Trump to Faith Leaders: “It’s a big day, Nov. 3; that’s going to be one of the biggest dates in the history of religion…”

Trump and Bible

I hope church and religious historians are taking note. 🙂

Great reporting here from Adelle Banks at Religion News Service:

(RNS) — The White House held calls with religious leaders last week to encourage their support of its guidelines for addressing the coronavirus, gathering more than a thousand people on three phone calls.

President Donald Trump took part in at least one of the calls.

“On Friday, President Trump joined Vice President (Mike) Pence for a call with hundreds of faith leaders to discuss the latest health guidelines to help slow the spread of the virus,” a White House official told Religion News Service. “Last week, the White House hosted three phone calls with more than 1,200 inter-faith leaders from across the country. President Trump encourages Americans of all religious backgrounds to do their part to stay healthy and stop the spread.”

When Trump briefly took part in the Friday call, he addressed the pending election as well as the pandemic.

“We have a pretty wild world out there, both in terms of people that are opposed to what we believe and what we think and also with respect to this whole new virus that came upon us so suddenly,” Trump said during the few minutes he was on the call.

The Centers for Disease Control guidelines related to faith-based groups have shifted over time. They now include advice to “Cancel or postpone in-person gatherings or move to smaller groupings” and “Cancel or modify smaller gatherings (e.g., religious education classes), where persons are likely to be in close contact.”

But Trump also told a Fox News town hall Tuesday (March 24): “I would love to have the country opened up and just raring to go by Easter.”

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, which organized the Friday call, wrote about it on the conservative Christian group’s website and included a link to the hourlong discussion that featured Pence and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson along with, Perkins said, 700 pastors.

Trump thanked the leaders for their prayers for the country. But when asked by Perkins, who hosted the call, what he most wanted pastors to pray for, the president sought petitions for the country’s health and strength and “that we make the right choice on Nov. 3.”

“It’s a big day, Nov. 3; that’s going to be one of the biggest dates in the history of religion, as far as I’m concerned,” the president said before Perkins asked for Trump’s prayer requests. “We have to keep aware of that ’cause as we fight this (virus), people are forgetting about anything else.”

Among others on the Friday call were Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said Jon Wilke, spokesman for the committee.

“The president did speak and encourage pastors to continue ministering,” Wilke said.

According to Steven Martin, communications director for the National Council of Churches, a council staffer who was also on the Friday call gave a different account.

“He indicated that the call was not about sharing information or engaging faith groups, but more about praising Trump and trying to change the narrative that Trump had dropped the ball and not taken this pandemic seriously early enough,” Martin said of his colleague. “In his words, the call ‘seemed to be more like a time for Trump’s faith surrogates to praise Trump rather than to truly reach out to faith communities.’”

Read the rest here.  The quote from Steven Martin of the National Council of Churches is revealing.

Andrew Cuomo for President

Is it too late? 🙂

They say a crisis reveals character–especially in leaders. We had FDR during the Great Depression and World War II.  Despite his latest antics, Rudy Giuliani led New York City in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

And then there is Donald Trump:

Thank goodness that several state officials have stepped-up during this coronavirus crisis. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has impressed me the most. “If someone wants to blame someone,” Cuomo said today after telling the New York workforce to stay home, “blame me. There is no else responsible for this decision.”

As Ben Smith of The New York Times recently wrote, “In ordinary times, Mr. Cuomo’s relentlessness and bullying drive New Yorkers crazy. In an age of the coronavirus, they soothe our battered nerves.”

Here is more of Smith’s piece:

“A crisis shows you a person’s soul,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo mused during a conference call with reporters on Sunday. “It shows you what they’re made of. The weaknesses explode and the strengths are, uh, emboldened.”

He paused. He’d forgotten, perhaps, whom he was talking about and seemed to have strayed to talking about himself. Then, he returned to the subject at hand, introducing the Westchester County executive: “And, uh, George Latimer has really stepped up.”

Mr. Cuomo has governed New York for more than nine years without inspiring much love. He wins elections by grinding opponents into dust before they can make it to the ballot box. He governs by transaction, not inspiration, as a dispenser of favors and destroyer of insurgents’ dreams, the purest master of the machine since Lyndon Johnson in his prime.

