My post-election advice to Democrats is: Go to church. Don’t go to “get religion,” although it might be good for your soul. Just go, in the first instance, to “get” religion, i.e. understand what goes on in the heads and hearts of those who devoutly believe in God and how it affects their views of the world. It will help you politically.Maybe, as Lorie suggests, they would be more natural in their appeals to religious voters if they could come across more naturally as religious themselves.
I don't think the advice on the Democratic Party site is so laughable. It's basically standard advice for volunteers canvassing their neighbors on how to best target their message. What is funny is the public awkwardness that the Democrats are displaying as they try to win over religious voters. They are so public about their need to get right with religion that by their constant talking about it they just come across as manipulative and insincere.
Major players in the party — including Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Howard Dean — have held and attended conferences in the faith community and met with bishops and religious leaders including Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, and Bishop T.D. Jakes, who runs a popular megachurch in Texas.My experience is that all this meta-talk about how they're trying to frame their political positions as being in accord with their religious ideals weakens what they're trying to do. When a candidate starts weaving in Biblical references to their speech about the budget, people are going to see through that. If it isn't sincere and a natural part of how the politician has always talked, they're going to come off as phonies. They need to listen to Barack Obama's advice.
The DNC’s interfaith program, known as Faith in Action, has employed staffers to reach out to the evangelical, Catholic, Muslim and Jewish faithful. The visits and conversations have been closed to press to foster candid, open discussions.
"Nothing is more transparent than inauthentic expressions of faith by politicians who come and they're clapping kind of off-rhythm to the choir," Obama continued. "We don't need that."I wonder which politicians he's talking about? Hmmm.
The reason that the Democrats are so eager to suddenly seem religious is because they realize that in a nation as closely divided politically as we are, they can't afford to give up any segment of the population. Check out these statistics from the 2004 election on how Bush and Kerry did among voters based on how often the voters attend church with the percent of each group in parentheses:
More than weekly (16%) B 64 K 35If the Democrats can slice off some of those religious voters, it would make a big difference for them. I guess the GOP would also benefit in slicing off the non-religious voters but I don't see that happening any time soon. I predict that we will see so much more Bible and religious talk in 2008 as the Dems try to close the God gap. I'll be looking for Slate or some other enterprising writer to set up a God-o-meter to track all the references in the political talk. Probably, they'll just end up ticking everyone off and the one candidate who will do the best is the one who has the good taste not to talk about his or her private religious beliefs.
Weekly (26%) B 58 K 41
Monthly (14%) B 50 K 49
A Few times a year (28%)B 45 K 54
Never (15%) B 36 K 62