As an example, in trying to point out what is more or less a statement of fact, that to a large extent the current GOP is in bed with the highly-organized, staunch religious right, such a statement is most often met with indignant, "I beg to differ" retorts. The GOP has been closely aligned with the religious right for many years, however the difference now is the degree to which they have influence within the party. Whereas in prior years, party operatives would bait them along, throw them some bones in the form of a few key concerns that they held dearly -- whatever it took to insure delivery of their votes as a block and yet not allow them to go too far in terms of having any significant impact.
With the increased reliance on this group to help deliver the Bush/Cheney victory (thanks to the dead-aim focus and tireless effort of Rove to motivate Evangelicals et al), it's apparent these folks will no longer tolerate being the loyal sideshow of the party. They fully grasp the effect they had on this election outcome and their mounting outcry is now apparent with regards to directing the course of this country.
The right-wingers can quibble and debate all they want as to just how big of an impact the religious right had on Bush's victory -- whatever, it's not the point. What is the point is that they did indeed have a sizeable impact, period, and that in their mind whatever that impact was they're inflating it and are running with it full force. Ergo, they will continue to make themselves known in the legislation process as well as all other governmental areas, believing that this is their time, they deserve it, and they're not going to squander it. And in this struggle for power will come an increasing resistance by more moderate, less strident Republicans (some still exist!) and in time the implosion of the party.
But just to step back a bit, regarding the tone in the country and to what extent this intolerant, overly-puritanical wave of sanctimony has made inroads into many aspects of our lives, I offer a list of just some examples:
* Monday Night Football / Nicolette Sheridan outrage (FCC likely to investigate and fine)
* Arlen Specter (recently forced to grovel and fetch water for the conservative religious right)
* Sen. Rick Santorum (a senator who in more moderate times would've served a specific, minor role in the party, but instead has been allowed to become a front-and-center spokesperson for the GOP with several rumors that he's readying to run for president in 2008)
* Howard Stern (not just fined, like in the past, but this time tossed off in six key election-day markets thanks to right-wing Clear Channel)
* Saving Private Ryan (many ABC affiliates refuse to air it for fear of being fined by FCC)
* Dr. James Dobson (he makes Jerry Falwell look liberal)
* Sen. Coburn, Okl. (felt the Holocaust movie "Schindler's List" was too obscene for television, those who perform abortions should be subject to the death penalty)
* Sen. DeMint, SC (called for firing gay teachers in public schools, and said the same should occur against single women teachers who became pregnant)
Oh, and this one just out yesterday:
Religious Conservatives Demand Changes at Nation's Parks
For roughly a decade, a film has been shown to visitors at Washington's Lincoln Memorial, depicting historic events that have taken place there — from civil rights marches to antiwar demonstrations. The film shows a number of marches with liberal themes like gay rights and abortion rights, intercut with older clips of historical figures like former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev and Marian Anderson.Then, one day the Rev. Lou Sheldon saw it. "It showed only those liberal, pro-abortion, pro-homosexual marches," said Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition. Sheldon's influential Christian conservative group took its complaint to the government's top levels — "so they could reach down and work their system and cleanse in a proper manner and make it fair and balanced," he said.
I could list more but you get the point (I hope).
Recall that in 1974, during the Oscar TV broadcast, David Niven was the presenter and a nudist ran across the stage, displaying everything for the world to see. I don't recall then the country rising up with outrage, demanding fines from the FCC, the Falwells and Dobsons at the time taking to the airwaves, etc. No, instead I believe it was taken for what it was (a fairly humorous goof) and life went on.
Can you imagine what would happen today?