Democrats are finding God

I'll just say it: they're finding God to get votes. I don't believe for a minute that Clinton, Obama, and Edwards are devout. Heck, I can barely bring myself to accept that they're theists. Someone has been advising them that an avowal of faith would be a smart tactic.

Is this a bad move? I know what R. Dawkins would say (dear R. Dawkins is bursting a gasket), but I'm not sure. Here's an excerpt from the July 12 Time magazine cover story, "How the Democrats Got Religion":

The most conservative white Protestants, [John C. Green] says, are all but off-limits to the Democrats. But then there are more than 22 million voters he calls "freestyle Evangelicals," worried about not only their eternal souls but also their kids' schools, their car's fuel efficiency and the crisis in Darfur. In the past, those voters may have leaned Republican in part because the G.O.P. has been far smarter about presenting itself as friendly to people of faith while painting the Democrats as a bunch of sneering, secular coastal élites.

But the Republican lock on Evangelicals may be breaking. The percentage of white Evangelicals who self-identify as Republicans has declined from roughly 50% in 2004 to about 44% this past February, according to Green. Now the number is closer to 40% as more Evangelicals choose to label themselves independents. "There is a loosening of the Republican coalition, particularly among people under 30," Green says, "but it is not yet a movement toward the Democrats. It is a small but real change."

One does what one must do, I suppose. It's clearly a tactical move. But I can't help but wonder whether any mainstream American presidential candidate would have the courage to unflinchingly claim to be an atheist in 2007.*

* I don't know about Nader. Google** brings me back atheist, agnostic, humanist, and secular when I search Nader+religion; I'm not sure what Nader himself officially claims. And Nader doesn't count as mainstream, now, does he? And he's not a candidate this time, at least not so far.

**Wow: Google does reveal that Nader is simply dripping with Cisco Systems stock. Interesting, at least to me. But wildly irrelevant to this post.


richard said...

Sometimes, an obsession isn't just an obsession :-)

Darren said...

Fi, they might well be more devout than you think. Atheism in the US is indeed confined to the sneering coastal elites (ie people like us ;). Actively offending theists (90% of the American population) the way Dawkins would have us do is not a winning election strategy.

That being said, I'm not sure the Democrats are actually *moving* anywhere... they were never vociferous atheists in the Dawkins/Hutchins/Hanington mold. For one thing, nobody is seriously questioning US support for Israel (a die-hard evangelical plank, how's Jeebus gonna come back if Israel gets wiped out?). They only *look* like atheists in comparison to the faith-based presidency of Bush 43. (btw, check my blog... way way back I posted about a Ron Suskind article in the NY Times Mag on that subject... great article).

fiona-h said...

Wow - I don't think the concatenation "Dawkins/Hutchins/Hanington" has ever been seen in print ("print") before. Thank you for that.

Darren said...

You were the third most prominent atheist I could think of ;)

fiona-h said...

are you happy to see the word "concatenation" worked so naturally into casual conversation? You weren't even sitting in a functional specification review meeting.