He has passed marriage equality, cut deals with Republicans, meddled incessantly in the running of the subway system. The people most passionate about politics these days — the New Left and the Trump-led right — dislike him because he governs as both a social liberal and a friend of business. Many moderate and liberal politicians, who ought in theory to like Mr. Cuomo, simply fear him.

And yet Mr. Cuomo has emerged as the executive best suited for the coronavirus crisis, as President Trump flails and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wrestles haltingly with a crucial decision and then heads to the gym.

The governor has been the clearest and most decisive of the three, relentless behind the scenes and open about the risks. He has publicly worried over his daughters and his 88-year-old mother, and put state prisoners to work making hand sanitizer. He’s alternated between sweetness and confrontation with Mr. Trump, as he would with a wayward upstate legislator.

Read the rest here.

Here is Cuomo’s latest press conference:

Wartime President?

It is unlikely that Trump can run on the economy in November. He has failed to convince anyone but his base that he is doing a good job on this coronavirus crisis.  But perhaps he can run in November as “wartime president.”

Here is a taste of Gabby Orr’s and Lara Seligman’s piece at Politico: “Trump team’s new mission: Defend the ‘wartime president‘”:

When America is at war, voters prefer not to swap presidents in the middle of battle. James Madison sailed to reelection after launching the War of 1812. Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address a month before the Civil War effectively ended at Appomattox, Va. In the shadow of World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt notched a third term. And the year after deploying troops to Iraq, George W. Bush defeated a war veteran, Democrat John Kerry.

What if the enemy is invisible? Not a foreign country or the perpetrators of a brazen terrorist attack but a lethal disease that forces Americans to shelter in place indefinitely as their health, jobs and wages hang in the balance?

After fumbling his administration’s initial response to the devastating spread of COVID-19, and dismissing the threat of the novel coronavirus for months as it spread from China, Trump has turned to the one concept that seems to work politically to overcome monumental challenges. Days after he declared a national emergency to help combat the pandemic, the New York businessman — who famously avoided the Vietnam draft multiple times — informed Americans on Wednesday that he is now “a wartime president” and said the country should prepare to fight.

“Every generation of Americans has been called to make shared sacrifices for the good of the nation,” Trump said at a White House briefing featuring Defense Secretary Mark Esper, U.S. Veterans Affairs chief Robert Wilkie and members of the administration’s coronavirus task force.

“Now it’s our time,” Trump continued, recalling the bravery America showed during World War II. “We must sacrifice together,because we are all in this together, and we will come through together.”

Read the rest here.

It’s Time for Bernie to Drop Out

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Bernie Sanders made a nice run. He has secured his place in American history for the way he has pushed the Democratic Party to the left. I fully expect many of his policy ideas will one day become a reality, not unlike how the views of the late 19th-century populist movement found their way into the political mainstream or how the conservative ideals of Barry Goldwater influenced the Republican Party. (See Michael Kazin on these historical developments).

Last night Joe Biden scored overwhelming victories in Florida, Illinois, and Arizona. He has an almost insurmountable delegate lead.  There are now three main reasons why Sanders must drop out.

  1. He has very little chance of winning in the nomination.
  2. If the primary race ends here, the Democratic Party can unify early and thus more effectively prepare for November.
  3. States can cancel or postpone primaries and thus follow the advice we are getting from the health care community about social distancing.

I am Hearing About Two Different Generational Divides

Bernie kids

First, there is the general divide in the Democratic Party. The millennials and Gen X-ers  seem to like Bernie Sanders. Baby boomers like Joe Biden. Read Eric Levitz’s piece at New York Magazine.

Second, there seems to be a divide in how Americans are responding to the coronavirus. Read Rana Foroohar’s piece at Financial Times or this recent Wall Street Journal piece.

If all this reporting is correct, younger Americans love socialism, the environment, socialized medicine, and free college, but they are also selfish and more than willing to ignore the advice of older Americans who have scientific expertise.

