On September 26, Kathleen Parker was one of the first prominent conservatives to say what we were all thinking: Sarah Palin was out of her league. Parker has faced no shortage of rage from former friends from the right, yet today she continued airing truthful dirty laundry.

From her Washington Post column:

To be more specific, the evangelical, right-wing, oogedy-boogedy branch of the GOP is what ails the erstwhile conservative party and will continue to afflict and marginalize its constituents if reckoning doesn’t soon cometh.

Simply put: Armband religion is killing the Republican Party. And, the truth — as long as we’re setting ourselves free — is that if one were to eavesdrop on private conversations among the party intelligentsia, one would hear precisely that.

… [The GOP] has become increasingly beholden to an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.

So the smart people in the Republican party know that this kowtowing to an extreme brand of faith has poisoned the party and the country, but few will speak of it publicly.

The reason I like the Parker column isn’t just for the joy I get at seeing the conservative movement forced to publicly flail through its identity crisis. I also like the piece because Parker brings in the painful demographic truth of the crisis

Religious conservatives become defensive at any suggestion that they’ve had something to do with the GOP’s erosion. And, though the recent Democratic sweep can be attributed in large part to a referendum on Bush and the failing economy, three long-term trends identified by Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz have been devastating to the Republican Party: increasing racial diversity, declining marriage rates and changes in religious beliefs.

Suffice it to say, the Republican Party is largely comprised of white, married Christians. Anyone watching the two conventions last summer can’t have missed the stark differences: One party was brimming with energy, youth and diversity; the other felt like an annual Depends sales meeting.

Add to this the implications of my Monday post about the GOP’s staggering loss of Latino support (fastest growing racial group in the country), and we’ve got the makings of a legitimate existential crisis for a party that has has been held together by increasingly tenuous bonds between neocon war hawks, fiscal conservatives and, as Parker so wonderfully puts it, “an element that used to be relegated to wooden crates on street corners.”

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