It is for this reason I have come to believe that the Religious Right is dooming the Republican Party. Perhaps, if the Republicans divest themselves of the fundamentalists, they will stand a chance of fair reportage. Realistically, it may be too late in the day for that. Alternatively, they could make it their business to recapture the media and the universities and the courts—the Long Campaign—but I do not see them even making the attempt. Short of that, and the odds are anyway still pretty long, they will simply have to abandon the Biblical literalists and their fellow travellers. The Earth was not created in six days; Adam was not made of mud; Eve was not made from Adam’s rib; there was no worldwide flood; Sodom and Gomorrah were not destroyed by God in punishment for homosexuality; sex is not a sin; and any text that approves what Joshua did to Jericho, or that fails to condemn slavery, or that prescribes stoning for adultery, or that endorses everlasting torment, was not inspired by a God worthy of worship—these must be planks on a new Republican platform. Otherwise, the Republicans are likely to calcify into a religious millstone that drags down sound fiscal policy.
But come on. Who can realistically believe Republicans will accept that evolutionary science is the best explanation we have for the diversity of life, that modern cosmology is likewise the best explanation for the development of the universe, and that the whole-hearted pursuit of science is our best hope of solving the mysteries that remain? It may be enough to adopt a “separate magisteria” approach and promote religion as an alternative to government charity. Given human nature, we will not be rid of religion any time soon. On the other hand, the ease with which the Leftist denominations seem to be accommodating the new consensus on sexual morality is surprisingly hopeful. Some of the faithful hold their convictions lightly, it seems, to the benefit of humanity. Thus, a winning and charismatic Republican leader might just manage to detach the party from its religious base. Imagine if Ronald Reagan had embraced science and rejected fundamentalism near the end of his first term, when there was morning in America. The trouble is, no Republican can be elected without the Religious Right these days. Ironically, we may have already reached the point where no Republican can be elected with the Religious Right, either.
What does all this portend for our present difficulties? The best that we can hope for may be a diminution of Republican power to the point there is no longer any reason not to jettison the fundamentalists. The Republicans may have to fall all the way down before they build themselves back up, as, possibly, non-isolationist Libertarians without the mythology of gold. Then, perhaps, the merits of their economic proposals would no longer get lost in the glare of their Bronze Age religious commitments. If not, then we are in danger of real dislocation. As things stand, neither party can compromise in a helpful way. Democrats cannot abandon the entitlement voters, and Republicans cannot abandon the religious dupes. This looks like a recipe for chaos. And after chaos, as the Optimates and Populares ultimately learned, comes Cæsar.