It must be more complicated than this, but as a college professor of a certain age who spends a lot of time with young people, I find this discussion to be very interesting.

ADDENDUM: I just thought of another generational divide. Older and younger evangelicals on the Trump presidency.

Assessing Last Night’s Democratic Debate

Biden Sanders

Over at The New York Times, an impressive group of commentators and intellectuals evaluate last night debate—perhaps the last–between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. The group includes Gail Collins, Nicole Hemmer, Michelle Goldberg, Wajahat Ali, Peter Wehner, Jamelle Bouie, and Elizabeth Bouie.

Here is Hemmer on Biden’s performance:

The smartest move Biden made in the debate — other than committing to a female running mate — was tying revolution to disruption. At a moment when the world’s been turned upside down, he offered to flip it right side up, not shake it up more. His reassurances send a powerful general-election message — and why he won the debate.

Here is Elizabeth Bruenig on Sanders’s performance:

That’s odd about Sanders is that he’s simultaneously the ideas candidate — unlike Biden, he has a philosophical brief against the excesses of American individualism — and the practical, materially focused candidate, worrying over how low-wage workers will survive this crisis financially. That breadth of interests came through strongly in this debate, and the no-audience format suited him well.

Read the entire piece here.

*2020: The Year of _____*

2020

It is quite common for historians to write books with a year for a title.  Some examples:

Charles Mann, 1491: New Revelations of the America’s Before Columbus

Adam Goodheart, 1861: The Civil War Awakening

Louis Masur, 1831: Year of Eclipse

David Traxel, 1898: The Birth of the American Century

Michael Rapport, 1848: Year of Revolution

It will only be a matter of time before we start to see books about 2020. It is only March and we have already witnessed the third presidential impeachment in U.S. history and a major pandemic. And let’s not forget that we have a presidential election in November.

2020: The Year of ______

Ron Brownstein on the Democratic Primary: “It’s Over”

Bernie

Here is the veteran political writer at The Atlantic:

After two insurgent campaigns that rattled American politics, Bernie Sanders’s dream of becoming the Democratic presidential nominee is effectively over.

Tapping an enormous wave of grassroots energy in both bids for the White House, Sanders galvanized young people, transformed online fundraising, and changed the terms of debate in the Democratic Party on issues ranging from health care to college affordability. But as his defeats last night made clear yet again, his unflinching call for a “political revolution” could not build a coalition broad enough to capture the ultimate prize.

For now, Sanders is staying in the race. “While our campaign has won the ideological debate, we are losing the debate over electability,” he said today in a short speech from Burlington, Vermont. He still plans to attend an upcoming debate with former Vice President Joe Biden, who remains well short of the 1,991 delegates needed for a nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention in July. But Biden’s resounding victories last night, and his widening delegate lead, have prompted even some of Sanders’s ideological allies to question whether the senator from Vermont should continue his campaign.

Read the rest here.  Bernie will not be president.  But American political historians will study his 2016 and 2020 campaigns for a long time.

Thinking Historically About Bernie’s Socialism

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Stanford historian Richard White argues that Sanders best represents the Gilded Age socialists of the late 19th-century.  Here is a taste of his piece at The New York Times:

The socialists Mr. Sanders most resembles were Gilded Age intellectuals, reformers, union members and ordinary citizens who self-labeled as socialist. There were immigrants among them, but the leading voices were, like Mr. Sanders, native-born and middle-class advocates of reform within the Democratic and Republican parties, whose bosses they often criticized.

Mr. Sanders sounds like these Gilded Age socialists in part because the issues of their time were similar to ours — immigration, environmental deterioration, declining well-being and growing inequality in a period of rapid technological and economic change. Mr. Sanders — whose socialism, built on fairness, is remarkably nonideological — shares the conviction of these old socialists that values, not economic laws, determine the contours of American society. The Gilded Age socialists admitted what their opponents often did not: Americans did not all share common values.

Like most modern pundits, 19th-century liberals — the equivalent of modern libertarians — believed that Americans always have been and always will be individualists. They imagined society to be a collection of autonomous subjects whose competition achieved the best possible outcomes. To deny this truth, they felt, was to deny reality.

