"Paul Weyrich, in a workshop, told would-be coalition operatives how he acquired Gov. Pete Wilson of California for the religious right in 1982 - 'Get'em when they're vulnerable.'"
[This editorial does not mention that Weyrich is a Roman Catholic.
Pete Wilson probably is also RC, however, I'm not certain........ JP ]
From .......... National Catholic Reporter
September 30, 1994
RELIGIOUS RIGHT TRYING TO BALANCE
MOVEMENT ORTHODOXY WITH POLITICS
Antiabortion and anti-homosexuality are the twin sociopolitical orthodoxies of the religious right. And that means the Christian Coalition has emerging heresies and schisms to contend with. The Republican antiabortion center is not holding.
The coalition is running smack into political reality as it looks for presidential candidates among politicians who are religious conservatives --- such as abortion-waffler Dan Quayle --- rather than among religious conservatives who would be politicians --- such as 1988 GOP presidential bidder and televangelist Pat Robertson.
An antiabortion stance is not an electable presidential commodity any more, regardless of party. A constitutional amendment on abortion is yesterday's politics.
This phenomenon also explains much of Democratic politics - why for example, antiabortion Democrat Gov. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania [to the Democrats' shame], was not permitted to address the 1992 Democratic convention .
Casey represents the question the Democrats duck. They, too, knew what he meant when he said to the Christian Coalition's recent annual gathering,
"It is for me the bitterest of ironies that abortion on demand found a home in the national Democratic party - my party, the party of the weak and the powerless."
Abortion issues notwithstanding, the Christian Coalition shows little sign of becoming the party of the weak and powerless. Whatever its disciples in small-town America may think to the contrary, the Christian Coalition is about power politics, not religion.
[as if the left-wing is any different, not to mention the Vatican ..... JP ]
And strange, narrow and inevitably intolerant politics they always turn out to be. The Christian Coalition is a carefully orchestrated charade where numbers and linkages are concerned. It is a group of adept political operatives who inflate their advances, know how the game is played and always play to win, often very skillfully.
Paul Weyrich, in a workshop, told would-be coalition operatives how he acquired Gov. Pete Wilson of California for the religious right in 1982 - 'Get'em when they're vulnerable.'
A poll suddenly showed Jerry Brown as lead candidate. Weyrich, a poll interpreter and political consultant, said he knew the poll was a one time Brown-ahead event. He marched to candidate Wilson, promised to deliver the votes and a better poll result if Wilson would sign on the dotted line for antiabortion, tuition tax credits, Star Wars and aid to contras. Wilson signed.
"Most candidates have no strong convictions .... no principles, though they probably have preferences of some kind. I wish we didn't have to deal with people of this kind," lamented Weyrich, "but if you wait for some one to come along with the right principles, you may never elect anybody. Make the best of what you've got."
But that means compromise, which is anathema to biblical literalists and tunnel-vision howlers. So it also means that the Christian Coalition at the pragmatic top runs off-course from the sentiment at the self-righteous bottom.
Christian Coalition leaders know precisely what American national electoral politics is all about- making promises to the supporters down below that are different from the deals you strike for victory up above.
Compromise, not orthodoxy, wins elections.
But can the Christian Coalition hold on to the grassroots religious right while dealing with those who do not hold to grassroots orthodoxy? Is the coalition any good at doing that?
That's what 1994 and 1996 will answer.
Drawing -> figure representing God with arm raised swearing -
"I am not now nor ever have I been a member of the Christian Coalition."
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