Tom Perez is the current Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and his job is to help Democrats get elected around the country. He spoke last week at a conference of like-minded progressives about the problem his party was having with being able to "penetrate" the American electorate. Translation: He's confused about why more people aren't voting for Democratic candidates, especially in the traditionally Democratic Midwestern states that President Trump won in 2016.
The topic Perez was speaking about was the issue of judges, one that is particularly important to social conservatives because of the Supreme Court decisions on abortion and same-sex marriage, among others, that took those issues away from states and voters and mandated new "rights" not grounded in the Constitution.
Perez relayed to the attendees some results of his inquiries: "Why aren't we penetrating? I ask. And I had someone in northwestern Wisconsin tell me, 'You know what, for most of the people I know, their principal sources of information are Fox News, their NRA newsletter, and the pulpit on Sunday.'"
With regard to "the pulpit," Perez intimated that people who attend church are easily swayed by pastors who tell them how to vote. "It should come as a surprise to no one that that person (the churchgoing, non-Democratic voter) has elevated the issue of courts to the top because that person in the pulpit is saying, 'Ignore everything else that this [Democratic candidate] has done and is doing, we have to focus on the one issue of Roe vs. Wade.' And people buy it."
I have three reactions to that.
First, what should come as no surprise to Perez (but apparently does) is that churchgoers might have a worldview based on eternal principles handed down by the Word of God, not the ad campaigns of Planned Parenthood.
Second, a lot of voters view the Constitution as the bedrock of American law, not something that can be inventively used to create "rights" – such as "abortion rights" - that aren't there. They also recognize that the federal government (including the federal judiciary) has limited, delegated powers, and states are free to exercise their sovereignty in all other areas. That goes against the progressive notion that the Constitution is "living" and can be modified by judicial elites. Conservatives, even churchgoing ones, tend to agree with the late Justice Antonin Scalia about how lawmaking ought to work: "Persuade your fellow citizens it's a good idea and pass a law. That's what democracy is all about. It's not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society."
Finally, it's always enlightening (and disappointing) to hear what some progressives really think about conservative Christians. Perez' comments are strikingly similar to President Obama's famous 2008 quote about small-town Midwestern voters: "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them…" The condescension comes through loud and clear, even to those of us who don't claim an Ivy League background.
Condescension is bad enough, but recently Democrats in Massachusetts went a step further and passed a resolution affirming their belief that those who have used their "religious views to justify public policy" are "threatening not only the United States, but the entire planet." That's going to be a tough sell except in states who feel they don't need the Christian vote at all.
When you willfully attribute Christians' political views to a substandard level of intelligence, easily swayed by supposed demagogues in the pulpit (not to mention the evil geniuses at the NRA and Fox News), don't be surprised if you continue to have difficulty enlisting our support at the ballot box. We're stubborn like that, among our various other faults.