Inspired by Paul Hsieh’s note to the Colorado Republican Party, “Why The Republicans Have Lost My Vote,” I jotted down some of my own thoughts on the matter below. The point made by Dr. Hsieh that is particularly crucial is that wherever Republicans are ousted from offices in November, they must be made to understand that they lost because they were too religious. Above all, they must not think that they lost for the opposite reason - that they were not religious enough.
For this reason, it necessary to communicate these ideas to them before and after the elections.
The text below is fine for a blog post, but is too long for my activist purposes. I submitted heavily edited versions to the Republican Platform Committee and the Massachusetts GOP. Though these versions were briefer, I believe they retained the essence of this message: the Republicans are too religious, they are violating the proper purpose of government, and they can win back my vote by rejecting, in word and action, the injection of religion into politics.
For all of my adult life - from the Reagan years until the 2000 election - I voted exclusively for Republicans because they were (at least nominally) the party that respected and defended freedom. While Democrats intruded into every aspect of our lives with their “progressive” paternalism and cradle-to-grave welfare programs, Republicans advocated a limited government devoted to preserving the rights of its citizens.
However, in the last decades, the Republicans have betrayed their freedom-loving supporters as they have steadily turned their backs on the founding principles of America.
For one thing, they can no longer pretend to be the defenders of individual rights and laissez faire capitalism. Indeed, under the cover of an undeserved “pro-business” reputation, Republicans have gone on a spending spree and imposed a regulatory assault on the free market that Democrats would hardly have dared mount. A Republican president signed the campaign finance reform bill, the Medicare prescription drug bill, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act; Republican governors lead the way in compulsory medical insurance and capitulation to environmentalists. In this betrayal, the Republicans have become approximately as bad as the Democrats, so this alone would not necessarily have driven me away from voting for Republicans.
But there is one respect in which the Republicans have become far more dangerous than Democrats: their embrace of religion.
The proper purpose of a government is to defend each citizen’s right to his life, property, thoughts, and choices, as long as he does not physically harm others. Any attempt to impose religious views on its citizens converts a government into a menace, a violator of rights. I cannot blame honest Americans for being disgusted with the moral relativism of the political left, but it is not the purpose of a proper government to impose religious values.
Contrary to some religious conservatives’ view that America was founded upon “Judeo-Christian values,” the strict separation of church and state was emphatically insisted upon by our Founding Fathers, who viewed rights as natural and inalienable, not as privileges granted by either god or government. Furthermore, this principle is amply reinforced by logic and by history. Simply being secular does not ensure that a government is good, of course, but being religious makes it impossible.
Observe the inroads that religious conservatives have made in America today, driven by Evangelical Christians. We have “faith-based initiatives” that fund religious organizations with taxpayer money. A woman’s right to abort her fetus - or even to use birth control - is under varied and repeated attack from all angles, motivated by religious considerations. Religionists are trying to use legislation to smuggle creationist theology under the scientific-sounding moniker of “intelligent design” into classrooms, and are now aligned with environmentalists to submit to the duty of being “stewards of God’s earth.” Almost daily, we see new attempts to inject religion into government activities - from stem-cell research to school prayer to “gay marriage” to religious symbology in government buildings - a trend that is steadily eroding the freedoms that were so dearly earned by our forefathers.
The issue of religion is now the single characteristic that distinguishes the two major parties. Democrats are enemies of Americans’ freedom to be sure, but they are generally disorganized, inconsistent, and pragmatic - and the far left is too nihilistic to receive much serious mainstream support. In contrast, religious Republicans tend to be highly organized and motivated; they are intelligent, moralistic, and crusading enemies of America’s freedom. A righteous antagonist is far more dangerous than an apathetic one.
For many Republicans today, the government is an institution that has one primary function: to impose their faith-based views... by force. I cannot and will not continue to support such fervent hostility to America and Americans.
The Republicans must reverse this trend toward religion and recover the proper and sole purpose of government: to protect individual rights. They must both explicitly declare support for the separation of church and state, and act to defend this principle.
If they do this, they will not only win back my vote, but will save America.