Saturday, November 06, 2004

A Few More Thoughts on Election 2004 (Part II)

2) There's been a lot of buzz this election about religion/faith's roll in politics. Here's a look at some of the exit poll data relating to religion/faith. It's interesting to note, as has been reported widely by the news media, that the issue chosen by more voters as the most important was "moral values." I think the Democrats really blew it on this one. The Republicans have done an outstanding job at cornering the market, so to speak, on faith and values, at least in the minds of most of the electorate.

There are people of faith on the Democratic side of the aisle to be sure, but to a large extent it's been my experience at the local level, that the Democratic Party can be a rather uncomfortable place for those of us with strong religious views. It's not necessarily the policies of the party that cause this discomfort, though admittedly I disagree with some of their policies, but rather a vitriol directed at the "religious right" by some Democratic operatives and supporters that, perhaps inadvertently, also hits the "religious left" and many more moderate people of faith. Call it a case of friendly-fire, or collateral damage perhaps. The Democrats need to realize that the religious ground cannot, and should not, just be ceded to the GOP. They must work to organize the substantial block of voters who are religious, but do not agree with much of the Republican’s conservative agenda.

Thomas Friedman wrote an interesting op-ed piece in the New York Times this past Thursday that addresses this very issue. He quotes Michael Sandel, a Harvard political theorist, as saying the Democrats "will not recover as a party until they again have candidates who can speak to those moral and spiritual yearnings - but turn them to progressive purposes in domestic policy and foreign affairs." I absolutely agree.

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