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Angelo Matera | 09.17.08

Politics

The Democrats are Blowing the Election—and the Catholic Vote

Photo by 'Size8jeans'

The best thing about how the Democratic Party is kicking away what should be an easy victory in the November presidential election is that it might force them to finally reassess their support for abortion and gay marriage, positions that are unpopular with working class voters, their natural constituency. A subplot here is how the Dems were actually making inroads among faithful Catholics fed up with George Bush—until Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden opened their mouths in public about Catholic moral theology. A front pagearticle in today’s NY Times, about how abortion is dividing Catholics, notes that “[p]rogressive Catholics complain that by wading into the history of church opposition to abortion — Mr. Biden brought up St. Thomas Aquinas, Ms. Pelosi discussed St. Augustine — Democratic officials are starting a distracting debate with the church hierarchy.” That’s a fight they’ll always lose.

What the Democrats don’t understand is that when they focus on the Catholic voter who supports a Democrat despite their support for abortion—a “prudential” choice that is allowed, based on the U.S, bishops document on politics and the common good—they can win some Catholics over, thanks to Republican policies on war and the economy that don’t square with Catholic social teaching (although I’m not convinced the Dems offer anything different)). When the focus is on the Democratic politicians who directly support Roe v. Wade, their share of the Catholic vote goes down. That’s because intentional support of abortion rights is always wrong. Period. There’s no way it can be aligned with 2,000 years of Catholic teaching.

Deal Hudson, who, according to the article, “worked with President Bush’s campaign and is now advising Mr. McCain’s,” observed that ”‘[t]he Democrats have actually given back some of the progress they had made’” in attracting faithful Catholic voters. Similarly, columnist Amy Sullivan concluded in this week’s Time that “Catholic Democrats can’t afford to look like the kids in the corner who don’t know their Catechism. In the future, they might want to resist the temptation to wade into theology and stay firmly in the world of policy.”

When the Democrats wake up on November 5 having lost an election that should have been theirs, they may come to realize what forty years of extreme social liberalism has cost them.

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(27) COMMENTS

By Dave AT 09.17.08 12:55PM Not Rated

Dave

Oh I don’t think the Democrats are going to blow it come November.

But you are absolutely right about Biden and Pelosi. They didn’t help with they’re comments on Meet the Press. That wasn’t very wise. Biden said that he believes that life begins at conception (good), that public funds shouldn’t pay for it (wow), but that it’s a private matter that everyone must choose for themselves (oh shit.)


By Vico AT 09.17.08 01:17PM Not Rated

Vico

Vico;
  And this person from Alaska who could become President is for criminalizing abotion. She’s just not so pro-life for Iraqis. Of course the US is just doing God’s task.


By chassup AT 09.18.08 09:16AM Not Rated

chassup

Vico:  “And this person from Alaska who could become President is for criminalizing abotion. She’s just not so pro-life for Iraqis.”

I am for criminalizing abortion as well, and I am not “pro-life” for Iraqis who are doing battle with American troops.  I am for blowing up their stuff and killing them until they surrender or cease to exist.


By RickCross AT 09.18.08 04:59PM Not Rated

RickCross

“Dems were actually making inroads among faithful Catholics fed up with George Bush—” 

Faithful Catholics! Did you mean to write “uninformed faithful Catholics”?

I am not aware of any Republican party platform position since 1980, that fundamentally opposes any formal Church teaching dealing with the Natural Law.  The Democrat party platforms since 1976 have been full of anti-Natural Law positions.


By Dave AT 09.18.08 08:41PM Not Rated

Dave

I can’t wait for the Democrats to take back control of the Executive Branch and have a filibuster-proof-majority in the House/Senate.

Oh happy day!


By Zarchne AT 09.21.08 07:35PM Not Rated

Zarchne

If “the Democrats wake up on November 5 having lost an election that should have been theirs, they” most likely will attribute it to racism (perhaps even correctly).


By chassup AT 09.22.08 09:30AM Not Rated

chassup

If the Democrats wake up on November 5 having lost an election, they will definitely blame it all on racism, and refuse to thank the American people for not being as stupid as the Democrats believe them to be.  My hope is that enough intelligent American voters come out on election day to refuse Marxism as a legitimate vision of hope and change. 

You know, the polls show one thing with absolute clarity; non-black Americans are split 50-50 between the white and black candidate, but black Americans are 98% for the black candidate… who are the racists?