Those who called themselves socialists echoed Dr. Leete in Edward Bellamy’s best-selling 1888 novel “Looking Backward,” a book that imagined a socialist utopia. Dr. Leete defined the core problem in American society as “excessive individualism.” The socialists stressed collectivities — the home, the community, the church and the nation. They spoke to another equally American tradition that had flowered in the Gilded Age: The Knights of Labor, who envisioned worker-owned cooperatives replacing wage labor and sought to amend “the work of the Founders” to “engraft republican principles on property and industry.” Their influence pervades “Looking Backward,” which is less a novel than a compendium of desired reforms. Not surprisingly, some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters have rediscovered the novel.

The more his opponents caricature Mr. Sanders as a Sandinista or a Bolshevik, the more Mr. Sanders’s actual similarity to 19th-century socialists makes him seem unthreatening, even avuncular. He is infinitely closer to William Dean Howells, the 19th-to 20th-century novelist who for a while proclaimed himself a socialist, than to Joseph Stalin.

Read the entire piece here.

Michael Walzer: “Sanders is alone with his excited followers”

Bernie Sanders

Michael Walzer is a public intellectual, co-editor of Dissent, and a life-long democratic socialist. Over at Tablet, he offers his take on Bernie Sanders:

What should lifelong democratic socialists and social democrats, like me, think about Bernie Sanders, the democratic socialist? He isn’t like the socialists whom we know from other countries, where this kind of politics is much more common than it is in the United States. Socialist politicians usually emerge from powerful social movements like the old labor movement or from political parties like the Labour Party in the United Kingdom or the Social Democrats in Germany. Sanders does not come out of, nor has he done anything to build, a significant social movement. That wouldn’t be an easy task in the United States today; in any case, it hasn’t been his task. He has, moreover, never been a member of a political party—not even of the Democratic Party whose nomination he is now seeking. He has never attempted to create a democratic socialist caucus within the party. For all the enthusiasm he has generated, he has no organized, cohesive social or political force behind his candidacy. If he were elected, it is hard to see how he could enact any part of his announced program.

Several conservative writers have said it: Sanders is best understood as a left populist. He stands to the Democratic Party today very much like Trump stood to the Republican Party in 2016. I understand that Sanders stands for policies radically different from Trump’s. He speaks to the needs of millions of vulnerable Americans and to the anxieties of young people entering an unwelcoming economy—and, like populists everywhere, he promises to solve all their problems. But he stands in the political arena without the political support necessary to do that or even to begin to do that. He claims to be leading a movement. Look closely: He is alone with his excited followers.

Read the rest here.

Joe Biden: Interim Pastor

Did you watch Joe Biden’s speech last night after his primary victories in Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri?

Last night Wes Granberg-Michaelson, a churchman who has had a distinguished career in denominational life, politics, letters, and academia, wrote this on his Facebook page:

Listening to Joe Biden give his speech this evening, he impresses me like a strong interim pastor who comes into a congregation devastated by conflict and finally has removed its pastor, but needs someone who projects calm, confidence, trust and allows for healing. But then, the effective interim pastor has to open up space for the congregation to clarify again its values, its core mission, and its vision for the future. Pastor (or Father) Biden will have to do both things.

I know that many Bernie fans are upset tonight because the Democratic Party does not seem to be listening to the youth vote. Perhaps this is true. I am sure that a new, young, contemporary pastor is finishing seminary right now and he will soon take the pulpit.  But right now it looks like the country just needs a good interim pastor.

Thanks to Wes Granberg-Michaelson for allowing me to quote him.

What Bernie Sanders Might Learn from Jesse Jackson

Sanders and jackson

Here is Georgetown University historian Michael Kazin at The Washington Post:

It was the 1988 election and the insurgent candidacy of Jesse Jackson that provides insights into the current fight and why Sanders’s campaign has captured such passionate support, particularly among young people who want to transform the political and economic system.

