A year of morning thanks
This madcap political season
This madcap political season
When President Bush was in the last precious days of his 2006 campaign, he came to northwest Iowa for a speech, a move which seemed odd to me; after all, there's not a ton of people out here in fly-over country. What he was doing was shoring up his base--here, in this corner of the world.
Here, in this right-now, snowy corner of the world he had a unmoveable base--he had a rock, a fortress. Shoot, I could wax biblical. No particular section of the country stood so formidably Republican in the throes of the Democratic takeover that ensued in 2006 than northwest Iowa, where people were as sure about being Republican as they were about being the Lord's.
Life has not been easy hereabouts for believing free-thinkers. Most of my neighbors, it seemed, equated the Republican Right with the Gospel Truth. Those who stood--or stand--outside the gates are the goats to Bush's sheep.
Last night, Obama won convincingly in the Cheasepeake primaries. Last night, John McCain virtually walked away with the Republican nomination. If there's anything that links McCain and Obama in this long and nearly operatic Presidential sweepstakes, it's the fact that the two of them are not establishment choices. McCain couldn't stand Jerry Falwell and his ilk, made deals with unrighteous liberals, and generally maverick-ed through his 35-year career in public life. Obama is a neophyte; but one needs only to think about his still in-the-running opponent, Hillary Clinton, to realize that she's the one with the history--and political base.
It will be an odd election if, come summer, a 46-year old and a 72-year old face off in national debates, but then this whole election cycle has been strange. However, what's clear is that ye olde powers are crumbling and crumbling fast--on both sides of the aisle. And that, by my calculation, out here in a wretchedly frigid Siouxland winter, warms my heart with the closest thing to spring itself.
An article in the new Atlantic titled "Born Again," by Walter Russell Mead, makes vividly clear how Humpity Dumpity old-line American evangelicals (Robertson, Dobson, Falwell) have taken a great fall and now find themselves out of touch with the new Evangelicals, who are smarter, more politically savvy and independent, and generally less single-issue oriented. "The real story of the evangelical political movement today," Mead says, "involves neither its death nor its triumph, but rather its slow (and ongoing) shift from insurgent to insider, with all of the moderating effects that transition implies."
I'm no progressive; no Calvinist could be. But, for me and my house, I'm really thankful that the strangle-hold of the old-line Religious Right is finally relenting. Dobson has done wonders for Christian families, but the moment he turned himself into a political ringmaster, he stepped out of office. May Rush Limbaugh continue to fume in his little studio, but it would be one huge blessing if my conservative neighbors would, for once, just turn the man off, as Republicans around the nation seemingly have already done.
This morning, after a brace of Obama wins and the near coronation of John McCain, I'm thankful for this whole political season. It's been a blessing to me, to the splintering Siouxland Republican fortress, to evangelicals in general, and to the country in which we all live.