Mike Gecan writes a very interesting essay on why the Democrats need to show more respect for people of faith. The Democrats constant attacks that equate any semblance of morality with “theocracy” are going to backfire on them in a major way. Roughly 60 to 70 million Americans are evangelicals, and the evangelical vote is rapidly becoming one of the most solidly Republican voting blocs in the country. If the Democrats keep pushing people of faith out of their party, they can’t hope to win.

Gecan explains the fundamental problem the Democrats have:

On the most basic level, the contempt of the progressive elite for ordinary people—for their faiths, their speech patterns, their clothes, their hobbies, their hopes, and their aspirations—has driven scores of millions of Americans out of the Democratic Party and into either the Republican Party or a no man’s land between the two. The willingness of many Republicans to simply show respect for the habits and interests of these mixed and moderate Americans has paid growing political dividends. The Republicans have understood that communicating respect is more important than offering programs or incentives. The Democrats have failed to realize that multiplying programs or policies designed to meet people’s needs is doomed to fail unless and until those people sense a fundamental level of recognition of who they are, not just what they need. The medium may not be the message. But a medium of respect and recognition is what makes the reception of the message possible.

When George Bush shows up at a NASCAR rally, it doesn’t seem out of character for him. (In fact, it isn’t.) When John Kerry went duck hunting it looked like a patrician Boston brahmin trying to pander to the rubes. (Which it was.) The Democratic Party is increasingly driven by a fiercely secular coastal elite. They’re not speaking the language of the American heartland, and it doesn’t appear that they know how any longer. The fact that Howard Dean, a man who is considered to be the poster boy for arrogant and impotent leftist indignation has been chosen by the DNC to be their ambassador to the red states only shows how far out of touch they really are.

What Gecan misses is that for all the talk about how voter’s values go against their economic interests, it simply isn’t true anymore. The Democrats remain mired in a sense of populism that died decades ago. The vision of the world as being controlled by the rich elites who systematically oppress the populace doesn’t mesh with a world in which over half of the American people are invested in the stock market, access to information is at unprecedented levels, and technology has acted as a great leveler. From ordering airline tickets to making stock trades, ordinary individuals now have the ability to do what only specialists could. Of the top 100 richest Americans, very few of them started off from great wealth. Michael Dell, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, all of them are self-made men.

The Democrats are stuck in the days of FDR, while the Republicans are more in tune with the world of the WWW. Compare and contrast the message of the two parties: the Democrats argue that you’re powerless, weak, and stupid, and you need government to watch over you to keep you from hurting yourself. The opposition to allowing workers to voluntarily invest a portion of their Social Security proceeds has nothing to do with the solvency of the system (which Democrats are perfectly content to ignore), but everything to do with keeping power centralized in Washington and under control of the Democrat-friendly bureaucracy. In contrast, the Republican view of the opportunity society is rooted in the American experience, letting government get out of the way and allowing individuals to make life choices for themselves. The Democrats message might have resonated 60 years ago, but today it’s an anachronism. The fact that it’s being made by a group of arrogant patricians only cements the idea that the Democratic Party is hostile to the average American.

This combination of faux-populism and anti-religious bigotry only cements the concept among many that the Democratic Party is a party that doesn’t have an ounce of respect for Middle America.

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