When, If Ever, Does the Political Base Become A Swamp?

A mere layperson–really, a rube–when it comes to analyzing politics, as opposed to political language, I am wondering about the extent to which the fabled “political base” to which one is supposed to “play to” might become a swamp into which the edifice (of a campaign, let’s say) will sink.

For instance, Rick Santorum and GOP Congresspersons seem prepared to (pretend to?) oppose contraception, and at least part of their thinking, I think, concerns playing to the base. Roger Ebert, on Twitter, used irony to question the political wisdom of this “thinking” when he tweeted (I paraphrase): “Santorum has locked in the Catholic Bishop vote.”

–Meaning, obviously, that perhaps not even a large minority of Catholic voters can go along with the government’s opposing contraception–and we’ll leave aside for the moment the logistics of such opposition.

And I hate to be tedious, but our Constitution, or at least interpretations of it, separates what the Vatican promulgates and what our government may choose to do, or neglect to do. Wild Bill, an authority on the Constitution is always just off-stage to correct me if I’m wrong, by the way.

There must be some Catholic Libertarians out there–is Scalia one?–who might wonder how President Santorum would outlaw contraception, or prevent health-insurance companies from covering it, and whether these ideas were such a red-hot (so to speak) Big Government idea.

With regard to political rhetoric, I think a problem for GOPer candidates is that, for so long and at such a high pitch of intensity, the GOP has turned every issue into a “war.”  Culture war, attack on “mainstream values,” war on Christmas, war on religion, war on Catholics, class warfare.

–So that, if everything is a “war,” then nothing is.  And if those who disagree with you are “enemy combatants,” then you commit yourself to warfare-rhetoric and warfare-tactics. Gingrich: “Obama has declared war on Catholics.”  I’m a Catholic, and I’m 99% sure  my parish priests wouldn’t even dream of suggesting this were the case.  A policy concerning who pays for contraception (including condoms, in an age of lethal STDs) isn’t even an affront to any religion.  The person deciding to use contraception may be acting and thinking in opposition to a position taken by his or her religion, but no president is involved in that conflict.

Warfare-tactics: to “out-flank” Obama regarding religion and health, some members of the GOP have had to go so many miles that seem to be falling off a cliff quite distant from the battlefield.

I don’t get it.  Nor do I “get” or appreciate the compulsive application of the language of war to mere disagreements, especially when the disagreements are phantom-ones, and espeically when most of the participants haven’t been to war.


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