Analysis by Oswald Sobrino, J.D., M.A., who has published in New Blackfriars (U.K.), Homiletic & Pastoral Review, The Catholic Answer, New Oxford Review, CatholicExchange.com, and the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly. He is a lay graduate student at Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit. © 2002-06 Oswald Sobrino.
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Bush Appealed to Wide Spectrum of Religious Voters
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Saturday, November 06, 2004Bush Appealed to Wide Spectrum of Religious Voters
A regular reader brings to my attention a N.Y. Times article that points out that Bush's appeal to religious voters went beyond non-Hispanic Protestant evangelicals. The article tells us that Bush increased his percentage of the Jewish vote from 19% in 2000 to 25% this year, and notes that two-thirds of Orthodox Jews voted for Bush. As to Hispanics, Bush raised his support from 35% to 44%. I can see the day when the right Republican candidate gets 50% or more of the Hispanic vote. Among Hispanic evangelicals, Bush garnered 60% of the vote.
But the "pivotal group" according to the article was Catholic. Bush increased his support among Catholics from 47% in 2000 to 52% this year. In Ohio alone, Bush got 55% of the Catholic vote.
Although there was apparently little increase among African-Americans supporting Bush, the article quotes one source as saying that more African-American church leaders are voting Republican but that the "pews" are lagging behind. It seems reasonable to hope that the people in the pews will eventually catch up to their leaders.
The Republicans have to remember to pursue the Bush strategy again in 2008. They cannot afford to make this highly successful religious strategy something unique to the candidacy of George W. Bush.
Friday, November 05, 2004A Fatal Indifference
Years ago, while still a Democrat, I received one of those mass mailings that political parties periodically send to their mailing lists enclosing a questionnaire asking for input on various issues. I recall Democratic consultant James Carville's name on the request for voter opinion.
I also recall responding to the questionnaire with a very succinct message warning the Democratic Party that it would pay dearly at the polls for being pro-abortion. Obviously, Carville didn't see or take my advice. And, on Election Day, we saw Carville on cable TV stunned by the Bush victory in spite of lost jobs in Ohio, in spite of Kerry supposedly winning three debates, and in spite of the highly distorted media coverage of the Iraq war.
If the Democratic Party had become pro-life, it would have remained the dominant party it was for decades before 1994 when the Republicans captured the House. That historic capture of the House remains the biggest achievement, although obviously unintended, of former President Clinton. Most of us thought that the Republicans would never control the House of Representatives in our lifetime. It has now been ten years and counting since that historic takeover.
Why does it seem absolutely impossible for the Democratic Party to become pro-life? Kerry flip flopped on every issue under the sun. But he never compromised his full throttle support for abortion on demand. Why such radical and consistent support for abortion? That question is worth a book.
But we do fortunately have a pro-life party, the Republican Party. Without that pro-life stance, Bush would not have won on Tuesday. So how can ambitious pro-abortion Republicans like Schwarzenegger and Giuliani maintain their pro-abortion stance? The Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion candidate unless the party wishes to self-destruct. If pro-abortion Republicans want to run for President, they had better become Democrats or change their stripes. I predict that they will likely change their stripes, given the recent fortunes of the Democratic Party.
The ensuing problem is then whether pro-life voters will find such a political conversion credible enough to entrust that person with appointments to the Supreme Court. If pro-abortion Republicans want to convert to the pro-life side, they had better figure out how to do it credibly, or else they will merely repeat James Carville's fatal indifference to the abortion issue.
Thursday, November 04, 2004Peggy Noonan on the Election
The reliably eloquent Peggy Noonan has penned her column on the election at the Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal Online (courtesy of our regular Rhode Island source for news links). Here are her words on the role of bloggers and the internet in the campaign:
Who was the biggest loser of the 2004 election? It is easy to say Mr. Kerry: he was a poor candidate with a poor campaign. But I do think the biggest loser was the mainstream media, the famous MSM, the initials that became popular in this election cycle. Every time the big networks and big broadsheet national
Peggy Noonan, "So Much to Savor," Nov. 4, 2004.
Fascinating Election: Moral Values as "Defining Issue"
The headline in the N.Y. Times is "Moral Values Cited as Defining Issue of the Election" (see article by Katharine Q. Seelye, 11/4/04). The media obsession with exaggerating any mishap in Iraq not only presented a false picture of the situation in Iraq. That media obsession also presented a false picture of what was of most concern to Americans.
What can you say about a media that presents a distorted picture of events both abroad and at home? What are they good for other than to be partisan outlets for the Democratic Party's secular culture? How could the mainstream media be so out of touch with its supposed audience? The establishment media lives in a bubble, as documented by former CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg. The social circles of liberal reporters consist of those for whom gay marriage is a long overdue civil rights reform, for whom abortion is an essential constitutional right, and for whom the blessings of the U.N. are essential to American action overseas. And so their news reports reflect an outlook severely contradicted in vast swaths of the nation.
