"The Christian conservative vote historically has been driven by issues like gay marriage, abortion and similar topics. To outsiders, it's been viewed in terms of more hate than love but it's been very social issue focused - this is our litmus test & these are our issues.," said Mindy Tucker Fletcher.
Historically, the Republican party has been actively driven by the Christian conservative vote. In today's election, amid scandals, repulsive rhetoric and virtually zero ethical standards between the two candidates, Christian conservatives are torn, but they are also seemingly different from previous generations.
This was an area of interest to political veteran, Mindy Tucker Fletcher. I recently had the chance to sit down with her and hear her thought leadership on all things political, with a dash of country music and baseball. You may be wondering who this Mindy person is and why her opinion matters. She was the press secretary to George W. Bush during his 2000 presidential election and also returned in 2004 to win the vote of women voters. In 2001, she became the first woman to be named chief spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice and she was in that role during the attacks on September 11, 2001. She was also a senior vice president for Ogilvy PR Worldwide where she worked with their California and Washington, D.C. offices taking on controversial issues. Additionally, she served as deputy chief of staff and deputy campaign manager for Governor Arnold Schwarzenneger. Now she spends her time running a communication consulting firm, Crux Partners, with a few other rockstar women, going to sporting events and spending time with her two sons.
Fletcher sees this new group of Christian conservatives as Millennials but also portions of the older generation. She said they are now very actively engaged in issues like poverty (not just local but global), they care about the environment and they have different views about race. She says that is in large part because they're younger and each generation feels differently about it than the previous one and each generation sees color less than the previous.
Fletcher said, "I'm really curious as to as this generation comes into its own & starts voting and starts getting politically active, what that does to the political framework."She continued, "Where this Christian conservative element has been really active in driving the Republican Party for a long time what happens as this new generation gets involved?"
She posed the questions of whether or not the Republican Party will change, whether this group will become Democrats, whether they start a party of their own, or whether they will nix all involvement in politics — completely put out with it, feeling like they do not have a truly representative party of their own.
"I'm really fascinated by what will happen."
It's no doubt many Christian conservatives get a very bad reputation. There are the bad apples who look at things in such a stark black and white context with no areas of gray, the ones who are keyboard warriors spreading hate, or even the ones out protesting with nasty language in the name of God.
Fletcher brought up a woman named Jen Hatmaker who is a Christian author. Fletcher said, "She's been very outspoken as of late when it comes to politics and whatever we're doing, if we walk around holding our nose acting like everyone around us stinks, who's going to want to be around us?" Fletcher continued, "You're spreading the message of God, that's not how you do it. She's gotten into a lot of these issues and given a voice to women. I think women tend to be more compassionate than men voters and she's given a voice to these Christian moms out there who've had some different views on these issues."
Given Fletcher's active political career and engaged political activism, you might wonder who she is voting for in this presidential election.
Fletcher said, "I think it's a dangerous election. I think for me it's a hard vote for Christians. I don't see how you can justify voting for either of them. Some people feel like they have to. I'm not going to make a choice. I'm just not going to vote for president. And I think afterward, if Donald trump is president, I think Christians are going to get saddled with him because he walks around talking about 'the evangelicals love me.' He doesn't even know who they are but he says 'they love me' So I think Christians will get saddled with him & I think that's dangerous. I don't want Christianity to be defined by Donald trump."
As a mom of two young boys, she sees the danger in electing someone with such vile language and poor moral values. As a Christian, she cannot endorse him as a Republican. She pointed out the issue of Christians or Republicans voting for Trump simply because they hate Clinton with such a fervor and she doesn't think that is a promising solution either.
I asked her if she thinks this new age of Christian conservatives can get enough breadth and form enough of a stronghold to make a difference.
"They absolutely could make a difference," said Fletcher.
Fletcher went on to say, "It takes enough of them getting involved & doing something. I worry the idea of getting involved in politics becomes so distasteful to most of them that they just don't get involved. But they could make a change if there were enough of them working in the same direction. To say these issues are important to us & they need to be important to our party."
Personally, I see so much opportunity for Millennial conservatives to make a positive impact. Social media and democratized platforms like Odyssey give way to a group to a form a voice and share thought leadership. There has never been a better time for a group to work together and seek positive impact and change.
I asked Fletcher what she sees as the steps for this group to move forward. She said after the election, it's imperative to break down and understand what happened, and then figure out the way to step into it. She stressed the importance of having one or two voices to catapult the movement. Fletcher explained, "People from that generation that are articulate and active need to get out there and do something about it. In politics these days, one of the most valuable resources is a following - a social media following, an email list. I know that sounds crass. Do you have a following – people who listen to you, people who you can move to do something when you need them to do it? It’s going to take the right person who can sort of build up that following and bring people on with them."
Great seeing old friend @mmckinnon and @ananavarro today to discuss the #trump mess for @SHO_TheCircus. Tune in Sun. pic.twitter.com/9ikVRYRdvC
— Mindy Fletcher (@mindytf) October 14, 2016
One of the first people I thought of during this conversation was Mitt Romney. He is known for being a good businessman, a man of strong moral character and conservative. I asked Fletcher if she saw someone like that as an ideal figurehead.
Fletcher said she was never certain as to how much of it was him becoming what he needed to be to win. She explained she also knew was not a nefarious thing because he came out of business. He’s very used to just doing what he needs to do to get things done. Because of that, he didn’t see it as a philosophical switch all of the time. It wasn;t a bad thing for him to decide to switch on something or focus on something different. He just saw it as the business of getting things done.
She went on to say, "However, he is a very compassionate person. The documentary of him and his family throughout the election, you should watch it. I would put any other Christian up against that guy and his family in terms of their dedication to prayer and making their faith a part of their daily walk through the election. I was blown away. I was really convicted by their practice of their religion, even if it is partially things I don’t agree with. I was really blown away."
I asked Mindy then who she saw as an ideal person to start this movement. She said there is a person who comes to mind but she doesn't think he wants to step in and run with it. The person was Paul Ryan. Fletcher said, "I don’t think he wants to. I think he’s juggling keeping his family together while he’s trying to manage all of these crazy congress people who are on 40 different sides of issues all telling him he’s going to lose his job every day because he doesn’t agree with them. He’s got potential because he’s young enough and he’s smart. He’s really smart on the issues and I think he’s young enough to really carry it but I don’t know that he wants to do that. But someone like him."
As we discussed the process more I posed the question of whether this type of movement needs to grow bottom-up or top-down. She said ideally, it needs to grow bottom-up but there need to be a couple of figureheads, some people who can bring it along more quickly than one by one, in order to give it a voice. Fletcher explained, "There are all of these feelings but who can give it a voice in politics and play into the structure? This group, being largely millennials, see through BS. It has to be authentic. It has to be really derivative of someone. It has to really be part of who they are or they’re going to see right through it."
As a millennial with a Christian background and just left of center views, this is something that is very interesting. I hope the Christian conservative vote propels an idea of love, compassion and change. It should be interesting to see exactly how it will all play out. More than anything, regardless of political or religious affiliation, I encourage Millennials to get involved and become active in your communities and social issues that are of importance to you.
(Mindy appeared on the show "With All Due Respect" in June.)
To keep up with Mindy's thought leadership on politics, baseball and country music follow her here.