OK, let's relax with some politics. (Tells you where I'm coming from, doesn't it?) Here's an intriguing article by a guy named Doug Muder called Ten Ideas for 2008. Muder is a New Hampshire politics junkie and unapologetic liberal. Not the cartoon liberal that Rush Limbaugh flogs on his show, but the real kind. He's posted a lot of articles on his website, and this one gives important food for thought for liberals and Democrats (they're not the same thing), about reframing the terms of the debate.
This ties in with something that's bothered me for years. The most infuriating thing about liberals is their willingness to let themselves be defined in the public mind by their enemies. (See: Rush) Muder says it's past time to change this.
Two examples. Moral values and codes of sexual conduct are not the same thing, but conservaties routinely use "morality" as a code word for sex becuase, hey, sex sells. Liberals should not be afraid to use the word "immoral" in their arguments. For the richest country in the world to let poor people die because they can't afford healthcare is immoral. For President Bush to break the law whenever following it would be inconvenient is immoral. Why not say so?
Second, Christianity is not fundamentally a conservative religion. It is a liberal faith that has been largely hijacked by conservatives. Since when was Christianity about following the letter of the law but not its spirit? Since when was getting as rich as you possibly can a Christian virtue? The Republican brand of Christians resemble, more than any other figures from the Bible, the Pharisees who heckle Jesus throughout his ministry. They certainly don't resemble him or his disciples. So there's a slogan for you: "The Religious Right; 21st Century Pharisees."
There's one issue Muder doesn't address, but which Thomas Frank does in an op-ed column in today's New York Times. That is conservatives' unshakable view of themselves as scrappy outsiders, fighting a brave but disadvantaged battle against an all-powerful Washington liberal elite. For many years this was true, of course, but it hasn't been for a long time. In the past quarter century there have been exactly two years in which the Democrats controlled both Congress and the White House, the first two years of Clinton's presidency. Look at Washington today, and you see conservatives dominating all three branches of government, backed by incredibly rich and powerful business interests, with individuals happily gaming the system and milking it dry, becoming insanely rich in the process. And they certainly are all about excluding those who are Not Their Sort Of People. If that isn't an all-powerful conservative elite, then what the hell is it??
Both pieces are worth reading, even if you're a Republican. Because the issues raised are all valid ones, and if the Republican Party does not address them, well, it may still be able to hold on to a degree of power, but it won't deserve to.