Tuesday, July 31, 2007


In Bed With Politicians

There is an interesting article at Reason magazine by Cathy Young entitled "Jerry Falwell's Paradoxical Legacy." Young recounts the decidedly mixed results of the Religious Right, whose major success has been in forcing politics to be "saturated with references to God." That is, however, the thinnest of veneers ... mere lip gloss for the political pork ... as David Vitter is demonstrating during his turn as the latest in a long line of public piety peddlers who can't keep their naughty bits from getting caught in their moral zippers.

But beyond forcing a certain stage dressing in our election sitcoms, what have the righteous really wrought?

[T]he Moral Majority, helped elect Ronald Reagan in 1980, but his presidency was not an enormous success for the religious right. Reagan paid lip service to Falwell's social agenda but did little to enact it. His administration made no serious attempt to curb abortion; early in his first term, in 1981, Reagan put Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court despite religious conservatives' misgivings about her stance on reproductive rights. ...

... 28 years after the launch of the Moral Majority, a reversal of Roe v. Wade seems unlikely, and statewide bans on same-sex marriage are offset by the legalization of civil unions in some states and moves toward full marriage rights for same-sex couples in others. Even Bush has spoken in favor of civil unions. ...

... Falwell's brand of religious conservatism has suffered losses in the culture wars. Feminism, its radical excesses mostly discarded, has become firmly integrated into America's cultural mainstream. (Even, apparently, in Falwell's own family: His daughter is a surgeon.) Acceptance of gays is now at a level that would have been unthinkable in 1980. Sexual content in mainstream entertainment has steadily increased, and adults-only material is more available than ever thanks to new technologies. While divorce rates have dropped somewhat, so have marriage rates; in much of America, sex between single adults is widely accepted as a social norm.
Frankly, the Righteous Right is going to wake up someday and realize that, without knowing it, they had much in common with Vitter's friends for an evening ... except the pay wasn't as good.

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