Hillary Clinton gave a predictable, admittedly motivational speech at the Democratic National Convention.
She talked primarily about herself and her legacy, which has clearly yet to be fully unraveled. She said she supported Barack Obama, and you should too, if you care about a Democrat winning the White House. And in a less than eloquent or catchy turn of phrase, she said the Republican nominee would be four more years of the same. "No way, no how, no McCain."
But what she didn’t do is talk about God, faith or religion. And it’s not necessarily surprising, since the Clintons have never been particularly effusive about their religious beliefs. Nor was it her role to talk about her faith or the importance of faith in electing a presidential nominee. Nevertheless, there is a two-fold problem for Barack Obama in this arena. First, he needs to convince the fringe groups who believe he’s not a Christian that he is, and second, to find a way to reach out to religious Democrats and even Republicans who may be dissatisfied with the prospect of John McCain in the White House. And surprisingly, the most appropriate person to speak to Barack’s faith, his wife Michelle, didn’t talk about God, faith or religion either.
So who’s going to be the Democratic surrogate to talk to religious Americans? If this Democratic National Convention plays out without a serious nod to god-loving church-goers, the country will have no other choice but to believe the Democratic Party has become the post-Enlightenment, anti-God, evangelists of secularism that right-wing evangelists routinely assert the Left has become.
Statistically, this is not true. The Left is nearly as Christian and devout as the Right. According to a 2007 Barna Group study, 61% of Republicans consider themselves "absolutely committed to Christianity," while 48% — nearly half — of Democrats say the same. Further, 53% of Republicans say they attend church once a week, while 41% of Democrats say the same. The difference between the two is not the vast chasm the Left would have us believe, yet Democrats as a unified party seem unwilling to address this very group of constituents for fear of party scorn, popular mockery or the chagrin of the Hollywood liberal elite who thinks religion is best when neither seen nor heard.
But 78% of America is Christian, and 90% of America shares a belief in God. When are Democrats in this convention going to talk to religious America? In her well-delivered speech, Hillary spoke at length about the rights of women and blacks to vote, both of which were won decades ago. But what about the concerns and rights of the faithful?
To ignore the issue altogether is to say religion is a dirty secret, something the Democratic Party would rather not get too close to, and a topic best left alone. It doesn’t matter if you’re a so-called values voter or not, if you’re religious or not, but it should matter that this party and their candidates (all three of them, if you count Hillary) are completely unwilling to speak to that swath of voters, as if they’re unimportant simpletons or the vestigial organs of some antiquated organism no longer relevant or productive.
Perhaps Joe Biden, the odd and out-of-step running mate choice of Barack Obama and a Catholic, will address these voters at the Democratic National Convention, or maybe the primetime speakers will tow an entirely secular party line, as has been the case thus far. But strategically, Democrats would be remiss to neglect this voter population. You’d better believe the Republican National Convention, as Republican campaigns have always done with efficacy and alacrity, will spotlight this group, regardless of who the lineup is.
It’s perhaps incredibly anecdotal or incredibly revealing that neither Michelle Obama nor Hillary Clinton highlighted their faith or belief in God. After all, He doesn’t get a vote.