Why Catholics Shouldn’t Give Up The Fight For The Democratic Party

The political heritage bequeathed by Catholic Democrats like Al Smith is one that can still be rescued and built on.

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 political cultures of both red & blue must be infused with Catholic values and that can't happen by walking away.

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



  • JamesK

    Kevin writes:
    Abortion ‘rights’ have become a central focus of the Democratic Party, so I can’t see how supporting them because of more prudential economic reasons can justify the intrinsic wrong of many of their central planks

    And gutting the safety net to the poor, treating minorities with absolute disdain if not hatred, war without cause and the death penalty have become the central focus of the Republican party so how are we Catholics supposed to support them? And that reason of gutting the safety net to the poor is the same reason as to why the Libertarian and the Constitution parties are also equally suspect.

    And do any of us here honestly think that if Roe vs Wade was overturned that abortion would *poof* go away? Or would we just be replacing one river of blood with another river of blood caused by back alley abortions? As much as I would like abortion to never have existed perhaps its time that we also focus our energy on mitigating the percieved “need” for it instead of just making it illegal and hoping that it *poof* goes away. Are you willing to have your taxes raised to pay for the prisons that will have to be built? Are you willing to have your taxes raised to help all those mothers, if they need help, raise their kids?

    And where is the GOP’s concern for life after it’s born? Hell, where’s their concern for life before its born when it comes to ensuring that all those unborn babies and their mothers have the best health care possible? The best education? The best chance at economic opportunity? Sorry, you can not be a “pro life” party if your position on life after it’s born is “You’re completely on your own. We’re not going to lift a finger to help.” And the proposed Republican budget as far as the safety net goes is an absolute disaster. We should gut the safety net so the GOP can give $4 trillion dollars in further tax cuts to the rich for what reason?

    Which leads me to you, Joe. I have a question for you. Can you name one specific freedom you’ve lost under our current President or any Democrat? Actually I have a second question. Have you read the social teachings of the Catholic church when it comes to such issues as “tax fairness”? You are aware that the Catholic leaders in this country condemned the GOP budget on that basis and others right?

    As for you Mike, I have a question for you. Are the far right Republicans with their desire to force Christianity, and more specifically their brand of Christianity, down people’s throats any better? Is their hatred of non-Christians and non-fundamentalist Christians any better? Considering that Mike Huckabee and people like him think it would be a jolly good idea for the government to force Christianity on people they are hardly better then those “militant secularists” you talk about.

    There is no party that is perfect for Catholics. Not the Democrats, not the libertarians, not the Constitution party and not the GOP. If you’re looking for perfect then you’re going to be disappointed. And as it stands right now the GOP’s desire to toss the poor to the wolves just to give another tax cut to the richest people in the country is as bad morally as the Democrats support for abortion rights. The thinking is still the same…disregard for life.

    • Joanne

      Absolutely right on, James!!



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