I disagree with the post written earlier this week by fellow CV blogger Brad Bilzer, who advocated that no Christian should support the Democratic Party. The article took a different tack than I expected after reading the headline—rather than focus on the modern Left’s dutiful submission to the abortion industry, Brad focused on what he believes is the Democratic Party’s past as alleged warmongers. Whether you think the Democratic Party must be shunned for the conventional reasons a lot of pro-lifers are disgusted over, or for Brad’s reasons, I don’t think sympathetic Catholics can abandon the Democratic Party.
Let’s begin with the more conventional reasons. While I completely understand and share the utter revulsion at policies that leave the most vulnerable of human beings without legal protection and further cringe at the hypocrisy of demanding middle-class Catholic families bankroll the lifestyle of wealthy DINKS (Double Income No Kids) through mandated contraception coverage, the Democratic Party can’t be abandoned.
I don’t mean that Catholics who are genuinely conservative on economics and foreign policy grounds should get involved. They have a natural home in the Republican Party and there’s plenty of work needed to be done there in ensuring the party nominates good candidates.
But what about Catholics who might hold to economically populist views or pacifist views on foreign policy (In the interests of full disclosure, I hold the former, not the latter)? The Democratic Party is the natural home for those views and if a party ever needed help in nominating candidates who would espouse them without compromising the dignity of life itself, it’s the modern Democratic Party, held in a financial stranglehold by the wealthy Left.
The social doctrines of the Catholic Church are broad and roomy enough to accommodate a wide variety of perspectives on economics and foreign policy. Certainly enough perspectives to accommodate two political parties and the role of the Catholic laity should not be to impose one particular brand, but to support everyone in an attempt to ensure both parties nominate candidates that support legal protection for the innocent and allow the rest of the debate to go forward in a civilized manner.
As to the historical critique of the Democratic Party, I disagree more stridently. The Democratic Party from around the late 19th century to the mid-1960s was the greatest political party in this nation’s history. Its leaders brought safety to the workplace, better wages to the working classes, health care security for the elderly and its northern members worked in conjunction with Republicans to start the civil rights ball rolling.
One might argue that it’s hopeless to think the Left’s hostile takeover of this party could be turned around and that nominating good candidates in Democratic Party primaries is not even a possibility. Again, I understand why someone would feel that way. But since when has the answer to repeated defeats ever been to quit?
The United States persisted against the Soviet Union over forty years before doing what everyone said was impossible and helping bring down the Berlin Wall and break the back of Communism. The Boston Red Sox persisted for 86 years before doing what everyone said was impossible in 2004 and beating the New York Yankees four straight times and eventually winning the World Series. Both are examples that Evil Empires can collapse suddenly. The Left wing in this country is no different.
I’m not suggesting that means one should run out and vote for President Obama or ignore obvious problems. But the work can start in Democratic primaries, building from the ground up.
The movement to reclaim the Democratic Party as a safe haven for Catholics is a cause that’s just. Whether its “red-state” voters or “blue-state” voters the Church must breathe with both lungs.
Dan Flaherty is the author of Fulcrum, an Irish Catholic novel set in postwar Boston with a traditional Democratic mayoral campaign at its heart, and he is the editor-in-chief of TheSportsNotebook.com