By dsconi AT 09.22.08 09:39AM Not Rated

dsconi

Mr. Matera writes:  “... the Catholic voter who supports a Democrat despite their support for abortion—a “prudential” choice that is allowed, based on the U.S, bishops document on politics and the common good…”.  This is a false and misleading application of the teaching of the Catholic Church and even the documents from US bishops.  Unfortunately for “pro-life Democrats”, one only gets to make such a prudential choice if all of the candidates running against one another are equally supportive of the pro-abortion position.  So long as there is an anti-abortion alternative in that contest, a candidate who pledges support for abortion is disqualified from consideration.  As for the whole “proportionality” argument, there is no policy position the benefits of which are proportional to the intentional killing of 3,500 lives on a daily basis.  You may be strongly opposed to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and wishing instead for resources to be devoted to a war against economic inequality.  Further, you may be hopeful that your desired candidate will deliver on both counts.  The inescapable fact, however, is that abortion is a greater evil than war and ending legalized abortion a greater good than eradicating poverty.


By dsconi AT 09.22.08 10:22AM Not Rated

dsconi

Archbishop Chaput released a very concise statement about this topic that should help to clear up any confusion about our duties as Catholic voters:
http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0262.htm

The Church continues to reaffirm it’s constant teaching against abortion, through both the Magisterium and those shepherds faithful to the duties of their office.


By Dave AT 09.26.08 08:28PM Not Rated

Dave

I’d encourage you all to check out Democrats for Life of America:

http://www.democratsforlife.org/

Enjoy.


By francvs AT 09.27.08 06:14AM Not Rated

francvs

An ancient proverb says “A big book is a big evil;” I think it is arguable that a big senator or a big representative is a big evil. 

If we take the three great senators of US history—Webster, Clay, and Calhoun—Webster and Clay supported the Compromise of 1850, with Webster showing special bitterness toward his
abolitionist ex-allies, and Calhoun opposed the Compromise because it didn’t give enough to the slave states. 

Nowadays, the only practical way for Bob Casey to become a great senator is for him to become less pro-life; I think we ought to pray and work for more good politicians, not more great ones.


By dsconi AT 09.28.08 10:43AM Not Rated

dsconi

Sorry, but “Democrats for Life” is an oxymoron in today’s political climate.  Electing pro-life Democrats like Bob Casey Jr. of PA or Heath Shuler of TN does absolutely nothing to further the cause of life and only serves to increase Democratic majorities in the Congress—and further the Democrats’ anti-life agenda.  What good is being “pro-life” if you vote the party-line except in instances where the margin is wide enough to safely oppose the leadership and yet not affect the legislative outcome?  If the Democratic leadership actively promotes a legal right to abortion under all circumstances up until the moment of delivery, even to the extent of removing from their party platform the pledge to see abortion made “rare”, what does a pro-life Democratic legislator do?  Oh wait, I read about this somewhere during the Democratic National Convention!  Why the Democrats for Life hold a town hall meeting and talk about how “pro-life” they all are and how they will be able to reduce the number of abortions through increases in government-funded social services.  The odd thing is that one of those services is taxpayer funding of abortion groups—and Senator Casey voted “Aye”. 

Senator Bob Casey, Jr. is a stooge who was hand-picked to run for that senate seat by the Democratic National Committee.  Casey Jr.‘s pro-life stance was convenient to the Democratic party as it appealed to culturally conservative Pennsylvania voters and made the race against Rick Santorum more of a referendum on Iraq and President Bush and less about Santorum’s effectiveness in the Senate.  No surprise that Rick Santorum was targeted by the Dems because he happens to be an ardent pro-lifer and serious Catholic who opposed their every effort to advance the culture of death.  How effective are Bob Casey Jr. and his colleagues from Democrats for Life going to be in advancing the culture of life in America?  Not.  At.  All.


By ak AT 09.28.08 11:51PM Not Rated

ak

As a Catholic always looking to grow deeper in my understanding of our faith and how to best apply that to the world we live in, it is disappointing to read the comments by DCSONI.  DCSONI has obviously not read the USCCB report Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf) very carefully.  While I recommend the whole document, sections 31 - 37 and specifically 34-36 address the question of whether or not it is acceptable to vote for a non-pro-life candidate:

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal
cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.
35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.
36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the
conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the
extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

There are an awful lot of words here if Catholics are only permitted to vote for pro-life candidates.  Section 35 would seem to indicate that if there are other grave moral evils at stake, then voting for a non-pro-life candidate (while not supporting the specific position) is acceptable. 

