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Paperback The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap Book

ISBN: 0743297873

ISBN13: 9780743297875

The Party Faithful: How and Why Democrats Are Closing the God Gap

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Book Overview

As late as the 1960s, religion was a decidedly nonpartisan affair in the United States. In the past forty years, however, despite abundant evidence that Americans care about their candidates' personal faith, Democrats have beat a retreat in the competition for religious voters and the discussion of morality, effectively ceding religion to the Republicans. Elections show that voters have gotten the message: Democrats are on the wrong side of the God...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An Excellent Book

Amy Sullivan obviously did a lot of homework, and she presents a wealth of facts and details in a very readable book that holds one's attention and whizzes by. And if you remember the pivotal presidential elections of 1972, 1976, and 1992, for example--pivotal because they involved religious issues that disrupted the composition of the traditional base of the Democratic Party--then you'll enjoy Sullivan's book even more. A very enjoyable read, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

Truly insightful! A meaningful read!

Though a separation of church and state is implied in the Bill of Rights, Sullivan suggests that our country was built on fundamentally religious principles that permeate the lives of all American citizens. Amy Sullivan's poignant book examines the issue of how one political party lost its right to religion. With keen wit and clever insight, Sullivan explores the series of decisions made within the Democratic Party which led to its inability to maintain religious voters. The author points to key moments throughout history that contributed to the shift of religion in politics. Sullivan notes the importance of the Scopes Trial in disenfranchising evangelical voters from the left and acknowledges the huge role Roe v. Wade played in the democratic loss of catholic voters. She asserts that Bill Clinton's overt religiosity was not enough to inspire people of faith and that John Kerry's seemingly false Catholicism was even more off-putting for religious voters. Though critical, her book is not without hope. Amy Sullivan suggests that the way for the left to reclaim religion is through compromise. The evangelical movement is not one against liberal ideals and the agenda has actually expanded to include such liberal issues as protection of the environment. This book is an important one--for anyone of any political affiliation. Though a liberal reader may identify more closely with Sullivan's progressive bias, she expresses ideas on both sides of the political spectrum while providing an important message about modern politics.

Kudos to Amy Sullivan

For years, as a Democrat and progressive, I have watched the meteoric rise of the religious right. I have been struck by one question "what is it in the psyche of the American public that the Republicans are tapping into and the Democrats have missed?" I couldn't understand the exodus of fellow Catholic voters to support Republicans when so many of that party's policies were hostile to major tenants of Catholic teachings on economic and social justice. I raised this question with my Dad, a semi-retired college professor and political pollster. He too was perplexed. In an attempt to answer this question, a couple of years ago, we began a journey reading about the history of religion in America and its influence on politics and culture. It was not until we read Amy Sullivan's The Party Faithful that we finally got an answer. One of late Democratic speaker Tip O'Neill's most famous quotes was that if you want someone's vote, "you need to ask for it." Politics 101! It appears that the Democratic Party forgot this very simple rule. They ceded a large group of voters, including historic supporters, because they incorrectly assumed all people of faith are conservatives. The party and its candidates stopped asking for their votes - or worse - pushed these voters away. Ms. Sullivan's very timely book, describes the events and contemporary rise of the religious right as the Republican's seized a vacuum created by the Democrats. The Party Faithful is exceptionally well written, insightful and an astute social and political commentary. It is an easy read and full of entertaining and tragically true stories of how the Democratic party has bumbled its relationship with constituencies of faith voters. In the wake of the outcome of the 2004 Presidential elections, the book also highlights the actions of a growing group of progressive faith and political leaders to rediscover, build bridges, and redefine the "values voter." This book is a "must read" for all Democrats and anyone interested in the rise of religious right regardless of their religious (or non-religious) beliefs. The actions of the Democratic party certainly were not unprovoked. The divisive rhetoric of a handful of neo-conservative evangelist leaders and outspoken Catholic bishops certainly exacerbated the situation. By narrowing the scope of issues that defined "good" faithful voters to include only abortion and anti-gay rights, they alienated members of their own faith, widened the cultural and political gaps in our nation, and pushed progressive religious voters of most faiths underground. Issues speaking to the faith values of economic and social justice - which are core to many faith traditions across the theological spectrum --were pushed off the agenda. Tragically and shamefully, over several decades, the actions of these faith leaders created a political environment that led to the de-funding of programs and weakening of laws and regulations that help the poor, safegu

A Fascinating Look Inside the World Where Religion and Politics Meet

Our parents may have warned us to avoid talking about religion or politics. Fortunately, Amy Sullivan never got--or never listened to--that warning. Regardless of your political persuasion, The Party Faithful is a fascinating look deep inside a world which the mainstream media for the most part seems afraid to touch or simply does not seem to understand well. It is no secret that Democratic party presidential candidates have been hurt by shaky support among Catholic voters and abysmal support among white evangelical Christian voters for most of the period from 1972 on. Catholics, once a solidly Democratic constituency, have preferred the Democratic presidential candidate only in 1996 and 2000 in the seven elections since 1980. And not since Jimmy Carter carried 58% of the white evangelical vote has that group favored Democrats, with no other Democratic nominee since then garnering more than 33% support among this very large demographic. Sullivan, an evangelical Baptist and a liberal Democrat, maintains it did not and does not need to be so. National editor for Time and formerly editor of the Washington Monthly and a Capitol Hill staffer, she explains how Democrats have missed opportunities to do far better with both groups without compromising their principles--and of how the party is lately showing signs of rapid progress in working its way up that learning curve. John Kerry, who lost the white evangelical vote 78-22, did not learn that there were evangelical Democrats until after the election. His campaign's approach: "We don't do white churches", even though 40% of evangelicals are politically moderate. Sullivan describes the recent broadening of priorities beyond abortion and gay marriage within the younger generation of politically active evengelicals to include attention to issues such as Iraq, poverty and AIDS in Africa. Many among this new generation of evangelical activists feel used and taken for granted by the Republican party and have put their support up for grabs based on which party can deliver on this expanded range of concerns. Sullivan likewise believes that Democrats can, and need to, engage Catholic voters on a much broader range of issues and not assume, incorrectly, that Catholic voters are only concerned with abortion and gay marriage. She explains that many Catholic voters are influenced by Church teachings in support of the concept of the Common Good and that this outlook may align better with Democratic party approaches on many economic/social justice and foreign policy issues. But, fearful (not without reason) of being disrupted by anti-abortion rights protesters and a vocal, visible minority of communion-denying far right-wing Catholic officials, many Democratic politicians have declined to engage Catholic audiences. In this regard, I was moved by the account of Rep. Rosa DeLauro's refusal to disengage from her Church, no matter how much her Church has given the back of its hand to her and othe

Fantastic Read!

Amy Sullivan is one of the smartest commentators at the intersection of religion and politics, and for readers who already appreciate her analysis and wit, this book will live up to their expectations. And for those who have not yet encountered Sullivan's talent for keen observation and lucid prose, The Party Faithful will be a treat. Filled with insider stories and compelling commentary, The Party Faithful is must reading for anyone who wants to understand why Democrats have much more than a prayer in 2008. Conservatives and liberals alike will learn a great deal from Sullivan and her impressive volume, The Party Faithful.
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