"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
…and he most assuredly is not – then this story represents some sort of agenda on the part of the press. It bounced around the political press all day yesterday, it is “data’ to follow-up all the “they still love Romney” stories that have been on the blogs of late:
He’s said over and over that he won’t run for the White House a third time, but a new poll indicates that if Mitt Romney changed his mind and made another bid for president, he’d be the frontrunner among Republicans in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire.
The poll result is entirely unsurprising; polls at this stage of the game are all about name recognition and Romney would naturally have the most as the last candidate with no clear choice coming in the next cycle. So why is this news, at least in political geek land?
The last election was identity politics – the evil, bigoted, moralistic Mormon versus the oppressed, open-minded, liberal black man. On the Democratic side (which means the press) they want more of same. Substitute “woman” for “black man” and they figure Mormon again is easier to beat than simply religious – even if they have spent the entirety of the Obama administration wrongfully turning religion into the most evil force on the planet.
We fell for it last time, even played into it, with our own concerns about Romney’s faith, though on an entirely different basis. We were silly.
Daniel Henninger in this morning’s WSJ wonders why liberals can get elected, but not govern. He uses action on climate change as an example as says:
Put differently, it’s not about doing something serious about global warming. It’s really all about them (a virus threatening American conservatism as well). The “them” at the U.N. summits included not just the participating nations but a galaxy of well-financed nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs.
Not a particularly insightful conclusion really, but that parenthetical shot at conservatives is what really bothers me. You see, if we have the same issue then I must conclude we have abandoned religion just as surely as the left. Oh to be sure we remain clothed in our religious garb, but if we are “threatened by the same virus,” then it would seem our religiosity is in garb only.
Regardless of your particular brand of of faith, there are two lessons you can draw from faith that sink deeply into the Great American Civil Religion. Lesson One – there is something much bigger than the self at play. Lesson Two – It’s about service, not self.
Before this turns into a sermon, I would simply suggest that the key to our recapturing the Senate this year, to winning the White House in 2016, but most importantly to setting the nation back on the right course are those lessons.
That most likely means careful and deep re-examination of our religious lives and the institutions that support them. Take your faith seriously first and the rest will follow.
Neil J. Young pens a review of a new book, The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception, by J.B. Haws. (HT: Ed Stetzer). I quote from the review with emphasis added:
Growing up in central Florida, I did not go to the beach for spring break. Instead, nearly every March my family would escape the swampy humidity of Orlando for the crisp mountain air of Utah. Skiing throughout the week, we’d often take one day from the slopes to rest our legs and explore Salt Lake City—which usually meant a visit to Temple Square, the institutional and symbolic heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There, earnest missionaries would bear their testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ brought about by the prayerful seeking of a young Joseph Smith. We’d exchange knowing glances at these moments; we were Southern Baptists, and we knew a lot about Mormonism. A good bit of that knowledge, it turned out, was erroneous, but it was the product of a concerted effort begun by the Southern Baptist Convention in the 1980s to make its members more mindful of Mormonism, a “heretical” faith that was gaining sizeable Baptist converts.
The Mormon Image is bookended with the tale of two Romneys: George Romney’s 1968 run for president and his son Mitt’s 2008 and 2012 bids for the White House. In 1968, George Romney faced hardly any questions about his faith, a fortunate inheritance from JFK’s history-making victory eight years prior. If anything, Americans saw Romney’s Mormonism as an asset, proof that he was a trustworthy and upstanding man. A 1967 Gallup poll found 75 percent of voters had no hesitation voting for a Mormon for president. Yet forty years later, Mormonism likely prevented Mitt Romney from capturing his party’s nomination. In 2007, 29 percent of Republicans had indicated they “probably or definitely” would not vote for a Mormon. As Haws writes, “being a Mormon in the public eye meant something different in 2008 than it did in 1968.”
And so, confronted with America at its weakest internationally since before WWII made us a superpower , Obamacare wrecking untold medical and financial havoc at home, a President that thinks he can pick and choose which laws he wants to obey, and an American public demoralized, who has helped and who has hurt the nation?
It is a question worth very serious consideration by very many parties.
Howard Kurtz this morning objects to Victor David Hanson’s portrayal of Obama as “Nixonian,” Kurtz’ objections are summed up in this sentence:
The problem with most of these examples is there’s no evidence that Obama ordered, or knew about, these efforts. And that’s very different from Nixon, who as we know from the secret tapes, would talk about breaking into the Brookings Institution.
So, what we learn from Kurtz is that not only is the Obama administration engaged in unconstitutional and illegal activity, but that the president has little control over his own administration. To my mind this makes Obama a worse president than Nixon – unconstitutional crook AND bad manager.
That’s how the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page described Ken Cuccinelli this morning in the wake of his very near miss.
I think it clarifies a message problem that confronts the politically active of faith. Mark Levin did not help matters when he said, “…GOP ESTABLISHMENT AND DONORS LEFT THE FIELD.” But he does illustrate a point.
The word that keeps running through my mind is “winsome.”
generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence
Somewhere, somehow, those of us on the conservative side of the social issues have lost that. This is a communications concern, not a policy/position concern. Yes, our opposition wants to act like anyone that holds a position contrary to theirs is definitionally not winsome, but they can only get away with that if our approach and personality permits them to.
I need to slip into preacher mode for one paragraph – it is also a spiritual issue. If we are not winsome, then somehow we are not reflecting the God we worship because He is – by definition – winsome beyond description. Think about the story to which the WSJ’s description alludes, there is no condemnation from Christ; He in fact saves the accused from condemnation. There is only an urge to “go and sin no more.” A lesson in winsome that. Now back to the politics.
The “GOP Establishment and donors,” if dollars are the best measure, did not support Cuccinelli nearly as much as his Republican predecessor – but that does not necessarily mean they are “RINOS” or that they have abandoned socially conservative issues. It means they are searching for the right way to approach those issues and they knew that Cuccinelli was not the right way.
History never repeats itself in as much detail as we like to think it does, so Reagan nostalgia sometimes troubles me. Reagan would have likely found the current environment far more frustrating than the one he operated in. But he did have the particular thing we are talking about here absolutely right on. He made friends of his opponents and managed to stay friends with them, even when they disagreed. They liked him, even when he disagreed with them.
If there is a lesson to be learned from yesterday’s results that’s it. Chris Christie has a number of vulnerabilities as a candidate, but he is likable. He manages to be quite charming in the middle of his combative bombast.
Much has been made of the fact that Mitt Romney is also a very charming guy. I certainly experienced that in my meetings with him. But the public never got that image. We are quick to blame the MSM, but there are certain preconditions that make it so the MSM can get away with that. Primary among those preconditions is that Romney’s supporters were often precisely as dour and condemning as the media painted Romney. Not everybody gets to meet a presidential candidate, but everybody does get to meet a supporter of a presidential candidate. People will inform their impression of the candidate on their impression of his/her supporters.
We need, desperately, to find our “happy place” again. We cannot wait for things to get better. If they are going to get better it is because we have found our way back to winsome. Not our candidate – us.
Posted in Candidate Qualifications, Culture Wars, Evangelical Shortcomings, News Media Bias, Political Strategy, Social/Religious Trends, The Way Forward, Understanding Religion | 1 Comment » | Print this post | Email This Post