Friday, June 3, 2011

A Christian Democratic Party...In Utah?

On my alternate-history forum, a young fellow (not yet old enough to vote) whose handle is MormonMobster (and whose real name is apparently Ryan Darby) has decided to found a political party.

You can stop laughing now.

MM, being Mormon, is fairly socially conservative, but he's rather left-wing in his views on other topics.  He said it seemed contradictory that Mormons could return from church where verses from the Book of Mormon that had very left-wing (in his opinion) messages and then vote Republican.

His ultimate goal was to create something equivalent to the Christian Democratic parties common in Europe, although he didn't want to actually call it a Christian Democratic Party on the grounds it would alienate non-Christians and get confused with the Democratic Party.  Another suggestion was the People's Party or Christian People's Party, but in addition to the religious issues, a party with "People" in the name might sound Communist.  He ultimately went with the American Revival Party or Revivalist Party, since the goal is national revival and the name invokes the religious-type revivals as well.

Here's the party's Facebook page.  Obviously I'm not endorsing the party's political positions (well, most of them--I can support ending the Drug War and wiser use of tax dollars), but here are some reasons I'm promoting it...

1. His strategy is to contest races at the local level and build from there--he seemed to think a party with these views would be competitive in Utah and the Mountain West.  With the federal election system working the way it does, third parties tend to weaken the party they're most akin to and strengthen the one most opposed to their views.  Witness the Greens costing Gore Florida and the Libertarians costing Bush New Mexico in 2000.  One of the sanest things someone from FreeRepublic ever said was that third parties (he was focusing on Libertarians) should start at the local level rather than running in federal races they won't win and tilt the election to the Democrats.  This strategy should be encouraged, if anything to encourage more political diversity at the local level and discourage premature state/federal efforts whose biggest effect is to be an electoral spoiler.

2. Pursuant to #1, should the grassroots strategy work, it would provide additional political choices to Americans, especially those whose views don't match up with the existing parties well.

(Someone who thinks religion should be an influence on public life won't fit well with the Democrats most of the time, but someone who thinks religion should be a left-wing influence and not a right-wing influence won't fit well with the Republicans.  And one person who was socially conservative but fiscally liberal said he'd be glad to find something that matched that basic rubric that wasn't fascism.)

3. I sometimes feel sorry for the (Christian) Religious Left.  There aren't very many of them and they get attacked by both the secularist left (which doesn't like religion in politics) and the Christian Right (who come off as believing the RLs are heretics--see this link that explicitly calls them that).  Although many members of the Christian Right claim persecution, despite being local majorities in a whole lot of places, I think the main national response to a Christian environmentalist critique of SUVs, generally summed up as "what would Jesus drive," was laughter.  Granted, the American cultural elite doesn't have a high opinion of Christians (or at least certain varieties of Christians) generally, but the "Religious Right" is numerous and influential enough in the places where it's strong that they can blow it off.

4. This party, if it gets off the ground, would draw off both Democrats and Republicans of a Religious-Right orientation.  Given my political views are right-wing but secularist, anything factionalizing those two would be in my opinion beneficial.

5. Even if this ultimately fizzles, this would be a good experience for MM--it would help him learn how to organize.

Although MM seems to think Utah and the Mountain West would be the best places for this party to develop, he might find a surprisingly-good reception in the South.  Mike Huckabee, after all, carried most Republican primaries in the area and although he was a religious conservative, he was less right-wing on other issues.  People on FreeRepublic called him a "Christian socialist" and a "pro-life liberal," frex.

The actual discussion was on the thread Hypothetical Third Parties: Utah.  You'll need to get a site membership in order to view the thread, but there is a lot of information on MM's rationale to be had there.

(I'll message him to suggest he put his strategy/rationale on the Facebook page as well, plus some contact information.)


  1. Thanks for posting this. A very good summary, far better than I could have done. I still say that this sort of party would work far better in the Mountain West; simply because I see evangelicals as having a much different view of things than religious folks in the Mountain West.

  2. Well, considering how you're a Mormon and designing the party to appeal to Mormons, that would be a fair point.

    I brought up Huckabee to show that evangelials might be less wedded to fiscal conversatism than you might think.

  3. I would call it the Populist Party.

  4. People would keep drawing comparisons to the historical Populists though.

  5. Yeah, I don't want to draw comparisons to the historical Populists at all. At first, I wanted to draw a comparison to the historical Utah People's Party by naming it the Christian People's Party, since I was aiming for just Mountain West support, but I decided to go for as wide a range of support as I could.

  6. The policy positions of the major parties don't seem to have lots to do with each other. But voters that tend to have one of the positions usually tend to have the others. I suspect there are deep historical/cultural/psychological reasons for why these positions are grouped together. I would even argue that you can trace it pretty far back--the modern GOP basically has the same small-government, vigorous military, socially conservative standpoint as the Jacksonian Democrats. That being the case, this new third party is probably doomed to obscure failure.

    Something else to consider is that the people most likely to have socially conservative economically liberal views are usually mushy independents who aren't very committed to the political process. Now, you could argue that this was because neither major party appeals to them, but they also tend to be less informed about politics and less educated and less well-off, so chances are their disengagement is more a cause of their ab-normal political stance rather than the other way around. Which means that the people MM is trying to organize are people who don't care much about politics.

    MM's natural audience, and the one's who would benefit most from a third party like this, are the African-Americans. A real third party with local power could easier throw its weight nationally behind first one party, then the other, making it more difficult for the Democrats to take them for granted and the Republicans to write them off.

    The kinds of arguments MM should promote are arguments about how unfettered capitalism undermines the family and how weak families undermine the welfare state.

  7. If MM's project is able to get a significant amount of interest in the African-American community, that would be cool.

  8. We Josephites, with a little help from our Roman Catholic and neo-Calvinist pals, beat you Brighamites to the punch. Several years ago myself and some others organized the Christian Democratic Union of the USA at Community of Christ headquarters. ;

    But if y'all want to pick up the cause again, go for it!

  9. Perhaps you two can consolidate your efforts.

  10. Matt, quite possibly. There is this breed of critter called Distributists. Distributism is a form of Catholic Social Doctrine that was promoted by G.K. Chesterton, and in the last few years very notably by the 'Red Tory' Phillip Blond. America's most outspoken Distributist is probably John Medaille.

  11. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the heads-up.