Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Rick Perry and the Secular Center

When Governor Rick Perry threw his hat into the presidential ring, three things happened in quick succession.

First, Perry almost immediately shot to the top of the GOP polls in the race for the Party's nomination.

Next, sensing that Perry was a serious threat to Obama, the Left began trying to discredit Perry’s economic record in Texas. This failed miserably due to a lack of legitimate economic criticisms capable of sticking to the governor. It will continue to fail given the perceptions about the economic record of the current administrations.

Finally, the left and their allies in the media, quickly turned the focus to Perry’s views on social wedge issues.

Global warming, creationism, prayer rallies, gay marriage and abortion are going to be very popular topics of conversation over the next few months and the focus will come about as an effort by the Left to diminish Rick Perry’s appeal to the secular center.

The “secular center”--a term that you are probably unfamiliar with since I just coined it -- are an increasingly important group of independent minded voters who tend to be young and came out in big numbers for Barack Obama in 2008.

This group—along with 75% of their fellow Americans—have determined that Barack Obama has failed miserably in his economic stewardship. Understandably, they have begun to instinctively tune out Obama when he begins to talk economics in the same way that they tuned out George W. Bush when he was talking about Iraq after 2005.

But, on certain matters, the secular center is still capable of being swayed or, scared really, into putting a clothespin on their nose and voting for Obama a second time, despite all the evidence that Obama is about as competent as president as some of us expected a former community organizer would be.

Like I said before, the secular center is largely made up of young adults.

They attend church rarely, if at all.

They find the idea of creationism absurd.

They do not see any adverse affects to society if gays are allowed to marry each other.

They may sympathize with the pro-life point of view but don’t feel that abortion is tantamount to murder.

In recent years, the secular center has become very wary and at times annoyed by Americans who wear their religion on their sleeves. In a society increasingly driven by science and technology, they view the idea that a 2000 year old book written by men who claimed to speak to God via shrubbery is not necessarily a reliable source. At least not from a fact based, analytical perspective.

So when an individual running for our nation’s highest office starts talking about these matters in the same breath as economic and foreign policy, it’s a big turn-off to the secular centrists.

But in reality, the decision to vote against a candidate based on his or her belief in creationism is as backwards as the belief in creationism itself.

Whoever gets elected president in 2012, the likelihood of substantive changes to controversial social policies that come from the federal government is slim to none.

There will be no constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The national debate on this matter has effectively ended and any further changes to the definition of marriage will be determined on a state by state basis.

Even if Roe V. Wade is overturned, under the most extreme scenario, abortion will remain legal in most states, particularly in more secular states.

Whether Global Warming is a true threat to humanity or not, the issue is dead. There will be no significant action taken on climate change regardless of who holds the White House. There is no appetite in this country for any of the proposed changes. The Climate alarmists have lost.

Is it possible that some schools will teach creationism in conjunction with evolution? Sure. But, so what? The President of the US has no say in what our children learn on this matter to begin with.

One could argue that the religious views that evangelicals tend to hold on this matter will set a bad example for children across America if one of their own is President. However thus far into the Obama presidency, children have not adopted the view that AIDS was introduced into the black community by the US government, a theory for which Barack Obama’s pastor of 20 years was a strong advocate.

On the opposite side of the coin, the president has great power to alter economic policy which affects these secular centrists and every one of their fellow Americans in a very direct way.

As president, Perry can, and will dramatically alter the economic agenda set down by the current administration.

His record as governor is better than that of any other executive in the country in terms of job creation, which is our nation’s most pressing problem and one which has the current president completely and utterly flummoxed.

He will dismantle Obamacare, thus saving the nation trillions of dollars in the long term.

He will overturn the onerous regulations put in place by the various agencies under Obama’s control, which are already crippling American businesses.

And this is where secular conservatives and even social conservatives who understand the importance of the upcoming election need to begin making a pro-conservative case to those on the secular center, who will play a significant role in deciding this election.

The secular centrists need to understand that the decision to base their vote on cultural wedge issues rather than on substantive economic policy matters in this election could very well doom the United States to four more years of economic malaise. Malaise which will be increasing difficult to emerge from, even after the Obama era has passed.

It will postpone action on entitlement and tax reforms that are absolutely essential if we are to get the debt under control and ensure that Social Security and Medicare survive for the next generation.

Rick Perry and his fellow Republican presidential contenders understand that they must win over socially conservative voters in order to win the nomination. I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that at times this means saying some things about the origins of the Earth and human sexuality that they know not to be true.

But these candidates must pay lip service to those who are true believers in these ideas, or sacrifice any chance at receiving the Republican nomination, thus also sacrificing their chance to right the current administration’s wrongs and save the nation.

Every secular voter should consider that before eliminating someone from consideration solely based on their religious dogma. Or what a candidate SAYS is their religious dogma.

- Dan Joseph

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