Monday, November 23, 2015

Last Call For The Moral (No Longer A) Majority

A new Pew Research study on American religion finds that White Christians are no longer the majority, and those who are increasingly identify with the Republican party.

As the na­tion re­lent­lessly di­ver­si­fies, both in its ra­cial com­pos­i­tion and re­li­gious pref­er­ences, White Chris­ti­ans now rep­res­ent just 46 per­cent of Amer­ic­an adults, ac­cord­ing to Pew data provided in re­sponse to a re­quest from Next Amer­ica. That’s down from a 55 per­cent ma­jor­ity as re­cently as 2007, and much high­er fig­ures through most of U.S. his­tory.

Yet even as White Chris­ti­ans shrink in their over­all num­bers, they still ac­count for nearly sev­en-in-10 Amer­ic­ans who identi­fy with, or lean to­ward, the Re­pub­lic­an Party, the Pew study found. White Chris­ti­ans, in fact, rep­res­ent as large a share of the Re­pub­lic­an co­ali­tion today as they did of Amer­ic­an so­ci­ety over­all in 1984, when Ron­ald Re­agan won reelec­tion. A clear ma­jor­ity of all White Chris­ti­ans across the United States now identi­fy as Re­pub­lic­an, Pew found.

In sharp con­trast, the Pew data show, the Demo­crat­ic co­ali­tion has evolved in­to a three-legged stool that di­vides al­most evenly between White Chris­ti­ans, non-White Chris­ti­ans, and those from all races who identi­fy either with a non-Chris­ti­an faith or, in­creas­ingly, with no re­li­gious tra­di­tion at all. Most Amer­ic­ans who don’t identi­fy with any re­li­gious faith—a rap­idly grow­ing group—now align with Demo­crats.

These di­ver­ging pro­files cre­ate elect­or­al chal­lenges for each side. Re­pub­lic­ans face the ten­sion of bal­an­cing the mor­ally con­ser­vat­ive pref­er­ences of their re­li­giously de­vout base with the deep­en­ing in­stinct to­ward cul­tur­al tol­er­ance of a so­ci­ety that is grow­ing more sec­u­lar, par­tic­u­larly among the young.

Demo­crats must weigh the cul­tur­ally lib­er­al in­stincts of their now mostly sec­u­lar wing of up­scale Whites with the of­ten more tra­di­tion­al in­clin­a­tions of their Afric­an-Amer­ic­an and Latino sup­port­ers, who are much more likely than White Demo­crats to identi­fy with Chris­ti­an faiths. In a land­mark shift, few­er than half of White Demo­crats with a col­lege de­gree now identi­fy as Chris­ti­ans; that’s a much smal­ler per­cent­age than among the party’s Blacks and Lati­nos.

Above all, the end of ma­jor­ity status for White Chris­ti­ans marks an­oth­er mile­stone in Amer­ica’s trans­form­a­tion in­to a kal­eido­scope so­ci­ety with no single dom­in­ant group.

For 230 plus years this has been a country dominated by white Christians.  That is no longer the case., whether the reason is a truly growing secular population, growth of religions outside Christianity, or a borderline White Christian nation with people who finally feel alright to mention they are not religious at all...or all three.

All three represent a threat to the GOP, and they know it.

In 1944, polls showed that White Chris­ti­ans ac­coun­ted for more than eight-in-10 Amer­ic­an adults, notes John C. Green, an ex­pert on re­li­gion and polit­ics and dean of the col­lege of arts and sci­ences at the Uni­versity of Ak­ron. Sur­veys found that num­ber de­clined only slightly, to just un­der eight-in-10, by 1964. Even in 1984, White Chris­ti­ans still ac­coun­ted for just un­der sev­en-in-10 Amer­ic­an adults. The an­nu­al merge of res­ults from oth­er na­tion­al sur­veys con­duc­ted by Pew, though not dir­ectly com­par­able with the huge Re­li­gious Land­scape poll, sug­gest that White Chris­ti­ans dipped be­low ma­jor­ity status some­time between 2012 and 2013. The latest fig­ures pla­cing White Chris­ti­ans at just 46 per­cent of the adult pop­u­la­tion con­firm a trend, Green says, in which “the re­l­at­ive size of White Chris­ti­ans [has] fallen at an in­creas­ing rate over the post-W.W. II peri­od.

