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 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?
The fear is palpable. The Obama supporters feel that a Romney presidency will completely erode our safety net, so that only the rich will survive. Women feel like any gains that they have eked out in society for the last few decades will be taken away completely. The Romney supporters think that we need to get someone in there who knows about business, or else our economy will collapse. They worry about the looming deficit and an oversized government, so they want Romney to make the tough decisions.
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.
The primary problem with American political culture is that almost all of our scrutiny goes to the human beings running for president.
So you've probably already heard that Mother Jones has video of Governor Romney saying, among other things, this: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. . . . These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. . . . My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. As is often the case, Wonkblog has heaps of great commentary.
The great newish online journal Religion & Politics alerted me to the fact that today is the anniversary of JFK's speech to the Houston ministers.
Romney's faith, like Obama's, is distinctly American yet often misunderstood. And campaigns are rarely an occasion to increase understanding.
How should we decide who to vote for? Paul Root Wolpe thinks a candidate's personal ethics should be at the top of the list: When we care about a candidate’s character, we are really asking, Is this person authentic? Are their positions a true reflection of their inner values, or are they politically expedient? Is a change of opinion on an issue a result of the candidate listening to others, learning and making a principled decision, or is it a response to pressure, polls and popularity? . . . . It is in the American character to care about our leader’s values. We should be proud of that. I don't exactly disagree, but I don't find this all that helpful, either.
This new ad from the Obama campaign claims that if Romney wins he'll be an "outsourcer-in-chief." And here I thought we already had one of those.
So a pro-Romney Super PAC planned to focus on Jeremiah Wright--you know, because those decontextualized clips of a black pastor sounding angry didn't get played on the news enough last time around--but quickly changed its tune based on Romney's unenthusiastic response. Then a pro-Obama Super PAC clarified that it won't be going after Mormonism, and David Axelrod agreed. I'm certainly glad to be spared a barrage of prime-time crap about how black liberationists hate America (and even say "damn" about it!) on the one hand and about polygamy and special underwear on the other. But note this news story's assumptions.
Tuesday's speech was the most fired up and the readiest to go that we've seen Obama in a good long while.