In an inadvertently revealing editorial in Slate, Amy Sullivan provides convincing evidence that since the 2004 election when Democrats understood the importance of religion in politics, they have actually lost ground. More critically, if they heed Ms. Sullivan’s advice, their dream of capturing the elusive moderate voter will never see the light of day.
Ms. Sullivan uses polls and anectodal evidence of the continuing slide, including how awkward it was in 2004 when Democratic candidates hired “religious staffers” who truly didn’t know their charge. She also catalogs the stereotypes of our respective major parties, most of which are true and include polls that indicate that people across the political spectrum believe the Democratic Party is not ‘religion friendly.’ She further laments the hemorrhaging of Catholic voters and recommends revamping the DNC’s strategy in that regard.
However, what’s most revealing about this strategic gameplan is how it is informed by transparently political motives that lack an even glancing affiliation with religious values, all of which are tied to policies that are supported only to the degree to which they may capture moderate voters. Indeed, that religion is the third rail of politics for liberals is axiomatic, but watching Sullivan delicately tread the needle is a spectacle to behold.
So it is that she finishes her remarkably ironic piece by recommending that Democrats:
…should shout from the mountaintops Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid’s plan to reduce abortion rates, talk to every evangelical who will listen about global warming, and re-embrace the concept of the common good that once united religious and political progressives.
Absent from her entire editorial is any unpoliticized–read traditional–reference to God or religion. Indeed, religion for the modern liberal is far more a matter of political expedience than faith, absolutes, and the values that underwrite them.
As Sullivan unwittingly illustrates, the left remains anachronistically mired in a 1960s ‘social justice’ paradigm that presupposes a victim mentality which more sophisticated (or to use their favorite shibboleth, ‘evolved’) voters eschew. That change reflects the electorate’s nascent understanding that values matter more than ethnicity or gender and that blaming ‘the system’ is merely code for excusing a lack of perseverance and the left’s habituated inclination to externalize the source of failure.
If the Democrats truly want to become serious about courting the religious vote they should begin by praying for the grace and guidance that is so conspicuously lacking in their dim understanding of the nature religion in the lives of the seriously faithful.
That may provide them with a platform that doesn’t just seek to “reduce abortion rates” but rather to stigmatize abortion is the abhorrent act that it is; it may also lead them to understand that such politically seductive initiatives as minimum wage increases are not only economically naive but actually hurt the very people their designed to help.
The list is virtually endless, but unless they have a soul-searching conversation at the highest levels of the party we can expect another election season punctuated with embarrassing gaffs and disingenuous Biblical references, all of which will signify nothing.
Mella is Founder and Editor of ClearCommentary.com.