Friday, February 22, 2008

New book examines role of religion in democratic campaign strategy

A new book called The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats are Closing the God Gap by Washington Monthly editor Amy Sullivan examines democratic dealings with religion as part of elections, paying attention to the treatment of evangelicals by the two parties in the 2004 elections.

From the introduction:
"So how was it that the Democratic Party lost its faith in faith? The most obvious explanation is that conservatives and Republicans have spent thirty years telling us that Democrats aren't religious. Conservative religious leaders have relentlessly promoted the idea that there is a liberal war on people of faith (or Christmas or the Bible), a mantra that Republican politicians have lustily repeated. However, this marriage of convenience between religious and political conservatives has been ably chronicled elsewhere -- and it's only part of the story.

The tale that has remained untold involves the left's response to the rise of the religious right. That story is largely one of fear, ignorance, and political deafness. For while the political, religious, and cultural forces that gave rise to the religious right formed a perfect storm that was bound to have a significant impact on American politics, Democrats and liberals weren't just passive nonactors who stood by helplessly on the sidelines while it all happened. Instead of pushing back, they chose to beat a retreat in the competition for religious voters and the discussion of morality, effectively ceding the ground to conservatives. The emergence of the God gap represents a failure of the left as much as it does an achievement of the right. "

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