On the "Colbert Report" last night, Meghan McCain said "I do believe that the Republican party can be a safe place for the gay community. ... If you go to the basic beliefs of the Republican party---keeping government out of your life---why can't that include marriage? ... I'm a lot more religious than I let on. I have a great relationship with God. I was raised to love people and not judge people. And I think if two people fall in love they should have the option to get married, just like I can."
Ms. McCain's youth and Valley-Girl accent make her easy enough to dismiss. But this sincere, passionate, smart 24-year-old is addressing, and even helping to create, the next generation of Republicans. When people her age look at the likes of Cheney, Limbaugh, Gingrich, and Palin, they don't see a party they'd like to attend. They see a toxic group of irrelevant cranks licking their wounds and trying to defend a legacy they can't.
Every once in a while, through the tsunami storm of our constant media, you get a quick, sure view of the future. Watch McCain's appearance on Colbert, and tell me you don't see the future of the Republican party.
A few weeks back the cover story of "Newsweek" was The End of Christian America. In March, "USA Today" ran a huge story, Most Religious Groups in USA Have Lost Ground, Survey Finds. Central to both pieces was the recent American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), which showed that in the last 18 years the percentage of Americans who identify themselves a Christian has dropped a whopping eleven percent.
People are walking away from church, and young Republicans are breaking the bonds that for so long, to so many, have made "Christian" and "Republican" practically synonymous.
If I had to guess, I would say that this is no mere trend. It feels to me like we're looking at the birthing of a new American order.