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Monday, October 24, 2005

Why Liberals Need Christians To Succeed

A few days ago, I came across a blog post concerning the Harriet Miers nomination that has turned into a sort of running dialogue. I don't believe most liberals understand what the President is saying when he tries to justify his nomination by using her faith as evidence as why she should be confirmed - and just as many conservatives don't understand that, either. The fall out between Conservative Christians, who are genuinely baffled at the opposition, and Secular Conservatives, who are genuinely outraged. Throw in a good dose of anti-intellectualism, and you have a thoroughly confused electorate.

Yet, the White House remains sure that she will be confirmed. Why? Because Democrats have nothing to offer.

Part of the problem is that liberals rushed in so fast to embrace Sandra Day O'Connor as a flaming moderate. To the ears of a conservative, a liberal calling someone a moderate is basically the same as a conservative calling someone liberal - and it ensures that the nominee will be strongly to the right of Justice O'Connor. By saying that O'Connor was acceptable, they put the President in a position where he had to appoint someone very far to the right - which he did with John Roberts. The ease with which Roberts went through confirmation (and I admit that it was hard to find anything to sink your teeth in against him) only ensured that the next nominee would be even more to the right.

Which is why Harriet Miers being an "Evangelical Christian" is so important to her credentials. If the President just wanted to put a conservative woman on the Court, there were judges waiting in the wings. No, Harriet Miers is just what she appears to be - a stealth candidate aimed at changing the Court so far right (at least on specific issues - abortion and gay rights) that it would be dangerous to allow her views to be fully known.

And yet, with all the sound and the fury of this soon-to-be-failed nomination, Democrats have not once made up any ground in the public eye. Not one Democrat has articulated a vision of what a good Justice would look like on paper, or even in theory. Simply talking about the Constitution as "a living document" is not enough. I do believe it is a living document intended to be open to limited interpretation - but the second part of that sentence is just as important as the first.

This is why liberals need their Christian brethren to speak up. There is no one with two brain cells still active who really believes there is complete separation of church and state in the United States. That idea was never meant to divorce men and women from their religious beliefs when pondering the moral and ethical implications of their actions as representatives of the People of the United States. In fact, it was meant to protect that ability - and we should be proud that we have been the foot-soldiers in that battle. But we have always fought to be more inclusive of the religions that can be used in that capacity rather than imposing one upon the entire country.

Being an Evangelical is not a qualification for a judicial seat - unless one adopts the Biblical model of judgeship, which includes judging the morality of the nation against God's Immortal Law. Christians stand ready to question that model as the proper one for America to adopt. Because Christians are (or should be) versed in the Biblical archetype of judgeship, they should allow their faith to illuminate the rest of the country - they should use their religion as a tool of enlightenment.

When James Dobson uses his pulpit to publically claim privileged information and attempt to bully the United States Senate, he should be denounced as the demogogue he has become. When elected officials claim to be above reproach, we should hold them accountable to their earthly powers. We should not be afraid to speak from our position of faith and lay claim to the values of freedom and liberty that made our country great and that has allowed more people to follow their God according to the dictates of their heart than any other in history.

Liberals need Christians because otherwise they are lost. They have no anchor to hold them tight and are seen as drifting with the tides of public opinion. They twist with the wind and scatter with the dust, and lose election after election after election. Democrats have a Black Caucus, a Women's Caucus, the New Democrats Caucus, and participate in the Hispanic Caucus. As far as I can tell, there is no Democratic Christian Caucus. For a Party that claims to be inclusive, in a country that is overwhelmingly Christian, that is more telling than any other factor as to why Democrats need Christians - because we are already here.

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