The Briefing, Thursday, November 8, 2012

TODAY: A revealing (and troubling) portrait of America in the 2012 election data, Obama’s “rainbow coalition,” the conservative gender gap, same-sex marriage, assisted suicide, and the U.S. election viewed from China. I discuss all these and more in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview.

The 2012 election may well have changed history, but it also revealed a portrait of America in the present and the future. As Susan Page of USA Today reports, the election revealed a deeply divided nation, “not only along lines of political party and ideology, but also by race and ethnicity, gender and marital status, region and religion, education and age.”

Much of this divide was evident even Tuesday night as the election results were reported. Men voted for Romney by a double digit margin, while women (especially unmarried women), gave Obama an equal margin. Older Americans favored Romney, while younger Americans (especially young adults), voted overwhelmingly for Obama.


“On Obama’s side this time: More than nine of 10 African Americans and nearly seven in 10 Hispanics. A solid majority of women and two-thirds of unmarried women. About six in 10 of voters under 30. More than 90% of Democrats and nearly 90% of liberals. More than six in 10 of those who never attend religious services.”

Christians know that worldview matters, but fewer think of how demography and context shape worldview. Marriage matters, for example. Married women tended to vote for Romney, while unmarried women voted by a large margin for Obama. Clearly, the context of marriage exerts a conservative influence on those within its vows.

But look closely at the issue of church attendance. President Obama drew votes from more than 6 in 10 who never attend religious services. Given the increasing secularization of American culture, this will become a even larger portion of the electorate. Once again, worldview matters. The secular worldview leads to a lessened concern for many of the issues evangelicals hold to be of vital importance. As a matter of fact, Christians and secularists are deeply divided over an entire range of issues, often directlyopposing one another.

Susan Page then offered this contrast:

“On Romney’s side: Six of 10 whites and nearly six of 10 seniors. A solid majority of men and of married women, and nearly two-thirds of white men. More than 90% of Republicans and of conservatives. He won high-income voters, evangelical Christians, and those who attend religious services every week or more often.”

As you can see, the picture is almost directly reversed. Romney drew the votes of those who attend church regularly, including evangelical Christians.

Christians understand why this divide shapes up as it does. Worldview determines voting patterns. The significant shift seen in this election cycle tells us that Americans are deeply divided over worldview, and are almost certainly becoming even more so.

I also discuss the growth in the Hispanic portion of the electorate, the aging of white voters, and other demographic developments.

Reporter Simon Tisdall of The Guardian [London] calls Obama’s voters his “rainbow coalition,” and went on to argue that the newly re-elected President will find that leading a deeply divided nation in his second term may be even more difficult than his first. Pat Morrison of the Los Angeles Times points to the depth of the gender gap in the 2012 returns. The article makes clear that the shift to unmarried female voters threatens any hope of conservative ballot victories.

We now know that same-sex marriage won big on Tuesday, reversing a string of 33 consecutive victories when the voters of a state had their say. The voters in Maine, Maryland, and Washington State approved the legalization of same-sex marriage while voters in Minnesota voted down a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. It was a total victory for the proponents of same-sex marriage, and a total catastrophe for the defenders of marriage. Honesty demands that we acknowledge the scope and scale of this disaster. The defenders of marriage face a far greater challenge than ever before. At the same time, we now know the true scale of our challenge.

A move to legalize assisted suicide failed in Massachusetts, but the victory may not last for long. The initiative is almost sure to return to voters there in short order, promising additional “protections” for the vulnerable. Polls indicate that a large majority of citizens there approve of assisted suicide, but many had concerns about this particular proposal.

Voters in Washington State and Colorado did approve the legalization of recreational marijuana, and voters in Massachusetts approved so-called medical marijuana. Understanding this issue requires a look at liberal, conservative, and libertarian worldviews.

Meanwhile, as frustrating as American elections can be, at least we have them. USA Today reports from China, where the 18th conference of the Chinese Communist Party is set to meet in order to anoint the next party leader. In China, politics is “an elite, forbidden zone, protected by crackdowns that range from the authoritarian to the seemingly absurd. (Among the absurd, the removal by police of pencil sharpeners from Beijing shops.) China’s totalitarian rulers are both harsh and paranoid — a potentially deadly combination.

There is also abject confusion among Chinese citizens. One man in China posted this on the Internet:

“Warm congratulations to the American people. Under the wise leadership of the Party Central Committee headed by the wise and brilliant Obama, you have crushed the attempted usurping of power by the counter revolutionary group led by Mitt Romney.”

America’s political system is far from perfect, but we should thank God that we have no “Party Central Committee.”

I discuss all these and more in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview. Listen here: Links to all articles cites are provided.