The Democrats are Blowing the Election—and the Catholic Vote

By Angelo Matera

Posted 9/17/08 at 3:15 PM


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.