In 1960 John Kennedy went to Texas to talk to some Protestant pastors about what it means to be a Catholic. They were mostly Democrats but the reception was not a warm one. . . .
Recently Mitt Romney went to Texas to talk to some Protestant politicians about what it means to be a Mormon, or so we thought. His speech mirrored Kennedy's in many particulars, but not in its purpose.
Kennedy reassured evangelicals that though his faith was different from theirs he'd never impose it. Romney told them his faith wasn't so different and that in any event he'd be happy to help impose theirs.
Kennedy bet on progress, reason and the constitution, in part because he had to. These ideals were overthrown by his death, by war and racial unease and by the inevitable dislocations of progress, among other things.
We've lived ever since in the chokehold of a backward politics that subverts democracy and religion and turns us against science and the world. There are signs everywhere that we're leaving this politics behind, in part because we have to. But Romney doesn't see them.Kennedy couldn't know that the future he ceaselessly pondered would be lost to the atavism and fear he met in Houston. A half century later Romney mimics Kennedy's style but Mitt Romney, it turns out, is no Jack Kennedy. He peddles fear in the guise of reason, pretending to take refuge in the Constitution as he goes about his real business of subverting it. His pandering speech was but the bookend of an era.
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Like Curry, I've recently begun seeing signs that the country may be turning back from the abyss of the joining of Church and State. We may be beginning to, again, give some credence to the Constitution and its first amendment after ignoring it for over two decades.
As with global warming, though, I'm afraid there may be a tipping point beyond which we will have ventured too far and our own momentum may continue to carry us forward. May this not be true. I'm holding my breath and hoping that we haven't left this move until it's too late for it to do any good.