Whither the Religious Right?

The religious right is claiming a victory. Unlike existing dollar coins, which have the words “In God We Trust” printed on the edge, the next batch of coins will have those words printed more clearly on the front or back. Those coins will honor some of our most outstanding presidents: William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor. Well, maybe not the most outstanding, but they were presidents.

I say good deal. Let the religious right have such victories, while they watch their obviously favorite son, whose name honestly escapes me for the moment—oh yes, Mike Huckabee—go down to humiliating defeat after a brief moment of fame and glory in the Iowa Republican caucuses. I think the religious right is now getting just about the degree of political victory that its numbers and political power justify. We’re all pretty even now.

The rapid rise and even more rapid fall of Huckabee is the biggest non-story (i.e., story gone MIA in the MSM) of the campaign season so far. True, from the MSM standpoint there were all sorts of reasons that Huckabee should not have been taken seriously as a candidate for president. But the Iowa Republicans suggested that from the religious right standpoint those many reasons did not matter much. So why did voters in South Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and other states not agree?

Considering how much attention has been given to the supposed political clout of the religious right, that’s a question that should be capturing great attention among the punditry. But somehow the Huckabee campaign is being allowed to slip into obscurity. Could it be that the MSM has significantly overstated the strength of the religious right at least since Election Day 2004 (and actually far earlier), and now they don’t want the evidence of their mistake made too public? Or is it merely that the MSM is so happy to see Huckabee fail, they don’t want to attention to him in any way, even by posting obits? Interesting stuff for historians of religion and politics in the United States to ponder in the years to come.

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