It's just a few weeks until the U.S. presidential election, and while nothing is set in stone, Mitt Romney's hopes are looking increasingly dim. Despite the depressed economy, which would normally mean an easy win for the challenger, this election has taken a different course.
Romney's electoral math is daunting: with his support cratering among Latinos and other minorities and nonexistent among blacks, he would have to win an almost unprecedented level of support from white voters, even as their share of the population as a whole is decreasing. (Political strategists have suggested that this is the last presidential election that can even theoretically be won by appealing solely to whites.) The Democrats have a large lead among women as well, which makes it even harder for Romney to capture the supermajority of white voters he would need. While Obama was criticized for a lackluster performance in the first debate, that doesn't change any of these basic facts.
The polls have continually shown that Obama is at worst tied, and at best enjoying comfortable leads, in nearly every swing state. And despite having nigh-unlimited support from a handful of right-wing billionaires, Romney is even falling behind in the money race: whereas Obama has a large network of small donors who give over the internet, Romney is dependent on a smaller circle of deep-pocketed donors who expect to be wooed personally, which often takes him away from campaigning, to the point where he's scaling back and complaining about how much time it takes.
And try as they might to deny all this, I think some of these facts are creeping into conservatives' consciousness as well. It would explain this amusing story about some Mormons who've called for mass prayer and fasting to boost their nominee's presidential campaign. This doesn't strike me as the kind of thing you do when you're feeling good about your chances, especially when the article includes this immortal line:
Others in the email chain have suggested putting Romney's name on the "temple prayer roll," which is typically reserved for those who are sick.
Evangelical Christians have also gotten into the act: John Hagee (he who said the Holocaust was a divine plan) has called for "40 days of prayer" to influence the elction, while Pat Robertson and some others put together an "America for Jesus" rally (no, I'm not making that name up) on Independence Mall in Philadelphia. Republic of Gilead has some firsthand reporting on what was said there, as does this post on Friendly Atheist, although this part from an AP article is probably my favorite:
And speaker Cindy Jacobs has blamed a mysterious Arkansas bird-kill last year on Obama's repeal of the policy known as "don't ask, don't tell," which allows gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military.
God is mad that we let gay people serve in the military, so... he's taking out his anger on birds? If that causal connection makes sense to you, you're probably an evangelical Christian. I can't wait for the religious right to explain that honeybee die-offs are due to the Obama administration no longer defending DOMA, and white-nose syndrome in bats is because of, I guess, the unprecedented number of gay and lesbian poltical candidates this year. No word yet on what's causing polar bears to drown, but I'm sure the religious right's dedicated gay-agenda-ologists will get back to us as soon as they've figured that out.
Robertson himself also favored us with this delicious nugget of self-delusion:
"I don't care what the ACLU says or any atheists say. This nation belongs to Jesus, and we're here today to reclaim his sovereignty," said Robertson, 82, who founded the Christian Coalition and Christian Broadcasting Network, and ran for president in 1988.
Got it, atheists? America belongs to Jesus! That's why the Constitution mentions Jesus by name in so many places.
Of course, if Obama is reelected, the Christian conservatives who brag that America "belongs to Jesus" won't take the logical step of concluding that Jesus must have wanted the Democrats to win. They know for a fact that Jesus votes Republican down the ticket, and therefore any electoral defeat must be due to the sinister forces of evil who are inexplicably capable of outsmarting the omnipotent god they're so certain is on their side. But hey, if they think prayer and fasting will improve their chances, I encourage them to do it. Pray all you want, guys! Spend every day from now till the election doing it. We atheists, meanwhile, will be making calls and knocking on doors. Let's see what's more useful.
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