Ezra Klein looks at Democrat Tim Kaine’s victory in Virginia and his openly religious campaign and worries for the left. As a Republican I don’t share his worry – not for cynical reasons, but rather for pragmatic ones. When it comes to religion, politicians, and the electorate there is a no clear line as to when you cross a point that touching on issues of faith and morality alienates more people than it attracts. If Democrats want to play in that arena they’ll have to take their lumps from a capricious base just like Republicans do.
Take for example, Virginia Delegate Dick Black (R-Loudoun), who was defeated by Democratic attorney Dave Poisson, primarily because Black’s version of far-right conservatism was more about social and moral issues than governance. Loudoun County, Virginia is the fastest growing county in the country, and as such has real issues like roads, taxes, growth, etc. to deal with. For all Black’s years of service all he’s really remembered for is badgering a 17-year-old high school girl for producing a play about a gay football player. Black never saw the play, but that didn’t stop him from leading the charge against it.
I’m sure it seemed like a no lose proposition for Black. Voters in a county run from top to bottom by Republicans saw it a different way.
Governor-elect Kaine will be wise to put his Catholicism back into the campaign closet and leave it there – there’s real work to be done. If he does dust off the death penalty/morality issue by using his pardon power (which he essentially promised not to do), he’s going know how Del. Black feels right about now.