Ever hear of the 15 percent solution? How the Christian Right is building from below to ta

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Ever hear of the 15 percent solution? How the Christian Right is building from below to take over from above... Greg Goldin did his research in part with a grant from the Fund for Constitutional Government. He tells us that the "Christian right has reinvented itself, although it is still led by the familiar faces who gravitated to the pinnacle of power in the Reagan Administration: There is Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, with $13 million to annually dole out to hand-picked candidates and causes, all of it wired into his Christian Broadcasting Network audience of 16 million. There is Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation, beaming marching orders along its closed-circuit National Empowerment Television to 65 far- flung satellite-dish affiliates in more than 30 states. There is Robert Simond's Citizens for Excellence in Education, which claims that its 1210 chapters have helped elect nearly 3500 school board members. Along with a dozen other organization, the Christian right has set out to complete what '60s radicals dubbed "the march through the institutions." "The formula they've concocted has been called the `15 per cent solution' by the Christian Coalition. Even in a well-attended presidential election, only 15 per cent of eligible voters determine the outcome. Here's the simple math: about 60 per cent of the qualified electorate is registerd, and only half of them vote. Half again of that 30 per cent determines the outcome, hence the all-powerful 15 per cent. "We don't have to worry about convincing a majority of American to agree with us," Guy Rodgers, the Christian Coalitions' national field director declared at the 1991 Road to Victory conference. "Most of them are staying home and watching FALCON CREST."" "In 1992, according to People for the American Way, the liberal consitutional watchdog, extremist Christian candidates racked up a 40 per cent win record in state and local races. And, to the horror of Republicans across the nation, they've dominating a number of statewide Republicn Party committees. "What the Christian right spends a lot of time doing," says Marc Wolin, a moderate Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Congress from San Francisco last year, "is going after obscure party posts. They try to control the party apparatus in each county. We have a lot to fear from these people. They want to set up a theocracy in America."" [Source: The Village Voice, April 6, 1993] [More excerpts from Greg Goldin's article in the Village Voice, April 6, 1993] THE 15 PERCENT SOLUTION "An invocation to God at a school board meeting in Vista, California, might not seem momentous---though it might spark a latter-day Scopes Monkey trial. Like the Colorado battle over gay rights, the elections of three fundamentalists to this small-town board is part of a strategy to convert America to Christendom. Instead of high-profile homophobia or abortion clinic blockades, however, the religious right has has embarked on a new crusade--- triumphant in Vista and in hundreds of other districts throughout the nation last November---that tranforms church-going zeal into nitty-gritty, grassroots, trickle-up electoral power. The same day Bill Clinton won the White House, the Crhistian right captured seats on school boards, hospital boards, county party committees, from Alaska to Minnesota, Washington to Texas. While national attention focused on George Bush's resounding defeat, few noticed that the fanatics who'd brought him to his knees at the Republican Convention in Houston were jubilant. "As many observers in the press rushed to note, Clinton did not receive a sweeping mandate on November 4. What they failed to see was the nascent counter-revolution that garnered millions of votes from America's disaffected middle class. The same Reaganites who cast their lot with Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot because they were worried---resentful even--about losing their toehold on prosperity were wooed by Christian activists and zealot. "These electoral victories were not the product of the willy- nilly book burner or the old pulpiteer exhorting the like-minded to flock to the polls to defeat an occasional incumbent. Behind successes in local races in Iowa, Virginia, Oregon, Colorado, California, and New Yourk--among others--is a national network supplying money and know-how, pulling candidates from the pews and putting them into public office. (Similar efforts are underway for New York City's school board elections May 40. "The insurgency is the natural culmination of a process that began in 1980. Ronald Reagan entered Washington braced by a coalition of monied Rockefeller Republicans, disgruntled working class Democrats, and hardcore Christians. The new president promptly offered the latter, in particular, direct access to Washington, giving them legitimacy and a national platform. The Christian Right, in turn, provided him with a club--in the form of Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and Terry Dolan's National Conservative Political Action Committee--to wield against Democrats unwilling to capitulate to the "bipartisan" mood. But the Reagan alliance began to crumble with the end of the Cold War [when] Anticommunism, the glue that held together otherwise contentious partnerships, died a belated death. By the time Bush was elected in 1988, the Christian Right was hopelessly at odds with the White House. They despised Bush, the ultimate Republican elitist and pragmatist, waffling on abortion and tax increases. So they set out to retool the Repulbican Party. At the Houston convention, the Christian Right exerted its considerable leverage, creating the spectacle of George Bush pandering to Pat Robertson and the Armageddon choir. It was hell for Bush, but a godsend for his foes. By the time of the GOP convention, with Bush fading, America's Christian Right had already cooked up their strategy. If they couldn't shape policy from the top, they'd take over the bottom. `We tried to charge Washington,' says Christian Coalition executive director Ralph Reed, contemplating the end of their Washington clout in 1988. `We should have been focusing on the states. The real battles of concern to Christians are in neighborhoods, school boards, city councils, and state legislatures.' [This is part of a more extensive article by Greg Goldin which has been funded in part by the Fund for Constitutional Government and published in the Village Voice, April 6, 1993--HR]


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