons, and I'm very proud.  And it's our reliance on God that gives us strength to advocate for moral principles that we know are right.  Take away God from the Republican Party and I guarantee that the culture wars will come to an end with a victorious Left.  And when the Left is victorious, they won't stop at drive-thru abortions and human cloning for organ harvesting.  They will be in power to enact their economic agenda as well.

Besides, there is so much interconnection between the supposedly separate strands of 'fiscal conservatism' and 'social conservatism'.  Fiscal conservatives oppose high taxes because it's bad for business.  Great.  Guess what - social conservatives ALSO tend to oppose high taxes.  Why?  Because high taxes means an ever-expanding state which means an ever-expanding threat to religious liberty.  Social conservatives oppose the welfare state because an individual dependent on the state for everything is a person robbed of his/her God-given dignity.  And, quite frankly, this is a much more powerful argument against the welfare state than dry sets of statistics about the federal government's budget outlays.

Lol, drive-thru abortions

Christ, I forget sometimes that leftist caricatures of Republicans have a basis in fact. A lot of my friends vote liberal, but all of the ones I've talked to who are pro-abortion still think it's a terrible thing and would like to see it end, they just personally have trouble reconciling their feelings about abortion and the fact that they feel they don't have the right to tell other people how to live.

I don't know a single one who wouldn't be sickened at the thought of "drive-thru abortions".

And I hope fiscal Republicans do start flocking to the Libertarians, then your social-conservative GOP would finally turn into a rump party stuck in the South.

"I don't know a single one

"I don't know a single one who wouldn't be sickened at the thought of "drive-thru abortions"."

That is great news.  And do you know why that is?  Because of intense, unrelenting, persistent campaigning by evangelical, religious, fundamentalist pro-lifers who successfully changed the national consciousness on abortion.  Think about what abortion meant in the late 70's.  It really was just another medical procedure with little moral significance.  I guarantee, if your liberal friends were transported back in time, they wouldn't have such a problem with abortion.

I have no problem with infanticide

if the child would die by the age of ten, otherwise (and would in the meantime be crippled and malnourished). Believe you me, most 70's folks that I've met still have problems with abortion. don't know who you knew, but they still do.

Always about religion?

The Republican Party has always been about conservatism, and you are missing some of those major points. Someone who thinks that the party is only responsible to listening to the religious right needs to reevaluate why they vote Republican in the first place. Reagan never ran on the connection that people loose their god given dignity because of the welfare state. The reason why conservatives oppose the welfare state is because of the bureaucratic nonsense that comes along with it. I think all republicans would agree that universal healthcare and welfare that covered everyone would be amazing. But as conservatives we do not oppose it for religious reasons, but for realistic reasons. We know that it is not economically feasible and the government only ruins what the private sector would otherwise operate at a better cost, further spreading jobs and wealth to other people. That is what being a republican would look like if you took the God away from the Republican Party. It would be a conservative party filled with people who want smaller government, lower taxes, and traditional compassion (as in a person doing something good for someone else out of their own heart or religiously whatever). If this was the Republican Party we would be able to create a larger tent and dominate politics from here on out. The Religious Right had hijacked this party as a devote Catholic it makes me sad at times to say that I am a Republican.

Sadly, no

No, the Republican Party has not always been about conservatism as we understand the term today.  See: Teddy Roosevelt.  See: Nixon.  Hell, see GWB.

Furthermore, you write:

"The reason why conservatives oppose the welfare state is because of the bureaucratic nonsense that comes along with it. I think all republicans would agree that universal healthcare and welfare that covered everyone would be amazing. But as conservatives we do not oppose it for religious reasons, but for realistic reasons."

That is not just why this conservative opposes the welfare state.  Your argument implies that if we could design an efficient-enough bureaucracy to deliver socialized medicine, then conservatives should have no problem with it because it's efficient.  I would still oppose it, and I hope a large majority of my colleagues would as well, because socialized medicine, no matter how efficient it may be, robs people of their liberty and of their dignity as individual human beings.

Hmm .... would you then argue

Hmm .... would you then argue we should be allowed to 'opt out' of other common-good services -- police, fire, parks, etc.?  I'm just trying to understand why Republicans so oppose any effort to explore universal health care.  How does provision of medical services differ from other services commonly accepted by most Republicans as appropriate for government to administer?  I'm not an expert on the Canadian or European health systems, but don't recall hearing that their citizens are forced to receive medical services at gunpoint -- how do their systems rob people of their liberty and dignity?

Just because the State has

Just because the State has already socialized some things doesn't mean it should socialize other things. I personally wouldn't mind being able to opt out of national parks, though I think police are necessary to protect us from infringements on our negative rights, like our right to life or our right to liberty.

