Religion, politics, and the party base

The Pew Center is out with a survey that suggests people are growing more disenchanted with the role of religion in politics. Says the Pew Center Web site story on the poll:

A new survey finds a narrow majority of the public saying that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters and not express their views on day-to-day social and political matters. For a decade, majorities of Americans had voiced support for religious institutions speaking out on such issues.

The most interesting aspect of the survey is that the Republican response to the question has shifted to the point where the majority of those surveyed now think religious organizations should stay out of politics. A growing number also said religious conservatives have too much control over the Republican Party.

The survey would appear to conflict with the vice presidential selection process in the Republican Party. If you can believe the analysis and whispers, the choice is going to be based to a large degree on who won’t upset the evangelical Christians.

The race is now down to — reportedly — Sen. Joe Liebermann (who will play the part at the national convention later this month that Sen. Zell Miller played at the 2004 convention), Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and former Gov. Mitt Romney.

There was also speculation that Tom Ridge was in the running, but the New York Times says his position on abortion — as well as that of Lieberman’s — is a turn-off.

Within Mr. McCain’s campaign, a recent focus has been on Mr. Ridge and Mr. Lieberman. Mr. McCain thinks highly of both men and has traveled extensively with Mr. Lieberman. But Christian conservatives, a crucial Republican constituency, reacted with alarm this week to speculation that either man might join the ticket.

The same article said Romney wouldn’t fly either…

Mr. Romney, who is Mormon, might not be the easiest sell to Christian conservatives, and there remains some opposition to him among evangelical Christians.

Which leaves Pawlenty, who is described in the Times’ article only as…

… an evangelical Christian.

The Wall St. Journal also digs into the question of “acceptability” today.

The Republican Party’s base would undoubtedly appreciate a more traditional pick of someone with a conservative record on social issues such as abortion. But a more socially moderate selection could ingratiate Sen. McCain with independents — whom he has long attracted with his so-called maverick reputation, and whose vote could be crucial come November. In the latest Wall Street Journal poll of likely voters, 16% identified themselves as “strictly independent.”

As we head into both national conventions, we’ll hear more about the candidates catering to their base. One question worth asking: Is there room in the party for anyone but the base?

Are you one of the voters who doesn’t mesh completely with the base of your political party? Do you feel included?

  • JohnnyZoom

    >>Is there room in the party for anyone but the base?

    While the formal answer is yes, the issue on the ground is that the base tries to use the machinery of the party system to advance its strictly demarcated stand on the issues. The question of “who speaks for the party” becomes motivated not be articulating the party’s principles, but rather by grabbing the reins of power.

    Of course, the base of neither party is above this – just ask Bob Casey, Sr.

  • That is why 4-6 strong parties in this country would be better than 2 party system we have now.

  • Hilary Smith

    Obama will defend the poor, McCain will abandon the poor. Any Christian who supports McCain is a fraud. End of discussion.

  • Mark in St. Paul

    This is a very old question in our Republic. One of the campaign smears against Thomas Jefferson was that he was an atheist. The interplay between religion and politics has proved to be cyclic in nature. We are witnessing the backlash to the movement which placed political opinion into the dialogue from the pulpit. The problem with injecting religion in politics is that it often leads to extremism and our lack of both religious and political extremism is the bedrock of our middle aged democratic experiment. Religious values can, and maybe should, inform all our decisions, including political decisions, but that’s not the same thing as having a theocracy, which we cannot have.

  • minn whaler

    Is there any room for people who vote for candidates rather than parties. Campaigns have become so defensive, from “both sides” that I can’t decide who to vote for simply because the advertisements and stances are more point the finger at the other person… I don’t want to vote based on who is less corrupt (etc.) than the other. I want to vote for candidates who will say what they want, will do, believe in, etc. The swift boat stuff has taken over how we vote… pick the least dishonset or the more “trustworhty” instead of choose the person who represents your beliefs and values. GRRRR

  • noen

    I am the base of my party, you know, the one you didn’t even mention. I don’t care about feeling included, I care about ending this nightmare and seeing this criminal administration in Hague for war crimes. But yeah I bet the GOP base is looking around for someone to blame. Remember, conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

  • Lily

    Whaler, get over it. Since when is the person, not the party important? If you don’t believe me, go read about Germany in the earlier part of the past Century. Sounds bites, text messages, and TV ads are all we really need. There really is no place for critical thinking in (north) America.

  • Bob Collins

    Lily: If there’s someone in your party — I’m going to guess it’s the DFL — who is socially liberal but fiscally conservative , how do you feel about them?

    what do you think they bring to the party and what should their role be?

  • bsimon

    Bob asks

    “Are you one of the voters who doesn’t mesh completely with the base of your political party? Do you feel included?”

    The two party system is ridiculous. As a voter I don’t align with either party & therefore do not feel included. I don’t feel excluded either, because its my own decision to choose none of the above. My primary beef is that neither party is particularly consistent with their views & both promote the party over the country.

  • Lily


    There are no candidates that fully mesh with me (is that any suprise?). I am a DFL leaning, Republican reared Minnesotan. I got my liberal leanings from my Republican grandparents, who were “do gooders” in the purest sense of the word. My other grandparents were stingy DFLS’ers who voted and believed with their party….

    Am I socially liberal? Probably on most things, but not all. Fiscally conservative… yes,…..I do not believe that welfare for the poor should be sacrificed for welfare for the rich.

    The last 8 years have been open season on the poor, on children, on the elderly,the disabled and anyone who cannot pull his or herself up by the bootstraps. That goes against every value instilled in me by my Republican grandparents.

    My candidate? Well we’ll hear from him and his soon to be announced running mate tommorow. I am the house on the block with a Republican sign for Ramsey County commisioner and DFL sign for the Pres. Gives the neighbors something to talk about!

    Let’s keep thinking, (north) America.

  • Ellen

    I am tired of the two-party system. It is undemocratic. We need more parties, and we need instant-runoff voting. But the two big parties will never let that happen.