September 5, 2008
The Home Stretch
As the presidential race enters its final phase, where do things stand on the religion front?
The Democrats in general and the Obama campaign in particular have made a fair showing that they are not the anti-faith party. Given that Americans have grown a bit leery of mixing religion and politics, the party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Obama is pretty well attuned to the country's current mood: faith by all means, but nothing too intrusive. On the constituency front, African Americans, Latino Catholics, non-Judeo-Christians, and Seculars are fully locked up, while Jews are a less iffy proposition than they seemed to be a week ago. The big question mark has to do with Mainline Protestants.
As for the Republicans in general and the McCain campaign in particular, the evangelical base of the party now seems locked and loaded (though I'm still keeping my eye open for regional variations). As the NYT's David Kirkpatrick points out in a must-listen interview with Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air" yesterday, McCain and company have been hard at work since June cultivating evangelical leaders; in this regard, the choice of Palin is the culmination of an ongoing effort than a bolt from the blue. And, as Kirkpatrick very importantly points out, McCain has never been the opponent of the religious right that the main narrative--based as it is on his "agents of intolerance" remark in South Carolina, holds. Otherwise, the Palin appointment weakens McCain's ability to peel off Jewish voters; when Christians are on the march, Jews run the other way.
What about non-Latino Catholics? My sense is not so much that they are up for grabs as that they will simply mirror the electorate as a whole. The ordinary Americans.
(Originally published at Spiritual Politics.)