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Hullabaloo


Monday, October 30, 2006

 
Stepping On Our Dreams

by digby


Many people seem to be convinced that the key to this election is going to be conservative Christians staying home. I don't think so. James Dobson and his ilk are out there telling them to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils and they will do it -- at least for now. And the southern Kristallnacht Republicans will vote for their tribe no matter what.

This, in my view, is the Republican party's big problem --- the suburban, educated voters:

The M.B.A.’s have had it. The engineers are fuming.

For as long as anyone here can remember, Bellevue has been a stronghold of socially liberal Republicanism. First, it was a prosperous Seattle bedroom community, then a technological boomtown, where employees of Microsoft and Internet start-ups consistently voted for fiscal restraint and hands-off government.

But now, voters here are accusing the party in power of overspending and overreaching — and when they do, they sound like people who write manifestos, not software code.

“I’m a mild-mannered guy,” Michael Mattison, a partner in a software venture development firm, said as he stabbed a piece of halibut in the sunlit dining room of a local bistro. “But we can no longer be subdued.”

Bellevue has been growing more Democratic for several years, thanks to an influx of liberal voters and a professional class that is changing teams. This year, Bellevue may send its first Democrat to Congress. Darcy Burner, who even supporters admit is inexperienced, may unseat Representative Dave Reichert, a well-liked, longtime public servant, simply because constituents want Democratic control of the House of Representatives.

“I am a Republican and have traditionally voted that way,” Tony Schuler, an operations services manager at Microsoft with a Harvard M.B.A., said as he sat with his wife, Deanna, in their home above Lake Sammamish. But Mr. Schuler abhors what he sees as a new Republican habit of meddling in private affairs.

“The Schiavo case. Tapping people without a warrant. Whether or not people are gay,” he said. “Let people be free! It’s not government’s job to interfere with those things.”

In Bellevue, the professional is political. Rather than religion or culture, what unites the diverse population — a quarter of residents are foreign born — are the values of their workplaces: technological innovation, accuracy, efficiency.

And this year, one issue incenses them above all others: restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

It is a matter of concern across the country, even across parties. But for many engineers and their ilk, restriction of stem cell research is what gay marriage is to conservative Christians, a phenomenon so counter to their basic values that they cannot vote for any candidate who supports it. After all, for Bellevue’s professionals, science is not only a means of creating wealth but also an idealistic pursuit, the most promising way they know of improving the human condition.


I think that is one of the most interesting observations I've read in a while (certainly in the New York Times.) The Republicans and the Christian Right are leading America on a backward march into the Dark Ages --- and that is stepping on our dreams. As a culture, we have always been idealistic about progress and inspired by new discoveries to improve the lot of the human race. We're about invention and reinvention. It's one of our best qualities.

These people are telling us that those days are over. We have to depend upon brute force, superstition and ancient revelation. Science is dangerous. Art is frightening. Education must be strictly circumscribed so that children aren't exposed to ideas that might lead them astray.

It's a pinched, sour, ugly vision of America. For those who believe that their time on earth is all about waiting for The Bridegroom, perhaps that doesn't mean much. But for the rest of us, things like scientific breakthroughs or artistic achievement are inspirational, soaring emotional connections with our country and our fellow man. It makes us proud. The dark-ages conservatives want to take that away from us.

This country has been divided at 50/50 for some time. That probably cannot continue much longer and a real majority will emerge before long. Tax-cuts have held together the GOP coalition up to now, but their dark vision of the future may be the thing that finally drives the suburban, educated voters to our side of the ledger for a long time to come. We're the ones with the progressive dream of the future and that's as American as a Big Mac and fries.



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