I heard a story on Marketplace Morning Report this morning about Occidental College’s new speed dating program. It seems that 93% of alumni that marry within the faith – that is, marry fellow alums – give to the college. Thus, the speed dating program provides the Oxy development office two great opportunities: a chance to reconnect with disconnectd alums and the potential to create two-person donation machines.
Of course, college fundraisers aren’t the only ones trying to battle intermarriage. Institutional Judaism (for some people that means their local synagogue, for others mom and dad) has been fighting to keep marriages within the faith for years. Recently, the Reform Jewish movement has begun to re-emphasize that while interfaith couples are welcome, synagogues should work to convert the non-Jewish partner. The theory, presumably, is that single faith couples are more likely to share Judaism with the children, and to promote it with greater intensity.
So what about political intermarriage? It seems to me that this cuts both ways. On one hand, politics is evangelical: a Democrat wants to find ways to convert non-Dems to the party. In that sense, intermarriage offers opportunities. If a Republican marries a Democrat, that Democrat may be successful at changing – or at least tempering – his mate’s political proclivities. Of course, that’s a doubled edged sword: the Republican may transform the Democrat. In the end, I expect the Replicrat Kids will probably be miniature John Breauxs or Lincoln Chafees. So what is a party to do? I suspect the answer is to follow in the footsteps of Occidental: Speed Dating.
When a Republican meets another Republican at a GOP dating event, it produces tremendous good will for the party. Disconnected conservatives may start to see the GOP as a fun gang to be involved with. This might produce more donations as well as more labor at election time. And when romantic stars do align, the newly produced couple will be far more reliable donors, at least if college fundraising is any indicator. In the end, the party will probably be better off encouraging their members to marry within the faith. That pure Republican couple will probably vote Republican with even greater intensity than they did alone (if Cass Sunstein’s research on voting patterns among single-party judicial panels is any indicator) and the big pile of donations can then be used to convert those Dems.