Monday, February 14, 2005

Praise the Lord and pass the talking points

Christianity Today has an article on Democrats and evangelicals that, intentionally or not, is hilarious. It shows why the DNC's hopes of capturing the evangelical vote are a longshot. Some excerpts:

Earlier in the week, congressional Democrats hosted a study session with University of California-Berkeley linguist George Lakoff on how to communicate the Democratic commitment to moral and religious values.

Shades of the movie Stargate. The military sends a team through a space portal to the other end of the universe. Since they could find either strange aliens or humans who had been separated from earthlings millennia earlier, they wisely decided to include a linguist in the team in the hope that they might communicate. Certainly they couldn't have communicated with such alien beings without one. As it turned out, the linguist enabled them to free distantly related humans from their ignorance and slavery.

At least two years ago Democrats started to worry that they were painting themselves into a small corner of a mostly religious America as the secularist party. Democrats started holding workshops on how they could win the support of religious voters.

Translation: we must learn the ways of these strangers.

As governor of Vermont, Dean promoted homosexual civil unions. His presidential campaign stumbled over clumsy attempts to display biblical literacy and religious values. At one point the governor was quoted as declaring that the Book of Job is his favorite New Testament book.

Yes, that learning curve can be rough.

Pollster Celinda Lake told the women Democratic leaders that "the most powerful predictor of the 2004 vote was religion. The religious 'others' and the nonreligious voted for us. The worst voters were against us." Catching her misstatement, Lake said she meant that the voters among whom the Democrats had the worst support were the evangelicals and Catholics.

Really rough.

Immediately after Lake's presentation, Dean launched a volley of well-prepared pro-religion, pro-moral-values remarks. This time there were no biblical misquotes.

Those evangelicals are such rubes, all we need to do is repackage ourselves a bit.

Dean told the women not to say that the Democrats are pro-abortion. "We are not pro-abortion!" was his lead off sentence.

Those evangelicals are such rubes, they just believe what they hear. They won't remember our legislative track record of the past 30 years.

Dean seemed to be trying to leave the impression that the Democratic women need to reach out to pro-life women. "There are a lot of women's groups," Dean observed. "We need to figure out how they can all get together."

What?! There are women's groups besides NOW and NARAL? Who knew?

Dean mocked the Republicans as family values hypocrites. "The GOP wants to cut the money for feeding kids. They only get two of the values of the New Testament. Do they talk about having walked among the least of these?"

There you go! Stay on the message that limiting the growth of social programs to 3-5% a year is a "cut". That one will get us some traction, because those who didn't vote for us are rubes.

Comparing the Republicans to Sadducees and Pharisees, Dean said, "I haven't heard the Republicans talk about that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man through the gates of heaven."

In contrast, the Democrats' fresh new strategy is to remove that excess baggage. They aren't just trying to save us from temporal want now, but from Hell! I wonder if Soros got the memo.

Dean said that Democrats have failed to use language that common Americans could relate to. "We need to get away from slogans and ideology," he said. "We learned in the last election that language makes an enormous difference."

Translation: Hey, does anybody know some Bible verses that promote class warfare and dependency? And what are we going to do about those pesky passages on sexual morality?

However, after this stirring anthem to openness to evangelicals, Dean was still not ready to say that he would name an evangelical to his transition team. He told CT that his planning hadn't "got that far yet."

Look, we favor desegregation. But do you really expect us to live with these people too?

Dean did not address the controversy of the fierce personal attacks against pro-life Democrat Tim Roemer while he was still in the running against Dean. One night earlier, outgoing Democratic chairman Terry McAuliffe called the attacks on Roemer "way over the top." Many pro-life Democrats who don't feel welcomed in the party, likely feel that Dean's supporters savaging of Roemer is a sign that the party hasn't changed... Few rank-and-file Democratic leaders had yet to catch a hold of Dean's new way of talking.

What we really need is for DNC confabs to be held behind closed doors, otherwise those rubes might not buy it. And we need language coaching. Position statements need to be prefaced with, "The Lord is leading us to..." and include a few Bible quotes.

Charles Saechting, chairman of the Texas Democrats, regaled his audience with declarations that the Republicans "are probably the least Christian party that has ever been." He talked of his own upbringing by an African American who became a pastor, but also unconvincingly argued that "pro-life falls within the pro-choice belief."

This should work a lot better than, "I was in favor of abortion before I was against it" or "It depends on what the definition of 'pro-life' is."

The most honest expression was this one:

[T]here were a few evangelicals sprinkled here and thereā€”a deacon from Alabama, a minister from Maryland, or a faith-based community service leader in a few states. But most Democrats preferred to duck the issue. Jim Fraser of the Oklahoma delegation declared that he was "pro-choice, pro-life" and that he didn't ask people what their religion was. "I am not being very cooperative with you, am I," he chuckled as he walked away.

But our only real difference is a matter of semantics; not attitudes, priorities or policies. Really!

While [Rev. Zina] Pierre's role was relegated to a time when most Democrats were exhausted and streaming out of the auditorium, the emotional high point of the convention occurred with Dean's embrace of Democratic lesbians.

OK OK, so our stagecraft needs a little retooling also. Next time, someone find a lesbian minister for the candidate to hug.

Memo to the DNC: Wanna know what the real problem is? Most of us evangelicals haven't bought into this whole postmodern relativistic thing-- even those of us who went to college! We believe that our creeds contain propositional statements that are objectively true in their own right, regardless of whether people believe them. We believe that God is the maker, ruler and judge of the universe, not a tool to be used for crass political ends. We believe that God has revealed His will for each of our lives, and so it's not up to us to invent a religion or a god as we conceive of Him/Her/It/Them/Other. While we respect everybody's right to practice their own "faith tradition", we don't think that someone's believing in a given "faith tradition" necessarily makes it valid or true. While most of us recognize an individual's right to live in what the Bible calls sin, we will never express approval of it or buy into the idea that someone's sin constitutes their whole identity.

And this whole "compassion for the poor" thing? There's this wee small matter of it being voluntary. And the goal isn't long-term dependence on Caesar.

See, the thing is, even though you are trying to figure out how to talk in our lingo, we still see a lot of things that suggest that you remain secularists and relativists, antagonistic to us way down deep at the level of worldview. I really don't think that a linguist can help you. So your only real hope at this point is that the Republicans run candidates who are like you: secularists and relativists who think they can snow us with a bit of lingo and a few Bible verses.

Oh. And Job? It's Old Testament.