Moral values as the defining issue of the election! That's the point of view of this site and many other sites on the internet. That's what motivated us to plow through the media distortions and attempt to expose these distortions day in and day out during the campaign season. In my view, all those efforts together had a significant impact in the outcome.
The new media revolution is advancing a conservative social agenda. That development is another amazing feat to behold. The election results are strong evidence that the power of the liberal media has been severely diminished. The liberal news outlets distort more than ever, but they convince less than ever. And they are heard by fewer Americans than ever because more and more Americans have found alternative sources of information.
But let's get back to the headline about moral issues as defining the election. For Catholics, this election marks a turning point in galvanizing the Catholic vote for Catholic issues. No longer can the mere identity of a candidate as "Catholic" sway the Catholic vote. What swayed the Catholic vote in this election was that the Methodist incumbent President embraced Catholic positions on abortion, marriage, school vouchers, and stem cell research, positions rejected by the "Catholic" candidate from Massachusetts.
Here is what the N.Y. Times writer had to say about the Catholic vote:
Mr. Bush did particularly well among white Catholics, winning 56 percent of them compared with Mr. Kerry's 43 percent, despite Mr. Kerry's being the first Roman Catholic nominated for president since John F. Kennedy in 1960.
N.Y. Times, Nov. 4, 2004.
What the N.Y. Times leaves out is that Kerry, unlike the first Kennedy, was the first dissenting Catholic nominated for President. For all of the grave faults of John F. Kennedy, he never dissented publicly, to my knowledge, from any Church teaching. Dissent was not an issue back then. John F. Kennedy was, in public, no different than any other practicing and obedient Catholic of that era. This difference between Kennedy and Kerry accounts for the historic lopsided white Catholic vote for Bush. Reagan was also highly successful among Catholics; but Reagan, unlike Bush, never ran against a "Catholic."
This Catholic rejection of a dissenting Catholic candidate also raises questions about the strength of the influence of liberal Catholic clerics and liberal Catholic publications. They clearly favored Kerry, and distorted and diluted Catholic teaching in order to excuse voting for Kerry. Their efforts failed. The liberal media, both Catholic and secular, may be omnipresent and powerful, but they are clearly being tuned out by many.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004Congratulations to Our President
Historic Republican Victory with Supreme Court Implications
Bush has been re-elected. NBC News, no friend of Bush, has projected Bush with 269 electoral votes to Kerry's 238. But true to its bias, NBC refuses to call other states for Bush, even though Bush is leading in New Mexico and Nevada, with 99% of the precincts reporting in both states. If we add those two states to the Bush total, Bush has at least 279 electoral votes. Only 270 electoral votes are needed for victory.
As to Ohio, Bush leads by about 145,000. Cooler and rational heads recognize that Kerry will not be able to overcome that lead. Hopefully, the Kerry campaign will come to its senses and concede today. But, of course, the indecisive Democratic nominee will need time to figure out what he thinks. As one friend put it to me, the more Kerry waits and drags this entire matter out, the worse the Democrats look. Just like the Michael Moore and MoveOn.org excesses, this delay just makes the Democrats look worse and worse to the public. They are still shooting themselves in the foot and refuse to learn the obvious lesson that excessive personal hostility is no way to win an election.
In the House of Representatives, the Republicans gained four seats. According to MSNBC, the Republicans have now controlled the House for a period of 12 years for the first time since the 1930s. Even with only 269 electoral votes, Bush wins because, under the Constitution, the Republican-controlled House chooses the President in the event of a 269-269 tie. The House would vote by state delegations, a majority of which are controlled by the Republicans.
In the Senate, crucial to confirming new Supreme Court justices, especially in light of Chief Justice Rehnquist's serious cancer diagnosis and of the advancing age of other justices, the Republicans have gained at least two seats as of now. The Supreme Court angle is probably the most significant aspect of the Bush victory because of its strong pro-life implications.
But back to the President who has clearly won the popular vote, unlike in 2000. According to the Drudge Report, this total surpasses Reagan's own popular vote victories. Recall that Bill Clinton never won a popular vote victory in either of his two election victories.
On the gay marriage issue, eleven states have passed constitutional amendments to protect traditional marriage. But, of course, the Supreme Court could easily overturn those state bans. Again, the Supreme Court angle is the most significant aspect of this election. In the absence of the federal marriage amendment supported by Bush, the Supreme Court is where the action is on the marriage issue.
Compared to the countries of Western Europe, America remains in many ways a culturally conservative country, in spite of tremendous moral corruption. As a Catholic, I have to tip my hat to Protestant evangelicals who apparently turned out in droves to support Bush. The sad truth is that, without those Protestant evangelicals, there would not be enough faithful Catholics to put Bush over the top. Just look at the political and social situation in historically Catholic countries like France and Spain. So the bright side is that in presidential elections, Protestant evangelicals and faithful Catholics can hold the line on the leftist assault on traditional culture. Deo gratias.
