James Dobson has a long history of threatening to abandon the Republican Party and take his supporters with him, only to turn around and undertake get-out-the-vote activities seemingly designed to help the GOP win elections.
Back in 2006, Dobson blasted the Republican leadership, saying that “values voters” had “very little to show” for all their efforts at getting them elected and that there would be “trouble down the road” if they didn’t start moving on the issues the Religious Right cares about. And to show just how serious he was about holding their feet to the fire, he set out to organize and participate in massive voter registration rallies in places like Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee while boosting his efforts on his radio program.
But this time around, fresh on the heels of telling the entire world that he will not, ever, under any circumstances forsake his principles and support John McCain, it looks like Dobson just might be serious, as he has announced that he is seeking “to enlist 1 million Values Voters” to pledge to stand on principle and not vote for McCain … or something:
Focus on the Family Founder and Chairman Dr. James Dobson invites values voters to pledge to uphold pro-family principles during this year’s election.
In response to the media’s efforts to minimize the impact of values voters, Dr. Dobson and Focus on the Family Action are initiating a nationwide Values Voter Pledge. The pledge is a statement by citizens who are committing to vote only for candidates who uphold the highest pro-life, pro-faith and pro-family principles.
Focus Action is hoping 1 million voters will take the pledge, which will serve as a demonstration of the strength and seriousness of Values Voters in this election.
The pledge itself reads:
As a concerned citizen, I am signing this Values Voter Pledge for 2008 indicating my commitment to stand for the values of life, faith and family during this election year. I am pledging to support candidates who uphold these bedrock values of:
• Life — I will only vote for candidates who have committed to defend sanctity of life from conception to natural death.
• Family — I will only vote for candidates who stand for one-man, one-woman marriage and oppose efforts to undermine the nuclear family.
• Faith — I will only vote for candidates who support the public acknowledgement of God and affirm the religious liberties of all Americans.
I also oppose any and all efforts by the media, organizations or candidates to diminish the role that Values Voters are playing in this year’s election. I authorize Focus on the Family Action to represent my Values Voter Pledge before the media, political candidates or other suitable forums as a demonstration of the strength and seriousness of Values Voters in this election cycle.
Since Dobson attacked McCain specifically on these issues in his statement, this is presumably some sort of attempt to induce McCain to pander to them by getting a million potential voters to threaten to sit on the sidelines unless he does. But since Dobson has already made it abundantly clear that he hates McCain and has no intention of voting for him anyway, what incentive is there for McCain to even bother appeasing him?
Plus, given the vague language in the pledge, couldn’t McCain plausibly claim to “uphold these bedrock values” already? After all, he believes that “that the institution of marriage should be reserved for the union of a man and a woman,” proclaims that “the defense of innocent life” is at “the core of [his] value system,” and, as he declared at the Values Voter Summit, “Religious freedom does not require Americans to hide their faith from public view or that communities must refrain from publicly acknowledging the importance to them of faith.”
McCain seems to meet all of Dobson’s various criteria, so what exactly is the problem?