Rick Perry’s recent pronouncement about religion and politics—“Church and state separation is the devil’s work”—is an indication of why he will not get anywhere if he tries to run for president again. He might as well wear a stamp on his forehead labeled “extremist.”
No doubt there are people in America who agree with him, but there are many more who will be repelled by Perry’s comments and who respect the wisdom of “render unto Caesar.” It wasn’t just “oops” that sank his presidential race in 2011-12; it was also his personality. It was dark, menacing, and angry. His campaign was devoid of uplifting messages. He was ready to come to blows with Romney over immigration. His threat against Bernanke was over the top (and misguided). The Republican electorate didn’t buy what Perry was selling in 2011-12, and they aren’t going to buy it in 2016 unless Perry moderates his anger. It is a complete misjudgment for Perry to adopt this persona, when he is fundamentally a likeable fellow. America is not a theocracy, and Perry will not get elected president by pandering to the evangelical right–not that he won’t try.