THE BLOG
11/29/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rise of "Rainbow Right" Challenges Clinton's Demographic Argument

In an interview on NBC Sunday, reports Politico.com, Meet The Press interviewer David Gregory asked Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, "Your wife famously talked about the vast right wing conspiracy targeting you. As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?"

Clinton answered in the affirmative; "Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was, because America has changed demographically. But it's as virulent as it was. I mean, they're saying things about him. You know, it's like when they accused me of murder, and all that stuff they did... Their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail."

Bill Clinton's mention of the political import of demographic changes likely referred to an analysis, popular in liberal think-tank circles, which projects that because much the GOP's base has been rooted among white European-Americans, Democratic Party fortunes will rise in coming decades as non-European minority groups, which historically have tended to vote for Democratic Party candidates, come to constitute an ever-larger share of the voting electorate.

But that analysis ignores aggressive efforts to move the American conservative movement past its latter 20th century ties to race-based politics. While the 2008 election amounted to a resounding defeat for the GOP, a multi-ethnic constituency of Christian conservatives managed unexpected upset victories in Florida, Arizona, and California by passing resolutions against legalized gay marriage in those states.

Those victories suggest the rise of a new, non-aligned but decidedly right-leaning faction in American politics, the Rainbow Right.

Organized around an anti-gay marriage and anti-reproductive rights agenda and a Christian nationalist vision for America, the Rainbow Right reflects ground-level developments on the Christian right as a decade long push to make the movement more racially and ethnically inclusive is coming to fruition so that many churches on the Christian right, such as Texas megachurch pastor John Hagee's San Antonio Cornerstone Church, now boast an impressive level of ethnic and racial diversity.

Behind the Rainbow Right is a rapidly growing charismatic movement within conservative Christianity that has gained enough influence that 2012 presidential election hopefuls such as Newt Gingrich and Mike Huckabee pay its leaders public obeisance. A number of national GOP politicians, such as U.S. Senator John Ensign, are associated with the tendency, which also claims former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin [also see here] and reflects large-scale changes within global Christianity.

But Evangelical leaders in this new charismatic tendency aren't merely content wielding influence within the Republican Party. Rising young lions in the new charismatic tendency such as the Reverend Samuel Rodriguez, who as President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council purports to represent over 15 million Hispanic Christians, also are helping shape initiatives within Democrat-centrist think tank efforts such as the Third Way.