Been Here Before

August 16, 2010 11:25 a.m.

TPM Reader DE says the “Ground Zero Mosque” issue is just another replay of Republicans doing to Democrats what Lucy does to Charlie Brown with the football:

I can’t help but think that this whole mosque controversy is explicable in a lot simpler political terms than the explanations we have been seeing from pundits and commentators, i.e., that Republicans are promoting a clash of civilizations, shifting away from George W. Bush’s position on Islam, etc.

Republicans ALWAYS run on symbolic issues. Their substantive positions are not popular. People don’t like tax cuts for the rich, they don’t like endless military commitments, they don’t like corporatism, they don’t like lax regulations, etc. So Republicans always pick some symbolic, unimportant issue and make it sound like it’s the most important thing in the world. This is nothing more than the flag factory, the swift boats, and Reverend Wright all over again.

Yes, I know that the issue isn’t totally “unimportant”– religious freedom and our relations with Muslim world have some importance– but think about it in this way: of all the problems we face right now, with the economy, banking regulation, health care, our commitments in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, the Iranian nuclear issue, the budget deficit, etc., how does building this mosque / cultural center or not building it solve any of them?

What ticks me off about this is they do this every election cycle. They never want to talk about substance, and they get their way– every election cycle we talk about whatever they want to talk about. Our political system fiddles while America burns, and it’s because the Republican message machine dictates the conversation.

I appreciate what you are doing in terms of bearing witness to conservative anti-Muslim bigotry, but really, we need to drag the political conversation back to the important issues. The real problems our county faces are too important to once again have ourselves get dragged down into a six month long fight on some manufactured non-issue that Frank Luntz thinks polls well.

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