See my November 7, 2016 piece, “Here’s what Hillary Clinton has to do to win over Evangelicals.” Here it is:
What would it take for the majority of white evangelical Christians to vote for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday or, should she win, support her as President of the United States.
But a Clinton detente with evangelicals is not out of the realm possibility.
Some evangelicals will never vote for Hillary Clinton. She is connected to Barack Obama. She supports a women’s right to choose.
She promises to appoint Supreme Court justices that will undermine religious liberty. She is married to Bill Clinton, a man who cheated on her in the White House and was impeached.
She lied about the e-mail server.
In any other election, most evangelicals, when faced with a Hillary Clinton candidacy, would vote for the GOP candidate. But this election, if you have not figured it out by now, is different.
In this election a significant portion of evangelicals believe that the GOP candidate is not qualified to be president.
We don’t really know the size of the Never-Trump evangelical coalition. A very recent survey from the Public Religion Research Institute found that 69 percent of white evangelicals are voting for Trump and only 15 percent back Clinton.
That leaves about 15% of white evangelicals who have either not yet made up their mind, will vote for a third-party candidate, or will not vote in the presidential election.
Can anti-Trump evangelical conservatives be convinced to vote for Clinton?
If Clinton were to make an appeal to this demographic she would need to address two main issues: abortion and religious liberty.
On abortion, President Hillary Clinton will not work to overturn Roe v. Wade. Nor will she appoint Supreme Court justices who will do so. But what if she would propose, policy wonk that she is, a systematic plan to limit the number of abortions in the United States?
I am not just suggesting a return to the old pro-choice Democratic Party mantra of “safe, legal, and rare.” Evangelicals will need more than a catchphrase.
They will need to hear Clinton connect her public policy pronouncements with a specific a plan to reduce the number of abortions.
We know, for example, that Clinton has worked hard in her career to reduce teenage pregnancies.
She might get more evangelical votes from the Never-Trump crowd if she would connect this work more directly to the moral problem of abortion. Such a move might also bring her closer to the pro-life position of her own denomination, the United Methodist Church.
Where is the Hillary Clinton who, back in 2015, described the remarks of a Planned Parenthood representatives on video talking about the sale of fetal tissue from aborted babies “disturbing.”
Clinton has said very little about abortion on the trail, perhaps because she is beholden to the secular progressive wing of the Democratic Party.
When asked about it at the third debate she defended a traditional pro-choice position and dodged Fox News anchor Chris Wallace’s question about her support for late-term abortions.
Many evangelicals–of both the progressive and conservative variety– were turned off by this.
Clinton has also been very quiet on matters of religious liberty. Yes, she pays lip service to religious liberty when Trump makes comments about barring Muslims from coming into the country, but she has not addressed some of the religious issues facing many evangelicals.
This is especially the case with marriage.
Granted, evangelicals should not expect Clinton to defend traditional marriage or set out to overturn Obergfell v. Hodges. (I might add here that evangelicals should not expect this from Trump either).
But is she willing to support some form of principled or “confident” pluralism? Some evangelicals of the never-Trump variety would be very happy to live in a society in which those who believe marriage is only between a man and a woman, and those who do not believe this, can co-exist despite their differences.
The recent attempt in California to cut financial aid for students at faith-based colleges that uphold traditional views of marriage is one example of a threat to religious liberty that has many evangelicals concerned.
Perhaps none of this matters as we anticipate election day. Why would Hillary Clinton address these issues when she probably doesn’t need the votes of the anti-Trump evangelicals to win the election?
But how she approaches abortion and religious liberty does matter for a Clinton presidency and her relationship with the evangelicals who voted for Trump and the ones who did not.
Let’s see if she is going to stay true to her pledge to be the president of all Americans and be more conciliatory on theses matters.