Elections and The Catholic Factor
The Catholic Register offers an interesting autopsy on the Catholic contribution to the Republican party's capitulation.
Here's a snap-shot of their exploration:
Catholics overwhelmingly chose Democratic congressional candidates, according to exit polls. Nationally, Catholics made up 26% of the vote and chose Democrats over Republicans by 55% to 44%. In 2004, Republican congressional candidates had managed to win 50% of the Catholic vote, to 49% for the Democrats.Prolife Catholics clearly didn't abandon Republicans in favor of pro-abortion democrats. Why, then, did they turn on the party that--in name at least--supports the prolife position?
Although Republicans lost badly, pro-life losses were only moderate in the House of Representatives. The losses were more serious in the Senate, but life issues did not appear to have hurt any of the Senate candidates significantly.
“I don’t think this election is a sign that the country has shifted on the life issues,” said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan, a pro-life leader in Congress and a reported hopeful for the 2008 presidential election. “I think we continue to gain ground in support for pro-life issues on the national level.”
Republicans lost 18 members with mostly or all pro-life voting records, but it does not appear that many — if any — lost because they were pro-life. Among the pro-life losers, seven were involved in congressional or personal scandals. Four were connected to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, one allegedly choked his wife, another allegedly choked his mistress, and another allegedly used his influence to enrich his family.
Of the others, three of the Republicans were replaced by Democrats who appear to be genuinely pro-life — Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth of Indiana, and former pro football player Heath Shuler of North Carolina.
“It fills us with hope that the Democratic Party is embracing social-conservative Democrats warmly,” said Joe Cella, president of the Catholic political activist group Fidelis. “We’re going to reach out to those Democratic conservatives who have won and develop relationships with them.”
“I think those are people who could definitely be approachable on traditional values issues,” said Mike Bober, executive director of the House Conservatives Fund, which raises money for pro-life, conservative Republican candidates.
Well, here's a thought: Phoning in prolife support while pork-barreling to record highs will not ensure support of prolife Catholics--or anyone else.
American Catholics have always demonstrated that peculiar tendency toward American pragmatism and optimism. Having become even more assimilated since Vatican II, American Catholics exibit these traits even more consistently then before.
No American will put up with a party that betrays its principles. The public supported the Republican revolution of 1994 because those candidates promised change from the hubritic business-as-usual mentality. Such Beltway Shenanigans had sunk the capital into a cesspool of corruption and waste. Twelve years later, the party in power had become what they had vowed they would destroy. Meet the new boss: same as the old boss.
US Catholics joined their fellow Americans in saying, "your government doesn't work. You're fired." They supported "Blue Dog" Democrats because they stand for life and fiscal responsibility.
If the GOP wants to earn back the Catholic Vote, they had better remember why Catholics gave them their vote to begin with.