Friday, May 18, 2007

On the Falwell Legacy

Most people would probably suggest that Jerry Falwell's legacy would involve making America more aware of the fundamentalist sect of Christianity and bringing aspects of that belief system into American politics.

While that is probably true, I think there is more to consider. Falwell's legacy, in terms of longevity, involves directing American politics toward the middle - where it belongs. In the short term (1980's - now), American politics has seen more "Christian values" (I put it in quotes because to suggest that Falwell and Co. represent Christian values is laughable). There's no denying that. But, I think his power over the Republican party has caused "average" Americans to feel abandoned by the Republican party. Or, as Larry Sabato put it:

Falwell and his fellow fundamentalist preachers have given the national Republican Party too conservative a cast on many social issues. Some Red states are turning "Purple" because of it.

Virginia, for example, is now a "purple" state. The conventional wisdom tells us that the Washington, DC suburbs in Northern Virginia are growing, bringing in more liberal voters. I don't doubt the truth of that, but I think this explanation ignores that the Republican party is turning even farther to the right. So, perhaps the states aren't changing; perhaps the Republican party is changing.

Or both.

But, anyway, I predict a Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election and small Democratic growths in the Senate and the House. Certainly, the war in Iraq can explain these probable victories, but I don't think we should ignore the influence of Falwell.

Indeed, Falwell and Co., by turning the Republican party too far to the right, will allow Democratic victories in 2008 and years to come. Until the Republican Party reorients itself toward the middle (or the Democratic party steers too far to the left, which it is bound to do), I predict a Democrat-controlled government. Despite what conservatives like to say, Americans are a moderate bunch. So, when either party veers too far off the moderate course, they get punished.

So, thanks Jerry!

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