Election

Liberals Must Talk About God and Country with Heart

God bless America sign, Tony Mathews / Shutterstock.com
God bless America sign, Tony Mathews / Shutterstock.com

While liberals aren't as guilty of showmanship as conservatives (Keith Olbermann is the exception), they are as guilty of not taking politics seriously. Conservatives often resort to name-calling in the absence of debate, but liberals ignore whole categories of discussion. Like patriotism and religion. I suspect the reason is discomfort with talking about them, and I suspect that that's partly because they don't want to risk sounding like conservatives.

Well, it's time we got over that.

Wisconsin: Time to Speak the Truth, Not Move On

 By: Scott Olson/Getty Images.
Wisconsin Gov. Walker Holds Recall Election Night Gathering By: Scott Olson/Getty Images.

The votes are counted, the concession speeches made, the victory parties had. Wisconsin, a word that has become as synonymous with divisive politics as it is for cheese and beer, is done with the recalls.

In the end, some change was made. Between the first round of recalls and yesterday’s election, the senate has shifted from Republican to Democratic control. And yet, not much has changed. We still have a union-busting governor and a climate change doubter as lieutenant governor.

The calls, from politicians and citizens, have been pretty consistent. It is time to move forward. It is time to put aside our divisions and find a way to govern together. It is time of our state to heal.

Whatevs.

See, I’m not all that interested in moving forward – not because I like the fighting or because I think it is healthy to be so divided that the mere mention of politics in casual conversation makes blood pressures boil.

With Nomination Clinched, Focus Turns to Romney’s Mormon Faith

RNS photo by Gage Skidmore/courtesy Flickr
Mitt Romney speaking to supporters at a rally in Tempe, Arizona on April 20, 2012. RNS photo by Gage Skidmore/courtesy Flickr

Mitt Romney clinched the GOP presidential nomination on May 28, becoming the first Mormon selected by a major political party. But will his barrier-breaking faith be a boon or bane to his White House campaign?

The answer to that question could presage the next president, and two studies published in May come to contradictory conclusions.

In both studies people were given information about Romney and his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then asked whether they would be more or less likely to vote for him.

QUIRK: Mitt Romney = Unicorn?

In the Washington Post, Dana Milbank raises the question that has (apparently) been on everyone's lips during this election season:

Is Mitt Romney a unicorn?

An interesting question, we can all agree. By why are people asking?

According to Milbank:

The MittRomneyIsAUnicorn.com campaign came about because Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett, citing allegations that the birth certificate President Obama released is a fraud, threatened to take the incumbent off the ballot.

Another Post, writer, Alexandra Petri noted that, as many 18,000 people have signed on to a petition "demanding proof that Mitt Romney was not a unicorn", in light of the fact that "unicorns, as the petition pointed out, are ineligible for the presidency of the United States".

We will let you make up your own minds on this one folks...

P.S. Take a few seconds to check out the fantastic artwork that Petri employed to bring some clarity to the Mitt Romney/Unicorn claims. They are, in her own words "some of my best MS Paint work yet."

The Electorate – Who Are We?

Take Part on Tuesday has created to great infographic that shows who actually votes in America.

Some of the highlights:

  • Married people are more likely to vote than widowers, divorcees or those who have never been married.
  • The higher the level of education you have received, the more likely you are to vote.
  • More than 9-in-10 people with an annual family income of over $100,000 vote, compared with just 5-in-10 whose income falls below $20,000.
  • Our busy lives are the number one reason why we don’t vote.
  • Congratulations to Minnesotans – your state tops state-by-state voter turnout with 75%
  • Must do better: Hawaii - only half of Hawaiians voted in the 2008 election.

The Challenge

Glenn Kessler, writer of the Washington Post Factchecker column, issues a challenge to President Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney:

"With the presidential election looming in exactly six months, I would like to issue a challenge to you both: Give at least one campaign speech, on a substantive policy issue, lasting at least 15 minutes, that does not contain a single factual error or misstatement. That means no sugar-coating of your record, no exaggerated claims about your opponent’s record, and no assertions that are technically true but lack crucial context."

I’m not holding my breath for the challenge to be accepted.