Unlike the more liberal contender in other primary fights — figures such as Ted Kennedy in 1980, Mondale in 1984 or Bill Bradley in 2000 — who mostly wanted to extend the liberal reforms of the Great Society, Jackson, the minister and civil rights leader, dreamed of something much bigger. He proposed a sweeping egalitarian overhaul of American society. He set forth, in stirring cadences, a program that included single-payer health care, free community college, equal pay for women, LGBTQ rights, some form of reparations for black people — and a vast plan to build affordable housing and mass transportation that resembles Sanders’s program now.

Like the Vermont insurgent, Jackson proposed reversing tax cuts for the richest Americans that the incumbent Republican president had signed into law and advocated sizable cuts in the defense budget, moving away from a foreign policy dependent on force to one that advanced disarmament.

Both candidates share another similarity: They transformed themselves from protest candidates into serious contenders for the nomination by building a multiracial coalition of the working class and the young. Jackson’s “rainbow coalition” posed the most direct and far-reaching alternative to the party “establishment” before Sanders battled Hillary Clinton nearly three decades later. And unlike their moderate rivals, each man inspired a mass of ardent followers who dedicated themselves to the cause.

Jackson exceeded expectations in 1988 and won over 1,200 delegates. At the convention, he delivered a bravura oration that easily overshadowed the technocratic Michael Dukakis’s rather tedious acceptance speech. When it seemed he might actually win enough delegates to take the nomination, most white Democrats — officeholders and ordinary voters alike — got cold feet. One of Jackson’s closest advisers reflected, “As long as people could vote for him as sending a message to Democrats [that] we support this kind of economic populism and moral voice, they were anxious to vote for him. But as soon as he got close to actually winning the nomination … people just said: ‘Whoa, We’re never going to do this.”

Read the entire piece here.

Father Joe

Munich Security Conference in Munich

Los Angeles Times columnist Virginia Heffernan says America needs a father figure right now.  Here is a taste of her recent column, “Joe Biden just turned into the aspirin America needs for its Trump headache”:

An idea from progressive Catholic theology might be useful for our times: pater patitur— the father suffers.

It goes like this: A father figure, divine or otherwise, isn’t meant to relieve our suffering. Nor should he suffer for us, which suggests condescension. And he certainly shouldn’t inflict suffering on us, as too many parents do with their children. Rather, the father’s role is to suffer withus.

We’ve seen this gracious and ultimately progressive model of fatherhood from Joe Biden in recent days in his run for the Democratic nomination.

Of course, a father is a father, and in this case a white one. Biden doesn’t speak from the political or social margins. Rather he speaks from the head of the table, where — likely as not — he’s having his pot roast served to him by a woman. And that woman may be simultaneously fighting off a lunging animal-rights protester, as Jill Biden, Joe’s wife, and Symone D. Sanders, his campaign advisor, did during Biden’s Super Tuesday speech.

But if we must have a white man as president, as we have had all but once in American history, let it be a well-intentioned one, a self-critical one, one who suffers with us.

Let it be the one who, like Biden, shows up at to sit shiva and to comfort a widow and to mourn in at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., after the 2015 massacre. Biden is a man practiced in grief, who has learned vulnerability, resilience and how to give comfort.

And isn’t that what America needs right now as we fight against despair after Trump’s desecrations?

We don’t need the agitations of Bernie Sanders; we need a salve. And though this is much harder to admit, we collectively lack the fortitude and solidarity to respond to the clarion call of the peerless Elizabeth Warren, who in stronger times could have led us to a more perfect union

Read the entire piece here.

Does Bernie Sanders Still Want to Challenge the Rules of the Democratic Convention?

Bernie

Joe Biden had a big night on Super Tuesday.  He now has the delegate lead. It is likely that he will still have the delegate lead when the 2020 Democratic National Convention begins on July 13th in Milwaukee.

Here are the convention rules regarding the selection of a presidential nominee:

A candidate will need 1,991 of the 3,979 pledged delegates to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot. Per the Democratic National Committee, a candidate needs a majority of those eligible to vote on the ballot. Most importantly for the calculation, the candidate needs “a whole unit of delegate above half.”

Half of 3,979 is 1,989.5. As there are no delegates in this round with a half vote, a whole unit of delegate is one. Therefore, the requirement is 1,990.5 (1,989.5 + 1) delegates, which is rounded to 1,991.

