Monday, September 15, 2008

Will Sarah Palin Tip the Young Evangelical Vote?

Eric Gorski of the Associated Press just released an article entitled "Younger Evangelicals Split Over Palin" in which I was quoted. As always, Gorski put together a pretty solid article with a great range of sources including leaders from the Emergent Church and authors like Gabe Lyons. (One correction: He said that I contacted the McCain campaign, but they actually contacted me.)

Perhaps the most brilliant quote in the whole article came from Gabe Lyons, author of UnChristian who said young evangelicals "aren't identifying as much with Palin's evangelicalism as with her emblematic role as everyday American--one of us, a normal, down to earth mom, parent, school volunteer," he said. "This isn't a faith response, it's a human response."

I think Gabe has made a good point. The reason so many of us are drawn to Palin is because we see her as the PTA mom who lives down the street. And that translates into trust, a critical factor in selecting to whom our votes will go. In that sense, McCain couldn't have chosen a better running mate.

What do you think of Palin? If you are drawn to her, what about her attracts you?

**Update: The McCain campaign has come back to schedule the conference call in an effort to reach out to the young evangelical vote.**


Susan C. said...

I am drawn to her and it's exactly the PTA mom, neighbor down the street, everyday person that she projects that makes me like her.

Anonymous said...

This is a very sad notion. It makes me very nervous to know that people are willing to vote for what is one of the most important jobs in America based on the fact that that person is 'likable' - or perhaps reminds them of themselves when they look in the mirror.

It is OK to like her, but is that really a good enough reason to put her in charge of the country?

Many Americans concluded that George Bush was the guy that they wanted to invite to their barbecue, and voted accordingly. Even most of his supporters have been forced to concede that his presidency has not been successful - even as the republican party controlled virtually all branches of the federal government.

The most ironic aspect of the Bush years is that his incompetence has set back the causes that many conservatives are most interested in.

Shouldn't we want to know who is most competent? A cheerful smile and a great attitude might not be enough at this point.

Marc A said...

Many people are drawn to Sarah Palin for those good reasons that Jonathan said. However, "anonymous" is right about the need for a competent leader. Just as much as being likeable, I think young evangelicals are also drawn to her because of her reformer reputation and record. Young evangelicals know that "Washington is broken" as Obama says frequently which makes it a difficult call on who to vote for. Both campaigns know that change is critical, but it's hard to understand which one will be able to convince them genuine change will actually occur.

Katie Corbett said...

I am not sure that evangelicals are on the side of the McCain/Palin ticket now because she is more "likeable" as anonymous has said. Maybe they are leaning towards that party because there is finally a candidate who represents their feelings on certain issues. I know for me personally, I was undecided until quite recently, but when I learned more about the candidates and there stand on certain social issues that are very important to me, I found that Sarah Palin's views matched much closer to mine. Yes she is running on the girl next door vibe and of course that is going to make her likeable, but for many, it may be a bit more than that. I also feel that is it a bit harsh to imply that she is incompetent. She has enjoyed some great successes as governor. I don't think it's really fair to assume that those of us who support the McCain/Palin ticket are doing so because we feel we can relate better to her. Maybe her desires for Washington and our country match ours a little better.

Anonymous said...

All of that sounds a little like identity politics to me. It may be Katie's 'a little something more than that'.

Black people tend to vote for the black man.

Christians tend to vote for the Christian.

Women tend to vote for the woman.

I suppose that is human nature in the end.

Identity politics presents real difficulties in a diverse, pluralistic society. It is very easy for identity politics to be employed to exploit peoples base emotions and 'gut reactions', rather than to ask them to rely on reason or informed judgment.

Sarah Palin is popular with Christians because she is aligned with a set of political policies and personalities that evangelicals believe in, never mind that she is a political novice. That's identity politics.

John McCain did not select her for her level of experience. He selected her for her identity and for her story. He has been very clear through the years that he is not a friend of the evangelical movement; it is interesting how quickly that fact has been swept aside here.

Katie Corbett said...

well, i was NEVER voting for hilary...she's a woman.

Anonymous said...

You will then, naturally, vote for the christian.

If all the candidates were Christians of firm standing, then we might move off of identity.

Katie Corbett said...

Will I vote for McCain and Palin this november??? Absolutely! But I am not necessarily voting for them because they claim to be Christians, but for the reason I stated previously, that their ideals are closely matched to mine. Barak Obama claims to be a Christian as well, but his core ideals are so far left of mine that what he claims to believe and his version of Christianity doesn't match up with my faith and Christianity.

James said...

It seems Katie has good reasons to vote for who she likes.

"He has been very clear through the years that he is not a friend of the evangelical movement; it is interesting how quickly that fact has been swept aside here."

I don't think you have been keeping up very well. McCain has made amends with that movement in the past few years, specifically by speaking with the late Jerry Falwell and doing the commencement speech for his Liberty University. Clever timing, but hey, he is a politician. Just thought you would want to be updated.

Brittany said...

If Katie has found a candidate who would vote closest to her already-developed political inclinations, then I say, "Great. May she be thankful." I have actually found that Palin's platform makes McCain's ticket less tolerable to me and has made me further resolved to vote for Obama - as a white, evangelical woman.

I find that among my peers it's one main issue that solidifies Palin as a worthy candidate in their mind: abortion. Really, we are approaching the same issue from different angles. To me, part of Obama's appeal is that he takes a well-rounded approach to the issue of abortion by developing a heath-care system that will benefit everyone (including young mothers who otherwise might not be able to afford having babies), a tax plan that would help lessen the disparities between rich and poor and therefore provide more opportunities again for low-income men and women who might otherwise get pregnant, & a comprehensive education plan that would do the same. Obama has a more radical stance against poverty (and on-the-ground experience fighting it), which Scripture tells me are just as much "life" issues as abortion, if not more.

Peter Davis said...
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Peter Davis said...

I've gone many rounds with several of my Christian friends over this election. Many are shocked that as a Christian, I won't support McCain/Palin. I have many reasons and have truly enjoyed reading McClaren's posts about Obama.

About Palin, though, I've been shocked to hear that the best praise she has received for a few interviews and the debate is "she didn't mess up." How does not messing up equal ready to be Vice President? She seems to be a great person, I love her personality, but she is coming across to me as someone who is being used by a political machine. Standing up with Joe Biden last night really made the difference clear to me between someone who is giving rehearsed lines and someone who is ready to lead.