Culture Wars Come To Two Super Tuesday States

For months, both pundits and presidential candidates have repeatedly declared that the 2012 campaign would be all about the economy. In two major Super Tuesday battlegrounds, however, the local governments have instead been focusing on social issues.

Georgia, which has 76 delegates up for grabs on Tuesday, doesn’t seem to be worried about the economy in its statehouse. Instead, local lawmakers have been busy unanimously passing a bill that would post a copy of the Ten Commandments in all Georgia schools and government buildings.

Supporters of the bill, which was introduced by Republican Rep. Tommy Benton, believe that it is appropriate because American law is largely based in the Christian and Jewish traditions. Opponents, such as Barry Lynn — a Christian minister and the executive director of Americans United For Separation Of Church and State — believe that the bill could violate the First Amendment.

“There’s a faulty premise there and that is that The Ten Commandments has anything to do with the civil laws of the United States — it does not, of course,” Lynn told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We don’t make it illegal to dishonor our mother and father. We don’t have blasphemy laws.”

Lynn predicts that the debate won’t give way to a discussion of economic issues any time soon; rather, he believes that a legal battle is coming.

“This is the kind of thing that raises a gigantic red flag, and on that flag are the words, ‘Sue us,'” he said.

The Georgia legislature’s strange priorities pale in comparison to Oklahoma’s. Oklahoma, which is worth 40 delegates — and which Rick Santorum has called the “ground zero of the conservative movement” — is currently preoccupied with abortion.

The “Personhood Bill,” which was introduced by Republican State Senator Brian Crain, would grant legal personhood status to embryos from the moment of fertilization. The bill, which could have the unintended consequence of banning some forms of birth control, has led to massive protests which were highlighted by a state senator carrying a sign proclaiming “If I wanted the government in my womb, I’d f*** a Senator.”

Another Oklahoma Senator, Constance Johnson, has responded to Crain’s bill by attempting to add a “spilled semen” amendment in an effort to highlight the Personhood bill’s absurdity and hypocrisy.

Oklahoma and Georgia have the 7th and 14th highest poverty rates in the nation, respectively. But instead of focusing their efforts on economic growth, both states’ governments have chosen to zero in on social issues. With priorities like this, it’s not surprising that just 26 percent of respondents to the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll said that the Republican Party does a good job of reaching out to those who aren’t hardcore supporters.


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