Having led faith outreach for President Obama’s 2012 campaign, and also having helped lead the White House faith-based initiative, Michael Wear can attest to the president’s sincerity.
“I have prayed with him a few dozen times over the last four years,” Wear told me during a recent discussion. “His Easter prayer breakfast event that he began…for the past three years, he’s given a pretty stark testimony about the role that Jesus was playing in his life…”
“The president received a devotional every morning,” Wear continued, “and those include scripture and quotes from C.S. Lewis and Howard Thurman. Obviously, Dr. King was a big influence on the president.”
Despite his continued loyalty to the president, Wear is offering some advice to Republicans (through the media): Get back to compassionate conservatism. Wear laid out this case in a recent column for the Atlantic, titled, “How the GOP Can Win Back the Values Debate — and How Dems Could Lose it.”
Since George W. Bush, Wear argues, Republicans like Mitt Romney have made a rhetorical mistake. Instead of fighting for their principles, they were fighting with their principles. In other words, instead of talking about how conservative values benefit Americans, Republicans talked too much about concepts like the “free market” — important things, to be sure — but things that sadly don’t connect with many average Americans. “To be honest, I was absolutely shocked when Paul Ryan was the [vice presidential] nominee in 2012. I thought it emphasized everything that was pulling Romney down,” Wear said.
Listen to my full conversation with Michael Wear here. (And don’t forget to download the podcast on iTunes.)
UPDATE: An earlier version incorrectly referenced Howard Berman. It should have been Howard Thurman.