It’s no secret that the GOP used ‘gay marriage’ prohibition referenda to great success in turning out their most fundamentalist, right-wing voters in states that mattered to the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign in 2004. But American voters, especially inward-looking, family-oriented fundies, must be constantly re-entertained to be electorally motivated. To that end, the GOP is test-marketing its second-decade turnout-motivator issue in Oklahoma: Sharia law.
Yes, Oklahomans will vote next week whether to prohibit their judges from considering international or Sharia law in their deliberations.
One of 11 ballot initiatives in the state this November, State Question 755, better known as the “Save Our State” constitutional amendment, would prevent courts from using international or Sharia law. The question made it to the ballot by passing the state Senate 41-2 and the House 82-10. In addition to potentially rallying the conservative base to the polls, the initiative, which bans something that is nearly impossible statutorily, is worth watching because the GOP may employ it in swing states two years down the line.
If this works — and why wouldn’t it, given the huge threat Sharia law currently poses to Oklahomans? — it may very well be the ballot issue that supplants ‘gay marriage’ in states the GOP needs to win the presidency in 2012. Look for compliant state legislatures, and some new GOP governors elected next week, to get this pressing issue on statewide ballots in 2012.
‘Gay marriage’ got the fundie preachers’ flocks up and out of the pews to vote in 2004. Eight years later, these preachers will naturally align themselves with such a pro-Christian issue: would you like your next brush with the police to be decided under Sharia law? ‘Sharia law’ is a double-barreled issue, too. It not only has the charming xenophobic resonance of George W Bush’s famous “with us or against us.” It also shuts down debate pretty quickly: “You’re not a terrorist-sympathizer, are you?”
Of course, that Sharia law poses absolutely no threat to American jurisprudence makes no difference whatsoever. Marriage equality hasn’t ended ‘traditional marriage’ anywhere, has it? The logic of the issue isn’t important. In fact, it’s counterintuitive, since anyone who argues against a Sharia law referendum is, by definition, on the side of terrorists.
Suddenly, all that recent braying from disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich about a federal ban on Sharia law begins to make sense. The GOP must get folks scared about Sharia law if they to be asked to vote on it next cycle. If the unresponsive federal government won’t recognize the very real threat of creeping Sharia-ism in our courts, at least states can ban it.
For motivating base voters, 2012 might shape up to be Sharia v pot.