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The Problem With Attracting Conservative Evangelicals

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The story about the Bush administration pre-empting states from expanding healthcare programs for children reminds me that I forgot to comment on the latest Michael Gerson joint. To follow up on a point I’ve made before, Gerson is often used an example of how conservative evangelicals can be brought into the fold to support Democratic economic policies if only women, gays, etc. could have their policy priorities thrown under the bus. But this is the problem:

First, Rove argues that Republicans win as activist reformers, in the tradition of Lincoln, McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. “We were founded as a reformist party,” he said in our conversation this week, “not to be against something, but to help the little guy get ahead.” The models he cites are 401(k)s and the mortgage interest deduction — government policies that encouraged individual wealth and ownership.

Yes, Gerson talks in the language of social justice, and is probably sincerely concerned about it. But the problem is that his conception of social justice and helping the poor manifests itself…in support for highly regressive tax breaks and William McKinley being his idea of a reformist president. At any rate, the idea that conservative evangelicals are a “moderate” position on abortion away from joining the Democratic Party is dreaming in technicolor. The vast majority of Republican evangelicals support Republican economic policies, whatever language they express that support in.

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