Covering the Democratic Party is a roller-coaster ride. Yesterday, I wrote about why I have no faith in the Democrats, given their refusal to wrangle their own party into embracing the progressive ideals they claim to hold so dear. Then in the early morning hours of today, I happily ate my words, having been pleasantly surprised by the explicit call from Democrats like Deval Patrick for fellow progressives to grow a spine and stand up for the president. How long did that begrudging seedling of principle last before being uprooted and beaten to death by the party?
Yes, it took roughly half a day for Democrats to cave to Republican faux outrage over their platform. Sure, when progressives pointed out that the GOP platform would be more at home in the 12th century, they were “overreacting” and imposing unfair judgments onto the Romney campaign. But somehow, when conservative talking heads – who, along with their viewers never had any intention of supporting the Democrats of the president in this election – questioned the fact that the DNC didn’t appear ready to go to war for Israel or declare a state religion? It was a valid criticism worth caving to.
Except it wasn’t. There was no indication in the Democrats’ platform that indicated that the administration would be anything but a stalwart ally to Israel. In fact, the Obama administration has never wavered from Israel’s side, even as Israeli leadership intentionally embarrassed Vice President Joe Biden by announcing a violation of a pre-existing settlement agreement during one of his visits. Multiple speakers rededicated the Democrats to Israel’s side on Tuesday. And the platform’s new language literally promised “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.” What a bunch of softies, right?
But even more ridiculous than the foreign policy issue that was as imaginary as Clint Eastwood’s skit partner was the other issue that conservatives turned into a talking point. Republicans had a field day because the 2012 platform omitted the following language from the 2008 platform:
[G]ives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential
Apparently the Democrats’ complete omission of the word “God” was incredibly offensive to Republicans and FOX News. Paul Ryan took a break from refusing to disclose the details of his budget and lying about, well, everything to comment on it, saying that he found it at odds with “our founding documents, our founding vision”. Yes, it was so at odds with our Constitution, which never mentions a God. It was so offensive to our history, where colonists fled a state religion to pursue their faith in private!
This was all so clearly a ploy to make Democrats sweat – and it worked. Instead of saying, “Look, we open and close with a prayer, all of our speakers end with ‘God bless America’, we even have a f***ing nun onstage,” the Democrats did what they always do: they caved. They backed down on a non-issue – how on earth can they expect voters to trust them on the real issues? When Republicans attack Democrats for being weak, Democrats won’t even have their platform to point to.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great when people like Sister Simone take the stage and preach social responsibility. My favorite version of the Bible is Thomas Jefferson’s, which is just the teachings of Christ and nothing else. But do I think that a political party has a responsibility to include ‘God’ in their platform? No. In fact, I think it’s completely inappropriate.
The first amendment is clear: Congress shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion. That means no one in the government can tell anyone how, who, or what to worship. The flip side of that is that religion shouldn’t be injected into government either. No, the DNC is not an official government body. But religion’s role is questionable at best, and leaving it out shouldn’t be an outrage. Newsflash, everybody: those of us without faith have been putting up with not being represented in this country for hundreds of years now. You’ll be okay without the attention in every single political platform – I promise.