Scot McKnight reflects on James Dobson’s complaints about the lack of “true conservatism” in Washington these days:
Dobson, who speaks for many in the religious right, are wary of McCain and some think Bush wasn’t a true conservative, and, yes, some seem to long for the good ol’ days of Reagan. Which led Dobson to say the conservatives in Washington DC haven’t done the job. That’s what I’d like to generate a conversation about.
Then McKnight asks:
Has the religious right been had? Have the politicians running for office used their power and their numbers and their support? Does the fact that they ran on some of these conservative agendas and not doing much (or anything) about those agendas in DC suggest that they were disingenuous? That they, in general sided with that conservative viewpoint, but did not have the passion to carry it out in DC? Is their social conservatism in morals a mask for economic conservatism? Or is the political system/machine so complex that our elected representatives are unable to carry out their promises (whether Republication or Democrat)? Or is it the checks and balances that we have in government? Or ….?
I personally don’t think the Religious Right has been “had” or tricked in any way. Dobson, Falwell, Hagee sought political power and direct influence with the White House. Bush knew their language and needed votes. In the quest for artificial power and influence, their partnership, while initially politically successful, has ultimately backfired. By their mere proximity to each other, they’ve contaminated one other to the point of political irrelevance. The general American public realized that they didn’t buy the authenticity of George Bush’s faith (Jesus is my hero, let’s illegally bomb another country preemptively, let’s torture our detainees) and christians began to consider that Dobson, Hagee, Falwell, etc. are totally nuts (boycott spongebob, homosexuals cause hurricanes, etc.) These examples may be a bit over-simplified, but I think we get the general idea.
As it stands now, Dobson is bitter that he has no horse in the race and now he lusting for Reagan to return from the clouds on a white steed, maybe yielding a sword? As for Bush, the McCain camp is delicately trying to schedule his appearance at the Republican convention so that he and McCain won’t appear together on stage. I’d call that a diminished return for both.