Roberta X doesn’t like Jon Henke’s crusade against World Net Daily, because she thinks it reeks of the stuffy right worried that people are going to be programmed with wrongthink. Â I can’t really speak for Jon Henke, but that’s not really my concern. Â I know there’s an audience for what Joe Farrah is selling. Â If there wasn’t, he wouldn’t be selling it. Â That audience is really of very little concern to me, and I don’t worry all that much that there are people out there who think that Obama was born in Kenya. Â I don’t worry all that much that people think they’ve been abducted by aliens. Â I worry even less that folks might think that Elvis is really hanging out with JFK in an old folks home and battling the undead in their spare time. Â But I am concerned with what banners the conservative movement marches under when we’re asking people to join us in helping build a governing majority.
There’s an important reason why this is a concern. Â If you look at party affiliation in the United States, it looks something like this. Â If votes went along straight party lines, the Democrats would never lose an election, and we’d be selling stylish, cheap furniture, boring, but remarkably safe and reliable cars, and developing a growing fondness for herring. Â Yep. Â We’d already be Sweden. Â But we’re not. Â Why? Â Because conservatives enjoy an ideological advantage, in that most Americans can identify with at least some parts of the conservative platform. Â But to get their votes, Republicans have to attract votes from people who are not Republicans.
Latest Gallup poll from 2009 shows that 26% of voters identify Republican, 33% Democrat, and 39% independent. Â The party that’s doing the best job of attracting independents to their message at any given time is going to be the party in power. Â There’s a lot of wasted ink in trying to figure out the key to winning independents, but if there’s one thing that’s probably safe to say about them, it’s that most aren’t really on board with partisan extremism.
My problem with WND and the birthers isn’t that they exist. Â My problem with Joe Farrah isn’t that he makes money providing material the kooky right greedily devours. Â It’s a free, capitalist country, after all. Â My problem is that by trying to bring them into the coalition, and by lending Farrah and his audience legitimacy, we’re going to turn away the independent voters. Â Voters who might be a little pissed off at what’s coming out of Washington these days — who might not want their taxes raised, and might not want their kids in debt to their eyeballs before they even get a job. Â I don’t want them thinking that by voting for conservative candidates who might share many of these values, that they are by association endorsing the kooky ideas emanating out of the birthersphere. Â The question in accepting any group into your coalition is do they bring more to the table than they drive away from it. Â I think the answer with the WND crowd is no.