By Scott Tibbs
January 19, 2002

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Demonizing Christians: the Left's new political strategy?

Howard Fineman of Newsweek reported in December that the Democratic National Committee is planning to introduce a bold but risky strategy to take back the U.S. House of Representatives and expand their lead in the Senate in this year's election.

Some Democrats are hoping that by comparing Christian conservatives to the Taliban, they will be able to scare voters into pulling the "D" lever in November. They are banking on making the point that the Christian Right represents a "threat" to religious and "reproductive" freedom as well as freedom of conscience. Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood seized on this strategy immediately following the September 11th terrorist attacks, arguing that the intolerance of the Taliban shows how important it is to fight "intolerance" within our own borders.

With President Bush enjoying an approval rating approaching 90% and the GOP showing early strength leading into the congressional elections, the Democrats are searching for something that they can latch onto in hopes of controlling Congress. But this desperate gambit may backfire and do serious damage to the Democrats.

In 1994, conservative Christians felt threatened by the far-Left agenda being pushed by Bill Clinton. An attempt to have the government take over the nation's health care system, the second-largest tax increase in American history, increasing threats to Second Amendment rights and a Leftist social agenda sent conservatives to the polls in droves to throw Democrats out of both houses of Congress. Voters sent Clinton a message that his agenda was not wanted. Fearing what seemed to be imminent defeat in 1996, Clinton moderated his rhetoric and signed the majority of the Contract with America into law, allowing him to stay in the White House despite 51% of voters rejecting the incumbent President. If Democrats hedge their bets on demonizing Christians as a campaign strategy, they could well see a repeat of their stinging 1994 defeat as they face a backlash.

But whatever the potential political benefits and drawbacks are of "Talibanizing" conservative Christians in the 2002 elections, the strategy should be rejected by voters at all points of the political spectrum.

First of all, the strategy is wrong. Conservative Christians bear no resemblance to the Taliban, who were known for stoning women for small violations of the strict Islamic dress code, even if the holes in the veils they were forced to wear were too large. The vast majority of pro-life advocates specifically don't want to force anyone to live by a rigid personal lifestyle approved by an all-powerful federal government, just to simply extend the protection from harm under the law to those who have not yet been born. For Planned Parenthood, the DNC, or any other Leftist group to tie pro-life people to the 9/11 massacre is the height of irresponsibility.

Americans can have genuine disagreements on matters of law and morality while acting in a civilized manner and not embarking on a campaign of hate to demonize the opposition. Questioning the commitment to American ideals of one's political opposition is a shady tactic that should not be welcomed. The Taliban and fringe terrorist groups like the al Qaida are military enemies committed to destroying America and Israel, and murdering as many Americans and Israelis as possible. That is a far cry from simply proposing legislation or a policy agenda that one may disagree with.

Most Americans can agree that protecting freedom is important. Many Americans are genuinely concerned about how the Left's support of "separation of church and state" (which is nowhere in the Constitution) has caused the First Amendment freedoms of many Americans to be restricted. Constant legislative efforts by the Left to expand the size and power of government at every level through onerous taxes and heavy-handed regulations are another limitation on our freedom. (Of conservative Christians and the cultural Left, who is it that generally opposes these tax and regulatory burdens? You guessed it.) But, as much as conservatives may be concerned about these, you don't see them implementing a defined political strategy to question the Left's Americanism by comparing them to our military enemies.

It is wrong for Democrats, or Leftist political advocacy groups, to exploit the emotion surrounding the World Trade Center disaster to slander and demonize other Americans. We experienced the worst attack on our soil by a foreign power in history, and Americans should be disgusted at attempts to drive wedges between our people for selfish partisan political ends. President Bush has shown us a model of bipartisanship and civility after 9/11. The President even declined requests to campaign for Republicans in the 2001 elections, where his popularity and ability to raise money would have helped his party (and himself) greatly, because he didn't want to be partisan so soon after the Twin Towers were destroyed. The Democrats would do well to follow the President's example.