I mean, this kind of depoliticized, cynical population could easily be mobilized by Jimmy Swaggart, or it could be organized by environmentalists. Mostly it just depends on who's willing to do the work.
Words spoken in the spring of 1989... and they turned out to be prophetic. It seems the Republicans realized that there existed a largely untapped, but ripe constituency with which to help tilt the elections, those that "could easily be mobilized by Jimmy Swaggart". So what did they do, for the past two decades they've adopted symbolic causes that rally religious folk and bring them out to the polls.
Case in point, in 2004 we had the same sex marriage issue which I blogged about at length during the time. A bogus issue was created across the country in the early part of '04 when the President came out in support of a constitutional ammendment "enshrining" the institution of marriage. I believe that someone in the White House probably thought that handling it at the federal level was the choice to make it happen. Get it on the ballot for November and away you go. Then someone realized that all you needed to do was get it on the ballot in swing states. Missouri's Ammendment Two wording even went so far as to specify the date that this pressing issue was to take place.
Even though there was a Democratic administration in place trying to thwart this gerrymandering of the election, the effect was achieved. The religious folk were mobilized to prevent gay marriage - and while they were at it they were going to vote Republican. Never mind that Kerry called for exactly what ended up happening: he supported the state's right of self-determination on the issue; Bush said it belonged to the federal powers. I shouldn't have to mention the obvious irony in this situation.
Even more, it wasn't a referendum on same sex marriage, but rather a strengthening of the existing laws. By an act of the legislature in Missouri it was already outlawed, all Ammendment Two did was move it to the Constitution so Missouri judges couldn't claim that they were only following the constitution's policy of equal protection under the law. All of this was symbolic though, we've had a Republican administration, House, and Senate with the election a full year removed and there hasn't been any further action to "defend" hetro-sexual American's marriages.
Another one for ya: if abortion was such a big issue, why is it still legal? Again, there's been a Republican President, Senate, and Congress for over a half decade, and they've yet to devote any real effort to this. Granted, they do have a Supreme Court tilting that way now, so it will be easier to sneak something in. They could have gone the constitutional ammendment route; but they've chosen not to.
You would think it would be enough for these zealots to ask themselves what they've gotten in return for their support. From the outside it sure looks like having the issue is more important to the party than having a real resolution. But any political party in America manipulating an impressionable constituency with bogus issues? Please. What kind of America do you think we live in? Oh yeah, that's right... one where that would happen without a second thought.