November 10, 2004


Democrats: Get religion! (Stephen Prothero, November 10, 2004, Boston Globe)

According to widely cited exit polls, voters focused more on "moral values" than on the economy, terrorism, or Iraq. But what does this mean? It means that values voters are with the Republicans on the bedroom issues of abortion, stem cell research, and gay marriage. More important, it means that Americans in the red states want a man in the Oval Office who shares their values, which is to say they want the president to be a man of faith. [...]

Believe what you want about the separation between church and state, the fact is that there is now a de facto religious test when it comes to the presidency. In applying that test, Americans are not zealots. What they want is a president who speaks their language, and that language is shot through with biblical idioms.

Democrats need to learn this vernacular. They need to develop their own cultural politics -- a politics that does not sneer at the deepest commitments of the vast majority of the American people. They need to get right with God. Religion and politics have never been utterly distinct in the United States. To insist otherwise is to cede "moral values" (and the White House) to conservatives.

Toward the end of his campaign, Kerry began to connect the dots between his policies and popular piety. In his convention speech, for example, he adroitly linked the Ten Commandments with proposals for Social Security reform. ("We believe in the family value expressed on one of the oldest commandments: `Honor thy father and thy mother.' ")

It's bad enough that the Democrats don't believe in the great moral values of Judeo-Christianity, but what's really going to kill them is that George Bush has stolen a march on social and humanitarian values as well. Democrats can't stay the party that opposes every reform of social programs--from school vouchers to individual social Security and Health Savings accounts to the Faith Based Initiative--and opposes spreading democracy and liberty in the Middle East and still claim that they just have different priorities when it comes to values, placing economic redistribution above morality. A reactionary defense of an unsatisfactory status quo is not progressive.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 10, 2004 10:00 AM

Liberation theology, anyone? It sounds like that's where they are heading. If they refuse to jettison their heaven-on-earth inclinations where else can they go? Empowering individuals and the organic insitutions which are or should be present at each level of society is characteristic of what used to describe "liberalism". Statism, in all it's forms, is utopian at it's core. The Democratic Party has become the party of the state under the guise of the "collective" interest. The party is an American version of the ideology which recently passed away in Eastern Europe. Either they come to grips with the reality that rule by an "intellectual elite" which finds itself in an ongoing struggle with human nature leads to tyranny of the worst sort since its foundation is nothing but "reason" or they fade away like the Whigs. Their entire reason for being has become an anachronism.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at November 10, 2004 12:03 PM

Very true, and their acute narcissism makes the eventual outcome all but certain.

Posted by: luciferous at November 10, 2004 12:16 PM