The nomination of Paul Ryan marks a milestone in American history: for the first time, there is no white Protestant running for President or Vice President on a major-party ticket.

Better yet, no one seems to mind. Perhaps the arc of history does bend in the right direction after all.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

33 thoughts on “Milestone”

  1. Strictly speaking, Obama is a half-white Protestant. Not that I think it matters in the least what religion a person belongs to, provided they are honest, competent, hardworking and compassionate. Ryan and Romney fail on three and a half of the big four – and that’s what counts.

    1. I’m going to guess you award 0.5 on hardworking. Or do you split it up into smaller increments of 0.25 competent, 0.25 hardworking? Obviously honest and comapassionate are out.

      1. I assume it takes some hard work to keep a straight face when presenting obvious nonsense to the electorate.

  2. Unfortunately, Paul Ryan is a Catholic who thinks like a rich evangelical. The corruption of the Catholic faith through association with fundamentalists is certainly one of the biggest stories of the last twenty years with regard to religion and politics. The religion of my youth is unrecognizable in Ryan, Thomas, Scalia, etc.

    1. It is only partly because of the fundies. It’s also a consequence of the disastrous papacies of JPII and now Benedict XVI. They’ve been utterly mediocre as theologians and have failed to realize that medieval Catholicism in its rigidly centralized, modern administrative version is bankrupt beyond repair. If you look at the bishops and cardinals they’ve chosen, you’ll find largely talentless, soulless, unthinking foot soldiers who can do nothing, and will do nothing, beyond repeating the latest round of Vatican boiler-plate. This was not always the case and it is a change that has badly damaged the credibility of the Catholic church.

  3. In a similar vein, I wonder when was the last time the candidates were both sons of fathers not born in the U.S.

    1. Of course, no one could ever *really* tell who the candidates’ fathers were until recently, so that has been a mystery until DNA testing came along.

    1. It’s true in the postwar era, but – unless you count administrative work as a civilian – in 1932 none of the Presidential or Veep nominees had served in uniform. I’m pretty sure that was the most recent such example, and I’ve not looked at earlier elections.

  4. There is a religion issue here to which I have not seen much attention paid. For context, please recall the apoplexy of the right wing when the is content of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s more provocative sermons became widely publicized in 2008.

    Mitt Romney was reared in an overtly racist church, which denied the priesthood to blacks until 1978. (Mitt was then 31 years old.) As a young adult, Mr. Romney remained affiliated with that racist church, and indeed became an active participant in the affairs thereof.

    Has Mr. Romney ever explained his decision to remain affiliated with a racist religious organization well into his adulthood? Has he ever repudiated the racist positions that his church then maintained. Did he do anything to challenge this institutional racism?

    And how many of those who kvetched about the Rev. Wright have uttered a word about Mr. Romney’s racist religious heritage?

    1. Why would anyone willing to vote for a Republican worry about the taint of racism? It’s a feature not a bug. With many I don’t doubt it’s the whole point.

    2. Well, otoh, I am a member of an overtly sexist church, the RC Church, but I don’t follow it. And lots of other Catholics don’t.

      And one thing about being Catholic, you can’t really go around pointing fingers at other people’s weirdo religions! I don’t even know if that’s good or bad. Probably good I guess.

      While we’re at it, try finding any major religion that isn’t sexist. I haven’t made a study of it but my guess is, even the Buddhists will fail the test, humans being what we are. Some humanity always sneaks into the text. And it always bugs me that racism is evil, but sexism is somehow okay. Anyhoo.

        1. There’s barely a culture, religion, institution, practice, or phenomenon anywhere on earth that isn’t premised in large part on the oppression and control by mean of women’s sexuality, behavior, labor production, etc.

        1. That rather depends on which Buddhists you ask, Betsy. It’s pretty pointless to assume that all Buddhists agree on all doctrines and that all Buddhists agree with that particular version of institutionalized Buddhism. I also have to point out that the writer in question is pretty clearly not interested in an in-depth evaluation of Buddhism in history much less the question of its many strands. Generally speaking, people who can do no better than “I mean, reincarnation? Seriously? What a load” don’t really strike me as having much to contribute to the debate. You might as well ask for Rush Limbaugh’s history of feminism.

    3. I haven’t delved deeply into this, but at some point (during some campaign or other, this his third that I’ve been directly exposed to) I know I’ve read a brief recount of Romney’s claiming that on the evening when he learned of the LDS change in policy regarding black Mormons he sat in his car and wept.

    4. There’s a bit of a difference between a racist church policy that most church members probably rarely think/talk about and racist epithets screamed from the pulpit, is there not?

      A person could easily say, “I’m a Mormon, but I downplay the race thing” and be totally sincere, just as totally sincere Catholics practice birth control and totally sincere evangelical Protestants are gay. People always pick and choose which of the tenets of their religion to ignore or downplay.

      But to go church every Sunday for decades and hear someone scream anti-white, anti-American vitriol from the pulpit and not decide, “Hmmm, this pastor’s not for me” and find another church? That’s a puzzling choice for someone who wants a career in politics. But since Democrats don’t, for the most part, care about such things, Obama won anyway. And as an Obama supporter last time and someone who still prefers Obama A LOT over Romney (but will be voting for Jill Stein in California, which Obama has locked up), I’m fine with that.

      As a stone atheist, I don’t really care what someone’s “Sunday beliefs” are. That’s between them and their deity, if any.

      1. What would the right wingers have said in 2008 if then-Senator Obama had previously, for three full decades of his life, attended a church that excluded caucasians from membership?

  5. I think there is something to be said for the liberal Episcopalian tradition that gave us the Roosevelts.

      1. Indeed. I do not have high hopes for the Conference of Women Religious’s request for “dialogue” on ordination of women priests, much less approval of birth control.

  6. The ever-increasing dominance in our government of hard-right men who take instruction from a foreign reactionary criminal conspiracy is not a change in the right direction.

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