As for how Canadian and European style systems rob people of their liberty and dignity, they're not stupid enough to do it obviously, which is why I understand your confusion. However, speaking for myself, I find the idea of being dependent on the State for my hospital visits - even if the bureaucracy is efficient - to be a tremendous burden because it means that I have one less thing to provide for myself if I want to change the ruling regime. If the State provided me with free health care, but was tyrannical in other ways, then I might still want to prop up the State just because I was afraid for my own life if I  ever got sick, and this might lead me to ignore all sorts of atrocities the State might commit. I don't want that sort of perverse incentive.

Also, Europe and Canada are governed by a parliamentary system, which is one of the reasons why I'd argue their system works at all, and would be a miserable failure here.

A democracy where people are dependent on the State for health

Surely a democracy where people are dependent on the State for healthcare is better than our current situation where people are dependent on their employer for coverage. At least people can vote to change their government.  However, if you are stuck in a deadend job you hate and have a health problem (or a health problem in your family) it can be difficult or impossible to leave. I consider that to be a massive impariment of personal liberty.

I don't understand your observation that parliamentary systems make Europan/Canadian systems possible.

Alright, firstly, I'd much

Alright, firstly, I'd much rather be dependent on my job than on a "Democracy" for my health care, and I also reject the implied dichotomy. The reason jobs provide health care is because we give them tax incentives to do so. I agree with John McCain insofar as I'd like to see those tax incentives applied to individuals instead. But if you think I'm going to trust my fellow citizens to provide me with a good government that will provide me with the health coverage I need, you must be mad! Why would I trust what is currently a nation of Obama voters?

With respect to parliamentary systems, let me explain. In a parliamentary system, there's basically no checks and balances. The Prime minister controls both the Executive and the Legislative functions, and anything the Prime Minister wants to pass in Parliament gets passed, assuming there's no extremely powerful coalition against it. There is also frequently a lack of a written constitution, which makes it a lot easier to make laws creatively. As such, Parliamentary systems are better equipped to provide massive amounts of services like health care because they have less legal red tape to get through in administering the services, and less political opposition to worry about. In short, they work because they're closer to dictatorship than the American system.

Then how do you feel about

Then how do you feel about Medicare and the VA system?  It seems to me that the government is already in the health care business in a pretty substantial way, which is another source of my confusion about why Republicans oppose universal health coverage.  Heck, I'll settle for the same medical coverage that Congress gives itself and doesn't have any problem with me paying for through my taxes.    Odd that they don't think that's appropriate for the rest of us.

I think I read somewhere that Medicare provides coverage/services at much lower cost than private insurance does?  Not sure about that, but thought I read that somewhere.  I've also read horror stories about VA provision of services but would think that's a double-edged sword, politically:  if you argue the government shouldn't be in the health care business but support the VA system, then you're arguing that government is the best provider of their coverage even if it's deficient AND that vets don't deserve better than deficient care. 

I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on why conservatives support Medicare and the VA system as valid federal government programs, but feel that extending medical coverage to the whole population by some mechanism wouldn't be conservative?

What if I told you I disagree

What if I told you I disagree both with politicians using taxpayer dollars to fund their own healthcare, and with the VA system?

However, I think the argument about why politicians get it and you don't has nothing to do with your identity, and everything to do with the  fact that providing coverage like that to a small number of politicians is much easier than providing it to the entire country, both fiscally and logistically. That doesn't mean I agree with it, but that's one explanation.

Then we agree!  Just to be

Then we agree!  Just to be clear, I don't take the lack of congressional-type coverage being extended to me personally (i.e., because of my identity) -- and I know full well that it is but one of many, many perks they feel they deserve at our expense but would staunchly oppose for the general population.  Which brings us to the low approval ratings for Congress and rampant cynicism about our government...

I'm honestly curious to hear what you think about Medicare as it relates to "socialized medicine"?  Is there a distinction? 

In principle? Not at all.

In principle? Not at all. They differ by degree, but yeah, medicare is definitely a very mild, very restricted and, in my opinion, pointless example of socialized medicine.

Thanks.  Pointless in what

Thanks.  Pointless in what way?  So a truly conservative viewpoint would argue for eliminating Medicare and the VA system, as part of the argument against extending universal coverage?  Do you know of any Republicans advocating that?

Medicare is pointless insofar

Medicare is pointless insofar as it currently does a very poor job of fulfilling the goals it was allegedly  constructed to fulfill. I don't think necessarily killing it is the right answer, but it needs  reform at the very least.

And as to whether I see Republicans advocating this, not as such, but I'll refer you to this quote to explain why:

"Radical conservatives in this country have an interesting time of it, for when they are not being suppressed or mutilated by Liberals, they are being ignored or humiliated by a great many of those of the well-fed Right, whose ignorance and amorality of never been exaggerated for the same reason that one cannot exaggerate infinity."-William F. Buckley, Jr.

