Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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More Democrats and religion

Amy Sullivan writes about Democratic efforts to court moderate evangelicals. Her argument about their discomfort with the Republicans gives the lie to the "Republicans are theocrats" line, since she claims, pace Rod Dreher, that Republicans are much more serious about business interests than about religious interests. I can’t dispute the fact that there are "soulless capitalists" in the Republican Party, but I can’t help wondering whether evangelicals will ultimately fare any better with the Democrats. There will surely be a courtship, and there will be some sops thrown, but I’m dubious as to whether the Democrats can overcome their attachment to an essentially secular understanding of personal autonomy.

Of course, the concessions may be enough to detach some more evangelicals from the Republican coalition, at least for long enough to make an election cycle or two more interesting.

What’s more instructive, I think, is the suggestion that serious religious concerns, commitments, and affiliations don’t readily or directly track their political counterparts. Genuinely religious people are not solidly members of any political coalition since their concerns aren’t primarily political. Those who treat them in a merely political way are bound sooner or later to be unpleasantly (at least from their worldly point of view) surprised.

Update: Joseph Bottum offers a more explicitly political reading--focusing, of course, on abortion--of the Democrats’ religious dilemma than I do. I think that, as I said in an earlier post, the problem extends beyond abortion to a thoroughgoing attachment to human power of all sorts. While there may not be much humility and sense of limits in the Republican Party, there’s even less among the Democrats.

Discussions - 2 Comments


What sense of limits is operative in this administration’s policy on detentions, or with respect to the war in Iraq in general? It’s an error to focus only on domestic policy as the area where morality expresses itself.

The democrat courting of evangelicals will hit a serious snag - too much of modern democratic policy is based on the expansion of the government’s ability and responsibility to "take care of us." People of faith don’t want or need to be taken care of by a government, Republican, Democratic or other.

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