An emerging theme around here has been the role of religious faith in the upcoming presidential election. (See this column from back in April). In that vein it's worth paying attention to President Biden's remarks August 8 at a fundraiser in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Toward the start of his speech, he reminded the crowd that when he ran for president in 2020, he said the first reason he was running was "to restore the soul of America -- this sense of decency."
Biden concluded his remarks like this:
every time I'd walk out of my grandpop's house, he'd look at me and he'd yell, "Joey..." My -- and he -- by the way, he went to Santa Clara out here -- out of California, was an All-American football player in 1906, went back, was a newspaper guy in the business side, had four sons and a daughter -- my mom.
And -- but every time he'd walk out the door, he'd yell, "Joey, keep the faith." And my grandmother would go, "No, Joey. Spread it."
Let's go spread the faith. Thank you.
It's not entirely clear what "faith" Biden wants people to spread (a faith in Biden?) but my sense of it is that by using language like "soul" and "faith," Biden, himself a consistent weekly church-goer, is trying to send a signal. Other speeches of his frequently end with "God protect our troops." Biden's telling swing voters and independent voters that he and his party aren't hostile to religion, and he's reassuring Democrats of the same point.
Some people might say Biden should quit talking about soul and faith and God and just focus on inflation or the debt or the war in Ukraine or other policy issues. But that is not what successful politicians in America, from both parties, from the Revolutionary era to the present, have typically done.
Most of the national press, which is far more secular than the American population overall, tends to ignore this stuff.