So far, this presidential campaign season has been dominated by the narrative of the steadfast outsider. A July poll found that more than three-quarters of Donald Trump’s supporters like him because he stands up to the media and isn’t interested in political correctness. Meanwhile, Bernie Sanders, a secular Jew and registered Independent, is energizing the Democratic base—not by minimizing his European-style socialism, but by shooting straight. “He’s so authentic, he’s hip,” wrote Steve Winkler in the Guardian. Then there’s Joe Biden, who hasn’t said yet if he’ll run.
The nation's changing racial and ethnic profile will bring political change. But we can also expect it to elicit fear and resistance.
The presidential election revealed that the “God gap” in electoral politics remains as large as ever—and is much larger than the gender gap that was often touted during the campaign. Mark Silk summarizes it: Those who said they attend worship weekly preferred Mitt Romney by 20 points, 59-39. Those who said they attend less frequently went for Obama by 25 points. That compares to a male preference for Romney of seven points and a female preference for Obama of 11. How fervently one practices one’s religion is—apart from race—still the best predictor of how one votes.
I got up before dawn today. (My farmer wife does this every day; I try, with mixed results, to keep her hours.) We got to the polls just as they were opening. For the first time in the eight or nine times I’ve voted in Chicago, my name wasn’t on the list. I had my voter registration card with me, so nobody challenged my eligibility. But I did have to cast a provisional ballot, which might or might not eventually be counted.
Many churches, including mine, will mark All Saints Day this Sunday. Of course, politics will also be on everyone’s mind. At first it seemed to me that the two have little in common, but then several connections occurred to me.
I wasn't planning to post a running commentary on the final debate, since I don't follow foreign policy half as closely as the domestic stuff. But judging from the candidates' dodges and pivots last night, neither do they. So here I am.
In politics, competence sometimes serves as a rhetorical proxy for intent. Politicians like to talk about how terrific they/their ideas are. They aren’t always as gabby about what they/those ideas aim to accomplish. Example: privatization. Some conservatives insist that private enterprise is simply more efficient--more competent--than the government. So why not let the private sector take over certain public functions? But even if we concede that business is categorically more efficient than government, there remains the question of what it's doing so efficiently.
My real-time notes on the presidential debate last night, followed by some cleanup and linking this morning. I listened to much of it on the radio instead of watching. It's nice. You don't have to see the candidates' forced smiles and condescending smirks. See also my notes on the first debate and the VP debate.
What does "middle class" mean if it somehow applies to most of the country? And if we are all middle class now, what are the implications?
Much has been said about Pulpit Freedom Sunday already, but there's still a thing or two to add. First, let's talk about the political and legal aspects of the story. Reuters says it's "not entirely clear" why the IRS hasn't gone after churches making endorsements in recent years. I’d say the reason is actually pretty clear: the U.S. House of Representatives.
I didn't post anything during the presidential debate last night, because I watched it without the benefit of an internet connection. Also because bona fide live-blogging can be seriously annoying to read. But if you want it in digest form, here's how I reacted in front of the TV.
Kudos to Mitt Romney for suggesting a concrete and sensible income-tax reform: capping deductions at $17,000. Now, it's not clear whether he means tax liability or taxable income. As Dylan Matthews explains, that's the difference between a highly progressive (in the technical sense, not the euphemism-for-liberal sense) proposal and one that would affect a lot of middle-class households.