The Devil went down to Lynchburg. Okay, it was Jewish, but not very religious, Bernie Sanders. And he went down and spoke to the kids at Liberty University. Or as Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig put, Bernie Sanders Isn’t Crazy to Court Evangelicals. But Here’s Why It’s a Tough Sell. I think it speaks really well of Sanders to give a talk there. One of Sanders’ greatest attributes is his authenticity. There is no doubt that he believes in what he says. And he didn’t hide the fact that he disagreed with most of the students on the issue of abortion.
But as Bruenig pointed out, there is a lot that Sanders believes that is right in line with what the young evangelicals believe. And those mostly have to do with economic justice. And that is basically Sanders’ whole campaign. That’s the stuff he cares most about. And there’s something interesting about abortion anyway: it’s a crummy single issue. Regardless of who becomes the next president, abortion isn’t going to be made illegal. But there are a lot of matters having to do with true family values that can change. So are these kids really going to vote for Scott Walker because he agrees with them about that one issue and pretty much nothing else? (Well, yes — most likely.)
There’s another issue: if people really care about the unborn, then they ought to be interested in economic policies that will limit abortions. For example, paying women to carry their pregnancies to term is an idea that would decrease the number of abortions. Mandating paid leave for pregnant women and new mothers would do the same thing. The Republican Party only promises the stick: to make abortion illegal. And as mentioned, that’s a promise it can’t deliver on. So what is it that they are actually willing to vote for? I smell a rat.
I don’t doubt that most of the anti-choicers are sincere. But they are mostly operating based upon the vision of a third-trimester fetus. Yet they are absolutists. Not only is abortion wrong in all cases, even the IUD is wrong. That is some seriously messed up thinking. As we know, the leaders of American protestantism didn’t much care about abortion as an issue as recently as Roe v Wade. So I mostly see the students at Liberty as being naive — manipulated to vote for a party that mostly doesn’t deliver for them except on one issue.
But the only way this changes is if people like Bernie Sanders talks to them. He seems to have made a good case that there is more that they should care about than abortion and same sex marriage. Young evangelicals have a choice to make. They are not going to get everything they want from either party. And I’m glad that Sanders is reminding them that the Democratic Party has a lot to offer.