Saturday, May 31, 2008

More on Conservative Catholics Voting Obama

Conservative Catholics Have Always Been in Play

Chris Korzen

Douglas Belkin's story in Thursday's Wall Street Journal proclaims that "Conservative Catholics May Be in Play" in November's presidential election. For a mainstream media that long ago bought into the far right's wistful notion that churchgoing Catholics subscribe first and foremost to a narrow conservative agenda, this may seem like a shocker headline. But for those of us who work in the Catholic trenches, it's nothing short of old news. Republicans and Democrats alike take note: Catholics - conservative or otherwise - have always been in play.

In 2004, even as smug Republicans bragged about the coalescence of a new base of "values voters," the numbers were telling a different story. In a poll conducted by Zogby International, the Catholic peace group Pax Christi USA, and others in November 2004, 62% of Catholic respondents named either poverty or greed and materialism as the greatest moral crises facing the United States. Only 31% chose abortion or same-sex marriage. Moreover, the Iraq War topped the list of moral concerns that most affected voters' decisions at the booth. A 2006 poll commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good found similar results.

In all fairness to Belkin, the statistics cited here don't take into consideration the respondents' church attendance or political leanings. But they do paint a very different picture of the Catholic electorate than the conventional wisdom might lead us to believe: however concerned about issues like abortion and same-sex marriage Catholic voters may be, these matters are part of a larger package of moral concerns that bear directly on the common good.

Contrary to popular belief, Bush didn't win Catholics in 2004 because of his positions on life and marriage. He won because of the Kerry campaign's inability to articulate a coherent message to Catholic swing voters, and because of an astoundingly sophisticated media and grassroots operation on the part of the Republican Party and allied "Catholic" organizations. As the party worked the phones and the doors, Catholic League president Donohue peppered Kerry with holier-than-thou invective (a cursory look at the Catholic League's 2004 press release headlines dispels any lingering doubt that the organization has become a front for the GOP), and an obscure group called Catholic Answers somehow found the money to distribute millions voting guides and full page USA Today ads advancing the manufactured theological notion that five "non-negotiable issues" trumped all the others at the polls.

The issues? Abortion, same-sex marriage, stem cell research, human cloning, and euthanasia. Never mind war, poverty, the death penalty, or that whole loving your neighbor thing. Of course, none of these groups have any formal authority to speak on behalf of the Church institution - which, by the way, refused to endorse the right's message. But - with the help of a small handful of renegade or perhaps unsuspecting bishops - these partisan operatives nonetheless managed to fool a sizable bloc of Catholics into thinking that a vote for Kerry meant certain eternal damnation.

Belkin is right in his assertion that things are different now. Both Clinton and Obama have invested heavily in effective strategies to reach Catholics and other people of faith. And the argument that faithful Catholics could in good conscience only back Bush now seems a bit silly given the widespread belief that his presidency was nothing short of a catastrophic moral failure.
This latter fact confirms what many Catholics already understood: that anyone who knows their Gospel knows that the "every man for himself" agenda at the core of the neoconservative plan is generally irreconcilable with an authentic Christian worldview - even for "conservative" or churchgoing Catholics. It's because of this that the Catholic vote is - as it always been - entirely up for grabs.


Betty said...

an obscure group called Catholic Answers somehow found the money to distribute millions voting guides and full page USA Today ads

Karl Keating wrote the guide. Karl Rove paid for it. Totaly financed by Republican political operatives.

max said...

Yeah it was those ads in USA Today that swayed al us dumb conservative Catholics out here in flyover country. That evil Karl Rove.

We are still just clinging to our guns and religion!

betty said...

Max, if you want to argue that Catholic Answers are a bunch of ninnies who waste their contributors' money on big expensive meaningless newspapers ads, I won't argue with you. Sort of matches the reckless spending of the Republicans in Congress.

max said...

No Betty, actually I was arguing that that Catholics who support Obama are the bunch of ninnies.

As for reckless spending, pleeease nobody can top Dingy Harry and Queeny Pulosi for pork, waste, and cronyism.

Rustler45 said...

BATTY SAID: obscure group called Catholic Answers...

RUSTLER ASKS: Batty, what are you doing sneaking around over here? You couldn't answer my questions so you fled and now you turn up in here. Are you that slithering little anonymous who is posting her sneaky little posts?

You're really not going to stand and fight are you?

Now answer my question.

Are you afraid of where Obama stands on the Jews? Are you anti-semitic as well?

Max said...

Barak Obama on 3/18/08:

I can no more disown him (Rev Wright) than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

Yesterday Obama quit Trinity Church. Having already disavowed Rev Wright I guess his white Grandmother is next.

Rustler45 said...

Conservative Catholics?

I will define conservative for you.


1. Means believing there is absolute truth that can be found by the common man who truly searches for it. Few today understand that an opinion has no weight against the truth. Many even consider that there are no facts only opinions and that one opinion is as good as another.

2. Means believing in a traditional set of absolute right and wrong principles that can never change (e.g., the Ten Commandments).

3. Belief that “the means must justify the end.” Pragmatism (meaning--the end justifies the means) is a belief system used by unethical and immoral peoples and governments. My father taught me as a teenager that these two opposite philosophies could not exist together and that they were the difference between freedom as we know it--and communism.

4. Being conservative means belief that principle must always determine the act. It is necessary to act out the right answer in all circumstances.

Does it still sound like you can vote for Obama and be conservative?

Bob said...

You can't be a Catholic and support intrinsic evils. Abortion, contraception, euthanasia, masterbation are instrinic evils. Catholics can disagree about Iraq, minimum wage, etc.

Betty said...

Bob -

One of the greatest regrets of my life is that I missed John McCain's speech on the evils of masturbation. Can you summarize it for me?

Rustler45 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Max said...

Betty, the greatest regret of your life should be supporting a man who believes aborted babies that survive should not receieve medical care. Could you please summarize that for me?

Katherine said...


Betty's request for a description of masturbation was rhetorical. Your post was uncalled for given this is a family blog.

Rustler45 said...

Katherine, there is no way to call this a "family" blog. Batty Betty brought up a disgusting subject just to be disgusting.

Strange that you don't see fit to delete her disgusting post.

Letting her post at all neutralizes any possibility of this being a family blog.

A Green Catholic for Obama said...

I support this blog. I'm a lifelong Catholic and see no redeming qualities left in the Republicans and their ilk. They have abused our God given planet for their selfish gains all in the guise they are Christians doing Gods work. From day one, I've been a Catholic for Obama and thank those who set this blog up. Keep the faith.