It should come as no surprise to Republicans that they are facing a far-right religious wing that's destroying their party. A wing so disruptive that it's discussing running a third-party candidate. And now at the problematically-named "Values Voters Summit," the G.O.P. is helping rip apart its own party.
(Why problematic? Because, holier-than-thou, it suggests other voters don't have values.)
As news reports note, not a single Republican presidential candidates is meeting with approval. The leader, Rudy Giuliani, is seen as a step from being cousin to Beelzebub. Forget 9/11, radical-right Republicans see Giuliani as 666. The second leading candidate, Mitt Romney, is as bad -- part of a "cult," as the leader of the influential First Baptist Church, Robert Jeffress, harshly dismissed Mormons.
The rest of the field fares as poorly. John McCain has called some far-right leaders "Agents of Intolerance." It's so bad, even the right-wing Fred Thompson doesn't have religious-enough credentials.
What's a party to do? The Republicans are in such trouble by pandering for so long to the far-right evangelicals that they're on verge of making the joke, "What if you threw a Party and no one came?," a reality.
And not only do they have no one to blame but themselves, but they should have seen it coming. Like a stampeding herd of elephants. For starters, it's in the Bible -
"A man shall reap what he sows." (Galatians 6:7)
But then it's also in every book of "wise sayings" ever written, starting with the Third Grade Manual of Schoolyard Etiquette.
"You made your bed, now lie in it."
"You dance with the person you brung."
"What goes around, comes around."
"You get what you pay for."
"It's time to pay the piper."
The Republican Party won some presidential elections in the short run at the expense of selling off its future. By pandering to the radical-religious far right, the G.O.P. not only ignored the Constitution, but its party, as well, drumming out most moderate Republican officials. Those running in the party must now court the far-right out of fear, because no other base remains. Once the conservative icon of the party, Barry Goldwater would be a pariah today. After all, he said about gays, "To be in the military, you don't have to be straight, you just have to be able to shoot straight." You didn't hear that value at the Values Voter Summit.
Instead, in the crumbling Republican Party today, its president at a 24 percent approval, you hear its voices echoing leaders like Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention, who drive the Republican agenda, wanting Rudolph Giuliani to make pledges that fit their religious views.
"If he did those things," "Land stated, "he would make it easier for a lot of evangelicals to choose him as the lesser of two evils.''
Now, look at that sentence again. You would swear he was talking about a church election for pastor. But he's talking about a man running for President of the United States, sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution and protect every citizen of the United States, regardless of religious belief. That's America.
And you know that's America.
But because the Republican Party blindly chose to follow this base, it is crumbling today. They have no one to blame but themselves.
When you start making political decisions based on what evangelicals think, you're in Iran. When you make political decisions based on what evangelicals think, you're also in Iraq. You're in most intolerant countries. You're in al Qaeda.
But if you're going to follow evangelical "values" leaders, at least make sure those leaders have values. When the president of the National Association of Evangelicals is forced to resign for "sexually immoral conduct," that's the first hint you're following the wrong leaders. Another hint is when your religious leaders take off after Teletubbies. Or hope for the assassination of foreign presidents.
When you pin your future on the Ted Haggards, Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and give them a voice in the Oval Office, you only have yourself to blame.
The Republican Party painted itself in this horrible corner. The Republican Party is in a sinking ship with no help because it threw its moderates away, itself.
Religion has its important place in the heart. In the home. In the church. It's religion, not politics. Politics is about protecting by law the Good of All People, whatever their beliefs, whoever they are. And in the end, the vast majority of Americans understand that that is what America is about.
The Republican Party wanted to win a few elections in the worst way, and they did. At the expense of its future, and the expense of America. If only they read and understood the Bible, rather than just thumped it. "For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" Matthew 16:26. They played with fire and brimstone, got a little spark, but now are getting incinerated. It's a crumbling hellhole they dug for themselves.
Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.
By the way, the name of the group organizing the "Values" summit was the Family Research Council. Across the stage, their banner emblazoned the summit's motto -
It turns out God was watching after all. And has a major sense of humor.