Of course, he later got some of his ideas through, but we conservatives have always had an uphill battle. I don't agree with everything the Republicans do or do not choose to stand for, but they have a better track record of doing it than Democrats.

Interesting response -- I

Interesting response -- I appreciate the clarification.  Medicare is a sacred cow, politically, so I know that neither party would dare suggest killing or even seriously wounding it, but support for Medicare is a glaring inconsistency with the opposition to universal coverage.  I suppose I would agree that Republicans had a better track record in the more-distant past but I think their recent support of the Medicare drug bill leads younger voters to see more hypocrisy in their position than that of the Dems -- Republicans support growing Medicare coverage because it's politically useful with older voters but any talk of coverage for younger people and, whoa, hold on there, we can't have that!  But no explanation is offered as to why Medicare is consistent with Republican principles but universal coverage is not.  You and I may support more truly conservative approaches but since this site is concerned with expanding the party's appeal, I think it's important to recognize that on health care I would think the party has a lot of work to do to overcome perceived hypocrisy -- at least the Dem position seems consistent across all age groups.

so you think that the gov't couldn't manage to take away

some of the 40 cents per dollar you spend on denying yourself health coverage???? surely, man, we can at least make different mistakes! Besides, most countries with universal health coverage spend less GDP on it than we do. 15% is simply ridiculous.

That's only half the story

The US is the most medicated society in the world.

We take 1.8 pills for every pill a Brit takes, and 2.3 for every one an Aussie takes.


A Jewish Perspective on Republicans, God, and Religion

As a Jew, I felt that it would be beneficial to share my perspective on God and religion in the Republican Party. You can read it at: http://www.nextgengop.com/2008/12/26/on-republicans-god-and-religion-a-jewish-perspective/

- Aaron Marks, NextGenGOP

Thanks, Aaron!

I appreciated being able to read your take on the matter!  I agree, the discussion of Christian values in the party need not keep out those of other faiths.  There is far more that connects people of all faiths than those issues that divide, and there are plenty of principles that various faiths hold dear that are not limited to those of any religious belief whatsoever.

Thanks for your post, and I encourage anyone here in the comments to also read Aaron's piece!

The Libertarians, seriously?

Chemjeff, lets get one thing straight, I don't like abortion either. I'm not agnostic, atheist or whatever you think I am, I'm a Christian. But what gives us the right to tell people how to live? The founders kept God seperate from the state for a reason. This is barely a Christian nation anymore, and if we don't want to be laughed at and disgraced for the next 4 years, then we need to realize this.

Freedom OF (not from) religion

Has the far left rewritten history so that people no longer know our true history?  Our founders did not want to kick God out of government.  Do these quotes sound like "the founders kept God separate from the state"???

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other" -  John Adams

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.” – Patrick Henry

“We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not upon the power of government, far from it. We’ve staked the future of all our political institutions upon our capacity…to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” – James Madison

“I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government; that is, the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible; for this Divine Book, above all others, constitutes the soul of republicanism.” “By withholding the knowledge of [the Scriptures] from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.” "Let the children who are sent to those schools be taught to read and write and above all, let both sexes be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education” – Benjamin Rush

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever.” – Thomas Jefferson

Ronald Reagan said, "You know, if we look back through history to all those great civilizations, those great nations that rose up to even world dominance and then deteriorated, declined, and fell, we find they all had one thing in common. One of the significant forerunners of their fall was their turning away from their God. Without God, there is no virtue, because there's no prompting of the conscience. Without God, we're mired in the material, that flat world that tells us only what the senses perceive. Without God, there is a coarsening of the society. And without God, democracy will not and cannot long endure."  "If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under."


Freedom of my religion requires freedom from yours

A fine collection of quotes, but recall that Jefferson also spent time cutting and pasting his own gospels, because he thought so much of  the originals was rubbish. 

More imporantly, when it came time to wrtie our nation's foundation document, the Constitution (still taught in schools, or your can look it up online) THEY LEFT OUT ALL REFERENCES TO GOD.  A rather serious oversight, wouldn't you say? And  religion gets only negative mentions - no religous test for holding office, no established religion.

You want to put God into government? Fine. Which one? The God of the Catholics -- the one who made the pope infallible? And who prohibts divorce?

Old Testament God? OK, then, we'll bring back slavery and polygamy - if they were OK then, they are OK now. And we'll have the death penalty (by stoning) for hundreds of offenses.

And since we have God in our government, we'll need to make sure that we are correctly interpreting his will. So. move over Supreme Court, here comes the Official Seminary.

And, since I'm an atheist, you'll have to lock me up for blasphemy. Becasue I prefer a government that comes from "We the People", not a supernatural being.

And so did the founding fathers - or else they would have written a different document.