Thanks to Elizabeth Bruening for Reminding Buttigieg Fans that the Religious Left is Not New


Some of you may recall my recent post, “Pete Buttieig: What is All the Fuss About?” Here is a taste:

[Buttigieg] seems to be following some pretty well-established progressive/liberal/Democratic Christian political candidates, including George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Gary Hart, Jesse Jackson, Joe Lieberman (if you move beyond Christianity), Hillary Clinton and, of course, Barack Obama. I might even put my former Senator Bill Bradley in this group.

Perhaps it is time that we stop getting so excited about Democratic candidates who can talk about religion. They have been around for a long time.

I am glad to see Elizabeth Bruenig make a similar point yesterday at The Washington Post.  Here is a taste of her piece, “Talk of a rising religious left is unfounded. It already exists“:

Right-wing pundits were apoplectic — Fox News host Laura Ingraham called him “sanctimonious and self-righteous” — but the effect was even greater on the center-left. “Buttigieg is a symbol for a rising Christian left,” one CNN op-ed enthused. “Buttigieg is telling Democrats that they should concede nothing to Republicans on the topics of faith and values . . . because Democrats advance policies that happen to be consistent with our deepest faith traditions,” The Post’s Jennifer Rubin declared. Even Mayor Pete himself seemed to embrace the talk of a revitalized religious left with real electoral power. He told The Post’s Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “I think there’s an opportunity hopefully for religion to be not so much used as a cudgel but invoked as a way of calling us to higher values.”

The religious left — perhaps a bloc of Democratic voters waiting to be mobilized, perhaps a segment of faithful people waiting for a leftward awakening — is always just about to happen. It lingers, always, on the horizon, a shadow cast by the electoral power and political clout of the religious right. Will it ever arrive? And what would it look like if it did?

Talk of a rising religious left is puzzling in part because there is an already existing religious left — it just lacks the money, numbers and partisan leverage of the religious right. In 2017, the Pew Research Center found that roughly 59 percent of registered Democratic voters described themselves as Christian, with the single largest bloc inside the Christian set being black Protestants. The presence of these religious voters in the Democratic coalition is probably why so many presidential candidates do engage in faith-talk: Setting Buttigieg aside, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) have also been vocal about their Christian faith on the stump this season. (Indeed, Booker, too, was once hailed as an emblem of the rising religious left.)

Read the entire piece here.  (Thanks to John Haas for bringing it to my attention)

2 thoughts on “Thanks to Elizabeth Bruening for Reminding Buttigieg Fans that the Religious Left is Not New

  1. Ken,
    I concur with your positive assessment of Mark Hatfield.

    With that being said, I don’t think you can fault all of Trump’s elected Republican supporters for a lack of integrity. After all, integrity means completeness, wholeness, or honesty. An elected official who supports Trump’s political agenda and has always supported a similar agenda is not lacking in integrity. The integrity-minimalists are those who have historically stood on contrary principles and are now newly born Trumpsters.


  2. . You might also want to include Mark Hatfield, a Republican Senator (Oregon), who espoused some unpopular causes during his Senatorial career (Vietnam War included). He serves as a sterling example of someone who valued conscience over political expediency
    As a Christian he serves as a great example of someone who entered a “lions den; i.e. Congress.
    Wrote a fascinating account: “Between a Rock and a Hard Place”. Certainly a blemished life, but the guy had so much integrity, sadly lacking in those Republicans serving Trump.
    Thanks so much for devoting a sizeable segment of your day to this blog.


Comments are closed.