It’s been a while since I pledged to write pieces in exchange for tsunami relief. I’ve rationalized my procrastination by saying to myself that I did, indeed, fulfill five of them, but there were two others that I didn’t get around to writing. That always preyed on me, and they’ve never been far from my thoughts, but it was only last week that I finally hit upon the answer to one of them.
Rightwingsparkle challenged me to argue how the Religious Right and the South Park Conservatives can get along after the War On Terror has subsided, and to argue it from the Religioius Right’s perspective. It’s not been easy — the Terri Schiavo case highlighted some of the major differences between the two camps, and showed just how they could develop into major schisms — but I think I have a handle on it.
The Religious Right places a great deal of stock in morality and moral behavior, and that’s the key to the solution. They need to look hard and honestly at the political realities, and recognize some very uncomfortable facts:
1) The South Park Conservatives (of which I may be considered a fringe element) are NOT traditional conservatives. They actively reject a great deal of traditional values, and will not be swayed by appeals to such.
2) The South Park Conservatives are not overly enamored of the tradional conservative leadership. In fact, they have determined that they don’t like a lot of it — but under the “lesser of two evils” principle, have decided that they like liberalism a lot less.
With that in mind, it’s time to take the advice of one of the greatest politicians of the 20th Century, Lyndon Baines Johnson. When he assumed the presidency, there was pressure to replace J. Edgar Hoover as head of the FBI. Johnson saw the value of keeping a critic close, where he could exercise a modicum of restraint, as opposed to cutting him loose. He phrased this in his typically vulgar fashion:
“It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.”
And that’s the key to “handling” the South Park Conservatives. They are a force to be reckoned with, and not to be taken lightly or for granted. They will have their say on the American body politic, and right now they’re aiming their fire at the opponents of the Religious Right. They’re sinners doing God’s work.
The smartest thing the Religous Right can do right now is to simply stand back and let them wreak their havoc, with occasional words or gestures of support. There will be plenty of time later to bring them to the Path Of True Righteousness and Redemption. In the meantime, though, they’re doing plenty of good on their own.
And afterwards, it will be the time for soft words and kind gestures of persuasion. Hellfire and brimstone won’t work on this bunch — they LIKE the heat. It’ll take a special kind of evangelism to bring them around.