Roman Catholics didn't just become a swing voting bloc, they have been for decades. And the American Bishops voted 183-6 against denying communion to politicians and voters who espouse positions contrary to Catholic teachings and doctrines.
Let me repeat that: Roman Catholics didn't just become a swing voting bloc, they have been for decades. And the American Bishops voted 183-6 against denying communion to politicians and voters who espouse positions contrary to Catholic teachings and doctrines.
You, as a reader of The Next Hurrah, may have already know those facts. Too bad political reporters and pundits at some of the world's most prestigious news outlets keep reporting the exact opposite.
For today's example, we have the New York Times:
The election of an unstintingly conservative pope could inject a powerful new force into the intense conflicts in American politics over abortion and other social issues, which put many Catholic elected officials at odds with their church.
Pope Benedict XVI ascends to power at a tumultuous time for his church in American politics: Catholic voters, long overwhelmingly Democratic, have become a critical swing vote. Republicans have become increasingly successful at winning the support of more traditional Catholics by appealing to what President Bush calls the "culture of life" issues, including abortion, euthanasia and research on embryonic stem cells. Mr. Bush carried 56 percent of the white Catholic vote in 2004, up from 51 percent in 2000 - a formidable part of his conservative coalition.
At the same time, some American bishops have become more assertive in urging their congregations to vote in accord with Catholic teachings on those issues - and in moving to chastise Catholic officials who disagree, in a few cases by threatening to deny them Communion. The bishops acted with the support and encouragement of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the new pope, who at the time headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
I wrote about the real Catholic policy on Kerry and communion last Summer at Daily Kos. This article is a little more ambiguous in how it characterizes what was in effect two or three grandstanding Bishops and a bunch of rightwing lay politicos trying to embroil the Church in partisan bickering, which the Bishops voted against 183-6. I won't give up trying to clarify the record on that story.
But the notion that Catholic voters, "long overwhelmingly Democratic, have become a critical swing vote" is laughable. In addition to supporting Bush in 2004, pluralities or outright majorities of Catholic voters supported Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon (both times), Carter (in 1976), Reagan (both times), Bush I (in 1988), Clinton (both times), and Gore. In other words, the Catholic vote is the key swing constituency that's determined the winner of the popular vote in twelve straight elections. The "newsflash" that Catholics just became a swing vote has been stale for 37 years.
And while we're dispelling myths about Catholic voters, you may also want to note that, contrary to Church teachings, 70% say the Bishops aren't important in determining how they vote, 78% oppose denying communion to politicians who support abortion rights, 72% support stem cell research, 71% support the death penalty, 61% believe abortion should be legal, 53% support physician-assisted suicide, and 53% consider themselves "pro-choice."
Please, keep that information in mind when you hear wingers and their tools in the mainstream press droning on about Catholic voters.