News / People

Three Questions: Ray Suarez on religion and the 2012 election

Ray Suarez brought his unique political perspective to the DU campus on April 24, when he spoke as part of the Bridges to the Future lecture series. Suarez authored the book The Holy Vote: The Politics of Faith in America, and as an analyst with “PBS NewsHour,” he brings a unique perspective to faith and politics in America.


Q: Sixty percent of Hispanics call themselves Catholic. How will this segment of the population balance the teachings of their church with the realities of voting democratic?

A: Latinos will vote their pocketbook, just like everyone else. Latino families lost 66 percent of their wealth following the 2008 recession. Looking over the last several election cycles, it’s not really those issues that are uppermost in Latino voters’ minds. They are more concerned about bread-and-butter issues because they have had such a rough time of it in recent years. If you watched massive numbers of “for sale” signs go up all over your neighborhood and you are a mass-attending Catholic, what your bishop and priest read out last week about the Obama administration’s new requirements on insurance may have some influence on you.


Q: Mitt Romney is a devout Mormon.  Will Christian conservatives vote for him, or will they decide to stay home from the polls?

A: Their choice is between voting for Mitt Romney and staying home. But even if they stay at home it will not be enough for Obama to win South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and places like that. The interesting thing about this race is something that I think is quite sad and unfortunate. The constitution says there is no religion test to hold office in the United States. Yet Romney is frankly and openly being held to a religion test if you go to the booth and tell somebody you would have voted for him on his positions, but did not do so because he is a Mormon. Mitt Romney has been extremely involved in his church as an adult, and he has been the Mormon equivalent of a pastor of a large congregation for years. Yet because of the sort of radioactive nature of which church he belongs to, he does not talk about this huge part of his life. He is being tactical, but by doing that he is not dispelling any misconceptions about being Mormon. It’s a very sad thing because this is a church he has been devoted to outwardly — heart and soul — for a large part of his life.


Q: What happen to the tea party, and what effect will they have on the 2012 election?

A: They are still influential because they pull a lot of sway in Republican primaries, but I’m not sure how much sway they will have in the general election. They don’t have anywhere to go, because if they stay home they help elect Barack Obama. They are not going to vote for Barack Obama, so really their list of choices seems pretty short. A tea-party couple that says a plague on both your houses, and doesn’t vote, helps re-elect President Obama. I think that’s the calculus of it for democratic strategists.


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