Monday, March 28, 2005

Granholm's faith

The Detroit News does a profile of the Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's belief:
Craig Ruff of Public Sector Consultants, a Lansing think tank, said much of what Granholm says on cultural and religious issues resonates with people across the political spectrum.
'Every mother's nightmare is that their child becomes the victim of a predator, or learns (immoral) values outside the home,' he said.
Ruff disagrees with those who say moral values played a deciding role in last year's presidential election. But he says voters do look whether a politician has strong positions on values to help them judge a politician's worth.


'It goes well beyond a position on the Ten Commandments being displayed at the Capitol. It suggests to people that this is a person of high character,' he said.


State GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis said Friday that moral issues probably will play a part in the gubernatorial election. He thinks Granholm is vulnerable on such issues despite her willingness to talk about her faith.


'For those people for whom moral issues are important, her stance on gay marriage and her pro-choice stance on abortion will both be issues,' Anuzis said.


The governor says she personally opposes abortion, but that it would be wrong for her to impose the views of her faith on the rest of the state. She has come under criticism from some in the Catholic community who say she should take a stronger stance against abortion.


The article brings to mind two issues. First, is it possible for a politician to embody a strong faith without having to communicate it verbally? Pols have to telegraph a great deal about themselves just to get the message across, which is unsubtle to begin with. Add on top of that the layer of a perceived gap to be overcome, and it's easy for them to come across as phonies when they may in fact be people of great substance (see Kerry, John). If it's possible, how can it be accomplished?


Second, Dems who want to be perceived as people of faith are going to have to break themselves of the "I'm personally opposed" habit. It means nothing to voters--other than that the pol is trying to have it both ways. A more honest answer would be: "My church teaches that abortion is wrong. As a matter of public policy, I disagree with them, and here's why." Better if that discussion can have some theological meat to it, but wonkery is acceptable to. What voters want is not a particular religious perspective, but an individual who's willing to claim their beliefs forthrightly and defend them when need be.

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