If no candidate wins on the first ballot, all delegates become unpledged. There are 4,750 delegate votes on the second – and any subsequent – ballot. This total is comprised of the 3,979 formerly-pledged delegates from the first ballot as well as 767 automatic delegates [or so-called “super delegates”] with a full vote and 8 automatic delegates with a half vote.  This means there are 775 automatic delegates with a total of 771 votes, with 4,750 equal to 3,979 + 771.

Since there are delegates with a half vote, a half vote is considered a whole unit of delegate for any ballot after the first round.  Half of 4,750 is 2,375. Therefore, the requirement is 2,375.5 delegates to win the nomination when all delegates are voting.

Note that since automatic delegates are specific people or positions, the number can vary slightly – up or down – over time. For example, all Democratic members of the U.S. House are automatic delegates. If there was to be a new vacancy that remained unfilled at the time of the convention, there would be one less delegate in this category.

Before Super Tuesday, Bernie Sanders said that these rules were unfair. He is opposed to super delegates because they are not chosen by the people. Sanders probably also opposed these rules because he thought he might be leading on July 13, 2020, but would not have the 1,1991 needed to nominate.  Watch this:

Now that Biden has the delegate lead I wonder if Sanders still believes this. It may not matter since most super delegates support Biden.

Pete Buttigieg is Out: What Does It Mean?

Buttigieg 3

Pete Buttigieg is about to suspend his candidacy.  As I wrote last night, he has no path to the nomination. So what does this mean? Some comments/predictions:

  • Most of the Buttigieg votes will go to Biden.
  • Buttigieg was the smartest and most articulate person in the race.
  • If Biden becomes the next president, Buttigieg will be in the cabinet. I doubt that he will be Biden’s VP.  I think the frontrunner here is Kamala Harris.  (Of course anything can happen over the course of the next month or two and Bernie Sanders is still leading the delegate race).
  • Let’s see if Buttigieg uses his speech tonight to endorse another candidate.
  • Expect Amy Klobuchar to drop-out on Tuesday night.  Her votes will also go to Biden.

Carlos Eire: “Castro’s literacy campaign and authoritarianism go hand in hand”

Bernie Sanders has taken some heat for praising the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s literacy program.

Watch:

Carlos Eire, author of one of the best books I have read in the last decade, Waiting for Snow in Havana, is a Yale historian and native of Castro’s Cuba. He brings some historical context to Sanders’s praise of Castro’s literacy program in a recent piece at The Washington Post.  Here is a taste:

Unfazed by the howls of indignation — honest or feigned — over his recent praise of communist Cuba, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has reaffirmed his admiration for the Castro regime’s social policies over the past few days. He has done so while simultaneously insisting that he’s “very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba.”

But can the achievements of any monstrous regime ever be praised? Is it really possible to separate the cruelty of any dictatorship from any of its policies? In the case of communist Cuba, a further question arises: Is it possible to believe any of the claims it makes for its own achievements, given that it generates its own statistics and promotes its own version of history?

One has to wonder how accurate the Sanders version of Fidel Castro’s literacy campaign really is — whether it truly was an unalloyed success, good and noble enough to justify the firing squads, torture chambers, gulags and other disagreeable inconveniences that were inseparable from it. And anyone who would care to do some fact-checking, as did The Post’s Glenn Kessler a few years ago, will quickly discover that the Sanders version of Cuban history is far from accurate.

First, consider the issue of literacy in Cuba before Castro came along. Was pre-Castro Cuba a nation of illiterates, and Castro’s literacy campaign as great an accomplishment as Sanders avers? Not at all. A Cuban census from 1953 found that 77.9 percent of the island’s total population was already literate, and that in urban areas the literacy rate was 88.9 percent: among the highest in Latin America and higher than in some benighted rural counties in the United States. Seven years later, in 1960, according to data compiled at Oxford University, the literacy rate for the entire island was 79 percent.