Update: Apparently Bush improved significantly among Catholic voters, compared to 2000. Here is the information as posted on NationalReview.com's The Corner:
"THE CATHOLIC VOTE" [Kathryn Jean Lopez]Leonard Leo, Catholic adviser to the Bush-Cheney campaign tells me:
1. Catholics voted for President Bush over Senator Kerry by 51 to 48. That is a 4 percent gain over 2000. 2. Among regular Mass-attending Catholics, President Bush by 55-44 percent. This number was not reported in 2000, but the result is clearly impressive and debunks any suggestion that the Catholic vote is a myth. 3. The gain in Catholic support (4 points) surpassed the gain in the Protestant vote (2 points).
Source: The Corner.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004A Communion of Voters
We are privileged today to enter the voting booth and make our choice. Recently, in Afghanistan, millions, including millions of women, did the same in defiance of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden in a remarkably peaceful election. In January, the liberated Iraqis will hold their own election, in spite of the pessimism of the misnamed Democrats. Millions of others await the same opportunity that will surely come for them some day: in China, in Cuba, in North Korea, in Vietnam, in Syria.
The Bush presidency is about the spread of liberty. It is thus fitting that today those who support our President flood the polls. The spread of liberty is what this election is about because the spread of liberty is the most powerful weapon against terrorism.
And in our own country, blessed for generations with liberty, we are going even further and seeking an ordered liberty, a liberty linked to truth and to the dignity of each living human being. Many of us will vote today for Bush in order to extend the dignity of liberty to the unborn and the partially born and to ensure that this dignity is never taken from the disabled or the aged.
In the Gospel of Life (1995), John Paul II made clear that "the value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes" (section 70). That link is why democracies must promote life and promote the truth about marriage.
The liberals in our own country have lost the vision of ordered liberty from which, ironically, their label derives. The liberals have cut off the unborn from the promise of liberty. Instead of supporting the spread of liberty abroad, today's liberals seek a cynical foreign policy suffused with modern "nuanced" Gallic sensibilities (note that I write this as one who shares a French heritage).
When you vote for Bush today, you are standing in line with the Afghans and the Iraqis who have and will vote because of George W. Bush. Also standing in line with you will be the Cubans, Chinese, North Koreans, Vietnamese, Syrians, and others who will one day vote in liberty. Yesterday, we celebrated as Catholics the communion of saints on All Saints' Day. Today, we celebrate the worldwide communion of present and future voters in ordered liberty linked to truth.
Monday, November 01, 2004Framing a Big Year in the Culture War
There is always talk about bringing the country together, but how do you bring a country together over the killing of the unborn or over redefining the ancient definition of marriage? In the future, will our children envision being married to a husband or a wife or to a same sex partner? Empty platitudes about unity just don't match the reality. The issues need to be resolved, not blurred.
2004 will be seen as a big year in the culture war. The year began with a highly controversial movie The Passion of the Christ. Remember the daily attacks on the movie? Remember the vicious attacks on Mel Gibson? Well, the movie came and went without violence or pogroms. The movie was a blockbuster among both evangelicals and Catholics. In spite of the best efforts of the media to run down the movie, the movie broke through and was highly successful.
The year is ending with a national election pitting both sides in the Culture War. The polls show the divide clearly: the married and the more church-going favor Bush. The single and the more secular favor Kerry. If Bush wins--and I think he will, he will do so in spite of a massively misleading day-by-day assault on a full range of issues: weapons of mass destruction, Bush's religious faith, Halliburton, gay marriage, multilateralism, etc. It has been an unprecedented and highly personal assault.
Bush will emerge the winner, just as the Passion movie did, in spite of the raging hostility of the mainstream media. Your turn to weigh in finally comes tomorrow. And that is good news for one side in the Culture War.
Sunday, October 31, 200431st Sunday in O.T.: Wisdom 11:22-12:2; 2 Thess. 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10
Today's readings are, at least in part, about recovering our identity and our destiny. The more common word to describe this topic among Catholics is "vocation." But we use that word so often that it seems at times to be drained of meaning. So I would rather speak of our identity and destiny.
For those who have a stereotypical view of the Old Testament as somehow primitive in its outlook, the reading from the book of Wisdom presents a surprisingly sophisticated and poetic description of God's mercy and forbearance. The writer speaks of our destiny from the perspective of the Creator: "For you . . . loathe nothing that you have made; for what you hated, you would not have fashioned . . . . But you spare all things, because they are yours."
In Second Thessalonians, Paul makes it clear that God is ready to bring to fulfillment what He first created as good: "We always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose and every effort of faith." What can we add to that?
In the Gospel, Jesus calls Zacchaeus to the little man's true identity. Zacchaeus' true identity was not that of chief tax collector extorting money from people. Zacchaeus' true identity was that of a son of Abraham, an heir to the promises of blessing made to Abraham by God. When Zacchaeus stands up and announces that he will give half of his possessions to the poor and make restitution for his ill-gotten gains, we finally see the real Zacchaeus as originally created by God and in fulfillment of that original good creation.
God is actively working to shape us so that our destiny will be fulfilled. How can we alone decide what must happen for that destiny to be fulfilled? We need to let God work on us as He sees fit.