This New Republic article on the Democrats’ abrupt loss of religious voters suffers from a fatal flaw: it’s all ‘how,’ and no ‘why.’ Despite the slightly breathless tone of the author, the ‘how’ is both obvious and not particularly surprising: from 2004 to 2008 the Democrats actively went out and told voters that liberalism and religious belief complemented each other. The Democratic party spent a good deal of money and resources on that message, and it paid off in 2006 and 2008. Since that point, the Democrats have effectively stopped their religious outreach except among African-American voters – and their support among religious voters has effectively cratered. That’s the ‘how.’
‘Why’ is more interesting, though. It is significant that liberal religious outreach requires constant funding and attention to get anywhere among American voters; it at least implies that the entire thing is a highly artificial construct that is not capable of independent, organic growth. It is also significant that the organizational structure of the Democratic party was apparently deeply institutionally hostile to the continued development of this particular special-interest group (religious progressives): the entire edifice apparently depended on no more than half a dozen people keeping fairly specific jobs in the party hierarchy, and when they went elsewhere, nobody was permitted to really take their places. Take those two points together and it is not unreasonable to conclude that there is something in either the Democratic party’s organizational structure or its ideology that is at best indifferent, and at worst actively hostile, to religious sentiment; and, given that the predominant element in both is liberalism, it does not seem unreasonable to conclude that perhaps it and religious sentiment do not complement each other.
There is some evidence in favor of this statement. At least, on the street level – which is where the work’s being done. Or, in this case, where the work isn’t being done; and is fact instead being curb-stomped.
Moe Lane (crosspost)