Public Policy Polling recently asked 316 Republicans whether they would support making Christianity the national religion, and a depressing 57% agreed with the notion of doing away with religious freedom in America.
That same PPP poll found that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has taken over as the clear presidential favorite among registered Republicans — and that only 27% of respondents identify with tea parties. For the median GOP voter, matters of public religious piety clearly take precedence over any conservative brand.
In fact, it’s hard to square the ‘new conservatism’ with traditional conservatism. The poll results suggest quite a radical shift, one that’s most visible in current Republican discourse, wherein the very word ‘American’ is now suffused with Dominionist ideas about ignoring or circumventing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
When Rudy Giuliani questions the president’s patriotism, he has the deluded pulse of the party; when Scott Walker fails to speak up in defense of what used to be a broadly-nonpartisan American principle, he is in thrall to his party’s anthropology. These men are no longer outliers, they are the new normal.
Whereas the religious right was once dominated by fundamentalists who understood America as a pluralist system, that is no longer the case. Thanks in large part to a deliberate strategy of funding and promoting Islamophobia, what I call the ‘Sarah Palin wing’ of the party — the voters who showed up at her rallies during the 2008 campaign, and first expressed the delusion that Barack Obama was some sort of multicultural Manchurian Candidate — are now a majority.