Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence - but I do not have evidence for a link between Al-Qaeda and the Texas GOP, and still remain fairly confident that their shared religio-political values are not sufficient to warrant cooperation and support.
Tacitus took great umbrage at what he perceived to be moral equivalence between Al Qaeda and the Texas GOP, but I made no such claim. Rather I was pointing out that his argument that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is a faulty (and somewhat lazy) attempt to keep afloat a flawed hypothesis.
However, the point I was making about the shared values of Al-Qaeda and the Texas GOP is a factual one - exemplified by this excerpt from their 2004 platform:
The Republican Party of Texas affirms that the United States of America is a Christian nation, and the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history. Our nation was founded on fundamental Judeo-Christian principles based on the Holy Bible. The Party affirms freedom of religion, and rejects efforts of courts and secular activists who seek to remove and deny such a rich heritage from our public lives.
Our Party pledges to exert its influence to restore the original intent of the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and dispel the myth of the separation of Church and State.
Note that the key point expressed here is that the US is a "Christian Nation" - an axiom from which calling separation of Church and State a "myth" is a logical consequence. As the pro-Separation/pro-free-excercise advocacy group Americans United explains in their excellent background brochure on the question of the Christian Nation, the Texas GOP is at odds with the Founders' intent - including the Father of the country himself:
Washington's administration even negotiated a treaty with the Muslim rulers of north Africa that stated explicitly that the United States was not founded on Christianity. The pact, known as the Treaty with Tripoli, was approved unanimously by the Senate in 1797, under the administration of John Adams. Article 11 of the treaty states, "[T]he government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion�."
The bottom line here is that the Texas GOP unambigously rejects the separation of religion and politics - and does so because it seeks to impose its own religious beliefs on the rest of the population of the United States, against their will. They seek to criminalize sexual behavior, outlaw abortion entirely, elimination of the social safety net, inclusion of Creationism in school textbooks, dismantling of the United Nations, and numerous other extreme positions well outside the current moderate mainstream concensus. They seek poltical power as a means to that end.
The value system that rationalizes he desire to impose extreme religious beliefs upon the mainstream - against the will of the majority - is the one shared by the Texas GOP and Al-Qaeda. Far from being an equivalence, it's a common attitude, a fervent belief that the ends justify the means. The Texas GOP does not kill or commit violence to achieve it's goals, but then again, it hardly has to. In essence, Al-Qaeda are fundamentalists of type B, and the Texas GOP is type A.
My friend Dan Darling took exception to my earlier alarm at the Texas GOP platform, arguing essentially that the influence of the Right is zero and for evidence argues that we do not currently live in a Mulla Falwell theocracy. True, and the people of Afghanistan did not live under a Taliban-style theocracy during the 80s when Reagan called them "freedom fighters" in explicit analogy to the Minutemen of the American Revolution. But fanatics left unattended - and vigorously un-repudiated - have a way of making things happen.
But that part of Dan's argument is a red herring - teh real point he makes is that the Christian Right is marginalized and powerless to ever bring such a state of affairs about. Kevin Drum offers a succinct rebuttal:
One of the longtime arguments of mainstream Republicans has been that the Christian Right doesn't really have much influence on the party, so there's nothing to worry about. Gay marriage, though, is an opportunity to show that that's not true. After all, if Bush is willing to amend the constitution to ban gay partnerships in order to win their votes, what might he do next?
All politicians pander - but Bush's pandering is deeply dangerous. And while Republicans may be closing ranks in denial, true conservatives are taking notice and making tough decisions baed on what's right, not Right:
Could it be that Bush has not governed as a conservative in critical ways - and hasn't even governed competently in others? Let's list a few: the WMD intelligence debacle - the worst blow to the credibility of the U.S. in a generation; Abu Ghraib - a devastating wound to to America's moral standing in the world; the post-war chaos and incompetence in Iraq; an explosion in federal spending with no end in sight; no entitlement reform; a huge addition to fiscal insolvency with the Medicare drug entitlement; support for a constitutional amendment, shredding states' rights; crusades against victimless crimes, like smoking pot and watching porn; the creeping fusion of religion and politics; the erosion of some critical civil liberties in the Patriot Act. I could go on. Is there any point at which a conservative might consider not voting for Bush? For the editor of National Review Online, the answer is indeed "fairly obvious." But for people not institutionally related to the G.O.P., the only question is: where would that line be?
Ultimately, the vote is the only means by which the electorate exert their influence upon the system. That is what makes our system different from ones in which the Taliban rose to power. But that is a frail defense if it is not invoked.