I've been writing for a long time about the Religious Industrial Complex and how they hope to end the culture war by marginalizing pro-choice and pro gay rights voices within both parties. They've entirely succeeded with the Republicans and have now turned their attention to the Democrats. It just took a giant step forward with the announcement that Obama has invited Christian Right leader Rick Warren to give the invocation at the inauguration.
There are those who feel this is a very savvy political move on Obama's part --- by inviting Warren to give the invocation at the most watched inauguration in history, Obama is validating the views of the Christian Right and they may very well be moved enough by that to become Democrats. But it naturally follows that in order to keep their votes, the Democrats would have to honor their agenda and views --- the evangelicals are big voting bloc and if the Democrats become the social conservative party, they could count on their votes for sure. (If they don't make substantial moves toward social conservatism, this won't work, obviously.) It doesn't leave much room for liberals, but perhaps that's a good thing. They are nothing but trouble, defending women's civil liberties, agitating for gay rights and hectoring the government about not torturing and starting wars and all that. It would be a big relief if they didn't need them.
It occurs to me that this may have been one of the lessons the political establishment took from the Clinton years. Gore had the presidency denied him in 2000 largely because the Democrats had alienated a significant enough slice of the left that it defected to a third party, making the outcome much closer than it should have been. They may see the way to permanent realignment to be the replacement of liberals (who are universally loathed among their friends) with the salt-of-the-earth, well organized and easy to appease social conservatives. It makes some sense. It would keep liberals rootless and powerless but they could continue to serve as the useful punching bag for the political establishment.
And the good news is that if they do manage to completely marginalize these pro-choice and pro-gay rights millstones (and perhaps the inconvenient civil liberties cranks as well) they would probably also be pushing some progressive economic policies with the help of the social conservatives --- which is exactly what the Religious Industrial Complex is promising will happen. Of course, that's mostly because the only economic policies available are progressive, but it still makes the RIC look very, very smart doesn't it?
“Of course I want to reduce the number of abortions,” Warren told Beliefnet Editor-in-Chief Steven Waldman when asked if he was going to work with the Obama administration to achieve an abortion reduction agenda or if he thinks that the effort is a charade.
“But to me it is kind of a charade in that people say ‘We believe abortions should be safe and rare,’” he added.
“Don’t tell me it should be rare. That’s like saying on the Holocaust, ‘Well, maybe we could save 20 percent of the Jewish people in Poland and Germany and get them out and we should be satisfied with that,’” Warren said. “I’m not satisfied with that. I want the Holocaust ended.”
More here, from Fred Clarkson, on the desire on the part of both parties to specifically marginalize the Religious Left, who are often pains in the ass with all their liberal insistence on following Jesus's teaching and all.