The New England Factor

The American Enterprise, October-November 2004 | Go to article overview

The New England Factor


By Ken Von Kohorn

In the race for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination, tiny New England produced the top two contenders. Though Vermont's former governor Howard Dean eventually flamed out like a Roman candle, his candidacy usefully revealed the depth of Democratic hostility toward the Bush Presidency. With the Dean detritus cleared away, Massachusetts' Senator John Kerry had little difficulty tapping into rank-and-file anger and seizing the Democratic prize.

Apart from a pure geographic coincidence, is there anything about New England itself that might explain its prominence in the 2004 Democratic Presidential quest? Paradoxically, the answer may be revealed by the electoral impotence of a nearly-forgotten third New Englander: Joe Lieberman. The Connecticut senator enjoyed immediate recognition and credibility as Al Gore's 2000 running mate. But his pro-war views and centrist credentials proved unattractive to the Democratic faithful this time around. His Presidential candidacy devolved into something like driving through a small New England village: If you blinked, you missed it.

The contrast between the views of Joe Lieberman and those of his more successful New England peers in some ways mirrors the evolution of New England itself. In the beginning, New England was suffused with religious faith--its inhabitants brought their strong spiritual convictions to its shores. The muscular Christianity of founders like Massachusetts' John Adams informed governmental precepts we now take for granted, such as checks and balances (which presumes the fallibility of men). New England spawned great universities whose initial purpose was to train ministers. Yale's residential colleges still resound with names of New England's famed religious leaders: Timothy Dwight, Ezra Stiles, Jonathan Edwards. But over time, the great New England universities evolved into secular institutions--so much so that today's Ivy League scholars typically fail to understand or appreciate the importance of Judeo-Christian tenets to America's founding.

The Democratic Party, as an institution, has had a parallel evolution toward secularism. In recent years it has increasingly become the political home for those who are uncomfortable with the Bible Belt and its evangelicals. Blue collar "Reagan Democrats"--conservative on social issues and at ease with religious convictions--have dwindled in number as the leadership of the Democratic Party has moved away from policies informed by religious belief.

While campaigning in the South, Howard Dean's unsuccessful efforts to ingratiate himself with people of faith helped prove the point. Strike One: When asked to name his favorite book of the New Testament, he cited Job. Two: Dean acknowledged that he had left his church in Burlington, Vermont not on doctrinal issues, but over a dispute regarding a bicycle path. Three: A heckler at a campaign appearance insisted that the governor's acerbic criticisms of President Bush did not follow the Biblical admonition to "Love Thy Neighbor." Given a perfect opportunity to turn the other cheek, Dean instead railed that "George Bush is not my neighbor!"

Meanwhile, John Kerry has so far been unable or unwilling to appeal to voters who expect their leaders to exhibit religious convictions. Columnist David Brooks writes that, "Many people just want to know that their leader, like them, is in the fellowship of believers. Their President doesn't have to be a saint, but he does have to be a pilgrim. He does have to be engaged, as they are, in a personal voyage toward God ... John Kerry doesn't seem to get this. Many of the people running the Democratic Party don't get it either."

Joe Lieberman gets it, but he was summarily rejected by the primary voters. His strong religious credential (he is an Orthodox Jew who refuses to campaign on the Sabbath), which undoubtedly would have appealed to many Christian evangelicals if given the opportunity to come before them, did him no good in his own party. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

The New England Factor


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.