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Go here to see the charlatan's speech from last Saturday. I'll get to Beck in a minute.
What accounts for this?
More than 60% of Republicans surveyed by CBS last month had an unfavorable view of the faith, compared with 25% of Democrats and 39% of the total sample.
And this from a new poll by Newsweek...
A full 52% of Republicans surveyed by the magazine said Obama "probably" or "definitely sympathizes with the goals of Islamic fundamentalists who want to impose Islamic law around the world." Nearly 60% of GOP respondents said "Obama favors the interests of Muslim Americans over other groups of Americans."
....the vast majority of independents (62%) think Obama has been even-handed when it comes to helping Muslims.
Yes, polls can only tell us so much. At the same time the disparity between independents and Republicans here, I think, is telling.
Conventional wisdom is that independent voters make the difference in elections.....what with Democrats and Republicans being as calcified in their voting habits as they are. Village SmartGuys tell us over and over that the fight for power is won by winning over independent voters.
The fact that Republicans in the modern era are more xenophobic than other political groups is nothing new. Republicans have rightly calculated that the majority of voters in the U.S. are white and Christian. Appealing to the fears and hangups of these majority white Christian voters has been...at least on occasion....a successful route to becoming elected.
For example: George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign worked extraordinarily hard to bring out those xenophobic white Christian voters. Some 17 states had initiatives bashing gays in the November 2004 election....Ohio included. Those initiatives were not coincidental to Bush's re-election.
Karl Rove understood perfectly well that prone-to-xenophobia conservatives would be more excited about getting to the polls if they were openly fighting, you know, the gay. Unfortunately, he was correct.
But independent voters, as the Muslims-are-bad polling results demonstrate.....are not normally those who pile on in a dispute over religion.
Which brings me to the Tea Partys and Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" sitcom last weekend in D.C.
What was amazing.....astonishing really....about the Beck-athon.....was the god factor.
Libertarians have repeatedly explained to me that when it comes to religion in America....they are for religious freedom and for freedom from religion. When it comes to religious expression, libertarians take more of a live and let live attitude than their full blooded conservative cousins do. And yet, Beck and Palin's Tea Party is made up of many people who claim that they are libertarian or independent.
In Saturday's speech, Glenn Beck encouraged Party gatherers this way...
"we as individuals, must be good so that America can be great. America is at a crossroads, and there is a clear and simple choice. Do we choose to just look at the stars? Do we choose to look back? Or do we do what every great generation has done in time of trouble....look ahead, dream about what we are going to become. Not worried about what we are. Look forward, not backward. Look forward, look west, look to the heavens, look to god...and make your choice."
"Look west, look to the heavens"?? WTF?
Setting aside the WTF moment.....how do those lines differ from, say, the lines we've heard from Jimmy Swaggart, Jimmy Baker, Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson?
Progressives would be doing the nation a big favor by pointing out to their independent and libertarian friends that Glenn Beck's altar calling of voters back to god clashes radically with a free and Constitutional America. Independent and libertarian voters do not want to mix religion in with their politics.....independent and libertarian voters (as the polling about Islam demonstrates) are not xenophobic about religion, like extremist conservatives are.
Despite the efforts of Beck and Palin to change the paradigm of November's election into some incoherent politico-religio freakshow.....I'm counting on those non-xenophobic independents and libertarians to prevent "know nothing", theocratic nationalism from taking over America.
Hope they don't let me down.