And when all else fails, and conservatives start losing the case on merits, they pull out the Big God Gun. They claim to have the Lord on their side.
How do you argue with that?
Then comes a bit of serendipity. The Republicans field a ticket with a Mormon at the top and a Catholic in second position. Mitt Romney for President! Paul Ryan waits in the wings.
As a liberal, you begin to feel that healthy liberal doubt rising again. How, for example, can people like Ann Coulter on the right insist they have God on their side, when God can't seem to get His Own message straight? Is the Bible the last and only true word from on high? Is it where we go for all answers about gay marriage and abortion and even scientific topics like global warming, or not? And what about the Book of Mormon? Is that what God, speaking to Moses thousands of years ago, simply left out?
Ross Douthat, a leading conservative thinker, argues in today's New York Times that Romney needs to open up his campaign narrative in coming weeks. He needs to let voters catch a glimpse of his Mormon faith.
As Douthat sees it:
Romney’s years as a bishop would be woven into a biography that emphasized his piety and decency, introducing Americans to the Romney who shut down his business to hunt for a colleague’s missing daughter, the Romney who helped build a memorial park when a friend’s son died of cystic fibrosis, the Romney who lent money to renters to help them buy a house he owned, and so on down a list of generous gestures and good deeds.
In this scenario, faith is an absolute positive, and, conversely, we can assume, lack of faith is a liberal failing. Douthat argues that during a visit to Salt Lake City this summer he was struck by the fine emphasis the Church of the Latter-Day Saints put on "faith, family and neighborliness."
As for those bedraggled, woe-begotten liberals? They assign the key role in society to the state.
A LIBERAL ENDS UP, RIGHT ABOUT THERE, scratching his or her noggin'. A liberal believes in both freedom of religion and individual freedom. Let Mormons practice their faith in their beautiful temples, with the figure of Moroni displayed on high, blowing his trumpet. If they believe Joseph Smith found golden tablets on a hillside near Palmyra, New York in 1830, and believe these outline the last true version of the Word of God, let them pray as they like. A good and decent member of the Church of the Latter-Day Saints is a good and decent human being, first, second and last. The same is true of the good and decent Catholic. It is the same again, when we are talking about good and decent Jews or Muslims or Sikhs.
If you're a liberal, though, you have a few questions, not because you hate religion or God or this nation. (In fact, even though you aren't sure, you think God probably loves not only all Americans, but all human beings.) First, if Romney reads one religious book and Ryan reads another and those devout Evangelicals who represent the base of the GOP believe them both wrong and put forward a third version of the truth, why must we assume these people know what they're talking about when they quote chapter and verse on subjects like gay marriage?
If the Book of Mormon goes on in great detail about the battle between Lamanites and Nephites, two ancient peoples on the continent of North America, a liberal says, "Let the Mormons worship in peace, for they are human, and they have basic freedoms and rights. They do me no harm in the practice of their beliefs."
Still, the liberal mind swirls. Why do so many right-wing types, who say they care more about religious freedom than liberals, oppose the building of mosques in places like Tennessee? How is a good and decent Muslim, reading his or her Koran, any more of a threat to the individual rights and freedoms of any other American than a good and decent Mormon or Catholic? If two Mormons marry in a special temple ceremony, or even a Catholic and Mormon marry each other, how does that effect anyone else save that couple? In the same way, a liberal wonders how the equation changes if two gays marry? And if a conservative says, angrily, "You want to destroy marriage as it has existed for thousands of years!" you can't help but wonder. What were Mormons leaders thinking, when they allowed polygamy, under church doctrine, until 1890?
In fact, at this point, if you're liberal, you find yourself muttering, "And this is the same church that offered all kinds of support to Proposition 8, the California referendum to ban gay marriage in that state?
In fact, sometimes it's still great fun to be liberal, as it is now, with this "liberal" mixed marriage of Ryan and Romney. Because at times like this you get to confuse conservatives with logic and fact.
Here's one to try on the next right-wing type who says you hate God and kittens and the United States of America. When they insist we need to put prayer back in public schools, ask them exactly which prayer and led by whom? When they say God is against gay marriage, and quote from Leviticus, ask them their position on the sacrifice of goats. After all, if you're a liberal you wonder why there are something like 182 verses on that topic in Leviticus and but one related to homosexual behavior.
Better yet, next time Ann Coulter opens her mouth in any public forum, to spew out more hate, can some good and decent liberal in the audience simply stand and inquire, "Ann, at 49 or 51 (there's dispute over her birthdate) are you still a virgin?" Because, let's face it, conservatives, if the Good Book isn't clear about abortion, it's certainly clear on the topic of sex before marriage.
AND YOU KNOW WHAT Rush Limbaugh, now four-times married, might say. If Ann isn't still a virgin, then she must be a slut.