Interesting insights on the so-called "Catholic vote." Key points:
Full article here.
Most analyses of the "Catholic vote" presume there are three basic camps: pro-Obama Catholics, pro-McCain Catholics, and the undecided. For purposes of electoral handicapping, that's a natural way of slicing the pie, but it neglects another important constituency. This block has no candidate, no network of think-tanks and advocacy groups, and it only registers indirectly in the polls: Catholics alienated from both parties, who aren't undecided but rather disenfranchised.
Here's a thought exercise: In the abstract, what would the political fortunes be in America of a candidate who actually embodied the full range of Catholic social concerns? What would happen if a serious candidate came along who's pro-life, pro-family, anti-war, pro-immigrant, anti-death penalty, pro-sustainable development, and a multi-lateralist in foreign policy concerned with religious freedom and a robust role for believers in public life? My hunch is that such a candidate could be attractive to a broad cross-section of moderates and independents. The machinery of both major parties, however, appears almost designed to prevent such a person from ever being nominated.
Beyond their implications for the presidential horse race, these results point to a deeper truth about Catholicism in America: In some ways, we are at risk of becoming two separate churches. One church is white, affluent, well-educated, and votes on the basis of ideologies of either the right or the left; the other is Hispanic, disproportionately poor and under-educated, concerned with advancing its class interests, and votes Democratic -- a "back to the future" dynamic reminiscent of the blue-collar, ethnic Catholicism of the 19th and early 20th centuries. These are, obviously, over-generalizations, but nonetheless they highlight something real.
In principle, this diversity is marvelous. It becomes dysfunctional, however, if these Catholic subgroups aren't talking to one another, and in some ways come to see one another as the opposition. As the Hispanic presence in American Catholicism continues to swell, the centrifugal pressures will only become more intense. Increasingly, Catholics at all levels will have to ponder how we can foster a sense of being one church, one family of faith, despite our growing diversity -- and, at times, our deep divisions.
Full article here.