Evangelical Movement Within The Democratic Party - Good or Bad?

I was going to post this topic under a specific state as there is a race catching a lot of attention, but I am going to broaden this question and talk about Democratic strategy versus core Democratic values.

That actually brings up a larger question about Democratic values and what are they... really?

There is a growing movement since 2004 of evangelical leaders embracing the Democratic Party. Many feel that Bush used this base to get him elected, then turned on them.

The question I have for the readers of this post today, is:

Is a growing Christian base of leaders and voters good for the party?

In this case, we have Ben Lowe in IL06. I managed the Campaign of Christine Cegelis in 2006. She was the first candidate to run in this very Republican district (Henry Hyde) in decades. Her candidacy in 2004 put the district in play. So much so that the DCCC made it a target seat. They threw Tammy Duckworth into the primary against Cegelis. At this time, this was not the Democratic Party I wanted to build. I wanted to support local grassroots initiatives to strengthen our party. In the end, we lost in the Primary and Duckworth went on to lose the seat to right wing radical Roskam.

Ultimately, I feel we won because now there is existing party structure and organization in DuPage county and townships, where prior there was none. Her candidacy and her activist have built a great organization.

Flash forward to 2010. A few weeks ago it appeared that we had no challenge to Roskam from a Democrat. The local groups have focused on down ballot candidates and it appears there are some strong candidates for these races. Seemingly out of the blue, a young national figure within the environmental justice movement decided to throw his name into the mix. His name is Ben Lowe. His sustainability activism is rooted in his Christian faith. He is from the growing evangelical youth.
His background is not political. His background is rooted in environmental justice, community, and has lived his life on this path. His Christian faith touches on some core issues that many Democrats have an issue with. Specifically on the issue of "life."

I say "life" purposely. I did not use the word "choice."

I ran Dennis Kucinich 2004 National Field operations. Prior to his Presidential bid, he was also pro-"life." After all, what human is really anti-life?

I am pro-choice. I am male, and should never stand in the way of a woman's right to a choice.
Dennis Kucinich, at one time... saw this as a life issue. Not a choice issue. To this day, he still views it as a life issue... his faith and spirituality guide this aspect on his decision to preserve life in healthcare, in preventive care, in issues of the death penalty, etc.

Dennis changed his view on this issue when he ran for president because someone close to him sat down and said that legislating any prevention to access of issues related to a woman's health is an aspect of holistic view of life.

There is a growing movement of Democrats for Life that are anti-choice.
Ben Lowe is progressive on every aspect yet comes from a conservative family and running in a conservative district against a right-wing nut. He brings a voice of moderation, youth, and is part of this growing evangelical movement. His main motivation for quickly building a base to collect signatures in days and qualify for the ballot was his path of community and environmental justice. This is why he is running as a Democrat.

Currently there are a lot of my dear friends and associates from that district wanting him off the ballot. These are good Democrats with passionate views of disagreement with his evangelical roots rested in life.

I understand both sides. I also know this district is a conservative family district and his message would resonate with the families there.

If the issue of a woman's right to choose a core value for a Democrat? Should it be a litmus test?

Should the party turn away the evangelical movement looking to make the party it's home?

Do we want to not support this opportunity for a moderate Democrat in a moderate District?

Curious your thoughts?

Tags: Chicago, choice, evangelical, faith, il06, Illinois, LGBT, Life, moderate, religion (all tags)



Re: Evangelical Movement Democratic Party

Give me liberty or give me death.

It was the first thought that came up after reading this diary.

by MainStreet 2009-11-13 09:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Evangelical Movement

Ben Lowe can hold any personal views on abortion as he wishes. But he should keep these views to himself and represent the views of his constituents, specifically those who voted for him (presumably the democrats).

He if, like some others others, feels his anti-abortion views trump all - be it health care, the environment, Iraq, A'stan - then he should be an independent or join the republican party. Part of the democratic party is that all views are respected and heard, and if we are to abide by his anti-abortion views he must listen to our views as well.

by vecky 2009-11-13 09:14AM | 0 recs
evangelical movement

the democratic party's core values have always been about a women's right to choose. this cannot and should not be changed to fit a small (albeit growing) number of evangelicals who are disenchanted with their own original party. It is they who would need to understand our core position on this issue will not change and instead they should focus on legislation where we can agree (ie climate change) and would welcome them based on this.

