Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Religious Test

JACKSON, Miss. -- A wealthy evangelical Christian, John Arthur Eaves Jr., is running a campaign for governor that is rife with what Jesus might do.

He talks about banishing "the money changers" from state politics and about a health-care proposal focusing on the "least among us" -- just as Jesus would -- and the cornerstone of his stump speech is familiar to anyone who knows the bit in Matthew 6:24 about "Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."

"The most important question in this campaign," he said at a typical campaign stop here last week, "is 'Who do you serve?' "

He is running against Republican incumbent Haley Barbour, he answers, because he wants "to serve my creator."

This political neophyte is doctrinaire evangelical on issues such as homosexuality and abortion, but is challenging the status quo on the social gospel. There have been hints of fractures in this movement on the environment in the past few years.

Get the gays and the abortionists can only keep fundies hearts warm with hatred for so long before something gives. My pet theory is that the cynical moneyed interests in the GOP screw over their base economically by faking the Jesus talk. Having somebody who walks the walk as well, especially in a poor state that is overwhelmingly evangelical like Mississippi might just be a trend.

Barack Obama is making outreach to these voters. In the rest of the country, the democratic base is too strong to allow fundamentalism merge with the social gospel if it means draconian sexual and privacy rights curtailment. Yet, I see a possible third way opening up here.

We might get conservative democrats and republicans in these areas, who are economically populist or liberal. A vast majority of devout moral conservatives want a fairer tax system, universal health coverage, but are given the option of trickle down on you economics as their only choice when they vote for a candidate.

Although I reject these moral views on gays and abortion, these people deserve representation on all their views. I would take a Republican who supports the middle class over the rich (and right wing social views) any day over the stranglehold the corporate prostitutes have now over the GOP and the democrats for that matter.

Governor Barbour is very well funded, entrenched, and has corporate money out the wahoo. This challenge though could be what shocks the system. In an age of party unity, nearly half of Republicans support Universal Health Coverage yet have nobody representing them in government.

Perhaps this is about to change.

(H/T Jeopardy boy)