Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Southcomm Blogger Overgeneralizes "the Left," Puts McCain in the White House

The same media blogger who ran with an overhyped tape of an Obama peck has now jumped on some liberal responses he's read to the out-of-wedlock pregnancy of Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol Palin. He uses what he sees to pen a grand theory on liberal conduct in the culture wars on the battlefield of sexuality. And he's got the conservatives nodding their heads in agreement, because it fits their "liberals are out of touch" assumptions.

As someone who is no novice to southern evangelical culture, I disagree with the extent of his generalizations, and with the focus of liberal attacks:

The Left simply misunderstands cultural war because they believe that social and religious conservative think they are perfect people. Rural, working class people know exactly who they are. The Left seems to think that they are somehow breaking the news to social conservatives that sometimes, even often, kids will have sex and get pregnant. Social conservatives know these things. They are not as divorced from reality as they sometimes get painted.

I have never believed that conservatives think that they are perfect people. In fact, evangelical conservatives point to the idea over and over that we are all fallen. Perfection has little to do with it.

In my experience, Christian conservatives tend to approach social issues as if they are, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr, the children of light; and the rest of us who fail to see the light are children wandering in darkness. That's a far cry from a perfection vs. flawed position. Children are limited in ability, prone to error, and impulsive, but some have seen the light, and hence are in a better place than children of darkness, a.k.a, liberals and other transgressors. But all are vulnerable children who require care. This way of seeing the culture war has a liberal analogue in the notion that people are either enlightened by reason or blinded by ignorance. Perfection never enters the mix beyond those who are predisposed to think in terms of cultural purity.

The other hole in Southcomm blogger's argument is the assumption that the reactions either climax or stop with the social conservatives mobilizing to put McCain in the White House. He's so cock sure of himself that he arbitrarily ends the reactions with the social conservatives, and fails to acknowledge that the mobilization of social conservatives will likely galvanize previously foot-dragging liberals behind Obama. I sure as hell feel closer to Obama than I did before McCain picked Sarah Palin. Despite Obama's post-convention bounce in the polls (which is remarkable progress for an African American candidate in this generation's America), Post Politics has already written off a 50-50 electorate scenario and declared the election for McCain-Palin, even though liberals will likely cancel out social conservatives and bring us right back to a nation split in half.

So, it is in the middle rather than on these fringes where this election is going to be won or lost. Liberals supposedly "breaking news" to conservatives about assumed perfection has little to do with it. And just like liberals shouldn't over blow the Palin pregnancy, neither should Southcomm bloggers overestimate its impact. Moderates are more likely to see shades of gray rather than children of light and darkness. Their votes are more unpredictable and less swayed by lightning rod issues like teenage pregnancy. The moderates are going to wait out this latest battle in the protracted culture war campaign and see what the future holds. They are going to make their decisions based on their pocketbooks, their health, and their hopes for their own children.

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