there are many ways to deal with abortion and there are things that progressive woman would get on board with to help reduce abortions in this country. But overturning roe v wade and limiting a woman's access to safe and legal abortions is not up for negotiations. What is up for negotiations to help limit the number and where we can, perhaps, find common ground (where progressive woman would support this) is sex education; free contraception, including vasectomies; limiting erectile dysfunction medication from being offered through insurance and commercials of this being banned or at least requiring a "warning of causing unwanted pregnancies"; legislation going after fathers who shrug their financial responsibilities in child care. These kinds of legislation are dramatic and probably go too far in terms of the gov't getting involved in citizens private lives - however, a comprehensive abortion bill that address ALL of these from sex to pregnancy to term and that forces restrictions on men as these men like to force on women would at least appear to be "equal". As of right now, all abortion legislation is aimed at hurting women and is not addressing the overall problem. If evangelicals are not willing to address the whole problem, then they don't belong in the democratic party in my opinion.

by nikkid 2009-11-13 09:24AM | 0 recs
Re: evangelical movement

I agree with most of what you say here.

In my view, the procedure should be legal then we work together as a society to make a woman's need of an abortion as rare as humanly possible. This means proactive sex education, ample health coverage and counseling as needed, easy access to contraception and government support of alternatives to abortion. Also, as a society, we need to do a better job of addressing rape and incest openly, thoughtfully and without compromise.

Any anti-abortion stance MUST be weighted heavily to the support of children and families of those "saved" (sorry can't think of a better word here) from the abortion choice and not on punishment, stigmatization or abandonment of those who don't have the financial means to care for a family but still choose to carry a baby to term.  

I cringe at litmus test type situations. We should not require ideological purity. I am not a Christian, but the moral center from which I draw wishes for the day that abortions are a unique occurrence. But different from anti-choice advocates, my wish would only come true in the context of societal change on a very personal level, not legislative. I feel I am a pro-life advocate working within the Choice framework.

All of this said, I wouldn't have a hard time voting for a candidate like Ben Lowe in the general election against a Republican. BUT, if he was primaried by a progressive candidate with all things being equal except their positions on Choice then I would vote for the Progressive.

by JerryColorado23 2009-11-13 11:35AM | 0 recs
Re: evangelical movement

I hate when people use the simplistic term, ideological purity.  It's intent is to shut down debate of important issues.  In this case, you analogize taking a position as a party to ideological purity.  That's a  false comparison and forecloses debate.  The question the diarist posed was what should the party's position be on this issue.  You imply that by simply addressing the issue we are imposing a purity pledge.  That is not the case.  It is important for the party to stand for a set of principles which it then implements through legislation, policy, rulemaking, etc.  If the party does not stand for certain principles, what is its purpose?  I think the current focus on accreting legislative seats at any cost challenges the party's basic principles and is already starting to pose problems with the electorate.  If, with a supermajority in both houses, the party cannot implement its principles, voters will begin to wonder what is the point of the party?  And that will become a serious problem.  It is already creating strains among the left.  

On the greater issue, I think evangelicals (unless they embrace the party's principles, should not be welcome in the party.  They will only serve to undermine the party by creating a faction which would have to be compromised with.  

by orestes 2009-11-14 09:46AM | 0 recs
Re: evangelical movement

I disagree. On the one hand we mock the teabaggers for purging republican moderates meanwhile you seem to want the same privilege. The Democratic Party does stand for many things and strongly so, but not everyone in the party believes 100% in each of those things. And hurray for that!

It is these moderates that have handed us the majorities in congress that has allowed us to get HCR this far as well as other progressive legislation that have passed under the radar. Without majorities you can't do squat. Are they a pain in the ass from time to time? Yes. Are they torpedoing progressive ideas which are infinitely better than theirs? Yes. Do I wish we had nothing but Kucinich type progressives in congress with a super-majority? Absolutely. But that is not the reality of the the past 6 years and demanding that all Dems stand for X list of principles no matter what the reality is on the ground is not prudent.

What we should be demanding is a PROGRESSIVE Speaker and Majority Leader each capable of finessing the broad caucuses enough to get good legislation to the President's desk and not constantly grabbing their ankles without any provocation.

Again, to the broader point of the diary, I do not fear Evangelicals. I do not fear Christianity. I do not fear different world views or ideas about governance within the Democratic Party. We should continue to welcome the widest range of active participants into our party. I don't see how Democratic values conflict with Christian values in any way. If we can manage to make the Democratic case and interject our goals into that space between the goodness in their hearts and the actions of their feet I would say that most Christians would be very much at home in the Democratic Party.  


by JerryColorado23 2009-11-14 03:42PM | 0 recs
Re: evangelical movement

I don't mock the teabaggers for advocating their views.  I disagree with what they stand for and think they are generally ill-informed and acting on nativist instincts, but I respect all political activism.  How does one advocate a more progressive party without taking similar action?  Clearly, the party establishment (including the president) is pushing against progressivism in the party because they are the beneficiaries of moneyed interests.  I sincerely would appreciate your views on what progressives should do- beyond simply trying to elect more progressives (which is a biannual effort).  

