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The end of religious identity politics

No one seems to be voting for their own.

The beach at St. George Island
The beach at St. George Island

The beach at St. George Island

ST. GEORGE ISLAND, FLORIDA — Driving down to this beach resort from Tallahassee, there were signs reading “Trump” amidst the pine trees and Baptist churches but nary a “Rubio” or a “Cruz.” They’ll be voting for the Donald here on the Redneck Riviera, and unless the polls are wildly wrong, the Panhandle will be the leading edge of his victory today. Bon voyage, Little Marco.

In a crazy political year, perhaps we have one thing to applaud: the evident end of religious identity politics. Evangelicals have been decidedly lukewarm toward preacher’s kid Ted Cruz and fellow-traveler Rubio, and they showed no interest whatsoever in Mike Huckabee this time around. Jews, so far as we can tell, are not particularly feeling the Bern. And Catholics barely gave Jeb Bush and Rick Santorum the time of day.

Rejecting prevailing views, he framers of the Constitution decided that there would be no religious test for federal office — a principle that, when it comes to actual voting behavior, has often been honored in the breach. This year, the principle has been embraced fervently. Whatever they might have thought about the candidates themselves, I think the framers would have been happy.

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