Article VI Blog

"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

So – What About Religion in The Last Election and Going Forward?

Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:12 am, November 14th 2012     —    1 Comment »

Some say, “No big deal.“  I disagree.  Clearly Romney’s Mormonism was not a big deal to the Evangelicals that voted, but was it an “energizer” to the left as it was to the hardcore Evangelicals in Iowa in 2008 and did it have an suppressive effect in Evangelical turnout generally?  Turnout was way down in an election that should have had high conservative turnout.  I keep noting similarities between this general and Iowa 2008:

We’ve heard very little about what went wrong on the record from top-level campaign staff. Today Romney’s political director Rich Beeson gave a very perplexing interview to National Review’s Katrina Trinko. He told Trinko,

“We hit the numbers we needed to hit. Our ground game turned out the people it needed to turnout. They just turned out more. They turned out 18 to 29 [year olds] at a higher level. They turned out African-Americans at a higher level. They turned out Hispanics at a higher level.”

That sounds remarkably like what we heard after Iowa 2008, just different demographics.  I have seen no data on religion in this mix – it would be interesting.

Is the Evangelical Right now deadIs it now up to Catholics?  We concluded long ago that the Catholics hod now taken the lead in the Evangelical/Catholic coalition.  But I think there is a bigger rethink than just demographics in order when it comes to the religious approach to all of this.  There are some good ideas in this Powerline post, but it is still demographic/issue focused.  There are also some good thoughts in the messaging focused Breitbart offering.  But what I am talking about is something much deeper than issues, demographics, or messaging.  I think Romney actually lead the way on this.

Let’s begin with this:

The back cover of the advance reading copy says that “the ‘Age of the Martyrs’ is a fiction” and that “these stories were exaggerated, invented, and forged, often centuries later, in order to fight heresy, inspire the faithful, and fund churches.”

The book’s author is a professor of New Testament and early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame.

You see, there is some deep sickness even in the church and its institutions.  Then I turn to a favorite Catholic blogger, The Anchoress:

What we’re seeing with the Petraeus sexcapades is a classic magician’s misdirection. Two months past the attack on Benghazi, which resulted in the death of an American Ambassador and three others — an attack we are told the White House watched while ordering no response; an attack the mainstream media helpfully blacked-out, at first, then allowed to be spun — we are now being served The Prestige, where all of reality is being turned on its head, and the audience isn’t even sure what it’s seeing, so it simply becomes giddy, and content to be led.

I agree, and I wonder if there is more being covered up than simply Benghazi.  With reports of precincts with 100% of the votes cast for Obama and others with turnout in excess of 100% one can see where a major misdirection might be needed for the administration.  But the fact that the public is taking the bait is where I see the real issue.

So what is the approach I see going forward that Romney lead the way on?  Simple – goodness and character.  No one that matters, left or right, denies the essential decency, goodness and outstanding character of the man.  The humility born of such prevented Romney from making an issue of it – but we look around and we see a church denying its own founding principles and a nation enthralled by sex over substance.

When it is about issues and demographics people tend to value winning the issue over matters of character.  Presidents don’t decide issues, legislatures and courts do.  We should, as a nation, be rising above demographics, and yet we are sinking into them like tribes in some very unsavory parts of the world.  I have witnessed first hand tribalism in some of its grossest forms.  It makes the segregation of the South that I witnessed in my youth look quite decent.

We need leadership now that does not decide issues but that models character.  Nobody really knows what an administration is going to face and any agenda they may proclaim will likely be overcome by events.   Presidents react far more than the act.  In point of fact, my greatest hope for the next four years lies in the fact that events are likely to force this administration to set its agenda aside.  He is likely to make bad decision about those events, but at least they will present us with an opportunity to discuss and will take him off what we know he wants to do that will be bad.

In such a model it is character and ability that matter, not issues and demographics.  Had we succeeded in making this election about those things we would have won going away.  To some extent we have to overcome our own humility on these matters.  More, when appropriate, we have to be willing to make the charge about a lack thereof in our opponents.  No one of character likes to play that rough – but do we have a choice?

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