The Republican Party didn’t make a deal with the devil.
It made a deal with God, or at least people who said they were God’s representatives — a certain class of very political and ideological preachers.
The deal, engineered by Republican operatives such as Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, went like this: Be against gays and abortion and for prayer in the schools, and in return, those preachers would proclaim the GOP the party of God and deliver millions of suburban and rural voters — enough to win elections for three decades.
But the deal carried a risk: Any behavior by Republican officeholders or public figures that seemed at odds with a certain kind of Old Testament morality — a tryst in an airport bathroom, a painkiller addiction, a sexual harassment lawsuit — and voters might feel betrayed and manipulated.
And the deal would collapse.
I don't think calls of hypocrisy in these situations are entirely constructive, as they only increase the polarized nature of our political and religious landscape. Under the public microscope, politicians of all stripes and parties have shown their flaws and personal failures. Democrats, to be sure, have had our share of the less than perfect role models (John Edwards, Bill Clinton).
As the quote highlights, the marriage relationship between the Religious Right and Republicans is a double-edge sword - especially as issues of sex, sexuality, and family values are central tenets to the party plank. When those trumpeting moral and political righteousness, however, fail to live up to those standards, people - not just the other party - are doubly angry. So while both sides have their share of disgraced politicians, the failure of conservative politicians - those who espouse and vocalize these central tenets - incites a special kind of indignation from the public.
And, as a result, the public lashes back. The Mark Foley scandal singlehandedly cost Republicans seats, if not the majority, in the House during the 2006 election cycle.
(h/t Taegan Goddard)