Now that the election season is (mostly) over, The Spokesman Review highlights a truly bizarre political press release from the Washington state gubernatorial battle. It seems state GOP chairman Luke Esser, trying to help candidate Dino Rossi, attacked a lawsuit against the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington that he felt was politically motivated. Here is where things get weird.
“Esser blasted a lawsuit against the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington, calling it an 11th-hour “legal circus” aimed at tainting Rossi and one of his biggest supporters. Singled out for special attention was attorney Knoll Lowney, who’s heading up the lawsuit. In trying to paint Lowney as a left-wing legal gadfly, Esser noted that Lowney’s sister-in-law is “a self-described ‘stealth millionaire’ and ‘pagan’ who dressed herself and her children up as sea turtles during the WTO riots.” But wait, there was more. Esser, citing a 2001 newspaper story, also noted that Lowney’s brother and sister-in-law ‘used to participate in small Wiccan rites venerating the four elements fire, earth, air and, of course, water.’”
So Esser attacks the character of the brother and sister-in-law (who used to participate in “Wican rites”) of the lawyer who filed a lawsuit against one of Dino Rossi’s top financial backers? That has to be one of the most bizarre political retaliations I’ve ever seen. I’d call it religious bigotry, but it’s so absurd as to enter the realms of satire. Plus, Rossi lost his challenge to Democratic incumbent Gov. Christine Gregoire, so we can safely laugh at this pathetic attempt to stir up conservative (and, I assume, Christian) outrage (the columnist also points out that few people in Washington, particularly Olympia, are going to bat an eye at Wiccans).
While this attack was ultimately toothless and sad, it does point to a growing willingness by certain conservative politicians to see an opponent’s adherence (or a family member’s adherence) to a minority religion as something to exploit. If Sarah Palin truly is the future of the Republican party, could we see the tactics and mindset of “spiritual warriors” injected increasingly into mainstream conservative politics? If so, it could poison the party to non-Christian conservatives for a generation, and help isolate “God’s Own Party” in an increasingly multi-religious world.