This is the culture war
Most people don’t think much about the eastern end of Oklahoma, but to understand the election, you need to turn your eyes that way. They call it “Little Dixie,” and the only Democrat representing Oklahoma in Washington is from there.
Al Gore won little Dixie in 2000 as most Democratic presidential candidates have. This part of the state, with turnout driven up by a proposed cockfight ban on the ballot in 2002, catapulted a Democrat to the Governor’s office.
This year, though, Little Dixie was the epicenter of a conservative revolution. Every county there voted for Bush. In fact, every county in Oklahoma voted for Bush. The only Republican in decades to represent Little Dixie in Congress, Dr. Tom Coburn, is now coming to the Senate, defeating his House successor, Brad Carson.
Little Dixie is key to the new Republican majority because Bush’s turnaround there–like his turnaround in Iowa and gain in Ohio–is the result of God, guns, gays, and babies. This is the conventional wisdom, and it’s right.
I have been saying it for more than two years, but there is a major realignment, still going on, where rural or blue collar Democrats are realizing that if they go to church and think abortion is wrong, they ought to vote Republican. Southern Protestants were the first in this shift. Middle-America evangelicals are following. Upper-Midwest Catholics are the third leg.
It’s not only religious folk, either. It’s everyone with traditional values that forms the silent majority, which is drowned out by the media, the protestors, academia, and Hollywood.
So Coburn, an OB/GYN who has made defense of the unborn his chief battle, is the emblem of the new Republican Party, trying to slow the tide of cultural decline.
If most of the country is conservative, why is the culture moving left? Hollywood and the media are two culprits. The other is the courts.
Homosexual marriage is rejected everywhere the voters or their representatives have a say. Even in Vermont, it took a court order for Howard Dean to call for civil unions. This Election Day confirmed this, with all 11 ballot measures to bar homosexual marriage passing.
Abortion-on-demand is kept legal not by any law, but by judicial fiat–Roe v. Wade discovered, buried amid the “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Constitution, a right to abort a fetus, and thus overturned the states’ laws governing the practice.
It was the anger and fear about how the elite were forcing their agenda on us that drove the 2004 mandate.
The Democrats say the Republicans cynically played these moral issues for partisan advantage. So far, I’m afraid, it looks like the Democrats are right.
The Senate Republican Conference may be on the verge of placing Arlen Specter as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, even after Specter called Roe “inviolate,” placing it on the level of Brown v. Board of Education. Don’t dare send conservative judges my way, Specter told Bush.
Although Bush saved Specter from certain defeat in November, his warning to Bush should not have been surprising. It is because of Specter that Roe stands today: Specter killed Robert Bork’s nomination to the high court, giving us Anthony Kennedy who was the swing vote in upholding Roe in 1992.
Republicans told conservative voters that they needed to vote on values. Conservatives listened and propelled the GOP to a historic win. Now, the party will prove itself liars if they do not take bold measures to keep the gavel out of Specter’s hands.
In 2006 and 2008, the party cannot expect the working class conservatives to back them again if they simply continue to advance a radical upending of the social order at the hands of judges.
The coalition that won this election will be shattered before the new government even takes office if Specter is not rejected. The GOP will have lost the trust of its base. Republicans will have proven no different from the Democrats on the “values” they now claim brought them victory.
Six Republican members of the Judiciary Committee could keep the gavel out of Specter’s hands. If they don’t–if they give in instead to a false notion of collegiality, or to downright cowardice–last Tuesday will have been a short-lived GOP win in partisan battles, and a Pyrrhic victory in the culture wars.
Tim Carney is a reporter for the Evans-Novak Political Report.