Should You Base Your Support on a Candidate’s Religion?
January 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Earlier today, I was thinking about a question I’d like to ask some of my Christian friends:
“Should a Presidential candidate’s religion really be a factor when deciding who to support?”
My answer? No–one should not base one’s decision on a candidate’s religious beliefs. But then I turned the question around: Should I choose a candidate based on their identification as a feminist?
That was harder for me to answer. There is, of course, a difference between the two identities. Feminism is not a religion–it’s a set of ethics, a political ideology based in equality. Religion is based around one’s beliefs in God, or gods, and the afterlife. Ethics are a part of religion, but they are not central to the identity.
There is another difference–in American politics, a candidate isn’t viable unless they identify with a particular religion: Christianity. Not so with feminism. In fact, it is likely that a candidate’s feminism would interfere with their viability.
I would dearly love to have a feminist President–however, I cannot base my support on a candidate’s identification with a certain group. I certainly couldn’t realistically, since there are so few openly feminist politicians in the first place.
When it comes down to it, the identification isn’t what’s important in a candidate. A person’s ideology could be feminist without that person adopting the label, after all. (That would be another difference from the religion question.)
What’s important is the candidate’s position on policy issues, their beliefs on the purpose and scope of government, and their ethics.
That’s what makes so much of the primary races so troubling–too little focus on policy, and a lot of the candidates’ various Christianities, whether they’re the right “kind” of Christian, and the degree to which those Christianities influences their daily lives and their policy positions.