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Catholic Culture News

The Field of Candidates and the Catholic Vote

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Feb 07, 2008

With the erosion of Rudy Giuliani’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination, we are left once again with what has become the standard contemporary divide between the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans (Mike Huckabee, John McCain and Ron Paul) are all pro-life. The Democrats (Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama) are both pro-abortion.

The breakdown on all related issues is not quite as clear as on abortion, but there is no longer any question that the Republican Party will field a candidate at least to a significant degree committed to the culture of life, while the Democrats will again field a candidate more or less deeply committed to the culture of death. Still, a Republican victory may be a long shot. Both the flagging economy and the Iraq War have people itching for change. While progress appears to have now been made in Iraq, it may take an economic upturn to give the Republicans a chance at the White House in November.

Secularized Catholics will once again call me a shill for the Republican Party, and some conservative Catholics (who, after all, have plenty of reasons to be disaffected) will continue to grumble that the Republicans haven’t done enough for life to justify our votes. But I remain convinced that in America today only a major party candidate has a chance of winning, and only a major party has a chance of accomplishing any good at all. This may change in the future; it hasn’t changed yet.

The White House is critical to the pro-life cause because the White House ultimately controls the Supreme Court, which created the abortion revolution. Any chance we have to edge the Court, bit by long-suffering bit, back to the natural law and judicial restraint is a chance we have to take. This battle must unfortunately be fought one bloody inch at a time, because not to fight it that way means to lose the war entirely while we cast about for another strategic plan. Pro-lifers haven’t won much politically, but the number of abortions is still going down.

Recent studies have shown there is a big difference between how nominal Catholics and Mass-going Catholics vote. By a considerable margin, Catholics who attend Mass regularly are pro-life. They are appalled by candidates like Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani; they vote for candidates who uphold traditional moral values. Mass-going Catholics tend to be either ambivalent or mildly divided on issues like free trade, immigration, global warming and the war in Iraq, but they are a fairly predictable voting bloc on abortion, on the importance of the family, on traditional marriage, and on fruitful collaboration between Church and state.

A candidate who can appeal to Mass-going Catholics might well get the swing vote he needs to be elected to the White House, but so far no candidate is attempting to woo Catholics, and perhaps none of them really can. Nonetheless, serious Catholics can constitute a potent force in the 2008 Presidential election. But they can do so only if they don’t let themselves become discouraged or distracted. They must not waver in their commitment to the culture of life.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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