Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The GO[CMW]P and Evolution

If anyone had wondered whether the Republican Party has taken ill with the political equivalent of double pneumonia, look no further than conservative columnist Kathleen Parker's column today in the Washington Post "The GOP's Problem with G-O-D". In it she says (I paraphrase) the GOP needs to ditch the Christers or forget about electoral success in the foreseeable future. Also paraphrasing, the GOP has become the Grand Old Christian Married White Party.

Few things could make a Secular Humanist more happy than the prospect of dreary, Bible-thumping bigots going the way of the Dodo. Ms. Parker says their ilk was once relegated to standing on wooden crates at busy intersections; the GOP's mistake, it seems, has been to mistake an energized base for electoral strength.

I'll take it a couple of steps further: without the ability to market an al Qaeda-sponsored mass destruction to cow the electorate, the GOCMWP is revealed as a party in thrall to creeps, ideologues, hypocrites, and no-tax bigots. The era of the thoughtful conservative is at low ebb (K. Parker, D. Brooks and G. Will notwithstanding).

Let me caveat the following with this: there's nothing wrong (in my opinion) with a belief in larger, unknowable things. It may even be irrational not to hold some high regard for the unknown and perhaps all-powerful forces that seem to be constantly at work in the world.

That said, religion as we know it is fighting a rear-guard action. It has been doing as much since at least the eighteenth century, when folks began to notice such wonders as "cause and effect". As is typical in bitter retreats, there has been a last, dangerous surge (the Bush years). However, not unlike at the end of World War Two's Battle of the Bulge, the losing side has been stopped in its tracks: the attack has literally run out of fuel.

With capital-R "Religion" branded with defeat in 2008, can we look forward to a day when open-mindedness and enlightened self-interest might flourish as we have never seen before? Might we witness, at last, a turn of the evolutionary page?

May we be lucky enough to see it.