Amish the key to election ’08?

Though I can’t say that all the info it contains is factually correct, just read an entertaining article on the potential for Amish voting in the 2008 election from the Daily Beast.

Some may recall that George Bush made efforts to attract Amish voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania in 2004.  The writer in this piece is asking if McCain shouldn’t be making the same efforts this year, given the importance of those two states.

The best line, from an Ohio Amishman named Peter Mast: “We just pray to God that he puts the right man in office for our own good.  We can only try to put up with His president.”  I hear you, Pete.

My impression is that many Amish have a general interest in what is going on in the political world but are usually reluctant to dip their toes too far into it.

This summer, with Lancaster campaign stops made by both the Obama and McCain campaigns, the election was a hot topic around at least one Amish kitchen table I frequented.

A friend recalled the Bush campaign bus cruising through Honey Brook in 2004 and Amish residents greeting the president along the way.  This year, in what I suppose you could call news, Amish were covered apparently attending a Palin event.  I’ve sometimes wondered what the Amish would think of a female veep or even president, but have thus far failed to get a reading on that.

Amish children learn about the presidents in school, and the 14-year old brother of my friend Abe sort of had a general impression of what was going on in the election and could say that he didn’t really like Obama.  What he was basing that upon, I’m not really sure.

But in general, the Amish, if they express an opinion at all, tend to lean towards supporting Republican candidates, likely because of the party’s historical association with promoting conservative and religious values.

But again, Amish tend to keep their noses far from the political sphere.  In truth, most would probably take the ‘you guys pick him, we’ll pray for him’ approach like Mr. Mast does here.

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    1. Sean LaF

      One of my Amish clients in Paradise has an 8×10 signed picture of Palin in his office. He put it up to be funny but he’s definitely hoping for McCain and Palin and is always trying to steer conversations into politics.

    2. Sean LaF

      I should add, the Palin picture is personally signed to him, which is even funnier.

    3. With all the past problems that Anabaptists have had with gov’ts persecuting them, there remains a lingering mistrust of big gov’t. So Republicanism and Gov. Palin is a pull for the Amish. But then Gov. Palin is a Catch-22 for them. What is a woman, who is supposed to be a “keeper at home”, doing running for VP?
      Then again, Obama is pro-abortion rights, but McCain’s glory is his Vietnam-war hero status. Obama aborts babies, McCain blows them up with bombs.
      Best to stay out of the mess!

    4. gyakusetsu

      I am always surprised to hear of Anabaptist support for any of the D or R candidates. What of the the discussion of the Sword in the Schleitheim? What of all the violence the candidates advocate inflicting?

    5. Marc

      I can’t think of a sphere more “worldly” than the political one. Why would the Amish want to get involved in something that even the English find repugnant?

    6. Matthew

      I agree with Michael. I wonder what the Amish response (if any) was given to the women’s suffrage movement of the 19th and early 20th century. It was predicted by many religious leaders of the day that if suffrage and emancipation would be granted, families would break apart and abortion would increase (among other things). Erik, if you have recourse to any sources on the Amish response to suffrage I would be very interested in reading them.

    7. Thanks for everyone’s comments. Matthew that’s an interesting question. Nothing comes immediately to mind; I wonder if there is any retroactive commentary in Family Life for example…

    8. Mike

      Voting is a controversial issue among the Amish. But if the Amish vote there is not a shadow of doubt who is the candidate of their choice – the conservative. Both of my Amish grandfathers have voted for years. If I get a chance it would be interesting to ask them what they think of the possibility of a female president. This was one of the things they had against Hillary Clinton, and the appearance of Palin had to have made them backpedal on that comment. I think the ones who vote would still vote Republican or else not vote at all.

      In the past year I saw a clipping from the Budget which had a passing comment from an Amish “scribe” in Texas. I wish I would have kept a copy. It was written when the race between Hillary and Obama was at its peak, and it bemoaned the fact that we might be stuck with either a woman or a black man as president. The comment struck me as racist and of course “sexist.”

      All this shows to me is that the Amish face the same issues as anyone else when they get into politics – primarily the issue of compromise. Some of those who think through the problem advocate staying out of politics because of this, but there will always be some who can’t resist getting involved. Politics is an addictive things sort of like sports; it can captivate and enthrall you even though you aren’t in the game yourself.