At the New Republic site today, there’s a post from Michelle Goldberg, a perceptive observer of the Christian Right, about a message she got from that perennial presidential aspirant, Newt Gingrich:
As I was walking out the door yesterday evening, the phone rang. On the line was a woman from something called the National Committee for Faith and Family, contacting people, she said, on behalf of Newt Gingrich. She asked me to hold for a message from the great man, I dutifully agreed, and was treated to a recording of Gingrich hawking a full-length documentary called Rediscovering God in America. Then the woman came back on, saying, “Do you think we need to stop the momentum of anti-God liberals and Obama?” She wanted a donation of $35 to distribute the movie, which claims that the United States was founded on religious principals, and that separation of church and state is a myth fostered by devious subversives….
What’s surprising is that, at a time of serious collapse on the right, Gingrich is hitching his bid for renewed relevance to the most exhausted culture war tropes.
I cite this post as a reminder to myself and to other progressives that what may seem obvious to us about the condition of the Christian Right and other conservative factions may not seem obvious to them at all. To a lot of conservatives, the last two elections are speed bumps on the road to glory, or accidents, or indeed, validation that their “exhausted culture war tropes” about the insidious power of the godless liberals are entirely accurate.
I don’t know if Newt Gingrich feels that way himself, or is simply, as he has often appeared, a dedicated follower of fashion, not a real innovator, when it comes to conservative ideology. But Michelle’s right: we certainly haven’t heard the last of “exhausted tropes” like the claim that America was designed to be a “Christian Nation” until the liberals came along. They’ll plow that same old furrow so long as some crops come up.