Regular readers know that Blue Dog Reaganite places primary emphasis on the right to life, and is also a supporter of the natural order of marriage. As such, I’d be often bracketed in with the Religious Right. While there is a certain truth to it, the notion is too simplistic however and I would also suggest that other ethnic Catholics need to be wary of too entangling an alliance.
We share a short-term political alliance because of the current primacy of the issues above. But an ally is different from a friend. The former is a temporary arrangement, the latter is permanent. And we are very different from the Protestant Right, in our history and in the present day. The issues are primarily cultural, but over time those tend to become political.
Put simply, Blue Dog Reaganite stands in the ethnic Catholic tradition of light-heartedness, while the Protestant Right has a piece of charcoal stuck up their butt. Just as it was the Right who stood in favor of Prohibition in the 1920s, they back the modern-day Prohibition on gambling, fighting against lotteries, casinos and a highly successful campaign against sports betting and online poker.
The charge thrown against all of us is that we want to regulate everyone’s moral behavior. I reject that charge, because I really don’t—I just want to protect fundamental rights and the natural order of society, and from there let people do their own thing. As noted in the posts below, I’m not a pure libertarian, but as the long as the basics of the social order and basic human rights are protected, I have no desire to regulate how much people drink, gamble or who they sleep with. All right, and I’m a little bitter, because if sports gambling were legal, I’d have cashed two tickets on the Overs on the Ravens-Patriots and Packers-Cardinals on Sunday and am ready to come back with Indianapolis (-6.5) on Saturday night.
I also believe that the Protestant Right’s rhetoric from their leaders does step beyond “hate the sin, love the sinner” and into too much of the former, particularly when it comes to people who suffer from homosexuality. Jerry Falwell’s comments after the 9/11 attacks, that America was being punished, are a prime example. It’s just the Right’s way of co-opting a tactic used by the Left, which is to take every bad thing that happens and look to pin it on a political adversary. And it’s a cheap shot either way. When it comes to the issue of prayer in the schools, let’s not forget that this was originally a way for the Protestant majority to try to wean immigrants off Catholicism.
In the short-term, I can support candidates often identified with the Religious Right. I backed Mike Huckabee for president in 2008—though it should be noted that Huckabee is an example a charcoal-free person, and even though I disagree with him on gambling, I liked him a lot personally. But over time, what divides us is greater than what unites us, and while we ought to work with them, let’s do it with caution.