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Democratic Voting Guide -- From the Religious Right!

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Maybe I've been wrong about the American Taliban. For as long as I've been aware of the Family Research Council (FRC) and Focus on the Family (FOF), I've always assumed that they only existed to polarize the country along religious lines, undermine the Constitution, elect right-wingers and foster hatred of gay people. But now, with election day approaching, they've actually done a 180 on me and provided an incredibly helpful guide for how proud liberals should vote on Tuesday. FRC and FOF recently took a break from pushing intolerance and bigotry long enough to publish their 2006 Vote Scorecard in which they have monitored the votes made in the second half of the 109th Congress and rated all Representatives and Senators on "significant votes representing a cross section of issues affecting the family." "We have singled out for inclusion the most clear-cut, pro-family votes that came before Congress," they say in their introduction to the ratings. "The votes recorded here are only part of our effort to protect the family. Only through your help as informed and active constituents, working with us in contacting your Members of Congress on pro-family issues, can we truly make headway with the increased pro-family majority in Washington." The gist, of course, is to tell us which people in Congress most conform to the Religious Right's view of how our society should operate and, using that as a guide, help us decide how to vote in this critical midterm election. And help us they did because, I've got to tell you, their conclusions make a lot of sense to me. To evaluate what they consider to be the "pro-family issues" and associated votes made by U.S. Senators in 2006, the two organizations looked at eight items considered by the Senate:
  • Cloture motion on the nomination of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to the Supreme Court
  • Confirmation of Judge Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to the Supreme Court
  • Confirmation of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals
  • Cloture motion on Marriage Protection Amendment
  • Embryonic Stem Cell Research Act
  • Lautenberg Sex-Ed Amendment
  • Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act
  • Sponsorship of Marriage Protection Amendment
So, you've got your basic anti-choice, anti-gay, right-wing judge agenda there -- man, and they say we liberals have a litmus tests for government officials. For the record, the Lautenberg amendment would have modified the Child Custody Protection Act -- synonymous with the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act -- by funding sex education and condom-distribution programs for at-risk teens which, according to the Religious Right, would have "... undermined abstinence-until-marriage education programs." After all, you don't want hormone-driven teens educated on how to avoid pregnancy, do you? They then scored each of the Senators on the percentage of times they agreed with the agenda of FOF and FRC and it certainly does provide a helpful guide for us. There were 23 Republican Senators scoring 100 percent for compliance with these groups and among those was the following Rogues Gallery of guys who happen to be up for reelection on Tuesday:
  • Jon Kyl (R-AZ)
  • Jim Talent (R-MO)
  • Conrad Burns (R-MT)
  • Mike DeWine (R-OH)
  • Rick Santorum (R-PA)
  • George Allen (R-VA)
So, you see, the Religious Right is helping us already... Even if we didn't know from experience what an Algonquin Roundtable this rubber-stamping, six-pack is, just knowing how much FOF and FRC loves them makes us want to vote for anyone else. The only Democratic challenger to this sterling line-up who was in Congress this year was Ohio Congressman Sherrod Brown who rated a perfect zero percent with James Dobson and Tony Perkins -- yet another thing to like about Brown. Notes from other Senate races include Democrat Amy Klobuchar's opponent, GOP Congressman Mark Kennedy, and Bill Nelson's non-opponent Katherine Harris, both in 100-percent religious compliance, while Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont both check in with FOF and FRC liking them to the tune of zero percent. Of all Democratic Senators, 24 of 44 rated an absolute zero from the Religious Right which tells us that, whatever disagreements we may have in some areas, there's still a lot about them to like. Here they are with the ones who need your vote on Tuesday in bold:
  • Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
  • Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
  • Christopher Dodd (D-CT)
  • Joseph Biden (D-DE)
  • Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Barack Obama (D-IL)
  • Richard Durbin (D-IL)
  • Evan Bayh (D-IN)
  • Edward Kennedy (D-MA)
  • John Kerry (D-MA)
  • Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
  • Paul Sarbanes (D-MD)
  • Carl Levin (D-MI)
  • Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)
  • Mark Dayton (D-MN)
  • Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
  • Robert Menendez (D-NJ)
  • Charles Schumer (D-NY)
  • Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
  • Ron Wyden (D-OR)
  • Jack Reed (D-RI)
  • Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
  • Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Russell Feingold (D-WI)
In the ratings for the House of Representatives, which FOF and FRC ranked on seven issues, 140 of 202 Democrats also scored zero percent with the Religious Right, which makes them just fine with us. See how easy they've made this? One other amusing note: A true sign of the current state of the GOP was the section of this document called "House membership changes during this session." They were forced to list the deletion of Tom DeLay (corruption) and Mark Foley (pedophilia) who both resigned in disgrace, while noting the addition of Brian Bilbray who was elected in June to replace Republican Duke Cunningham (corruption) who also resigned in shame. So I have to hand it to the Family Research Council and Focus on the Family. If their goal is to use their criteria -- which, if they could have their way, would call for an even mesh of church and state in Washington -- to give us all a clear signal on how we should vote on Tuesday, I think they've accomplished their mission. This may be the most sense these characters have ever made. You can read more from Bob at BobGeiger.com.
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Bob Geiger is a writer, activist and Democratic operative in Westchester County, NY.
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