US government and politics no longer run by WASPs. Does it matter?
Neither of the top leaders in Congress nor any member of the US Supreme court is a WASP – a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant. And now, for the first time in US history, none of the major party candidates for president or vice president is a WASP.
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“Choosing a Catholic as your junior partner when you’re a Mormon in a Protestant country with a significant electoral bloc of Evangelicals is a bold aspect to Mitt’s choice,” writes John O’Sullivan, editor-at-large of the National Review, who also suggests that with Ryan on the GOP ticket, Roman Catholic bishops may be inclined now to turn from opposing Obama to actively supporting Romney.Skip to next paragraph
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“It would have been madness even 20 years ago, but something big has happened since then to make it advantageous,” Mr. O’Sullivan writes. “The Catholics and the Evangelicals have come together over a range of social issues and are now allies. A Catholic on the ticket will soothe most of those Evangelicals anxious about Romney’s Mormonism.”
Most, but not all, Evangelicals, that is.
Pew finds that a substantial minority of registered voters who know that Romney is a Mormon – 19 percent – are uncomfortable with that fact. The number increases to 23 percent among white evangelicals.
“Most adults say that Mormonism is very different from their own religious beliefs, and only about half of the public thinks of Mormonism as a Christian religion,” Pew reported last month.
Obama faces similar unease. Nineteen percent are uncomfortable with his religion, and 17 percent say he’s a Muslim.
The decline of WASPs as the dominant group in presidential politics is reflected in the other branches of government as well.
“The hallowed halls of Congress are changing fast,” writes Mr. Prothero on his CNN blog. “There are now both Buddhists and Muslims in Congress. And Catholics, Jews and Mormons are better represented there than they are in the US population as a whole.”
“That’s a clean sweep of all three branches of government,” writes Peter Schrag, author of “The Decline of the WASP,” on the Daily Beast.