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Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Liberal Christians on 'values voters.'

Must read: Alan Cooperman's Washington Post article about the results of a new survey of American values sponsored by Pax Christi, Res Publica, and the Center for American Progress, "Liberal Christians Challenge 'Values Vote'" (11.10.04, reg req'd; via Tapped). Plus, some great suggestions for how liberal Christians can get more involved in the public conversation. For example:

Battling the notion that "values voters" swept President Bush to victory because of opposition to gay marriage and abortion, three liberal groups released a post-election poll in which 33 percent of voters said the nation's most urgent moral problem was "greed and materialism" and 31 percent said it was "poverty and economic justice." Sixteen percent cited abortion, and 12 percent named same-sex marriage. . . .

Tom Perriello, an organizer at Res Publica, said the poll shows that "while there may be a solid 20 percent who are very focused on abortion and gay marriage, for most Americans of faith, there are other moral issues of greater urgency, and that's where the religious middle is." . . .

The answer to this "God gap," Perriello said, "is that progressives need to embrace the deep moral critique that people are looking for and make that case on poverty and Iraq, and not just try to talk more about God or outpace the Republicans on gay marriage or abortion."

This is so much smarter than the op-eds in this morning's Globe, where Stephen Prothero suggests the Democrats need only speak a different "vernacular" "shot through with biblical idioms." (Ah, calculated conversion!) Meanwhile, Robert Kuttner says it's still the economy, stupid, although maybe the "stupid" part will have to go. (Democrats, he says, simply need to "do a better job articulating pocketbook issues as values issues.") Both Prothero and Kuttner are responding to Thomas Franks's book, What's the Matter with Kansas?, but I think Prothero is closer to the mark when he acknowledges: "As anyone who has ever hugged an evangelical can tell you, red-state Americans are not confused about their economic interests. They are simply subordinating them to what they believe are more important matters."

The issue is not that Democrats should drift to the right or that presidential candidates should be (or pretend to be) Evangelicals. The issue is more substantial: It's the ability to present a deep moral critique of American society in terms people can grasp. Democrats would need to present a vision of American society, a whole that is larger than the sum of the Party's program proposals.

("Democrats, Get Religion!" Stephen Prothero, Boston Globe 11.10.04; "No, the Pocketbook Rules," Robert Kuttner, Boston Globe 11.10.04)

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 10 November 2004 at 5:54 PM

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