I would recommend everyone read the USCCB report and judge for themselves, which I gather is the point of a document designed to help form a faithful conscience.

Two more things, section 29 and 37:
29. The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not
optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues.
Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved on each of these concerns, but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.

37. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided
by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not
carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose
intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our
actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s
commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.

If anyone can (honestly) square section 29 with the Republican platform or section 37 with its candidate for President, please let me know.


By chassup AT 09.29.08 09:59AM Not Rated

chassup

An objective reading will lead the intellectually honest Catholic voter to conclude that “other grave moral evils at stake”... racism, death penalty, unjust war, torture, war crimes, hunger, health care, unjust immigration policy… all together, do not come close to the human carnage that is abortion.  In this election, it is evident that voting for a pro-abortion candidate because they will address one or two or all the “other” issues falls short of the proportionality benchmark set by that “awful lot of words.”

You are fooling yourself if you think the USCCB has provided sufficient cover to assuage your guilt for supporting abortion on demand so 70% of Americans can be forced to support a nationalized health care system for all.


By Dave AT 09.29.08 01:21PM Not Rated

Dave

“You are fooling yourself if you think the USCCB has provided sufficient cover to assuage your guilt for supporting abortion on demand so 70% of Americans can be forced to support a nationalized health care system for all.”

That doesn’t make any sense.


By chassup AT 09.29.08 02:53PM Not Rated

chassup

I’m not surprised.


By Dave AT 09.29.08 03:50PM Not Rated

Dave

Well at least we agree on something.


By ak AT 09.29.08 10:54PM Not Rated

ak

Chassup, what is the point of the document, in your opinion?  Why would the USCCB go through the hassle of creating such a document if the point is Catholics cannot vote for a non-pro-life candidate?  The point of this document is to help Catholics form their conscience in a responsible way; to empower Catholics to get involved in the American political process; to help advance Catholic Social Teaching, completely, or if necessary, incrementally.

I think we should be clear that Republicans are hardly pro-life—pro-birth, maybe—but being for the death penalty, for preemptive war, against universal health care and against entitlement programs that support the least of our nation is not a model, I think, that the Vatican would put forth. 

I also think the Pope might have an issue with your initial comments”...I am not “pro-life” for Iraqis who are doing battle with American troops.  I am for blowing up their stuff and killing them…”


By chassup AT 10.01.08 10:17AM Not Rated

chassup

AK,

First of all, “non-pro-life candidate” is not accurate.  The candidate is “pro-abortion.”  Also, I can tell you it has nothing to do with “to help advance Catholic Social Teaching, completely, or if necessary, incrementally.” (this is a common misunderstanding)

As for your question, “what is the point of the document”...

The USCCB document doesn’t say “you can’t vote for a pro-abortionist”... it says you better have a real good reason that is “reasonably” proportionate… that is “intellectually honest.”  There is no evil in our world that comes close to the evil of abortion (and her sisters euthanasia and embryo destruction).  Even other forms of killing—death penalty, the war, violent crime, drunk driving, death from hunger and poverty—all added together don’t come close to the number of human persons murdered in the womb, +40 million in this country alone!

We cannot move forward in anything else we do confident that we are progressing as a moral nation as long as the blood of so many human beings stains our efforts.  The best economy, the smoothest running government, the cleanest environment, polls showing the highest consumer confidence, highest approval ratings all mean nothing if it comes at the cost of the weakest and most defenseless innocent among us.  There is no proportionate reason to vote for a pro-abortion candidate, especially the most ardent defender of the practice to ever run for higher office.

I would say that an Catholic with an Obama sticker on his car exposes good intentions based on an unfortunate ignorance of reality at the least, a willing accomplice at the worst.

I would encourage you to read Bishop Joseph F. Martino’s letter to Catholics in the Diocese of Scranton.  He makes the case better than I could.

http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/multimedia/bishop.pdf

An excerpt: 
abortion is a “deeper” and “more corrupting” moral failure than “mistakenly believ(ing) that an unjust war is just.”


By ak AT 10.01.08 09:55PM Not Rated

ak

Chassup, you can call it what you want, the semantics don’t matter to me, but if you want to have a discussion about this with someone who is “pro-choice or pro-abortion, as you say, all you do is start the conversation of on the wrong foot and set it up for continued disagreement…but I digress, we’ll call it what you want…

What has nothing to do with “to help advance Catholic Social Teaching, completely, or if necessary, incrementally.”?  You don’t know what is in my heart or my motives?  That wording, maybe not verbatim, is in the report released by the USCCB.  Just because you disagree doesn’t mean it’s a “common misconception”

Why would they create this document if voting for pro-life candidates was the only acceptable thing for a Catholic today? Clearly in presidential politics, that is not an option?  And the USCCB would now this…so why not just say you can’t vote for a democrat for president?