Bearing Witness in Contentious Times

ELECTION-YEAR POLITICS reveal the struggle faced by people of all political persuasions: how to meaningfully engage a process that increasingly sows division, disappointment, disgust, and even despair. Americans, no surprise, are more cynical than ever. Our elected officials are spectacularly unpopular. While there has never been a golden age of American politics, the current levels of vitriol, fear-mongering, and childish bickering have unsettled even the most jaded of political observers. And the corruption wrought by money? Let’s not even go there.      

Navigating the intersection of religion and politics in such a toxic environment poses an even more acute challenge. What’s a person of faith to do? That, of course, depends on whom you ask, since the political battle lines in religious communities are often drawn as rigidly as they are in the culture at large.

Four recent books, each dealing broadly with religion and politics in contemporary America, offer insights on these and other pressing questions.

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When a City Can't Afford an Election

If the GOP presidential primaries have been any indication, voter turnout for November's election could be fairly dismal. Between the uber-polarization of the parties and nationwide trend toward the middle at a voter level, many may opt to stay at home.

The lack of enthusiasm is especially evident in the youngest voting bloc, age 18-24. According to the latest from Public Religion Research and Georgetown University's Berkley Center, young adults are not exactly excited about their prospects of either political persuasion. Further, while one in six of them are registered to vote, only 46 percent plan to cast theirs in November.

But apart from the state of public discourse and apathy concerns of the weary voter, another issue is creeping up that could pose a problem for potential turnout—money. 

According to The Atlantic Cities, some cities simply don't have the money—and have to cut elsewhere—to host an election. 

"… municipalities are scrambling to pay the costs associated with manning polling places. Some have said they'll put off road repairs while transit crews work on Election Day. Others may borrow workers from other departments to help count votes. In practice, this will likely mean fewer voting precincts, shorter hours and longer lines."

In a culture that is not known for its patience or attention span, how will this trend affect the public's motivation, or lack thereof, to hit the polls in November?

Are Voter-ID Laws Racist?

I received an odd phone call in the afternoon of Election Day 2010. “I’m calling to let everyone know that Gov. O’Malley and President Obama have been successful,” the robo-voice said. “Relax. Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch it on TV tonight.”

At the time, the call struck me as strange—the polls in the Maryland governor’s race, in which Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley was running for reelection, were open for three more hours, and Obama wasn’t even on the ballot.

Turns out, the calls were ordered by the Republican candidate’s campaign manager, and they were aimed at voters in Baltimore and my home county, Prince George’s, the two largest majority-black jurisdictions in the state. A jury recently convicted the GOP campaign manager for what prosecutors called criminal acts intended to suppress black voter turnout.

Across the country, efforts to inhibit turnout in certain populations have been popping up all over. Some of them seem like Nixonian dirty tricks, such as the Milwaukee election material that warned that anyone found guilty of even a traffic violation was not eligible to vote, or the flyer supposedly from a local election board telling Republicans to vote on Tuesday and Democrats to vote on Wednesday.

But those illicit efforts pale next to the far-reaching campaign to change voting laws for 2012. Such changes include restrictions on voter registration drives, reductions in early voting, cutbacks in the voting rights of people who have finished their sentences for felonies, and—most pervasive—voter ID laws. In all, according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, more than 5 million voters could be affected by these laws. In 2011, photo ID laws were introduced in 34 states and enacted in eight.

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Pastor Poised to Be First African-American to Lead Southern Baptists

The Rev. Fred Luter via Franklin Ave Church website, http://www.franklinabc.com.
The Rev. Fred Luter via Franklin Ave Church website, http://www.franklinabc.com.

After months of urging from other Baptists around the country, the Rev. Fred Luter told his African-American congregation that he will seek to become the first black man to lead the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention.
   
Several Baptist leaders said Luter becomes the prohibitive favorite for the post, to be filled in a potentially historic election at the Southern Baptists' annual meeting in New Orleans in June.
   
SBC Today, a Baptist-focused news website, carried the announcement on earlier this week. Youth pastor Fred "Chip" Luter III separately confirmed Luter's announcement to his church last Sunday.
   
Luter appears to be the first candidate to declare for the post, which will become vacant this summer when the Rev. Bryant Wright of Marietta, Ga., finishes his second one-year term.
   
Many began openly promoting Luter for the top job last summer, moments after he was elected the convention's first African-American first vice president.

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