So the scope of Castro’s 1961 literacy campaign, much admired by Sanders, is more myth than reality. Moreover, the image of pre-Castro Cuba as a primitive society rescued from poverty and illiteracy by a so-called revolution is a deceitful caricature, one brilliantly conceived by the Castro regime to make its brutality seem less offensive — merely “authoritarian” rather than monstrous.

Read the entire piece here.

Will Pete Buttigieg Get Any Traction in South Carolina?

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Mayor Pete won Iowa. He finished second in New Hampshire. He finished third in Nevada. But he is not doing very well in South Carolina largely because he does not appeal to African-American voters in the state.  Over at Religion & Politics, Myriam Renaud wonders why.  Here is a taste of her piece:

The majority of black Americans—almost eight in ten, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report—identify as Christian and three out of four say religion is “very important in their lives.” In one sense, Buttigieg, an Episcopalian, should appeal to these voters. Of all the Democratic candidates, he is perhaps the most fluent in the language of faith. He calls climate change a sin, telling Stephen Colbert that, because it harms today’s and tomorrow’s generations, “I don’t imagine that God is going to let us off the hook.” He also told Colbert that Christianity says “that we are obliged to serve the poor and heal the sick and clothe the naked and welcome the stranger.” During a Democratic debate question on immigration and the border, he accused Republicans of hypocrisy because they associate their party with Christianity and yet “suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents.”

Multiple factors affect how Buttigieg is seen by black voters, including religious ones; these include his tense relationship with parts of South Bend’s black community, especially after a black man was killed by a white police officer last June. The now 38-year-old candidate has also stirred controversy with comments he made in 2011 about the lack of role models who value education for low-income minority students, and by comparing his struggles as a gay man with those of African Americans. Also, his campaign’s Douglass Plan for Black America received negative publicity when an accompanying image turned out to be a stock photo of a woman from Kenya and when several African Americans described as endorsing the plan said their views were misrepresented.

The conventional campaign wisdom is also that his identity as a gay, married man is at least partly responsible for his low levels of support among black South Carolinians—a belief that has some merit but that also reinforces racist stereotypes. Most black churches embrace progressive views on a range of issues but many hold conservative attitudes toward same-sex relationships. A 2019 Pew Research Center study shows that only 44 percent of black Protestants are in favor of same-sex marriage. Sociologist Samuel Perry’s research reports that, over the past decade, the majority of twelve sociological studies exploring a possible link between religion and attitudes toward same-sex marriage identified black Protestants, along with white evangelicals, as the least supportive religious group. And yet, Pew also found that the majority (65 percent) of black Protestants support laws “protecting LGBT people from discrimination in housing, public accommodations, and the workplace.”

Read the entire piece here.

Joanne Freeman on Why We Need Historians During this Election Cycle

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Here is a taste of the Yale historian‘s recent piece at The Washington Post:

Historians have been busy in recent months, and for good reason. Almost every day brings a stream of political questions from all quarters: Has this happened before? Is it truly unprecedented? Is it dangerous? What are the implications?

History has been used in two ways to answer these questions. First, it has been yoked to ongoing debates, with public figures deploying historical precedent (imaginary and otherwise) as needed. Front and center in this dialogue have been the Founders, a seemingly uncontestable source of authority for any and every claim.

Second, history has been a shorthand source of consolation in the face of an onslaught of wrongdoing and corruption that is evading, perhaps defeating, the rule of law.

Justice may not prevail at present, this argument goes, but the eyes of history will expose the ugly truth, a phenomenon that Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) branded “history’s rebuke.”

Historians have played a major role in both conversations. Well aware of the importance of understanding the roots of the current crisis, and faced with an onslaught of bogus historical claims, they’ve had much to say in the public sphere — and it matters. The New Yorker registered the trend last month with an article on “#twitterstorians,” historians on Twitter who engage with one another and with the public to “de-Trumpify American history.” There has been blowback against this trend, with some claiming that historians are scholars, not pundits. Others contend scholars who engage with the public aren’t “serious” about their work, an idea that is thankfully fading — albeit gradually. But in truth, given the unprecedented nature of our crisis, there could be no better time — indeed, no more urgent a time — for historians to engage the public with gusto.

Read the rest here.