Wednesday, November 03, 2004

American Schisms

Andrew Sullivan, the staunch conservative who held his nose to endorse Kerry, has a grim prediction ... and an important solution:

A MANDATE FOR CULTURE WAR: That's Bill Bennett's conclusion. He won't be the only one. What we're seeing, I think, is a huge fundamentalist Christian revival in this country, a religious movement that is now explicitly political as well. ... the intensity of the passion, and the inherently totalist nature of religiously motivated politics means deep social conflict if we are not careful. Our safety valve must be federalism. We have to live and let live. As blue states become more secular, and red states become less so, the only alternative to a national religious war is to allow different states to pursue different options. ... Federalism is now more important than ever. I just hope that Republican federalists understand this. I fear they don't.

The basis for intrusion of religion into political life has already been established. Churches were major centers for organizing Republicans in this election--I doubt one will lose its tax exemptions because of it. Religion in politics need not be problematic. I always point to the Germany's Center Party, which represented Catholics and that tried to be a moderate alternative to socialism and nationalism. Federalism is one key--allowing more fundamentalist concentrate their religious politics within their states. However, I am not clear about how "secular states" would develop, or what would be the bounds for religious politics at the national level. This is an idea that has some potential, but also requires more detail.

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