The Corner

Politics & Policy

Re: Thoughts on a Dumb Conversation

In response to “We Want Dean”

I agree with pretty much every single word of Jonah’s post on Ben Carson. But if I may, I’d just like to add something into the mix. Jonah writes:

Voters get to vote for whatever reason they want. If they don’t want to vote for a Muslim or a Mormon or a Jew simply out of animus for that faith, that may not speak well of those voters, but it’s not like anyone can appeal the constitutionality of the voters’ decision.

This is correct. And here’s the thing: Voters take religion into account all the time. In his remarks, Carson seemed to be suggesting a) that most Muslims believe X; b) that X is incompatible with the American way; so c) he would, as a rule, decline to vote for a Muslim. Personally, I don’t like this way of thinking, not least because it takes complicated individuals and turns them into representatives of a given collective. But that I don’t like it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In New York City and in the other progressive enclaves in which I spend most of my time, I am constantly told by friends that Evangelicals shouldn’t be allowed near the White House. Why? Because Evangelicals apparently “oppose secularism,” a core American value. Are these people outliers? Not really, no. Indeed, according to Gallup, one in four voters agrees with that sentiment:

Among religious identities, while the large majority of Americans would vote for a Catholic or Jewish presidential candidate, smaller majorities say they would vote for a candidate who is Mormon (81%), an evangelical Christian (73%), Muslim (60%) or an atheist (58%).

Carson’s comments were overly general, wholly avoidable, and downright self-contradictory (why would we take into account an candidate’s political views in Congress but not in the White House?). Were they peculiar? Nah.

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