Sunday, May 11, 2008

More of "the good news" on millenial evangelicals

From the Seattle Times:


Michael Dudley is the son of a preacher man.

He's a born-again Christian with two family members in the military. He grew up in the Bible Belt, where almost everyone he knew was Republican. But this fall, he's breaking a handful of stereotypes: He plans to vote for Democrat Barack Obama.

"I think a lot of Christians are having trouble getting behind everything the Republicans stand for," said Dudley, 20, a sophomore at Seattle Pacific University.

Dudley's disenchantment with the GOP isn't unique among young, devoutly Christian voters. According to a September 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 15 percent of white evangelicals between 18 and 29, a group traditionally a shoo-in for the GOP, say they no longer identify with the Republican Party. Older evangelicals are also questioning their traditional allegiance, but not at the same rate.

But, Howard Dean, don't count your chickens quite yet. College-age and 20-something Christians may be leaving the GOP, but only 5 percent of young evangelicals have joined the Democrats, according to the Pew survey. The other 10 percent are wandering the political wilderness, somewhere between "independent" and "unaffiliated."

Shane Claiborne, a Philadelphia Christian activist and author of "Jesus for President: Politics for Ordinary Radicals," has a different name for these folks: "political misfits."

Claiborne has traveled around the country the past several years, speaking and preaching mostly to college-age Christians who are "both socially conservative and globally aware." That makes them disenchanted with both major parties, he said.

"It's not about liberal or conservative, or Democrats or Republicans," he said. "I don't think it's a new evangelical left. ... There's a new evangelical stuck-in-the-middle."

UW communications professor David Domke said some young evangelicals are breaking with the GOP for the same reasons many people broke from the party in the 2006 legislative elections — the unpopular war in Iraq; the Bush administration's abysmal approval ratings; or, now, because of the tanking economy.

Others broke from the party when John McCain, who hasn't held much appeal for evangelicals in the past, became the presumptive nominee.

The Arizona senator hasn't been a consistent foe of gay marriage, and he supports federally funded embryonic stem-cell research. James Dobson, head of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, announced in February that if McCain was the GOP nominee, he'd sit out the election.

But students at a recent bipartisan political union meeting at SPU say there's something more going on with young Christians than disenchantment with McCain.

In an informal poll of the political union, the majority supported Obama.

"I think it's a new movement starting," said Amy Archibald, 19, a sophomore at the evangelical school. "Most of us would never blindly follow the old Christian Right anymore. James Dobson has nothing to do with us. A lot of us are taking apart the issues, and thinking, 'OK, well, [none of the candidates] fits what I'm looking for exactly.' But if you're going to vote, you've got to take your pros with your cons."

Eugene Cho, a founder and lead pastor at Seattle's Quest Church, which caters to a predominantly under-35 crowd, urges young Christians to look beyond the two or three issues that have allowed Christians to be "manipulated by those that know the game or use it as their sole agenda."

"While the issue of abortion — the sanctity of life — must always be a hugely important issue, we must juxtapose that with other issues that are also very important," Cho wrote in his blog on faith and politics.

Polls have shown that young Christians aren't any less concerned about the "family values" issues that have traditionally driven Christians to the Republican camp. (In fact, a study by the Barna Group, an evangelical polling organization, shows young Christians are actually more conservative on abortion than their elders.) It's just that they're also concerned about issues such as social justice and immigration, issues traditionally associated with Democrats.

Judy Naegeli, 25, who works at a Christian philanthropy, says easy access to information about the world via social-networking sites, YouTube and blogs is the reason her generation is more concerned with social justice.

"It's changed our perspective. ... Each generation chooses their cause, and ours is AIDs in Africa, or poverty or social justice," she said.

Tyler Braun, 23, a Portland seminary student who opposes abortion and gay rights, said he'll probably vote for Obama because, since he'd would like to see U.S. troops leave Iraq.

Anika Smith, 23, who works for a think tank in Seattle, said she's concerned with the same issues, but she plans to vote for McCain:

"I'm worried about the war and the economy and social-justice issues. But, the abortion issue is still nonnegotiable."

Nathan Johnson, the executive director of the King County Republican Party, says he is skeptical that young, socially conservative Christians will desert the GOP this fall.

