I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The Republicans as Faust

Something that is faustian refers to a wider interpretation of the events of Faust by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. In part one of Goethe's Faust, the central character's pact with the devil allows him to have energy, life and youth unless he becomes so entranced by the passing moment that he wishes that things will never change. When Faust stumbles unthinkingly into that wish, his world and his life are forfeit to Mephistopheles.
The Republicans owe their success to the 15th century loving evangelical Christians. For their support the American Taliban received lip service from the party while their medieval aspirations were marginalized. The Republicans wished that things would never change but change they did. The evangelicals were not getting what they want and are no longer willing to vote against their own economic best interest for lip service alone. According to Captain Ed it's all the evangelicals fault.
This is commonly known as being hoisted by one's own petard. The problem the Religious Right had in this primary was the hang-up over religion, which their movement had avoided for most of its period of influence. In the end, their leaders couldn't see past religion to policy, and that left Romney twisting in the wind.

The evangelical leadership didn't make that mistake with Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush. Neither man expressed any personal enthusiasm as evangelicals; Reagan had been divorced once on top of that. Yet the evangelicals supported them enthusiastically for their agendas, not for their particular churching.

For some reason, evangelicals seemed primed for petulance this cycle, and Gilgoff speculates that post-W malaise could have been part of the reason. They got used to having an evangelical in the White House and didn't want to consider supporting any other kind of candidate. Dobson and Tony Perkins announced last year that they might form a third party for evangelicals because of their dissatisfaction with the slate of Republican candidates -- even though the first primaries were months out and they could have found Republicans to support around the country.

When they finally engaged with Romney, they liked his agenda and his ability to organize. Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani, but most evangelical leaders lined up behind Romney, but refused to support Romney rather than just attack everyone else. They could not bring themselves to explain why Romney's Mormonism shouldn't matter, and indeed emphasized their analysis of it as a non-Christian religion, something Mormons hotly dispute. They lost sight of the political agenda and instead got tripped by their doctrinal agenda.

Their constituents simply didn't follow them at the polls. Instead, they voted for Mike Huckabee in Iowa and in the South. The voters followed the leadership's obvious desire to see an evangelical in the White House rather than the focus on policy -- and then discovered that evangelicals still represent only a portion of the Republican vote. Huckabee couldn't convince non-evangelicals to turn out in large numbers, and that left the field to John McCain.
When you make a pact with the devil he won't settle for lip service for ever.