Going from 68% to 46% in 30 years is a major change for "first black president" and possibly "first woman president" level change.

Both parties will need to adapt.  One party however has clearly decided to try to go backwards.

The Mask Slips Again...

...And again, Republicans accidentally tell the truth about what they are thinking and doing.  Today's contestant: Sen. Marco Rubio.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has found a silver lining in the Paris terror attacks that left 130 people dead: he said the violence prompted Americans to have a serious conversation about national security, and he suggested that conversation in turn has benefited his presidential campaign.

Rubio made the comment while discussing his rising poll numbers with "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace. When Wallace asked whether Rubio thought his foreign policy credentials gave him a polling boost in the wake of the Nov. 13 terror attacks, the Florida Republican replied that his team doesn't put much stock in polls that were "going to fluctuate" this early in the primary race. 
He went on to argue that the attacks led to a "positive" shift to national security in the political conversation, one he wanted to see continue "not just for political advantage." 
"I obviously am not happy about the events that happened last week in Paris," Rubio told Wallace. "But I think it's a positive development that it suddenly has forced Americans to confront more carefully the issue of national security because it is the most important thing a President will do and it is the most important function of the federal government.
"I hope that we focus on that note more, not just for political advantage but because the world has become a very dangerous place," he added.

Rubio is counting on the steady diet of fear and hatred in the wake of the Paris attacks to be good for Republicans in general and specifically for Marco Rubio, I see.

I mean, he's not lying about what he thinks is going to happen.  Certainly with Rubio calling for sending enough US ground troops into Syria to inflict "humiliating defeats" on ISIS, he's not lying about what he thinks there either.

Now, whether or not it will help him with voters when Trump is calling for rounding up Latinos and Muslims and such?  Probably not.

But with the economy improving and unemployment down sharply from 2010 highs, suddenly the only thing that matters is ISIS.

The Vitter End, Con't

James Hohmann at the Washington Post concedes that GOP Sen. David Vitter's last minute attacks on John bel Edwards (and President Obama) over the Paris attacks made Democrats very, very nervous over the weekend.

Democrats felt very good about winning the Louisiana governor’s race until the Paris attacks happened on Friday the 13th. 
Republican Sen. David Vitter, trailing by double digits in the polls, immediately seized on whether the United States should admit Syrian refugees. The issue let him get off the mat after weeks of attacks over his 2007 prostitution scandal. He went to Washington to give a floor speech on Syria, publicly sent a letter warning of a “missing” refugee and got on TV just a little more than 48 hours after the carnage in France with an advertisement invoking the horror. 
Vitter and his Republican allies had struggled mightily to make the red-state, off-year race against Democratic state Rep. John Bel Edwards a referendum on President Obama. This gave them the chance. 
Elisabeth Pearson, the executive director of Democratic Governors Association, suddenly had flashbacks to last year’s midterm elections. Several winnable contests broke away from them at the last minute because of voter fears about the Ebola outbreak, ISIS beheadings and children pouring across the border. Particularly in Maine, the Democrat was considered the favorite but Republican Gov. Paul LePage came from behind to win by publicly chastising quarantined nurse Kaci Hickox for returning to the state.

The difference this time?  Democrats moved fast to attack Vitter on Syria, and Edwards quickly distanced himself from the Obama administration.

The Democratic candidate initially botched his response. A note on Edwards’ Facebook page said he’d work to “both accommodate refugees who are fleeing from religious persecution and ensure that all our people are safe.” Then he edited “accommodate” to “assist,” before putting out a statement that declared, “In light of the recent tragedy in Paris, it’s imperative for us to pause the influx of refugees flowing into our state without more information on the security measures in place.”
Gumbo PAC got its counterattack ad on the air by Wednesday. “It’s David Vitter who said he didn’t believe Syria posed a threat to the United States or our allies,” the narrator said, insisting that Edwards opposed allowing refugees in. The response ad also borrowed a page from the Republican’s 2014 playbook, attacking Vitter for missing “two-thirds of the committee hearings he was supposed to attend on Syria.”

Again, Vitter was such a terrible candidate that Edwards won anyway, but the lesson here is that Democrats in the South especially will continue to run against Obama.  Whether or not they'll run against Hillary too, we'll see.

Still, Edwards won here, and he's willing to expand Medicaid for Louisiana where Vitter was not.  It's a win, even an ugly one, and a bad Dem is still better than any Republican.


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