He agrees young Christians appear to be looking beyond the two or three issues — abortion, gay rights, stem-cell research — that have made Christian voters loyal in the past. "But that doesn't mean they're no longer Republican.

"Once the primary is over, and we get into a head-to-head contest, Obama's voting record will come to light," said Johnson, 24. "Then there will be a lot of young conservative voters who won't be able to tolerate what he's stood for in terms of abortion and other socially conservative values."

Young evangelicals are more of a swing constituency than they've been for decades, said Andy Crouch, an editor at Christianity Today, a national evangelical magazine.

"This could turn out to be the election where both parties realize that the evangelical vote is so hopelessly split down the middle that it's not worth courting them at all because what parties need are blocs that can be appealed to en masse," Crouch said. "Paradoxically, evangelicals would become less relevant than ever before."

Braun, the seminary student, said he's not totally committed to any candidate yet.

"I just keep thinking, if Jesus were alive now, he wouldn't necessarily be voting Republican," he said.

Haley Edwards: 206-464-2745 or

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Here's the Beef, Part I

The meat behind Obama's rhetoric is out there, those who assume it's not aren't even going to see it on the menu. This series will highlight Obama's experience, pragmatism, and ability to make change happen.

The following is an excerpt from an article by Nicholas Von Hoffman, published in The Nation:

"I am running for President because I believe that to actually make change happen--to make this time different than all the rest--we need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, Independents, and Republicans together to get things done. That's how we'll win this election, and that's how we'll change this country when I am President of the United States."
--Barack Obama

He might have said "if" instead of "when" he is elected. In any case, more than one man has won the presidency promising less than Obama and failed to make good on what he said.

Hillary Clinton, though she got no nods of approval for it, scoffed at Obama's assertions that, once elected, Washington would not be the same. She is not the only old political hand to grimace at the idea that the skies will part and a beam from heaven will descend to touch people with a unifying grace with Obama installed in the Oval Office.

Those not wholly under his spell wonder if political transformation will occur. Ronald Reagan, the highest impact politician in the past half century, accomplished many things but did not achieve any profound change in how politics is done. Politics are played today just as they were in Reagan's time.

Politicians, journalists and even admiring skeptics listen to Obama, thrill to the grand phrases, so powerfully delivered, but, after the oratory, whisper that there is no meat on those bones. They wonder if these emotions, born of the urgent hopes Obama raises, hide a lack of substance. His opponents call Obama a rock star and say that the spaghetti-thin senator from Illinois is running a cult, not a political movement.

Nonetheless, Obama has a signal accomplishment to his credit, a substantial one, which may change the shape of politics. If elected he will be the first to enter the office without financial backing from the major business, industrial or professional groups with their PACs, their contribution bundlers and lobbyists. That first day, which Hillary Clinton has made famous, will find Obama not owing a thing to the big money pressure groups. You would have to go back a century and a half to name an incoming president with so few debts to repay.

Obama's base of a million or more individual contributors has made him a free man, politically speaking. If his accomplishment is not a one-off feat--if it is something that others can replicate--then he will, with a bow to Howard Dean, have changed the financial basis of presidential politics in the United States. That alone ought to put Obama in the history books, assuming that what he has done establishes a pattern and is not a unique feat, never to be repeated.

Entering the White House free of the usual obligations is not enough to enable President Obama to carry out the changes he hints at in his campaign. Having no favors to repay gets him started but the groups he did not have solicit for money will still have the power to checkmate him in Congress through their campaign contributions, mailings and advertising. Obama could end up a politically isolated President who will not be able "to turn the page," as he often puts it.

His page-turning has to do with an approach foreign to conventional politicians. Obama's speeches are peppered with references to governing from the bottom up, as contrasted to Hillary Clinton, who would govern from the top down. More than health plans or NAFTA or who was against the war first, it is this difference in thinking that most divides the two figures.

The difference is exemplified in Clinton's saying "...Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get [it] through Congress.... The power of that dream became real in people's lives because we had a president who said, 'We are going to do it,' and actually got it accomplished."

