On the Democratic side, I hear great appreciation for John Edwards‘ passionate and persistent commitment to make poor people a political priority and his challenging the control of the wealthy and powerful over our political process. I hear great attraction, especially among a younger generation, to Barack Obama‘s call for change to a new kind of politics, beyond left and right, which actually finds solutions to our most pressing problems; and for the first African American President. And I see a real appeal, especially among women, for Hillary Clinton‘s persistent commitment to issues like children and health care, along with her experience and readiness that says a woman could be the president of the U.S. for the very first time. All three have been willing to challenge the secular rejection of religion and values talk which still exists in their party, and, in the general election, whoever secures the Democratic nomination will be watched carefully by the religious community to see if they will also take on other party orthodoxies on issues like abortion.
Health care, taking care of children and the poor… these are values that Democrats have in common with the religious community.
One of the highpoints for me of the campaign thus far came in a Republican debate where both Mike Huckabee and John McCain defended the humanity of undocumented people in the midst of an extended attack on “illegal aliens” by other candidates. In the face of some of the most heated rhetoric, John McCain asked his colleagues to remember that the people they were all talking about were “also the children of God.” And in defending his inclusion of the children of the undocumented in his state’s scholarship programs, Mike Huckabee stood his ground and said the U.S. was not the kind of country that punished children for the mistakes of their parents.
There it is. Democrats connect when they stand their ground on issues and can connect them to basic values, like treating people humanely.