Parker on GOP’s ‘Faustian Bargain’

Douglas Parker, who worked in the Nixon and Ford administrations, offered the following analysis of the Republican Party in a letter to the New York Times:

… The party has made a Faustian bargain by its zealous courtship of evangelicals to gain their political support. …

Part of the price has been to give the religious right a grip on party machinery that prevents many talented Republicans of different beliefs from even seeking office. At the same time, it has fostered the advancement of some whose most conspicuous qualification is a willingness to promote the approved theology.

The net effect has been a reduced and diluted talent pool or, in the popular phrase, a “dumbing down” of the party, as well as a diversion from its historic principles.

We urgently need a reorientation in which evangelicals continue to be warmly welcomed but are not invited to impose a theocratic hegemony.

Parker’s point is dead-on. For instance, look at the selection of the unqualified Sarah Palin to rouse the evangelical vote (and scare away many independents). In Colorado, in many districts if you don’t swear to abolish abortion you’re sunk in GOP primaries.

How can evangelicals be “warmly welcomed” by a GOP with a renewed commitment to liberty? The evangelicals must agree to keep the church out of the state in exchange for keeping the state out of the church. Of course, it would also help if evangelicals would stop moving toward “green” socialism and the monstrous welfare state.

The GOP could emerge with a forceful liberty coalition, as I outline. But it doesn’t look like the part is prepared to do that, so I suspect it will continue to limp along.