She was unjustly attacked for dissing King. Nevertheless, with those words Clinton showed how top-down people think. They believe that President Johnson got the law passed, although a bottom-up person would tell her that it was the people, tens of thousands of them, marching, protesting and being beaten over the head, who generated the political pressure which forced the act through Congress. If the credit goes to anyone, it goes to the people whom Martin Luther King Jr., led across the bridge in Selma, Alabama.

In speech after speech Obama tells his audience that he became a bottom-up thinker thanks to his days as a community organizer. He seldom fails to explain how he was formed by his experience. Hence his references to governing from the bottom up are more than sloganeering. They come, as he repeatedly says, from his days walking the streets of Chicago's South Side, organizing people.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Red state reality and dem mortality

Some interesting web comments on Egan's article on Obama Red State victories:

So why does a white, conservative “ditto-head” boomer male such as myself like Obama and will probably vote for him? Especially since he’s my second choice after Fred Thompson? For a few reasons. First, Obama seems like an honorable man. A throwback to the kind of libs a conservative could respect, like Scoop Jackson, Hubert Humphrey, Jack Kennedy, Harry Truman, et al. When the chips are down, Obama will do the right thing. Second, I really like his wife Michelle. Forthright and very intelligent. Not easily intimidated by anyone. A real lady. Traditional liberals aren’t a problem with me so much as corrupt politicians. McCain and the Clintons have had their snouts in the public trough far too long.

— Posted by Leon A Davis

Oh, don’t expect the Democrats to win. Deals will be cut in the smoke-filled back rooms, Hillary will be given the nomination that she feels so entitled to……..and that will in one stroke stop the enthusiasm of the newly re-energized party, and bring together the Republicans with their loathing of her (really both the Clintons), and in November, we’ll have “more of the same”: John McCain for President.

It’s a shame, An Obama nomination offers the Democrats a rare chance to both de-fang the Republicans, and energize the Democrats, and most importantly, to win; but instead, we’ll have more of the same: the Republicans governing for (at least) another 4 years…and by then, this country will be busted……more wars, more debt, more foreign policy brought to us by the lobbyists; the dollar sunk to new lows………and all those freedoms that our forefathers fought for……..gone.

— Posted by kevin

Thank you for posting this editorial. I live and caucused in Idaho, one of the reddest states in the country. This is the first time that I have felt participating in Idaho politics counts more that the one party Republican-dominated system it has been since 1980. This was first also the first time that all 44 Idaho counties participated in the Idaho democratic caucuses since 1980, since recently only 2/3 of all counties even held a democratic caucus. Last night, Obama supporters blew out Clinton supporters at the largest caucus in the nation at such a high margin that she did not have enough support to gain any delegates (in Ada County with ~8,300 democrat voters). Part of this is because our caucus date was earlier, on Super Tuesday. Most of this is because the grassroots organization in Idaho that started one year ago that culminated in the Obama visiting the most populous city in the state Boise on February 2, attracting 15,000 people in a large state that doesn’t even have 1.5 million people. Statewide, we voted for Obama 80% while Clinton only got 17% of the vote.

Why are democrat Idahoans so fervently attracted to Obama? He is equally matched with Clinton with experience, but he offers a different, newer message that promises to clean the White House of one of two political dynasties that have been the Prez or VP since 1980 (VP Bush, VP Bush, Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush). He has had good judgment with the issues he has dealt with and holds a high bar for political ethics. Edwards and Obama are also the only 2 top tier candidates that have not accepted PAC donations. However, the real reason for me is the underlying fear that a Clinton ticket in November will sweep the crippled Idaho democrats of the few political gains we have been able to make for the past 28 years. This is no small thing–in the 2006 gubernatorial race we had the 3rd contestent on the ballot being a man who had legally changed his middle name to “pro-life”–Marvin Pro-life Richardson. Also important, the Idaho state legislature did not pass day care standards in 2007 since “a women’s place is in the home” (quoted form a state legislator). For Idahoans, a vote for Obama yesterday was a vote for an inspiring, qualified candidate and an attempt to regain a two-party system in the state. Other people living in blue states or even purple states may think that what I am saying does not affect them, but it does. Obama is more likely to take purple and red states than Clinton–even if he doesn’t win most of them, this will put Republicans on defensive footing in states they haven’t had to spend money in to defend for decades. If Clinton were on the November ballot, the few democrat politicians in this state would be fighting for their political livelihood. This is why 70% of all Idaho’s democrat politicians endorsed Obama, most of them before the Iowa caucus. This is also why many politicians in other red states have also endorsed Obama. A Clinton on the ticket may yet get her into the White House, but I don’t think she would have a majority of democrats in the House and Senate like Obama could get. Real change is an inspiring leader who has a supportive House and Senate to push legislation through.

