The political season before us will undoubtedly be filled with both opportunity and danger. In our first article I spoke to the very obvious Democratic misread of the current political landscape. I believe that conservative pundits have been correct in declaring that many liberals are “tone deaf.”
In my second article, I attempted to show that the Republican Party also needs to adjust its ability to hear. They must learn to sing in harmony with Tea Party activists, independents, and moderates. In addition, conservatives must master the art of governance during these next 24 months.
In this article, I want to suggest that conservatives and liberals will have a battle over two religious communities. The religious communities in question are the American Jewish community and the younger generation of evangelical Christians. The re-election plans of Democratic legislators and the current administration would effectively be torpedoed, if young evangelicals returned to their conservative roots and Jewish Americans lost confidence in President Obama.
How could this happen? Let’s start our analysis with the Jewish community. Tevi Troy of Politico wrote a compelling piece just two weeks before the midterm election. He reported that a major shift in Jewish loyalties had already begun. The changes in Jewish voter attitudes may not have been seen by the Democratic leadership to date, because most people have overlooked the implications of local races. For example, last year a shock wave hit New Jersey as Gov. Chris Christie captured 38 percent of the Jewish vote. Christie’s success shows that a Republican can compete against a Democratic opponent, if he is on his game.
In addition to the strength of local candidates, there are several trends which seem poised to affect the Jewish vote. The current national security debate has the potential to strike at the very heart of the Jewish community. First of all, many of my Jewish friends have remarked about the “disrespect” they believe he has shown to Israeli leaders. They chafe at the administration’s tolerance of terrorists and international bullies like Iran. They draw a sharp contrast between brilliant speeches and the art of leadership. As a result, many supporters of Israel have vowed not to vote for Obama again.
Further, the Ground Zero mosque debate has concerned people of all faiths. Many Americans feel it is inappropriate to erect a mosque near the hallowed, blood stained grounds of the former Twin Towers in New York City. One wonders why the president has made up his mind to attempt to be a “savior” for Muslim interests, while disregarding the feelings of the majority of our citizens. It is an emotional and philosophical powder keg. Most of the highly visible democratic leadership has taken a doctrinaire, ideological view of religious freedom and tolerance. They have shown a patent disregard for the suffering and grief of the average American.
Ignoring the growing Jewish dissatisfaction with the president and his leadership will have major consequences. Although Jews are only about 2 percent of the US population, their influence is much greater than their numbers for three reasons. First, they reside largely in major cities. Second, they consistently turn out for elections at a much higher ratio than other ethnic groups. Third, they give massive amounts of money. The fact that Jewish voters give lots of money to both parties is often forgotten. If Jewish voters reduce their political contributions to Democratic candidates in 2012, the loss may leave the Obama re-election machine broken and strapped for cash.
There is one final bad omen for the administration. An American Jewish Committee poll this spring showed that President Obama’s approval rating was 57 percent among Jews, compared to 78 percent in 2008. Should a terrorist attack aimed at Jewish people on domestic land occur, his ratings could plummet, even further - to under 50 percent.
As we transition into a discussion of the growing evangelical Christian resistance to President Obama’s policies, we must remember that this community’s concerns are not simply based on religious bigotry. Many garden variety believers are asking themselves a fundamental question: Who is Barack Obama? Does he share my worldview? They don’t know and they don’t “get him.”
This community’s fears are based on the refusal of the president and his team to give clear answers to common people on basic issues. For example, Christians are united with their Jewish neighbors in aversion to the administration’s approach to both Middle Eastern and domestic security. Further, conservative Christians are also wondering how the President will balance the nuclear interests of North Korea, Pakistan, and India.
Based upon a brilliantly conceived 2008 campaign strategy, ambivalent evangelicals voted for an unknown commodity (Barack Obama) as a way of repudiating an older group of leaders. The heavy lifting in this arena began in 2006 when the winsome Democratic Senator from Illinois spoke at the national meeting of a Christian group called Sojourners. When younger evangelicals ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” They could not imagine Jesus conducting Himself as their political forefathers did for over 40 years. So they voted for Barack Obama.
Unfortunately, they did not get what they prayed for. They expected a new breed of Christian leader. Instead they received a leader who does not regularly attend church - a leader who says that America is not a Christian nation. Also, the president no longer personally makes persuasive cases for the "morality" of his choices. Then to complicate things, several of his religious surrogates have proven to be Judases. For example, revelations that Jim Wallis (President of Sojourners) has received large sums of money from George Soros (the dark angel of the anti-Christian, progressive movement) have caused many young people to return home to their conservative, political ranks.
In conclusion, I must restate the obvious. The president's transition from candidate to “leader of the free world” has surprised most people of faith in the nation. They have begun to question his character and his motives. President Obama's “fall from grace” - if not addressed, will make him a one term president.
In my next article I will address two other groups that will also impact the next election – Hispanics and African Americans. The question is, “Will they step up and vote for Obama or will they just stay home in 2012?”
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.