With regard to moderates in the party, the establishment has promoted these moderates at the expense of more progressive candidates.  I disagree with this strategy.  We have supermajorities now and we are having difficulties passing a key component of the Democratic platform for the past forty years.  Sure, we can work with those who agree with us on certain key issues, but to include them within the party when they will only fight against many of the party's ideals and try to extort benefits for their votes is folly.  Furthermore, these people are often only opportunists (see all of teh party switchers as the republican party collapsed).  They have run to the Democratic party only because their party is in decline.  Why should we let them try to push us to the right (which is their natural home)?  

But that is not what the diary is addressing.  Here, we are talking about evangelical christians.  As a general rule, I do not think evangelicals qualify as moderates.  Certainly, their religious views are not typically moderate.  And they have a calling to convert everyone else to their religious beliefs.  I would rather not have that in my party.

In your final paragraph, you set up a straw man by trying to assert that the party should not fear christians.  That's a bit silly- the party is full of christians of all stripes and always has been.  And yes, many christians' beliefs are in line with the Democratic party.  But certain christians (and people of other faiths) do not share the views of the party (e.g., on abortion, sex education, gay rights, death penalty, adoptions, interracial relationships, etc.).  These people we do not need in the party.  As I stated above, if the party does not have any principles for which it stands, what is its purpose?  

by orestes 2009-11-15 11:34AM | 0 recs
Evangelical vs. Fundies

There is an important difference.  What are this guy's positions on abortion, gay rights, and the church-state relationsip?

by JJE 2009-11-13 12:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Democratic

I think there should be someone on the ballot with a D by their name. You said no others had stepped up? Hell, put his name on the ballot... what's to lose? Even if he votes with the Republicans every time, his presence will work toward the determination of which Party holds the majority.

But he won't win.

by QTG 2009-11-14 02:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Evangelical Movement Within The Democratic Par

Abortion is morally fraught and should not be a core issue for the Democratic Party.  

by strings 2009-11-14 08:47AM | 0 recs
Re: Core Values

A majority of people see the core issue as freedom of choice for women. Democrats, with some exceptions, are not Pro-Abortion, they are Pro-Choice or Anti-Abortion. The distinction is difficult for some on the Anti-Abortion side to grasp.

Think of it in these terms.

How would react to an amendment that said anyone who has health care insurance can't own a gun?

Can you see it now?

by QTG 2009-11-14 09:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Evangelical Movement Within The Democratic Par

If the Democratic party turned its back on women's rights, it would lose an awful lot of members and supporters.  We are a pro-choice party and should stay that way.

by orestes 2009-11-14 09:37AM | 0 recs
Delusional to do to D's what they have done to R's

Lets be accurate the delusional who put a blind ( literally) delusion of some big invisible power that rules their lives above all else have been historically destructive and a cancer on the human race.

To allow the same people, and beliefs, that led gw to start a war to protect his delusional fantasy from an alternative delusion ( Magog v god ) is simply to go down the same paths. These are the same beliefs that justified slavery, brought us the inquistition and have given us Pat Robinson, Osama bin laden, the Christian Coalition, al-Qaeda, Suicide bombers and anti-choice murderers.

People can believe anything they want in the privacy of their homes be it Gandalf, Merlin, Thor, Allah, Jehovah, or ny of the myriad of sick fantasies drempt up by the scared, the weak, the mentally imbalanced and the ignorant. But once in the public arena such sickness's cannot be allowed to shape policy.

The R's by catering to this social disease have followed a path towards self destruction and have become a clear and present danger to the body politic.

So no do not allow the feeble minded decide policy based upon delusional beliefs that are used to justify all manner of atroicities in the name of following a higher calling.

by Rational 2009-11-14 10:16AM | 0 recs
: Evangelical Movement
Bad! See http://pajamasmedia.com/?p=71894
by blue sky 2009-11-14 03:58PM | 0 recs
Ben Lowe is a good candidate

If you look at what Ben Lowe actually wrote about how his faith affects policy, some of the rants against Evangelicals per se look pretty ridiculous.

As for Ben Lowe being pro-life... That gives you a feeling of how some Republicans feel about pro-choice people in their party. And let's remember politics is, as Benjamin Franklin said, the art of the possible. In the IL-6, as in many districts, you need a candidate who will appeal to moderates and conservatives on some issues. If you couldn't win a pro-life district without a pro-life Dem, would you rather have pro-life Republican? Would you rather have a Representative who is Progressive on most of the issues, or Conservative on every issue?

by bojopolitics 2010-01-07 08:28PM | 0 recs


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