Sen. John Edwards (N.C.), the prototypical modern Democratic presidential candidate, was handed the hot potato in a recent Democratic debate. The question was, “Do you have a faith, and would you invoke the name of God when discussing a policy?”
Edwards, a longtime Methodist, responded like an artful dodger: “My religion does not inform my public policy, but it does inform my values.”
Makes sense, that would mean that his public policy has no value.
…The poll asked voters whether they favor or oppose gay marriage. Even among Democrats who prefer a “generic” Democrat to Bush in the next election, 48 percent oppose gay marriages while 46 percent favor them. In short, this value-laden issue splits the Democratic base vote right down the middle because it violates religious beliefs. Many pious Democratic constituencies such as white Catholics, Southern black Protestants and religious Hispanics, are not inclined to endorse proposals that contradict their faiths.
Abortion and school prayer are two more value-laden issues that similarly split the Democrats.
That is good news at least that the Democratic voters aren’t the monolithic block they are represented as. Maybe one day they might have some representatives in their own party that reflect pro-life and religious views.
You have to wonder why a leading Democrat with religious values doesn’t pick up an issue like one of these to distinguish him or herself from the pack. The answer might be that there are almost no leading Democrats with strong enough religious values.
In a way, there are few leading Democrats with even a religion. I looked this week at the official websites and biographies of all the Democratic candidates and found no mention of any church affiliations. Sen. Joe Lieberman’s (Conn.) site does make reference to the value of faith that he learned from his parents, but the others are silent.
Perhaps their religiosity is confusing to explain. For example, while retired Gen. Wesley Clark and former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (Ill.) formally identify themselves as Catholic, they respectively attend Presbyterian and Episcopal churches. Or perhaps they would be justifiably embarrassed to claim a membership that has no substance. “I pray every night but don’t go to church very often,” confided former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.