— Posted by Beth Colket

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday

Obama crushed Clinton in the middle of the country and in the West.

Look at these % margins for Obama:

Colorado 67 to 32

Idaho 79 to 17

Kansas 74 to 26

Minnesota 48 to 24

North Dakota 61 to 37

Utah 57 to 39

Alaska 75 to 25

Hillary won NY, MA, and CA, but these blue states will vote for whoever the Dem nominee is in November. The states that Obama won will clearly not support Hillary over McCain! ... Oh, and she did win Arizona, McCain's home state.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Youth for Obama

I had to post this reader comment from a thread on the Washington Post:

In my small-town caucus district, the Obama supporters -- all of them, as far as I could tell -- were sincere, informed, passionate liberals.

They were also very young -- which is something you Baby Boomers would actually be excited about if you weren't all so narcissistic. An influx in passionate young voters is the equivalent of a political party winning a lottery jackpot; IT IS THE SINGLE BEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO A PARTY.

Honestly, do you folks realize how curmudgeonly and out-of-touch you sound? How smug and condescending? Are you truly missing the irony in, e.g., condemning young voters as ignorant by posting the illiterate and credulous stuff on this thread? ("Lou Dodds [sic] on TV said Obama voters didn't know nothing about politics! Yung voters is dum-dums!")

We young voters aren't stupid, ignorant, or indifferent to the significance of this historical moment. As those Dartmouth kids in the interview explained: we just don't like Hillary Clinton!

Why should we vote for someone we don't like? Why should we be shamed for it?

I'm happy to explain why Obama is substantively a much stronger candidate than HRC -- but in my experience of the past two weeks, the maudlin, self-pitying Baby Boomers don't really want to have that conversation; they just want to lament the fact that young voters have seized control of the party's destiny.

Well, start getting adjusted, old folks: we ARE in control. And we aren't giving that control back to you -- ever. It's our party now, and our movement. And Obama is going to be our young president.

The good news for you is that the powerful progressive movement Obama's arrival presages will mean that you'll get the health care you need over the next 30 years. It will also mean several -- not one, but several -- woman presidents in the country's near future. (Who knows: maybe one of them will be a lesbian! The young voters who are storming the gates of the Democratic party certainly wouldn't mind.)

In spite of the condescending "heart-over-head" line that the punditry has been repeating ad nauseam, we young voters know exactly what issues are important to us, and who is likeliest to make some headway on them.

And I'll be frank: the "dynastification" that the student in the article worried about is a substantive political concern, one that's connected closely to the alarming class divisions that began to open up under Bill Clinton and grew wider under Bush II.

HRC's cynical, cowardly support for the Iraq War is also a substantive argument against her leadership. Her support for the resolution naming Iran's armed forces a "terrorist organization" proves that she's learned nothing from her catastrophic error, and cannot be trusted at the reins of American foreign policy.

Stop resisting and belittling the Obama revolution. This train's leaving the station with or without you. We'd rather have you all along for the ride -- but we're ready to make history without you.

Thanks, Mymangodfrey!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

New Conservative Agenda

The NY Times' David Brooks on the new conservative coalition suggested by Huckabee's success:

Huckabee understands much better than Mitt Romney that we have a crisis of authority in this country. People have lost faith in their leaders’ ability to respond to problems. While Romney embodies the leadership class, Huckabee went after it. He criticized Wall Street and K Street. Most importantly, he sensed that conservatives do not believe their own movement is well led. He took on Rush Limbaugh, the Club for Growth and even President Bush. The old guard threw everything they had at him, and their diminished power is now exposed.

A conservatism that recognizes stable families as the foundation of economic growth is not hard to imagine. A conservatism that loves capitalism but distrusts capitalists is not hard to imagine either. Adam Smith felt this way. A conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year is the only conservatism worth defending.
Click here for the original article.