The USCCB document wasn’t written in a vacuum, was it?  It was written very recently.  Clearly all the relevant moral issues of our time are on the table…So I ask you again, what is the point of this document, if it is not to give Catholics the opportunity to look into their hearts and soul and decide which way to vote in order to best promote our Catholic values?

Just because you disagree with my approach, doesn’t mean that we don’t have the same goals…

Also, I read the letter…clearly it’s a thoughtful and heartfelt letter, but again, it seems to me (and a large number of Catholics) that is doesn’t not jive with the document issued by the USCCB. 

If you consider 1 abortion vs 1 death due to war, which is worse?  A life is a life, isn’t it?  Why, then is there a “Just War Doctrine” and not a “Just Abortion Doctrine”? 

The problem I have with the republicans is that nothing has changed since 1973….there has been virtually no progress made.  The reason is that both sides are trying to eat the whole elephant all at once.  We would have more success in reducing the number of abortions if we said, “leave roe v wade for now”  we want to take the 1 million+ abortion each year and turn it into 500,000 in the next couple years, then half it again.  There is a real possibility to do that…but not with Republicans saying its all or nothing.  All that does is keep the status quo.  Which is why I think it is our morally responsibility to lower the number of abortions as much and as quick as possible.  While you are fighting for the number 0 and leaving the number at 1 million, we could be working together to cut that number in half…


By chassup AT 10.02.08 11:36AM Not Rated

chassup

AK, I’ll avoid debate on the first two thirds of your last post, we can agree to disagree, because we are talking past one another.  For the record, I am not a Republican.

As for you question…“1 abortion vs 1 death due to war, which is worse?  A life is a life, isn’t it?”  This is an opportunity for us to have fruitful discourse…

Think of it this way: every abortion is the deliberate killing of a human person, every death on a battlefield is tragic, but not always the deliberate killing of an innocent human person.  Further, and this is the concept the USCCB document tries to present, while painfully attempting to avoid overt direction to voters, is that one must recognize the proportionate evil or good being compared. 

In the case of abortion we have over a million innocent human persons being deliberately killed in this country each year. 

In the case of the current war (let’s assume it is an unjust war for this discussion) we have seen four thousand? Americans killed, some number of enemy combatants killed, and some number of innocent non-combatants killed.  (I don’t have those numbers handy)

Even if you think all these deaths were deliberate, not all were innocent human persons, and the total number is a thimble-full compared to the number of abortions.  If, as you say, a life is a life, which is the greater evil in our midst today, and which candidate supports the greater evil?  A reasonable and logical answer is obvious and leads me to say that a reading of the document in context to this comparison, a Catholic may not vote for Obama.

As for your argument, “leave roe v wade for now”...1 million+ abortion ...into 500,000 , then half it again”  I understand the temptation to seek the comfort of this argument, it “seems” reasonable, right?  Unfortunately, much has not changed since 1973, but it’s not accurate to conclude that this is the result of opposing abortion as immoral in all cases.  I would suggest that people with arguments similar to yours have done more harm to the cause. 

Think of it this way: let’s say we weren’t discussing abortion, but child sacrifice (in my mind and Church teaching they are the same).  Would you make the same argument that it is better to allow the sacrifices to continue on your home town square, blood soaked altar and all, as long as we had a promise that the total number would be reduced by half?  I believe you’d be standing right next to me demanding that this murder must stop immediately… you would, wouldn’t you? 

Today we are surrounded by people who have succumbed to the idea that abortion is here to stay, might as well accept it, doesn’t hurt me anyway, out of sight out of mind, besides, look at the other social justice programs we can secure… it’s a small price to pay… and the argument you present is demanding that exact trade off, but I don’t think you see that. 

For way too many years, the “legal but rare” argument has allowed the practice to continue… and now we have the most ardent defender of the practice selling the concept that we should make abortion legal but rare, and as a Catholic, he says, you should agree because he promises to take care of those who survive.  Obama claims he is the real pro-life candidate this year!  Would his proposal seem palatable if he was promoting legal but rare child sacrifice with the promise to better take care of the children allowed to live?  Would you doubt his sincerity if he was, at the same time, the most ardent supporter of child sacrifice as a God-given fundamental civil right of every mother?

