Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Who Can and Can't Get Elected In American Today?

Detail from artwork by Leah Yellowbird
"War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today." --Letter to a Navy friend, quoted in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.'s A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965)

I lead off with this quote because it dovetails with another, which I can't find at this moment, in which President Kennedy said that a black and a woman would sit in the White House before a conscientious objector would. Half of that equation has come to pass. We'll likely see the other half in our lifetimes, and probably not see the C.O. gain that highest office.

* * * *

Earlier today I came across a Gallup Poll that shows which belief systems are least problematic for those seeking the highest public office. The article is titled Socialism and Atheism Still U.S. Political Liabilities.

More than three decades ago I came across a 1934 pamphlet written by a Harvard scholar that made the case your religious belief could be a handicap if they did not align with the American culture. I forget the details, but it essentially said you have to give lip service to God even if you did not believe in God.

Birches by Sue Rauschenfels
This was further exemplified in the 1960 presidential election in which John F. Kennedy faced serious opposition--was excoriated--because he was Catholic, and might take his orders from the Pope rather than Congress or the People.

My view from that day to the present was that we should always be suspicious about any politician's statement regarding any belief. This is not to say a politician can't be earnest, but for the most part the public should not be so gullible as to believe they mean what they say.

THIS IS ALL SETUP for some interesting poll data from the Gallup organization.

According to recent polls, over 90% of Americans would vote for a black, Catholic, Hispanic, Jewish or who was a woman. A much smaller number would vote for an atheist or Muslim. And only a minority would support a socialist.

The pollsters also included several additional categories: Evangelical Christian, Gay/Lesbian, Under 40, and Over 70.

The Gallup team also sliced and diced the data by political party as well, so that one can see where each category stands for Dems and GOP. Not surprisingly 99% of Democrats would elect a black and only 91% of Republicans would vote that way. (Disappointing.)

88% of Republicans and 77% of Democrats would vote for a candidate identified as an Evangelical Christian, which shows vividly how much the name Evangelical has been tarnished in the past century.

If data turns you on as much as it does me, here's a link to this specific poll data and a link to the Gallup's Presidential Election Center. I especially like their slogan: The Metrics That Matter.

Oh, and though they never asked about Conscientious Objectors, I'm guessing JFK was prescient about this. Maybe the Gallup organization should think about adding that question next time. What do you think?

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