NPR did a short segment talking to conservatives about what they felt was the message or reason that could be gleaned from Tuesday's Democratic sweep. Michele Norris posed[audio link- click 'listen'] the question to Dr. Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky, what he would say if Karl Rove called him on the phone soliciting advice.
Strangely, Mohler indicated that Republicans must get back to their core values including but not limited to issues such as gay marriage and abortion, especially given all the "hard work" that evangelicals had done for the Republicans since Ronald Reagan. Mohler expressed concern that Roe V. Wade-- despite helping to elect Reagan twice, Bush I and Bush II (twice)-- is still the "law of the land."
Mohler seems to be woefully unaware that it was precisely the social conservative issues which have done the Republicans the most damage. Roe v Wade is here to stay- (and my bets are still on the table-- takers?) and a very red state just gave the smackdown to an abortion ban by a very strong margin. So what, exactly is Mohler suggesting? Mohler vaguely implies that evangelical Christians abandoned the Republicans in this last election, but for whom? When pressed by Norris as to whether evangelicals would drift to the Dems, Mohler quickly and forcefully rejects that, stating (logically) that Democrats have clearly articulated views on these issues which are antithetical to Christians, so no leftward drift is really in the cards. This tells me that evangelical Christians are a very noisy, boisterous group, but hold very little voting power in the larger picture.
My wife indicated that she thought that Mohler was implying that evangelicals didn't go to the polls due to their disillusionment with Republican lip service to social issues. I don't think that's the case. I think that Mohler is in a case of colossal denial and simply hasn't realized that the very reason for the Republican loss was precisely because of the sharp turn towards social policies which were evangelical pet projects.
Site note: During the discussion with my wife, I began to talk about the 1994 "contract with America" brand of Republicanism, vs. what we've seen over the last six years, and she couldn't see the difference. I pointed out that the Contract With America really had no social conservative basis to it, beyond the "personal responsibility act" which 'discouraged illegitimacy' and teen pregnancy which was still coming from the locus of cutting back the welfare state.* My wife was utterly convinced that the Contract With America was a social-conservative fiery jeremaid against "liberalism" promising a nation of God, Guns, an abortion free nation and elimination of "teh gay". After I showed her the document, she sat there stunned for a moment, realizing just how bland a document the whole Contract was.
* the bill text relating to the personal responsibility act did have a provision to not allow funds being funneled to the states to be used for "abortion and family planning". The contract itself, however, makes no mention of the word abortion anywhere within.