Thanks for the questions, I believe you and I are in the same church, definitely not the same pew, and I will continue to present the case I make here because I think I’m right and you are… mistaken, or deceived.


By dsconi AT 10.04.08 08:36AM Not Rated

dsconi

A few quick comments since I need to play with my kids right now instead of arguing with grown-ups:

The motivation for crafting the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”, should be obvious to anyone with some knowledge of the political leanings of the most prominent leaders in the USSCB and the many lay people who staff the organization and churn out its publications.  The document only serves to provide cover for Democratic politicians and the Catholics inclined to for for them.  Think back to the voters’ guides the USCCB has distributed during previous election cycles where the five non-negotiable life issues are buried among a randomly ordered list of the social justice causes trumpeted by the political left.  Clearly, this is to give the impression that a candidate’s stance on abortion should not take precedence over any of the others. 

That one votes for a candidate despite a pro-abortion stance, and not because of it, makes no difference at all if the end result is more aborted babies.  The slaughter of those innocent souls should weigh on your conscience either way if you helped put these politicians into power.  More abortions, not fewer, will result from an Obama presidency where there will be a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress.  Members of the Democratic Party are anxious to pass the “Freedom of Choice Act” that will strike down even the most reasonable restrictions against abortion currently in place in various states across the country, and Obama has pledged to his supporters at Planned Parenthood that he would make signing such a bill into law his first priority as president.  Add in the types of justices Mr. Obama promises to nominate to the Supreme Court and it is an absolute nightmare scenario for the pro-life movement.

I am not a Rebuplican, just a serious Catholic voting my conscience as formed by the teachings of the Church (admittedly more the teaching of the Magesterium than the USCCB).  If you think that Republicans have done nothing for the cause of life since 1972, and that the Democrats are a better choice on life issues, you are completely wrong on both counts and should see my posts under “David Brooks Explains the Republican’s Catholic Problem” as they are pertinent to this discussion as well.

“Candy Land” beckons!!!


By ak AT 10.06.08 09:44PM Not Rated

ak

I appreciate the discussion, but I’ve made my point.  (And I think you’ve helped make my point).  We don’t appear to be getting any further.

I do enjoy that both of you are “not republicans” yet there is no other choice for a “good”, “honest”, “intelligent” Catholic in American politics.  If it walks like a duck and it talks like a duck…it’s a Republican.


By chassup AT 10.07.08 10:32AM Not Rated

chassup

AK, I know you don’t want to talk to me, but I’ll say this anyway:

I am not saying you can only vote for a republican, I am saying that good, honest, intelligent American Catholics may not vote for Obama, and that to argue that position exposes mental gymnastics worthy of a gold medal.


By Renegade_Pilgrim AT 10.13.08 07:22PM Not Rated

Renegade_Pilgrim

Does anyone find it interesting that more abortions occur when a Republican is in office than when a Democrat is in office?  There was a drop in abortions during the Clinton administration, and if the statistics from the CDC have been updated recently (I checked about a year ago after a discussion at Theology on Tap), I think you will find there had been a significant rise in abortions since GW Bush has been in office.  You can tell me all you want about which party says what, but statistics show the complete opposite. 

The whole point of “Faithful Citizenship” is to give Catholic voters some guidance in following church teaching and also their conscience.  Ultimately, I will have to answer to God for all that I have done while here on Earth.  No one else gets to judge me.  I plan to vote my conscience in the upcoming election, with my Catholic faith playing an integral role in who I vote for.


By chassup AT 10.14.08 11:09AM Not Rated

chassup

RENEGADE_PILGRIM, do you know the answer to your question about abortion statistics during different administrations?  If you can’t point to specific and verifiable cause and effect, you risk forming your conscience improperly.  Since there is no legally required reporting from abortion providers, the numbers are estimates… often provided by those who seek to keep abortion legal.  The statistics you site may very well be a lie to propagandize you into thinking you are being a good Catholic. 

You are correct, no one else gets to judge your soul, but I have a duty to judge your words actions and warn you.  You are clinging to a lie, you have been deceived, you risk eternal hell.


By AT3_Steamboat AT 10.31.08 03:52PM Not Rated

AT3_Steamboat

Obama is a liar and he’s a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”  You can’t be Catholic and pro-abortion…period!  Catholic bishops have been telling the faithful that if you vote for a candidate that is pro-death when there is an available pro-life candidate, you have committed mortal sin.  For all of those who are Catholic and vote for Obama, I suggest that you get to Confession as soon as possible.


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