Ryan Sager belatedly jumps aboard the elite pundit bandwagon:
The real McCain, whoever that is or was, may still believe that major swathes of the Religious Right represent “agents of intolerance” in our politics. But he has decided to stake both his election and the Republican Party’s future upon them-from the barely coded racial refrain of “Who is Barack Obama?,” to the rallies with shouts of “terrorist” and “kill him,” to the corrosive choice of pipeline-prayer Sarah Palin as his running mate and heir apparent.
Elsewhere, Sager refers to Christian conservatives as “the worst elements” of the Republican coalition. Sager has monomaniacally pushed his idea that the support of evangelicals is bad for the GOP, and that Christian conservatives and libertarians have no common interests. I vehemently disagree. (See my columns on the immorality of the welfare state and “libertarian populism.”)
A limited-government outlook has a strong appeal to traditionaiists. The problem is Sager’s visceral loathing of those he describes as “the rural, the southern, the Evangelical” — i.e., Red State voters. In his quest to demonize hillbilly holy rollers, he blames them for anything he doesn’t like. For instance, anyone who’s ever attended the annual March for Life in Washington knows that the backbone of the pro-life movement is Catholics. And Catholics were also the most interested in the Terri Schiavo case. But because Sager conceives both pro-life politics and the Schiavo episode to be bad for the GOP, he attributes these to Protestant evangelicals.
Prejudice against stereotypical “dumb hicks” in flyover country is at the core of Sager’s argument, and it leads to a profound misreading of the Republican Party’s problems.