*Anthony Weiner resigned from his position as Congressman because of the scandal that developed from his sexting. His resignation was in part a result of religion and how it operates in politics.
The Republican Party in this country has allied itself with the conservative Christian movement. As a faith Christianity hinges on a confession that one is flawed and needs help. For those entering the faith, help comes in the form of Jesus as one’s personal savior. For those already in the faith, help often takes the form of support from fellow Christians.
Most politicians in the United States, Democratic and Republican, profess Christianity. But because the Republican Party has aligned itself more publicly with Christian supporters, Republicans have the option of tapping into the common experience of their constituents to overcome any bumps in the road. For Democrats, lining up behind the banner of Christianity is less of a viable option because their constituency is less likely to respond.
Republicans who are identified as being complicit in a moral scandal can always confess and proclaim that they have/will change their ways. Such statements resonate with their electoral base. Weiner, who is Jewish, was completely without the option of taking on the role of a reformed sinner unless he underwent a religious conversion.
This is not to say that Democrats have not used the same tactic, or that they have not sidestepped moral scandals in their political careers. It is to say that since the union of the Republican Party and conservative Christianity, Republicans are far more likely to overcome a moral scandal. Ted Kennedy’s sex scandal was in 1969, the Republican union with Christianity began in the 1970s, and Mark Sanford benefited from the union by staying in office until the end of his gubernatorial term in 2011.
It is surprising that Democrats, so many of whom profess Christianity in their personal lives, allow themselves to be handicapped politically in this way. But until they find a way to make their religion work for them publicly, the disadvantage will persist.
Trevor Brookins is a free lance writer in Rockland County, New York. He is currently working on a book about American culture during the Cold War. His writing has appeared in The Journal News. You can reach him at [email protected]