Bush's strategy: court the Catholics.
April 16, 2001 5:14 PM   Subscribe

Bush's strategy: court the Catholics. Bush won as high a percentage of church-going Catholics as did Reagan in 1984, as Reagan was winning 25% more votes than did Bush. There's a strong Catholic vote in many states Bush narrowly lost, suggesting that consolidating his Catholic edge could assure victory in 2004.
posted by MattD (12 comments total)
First of all, I think it's a little presumptuous to regard "Catholics" as a homogeneous political entity, especially in the US, where you have fairly huge cultural differences between (say) the Italians of NY and NJ, the Irish community of Massachussetts and the Hispanic community of California.

I also think that pushing the notion of moral conservatism as a dish to the Papists isn't a smart political strategy: the last thing most Catholics (including myself) appreciate is being cast as part of a religious bloc. It's a JackChickism to think that all you need to do is get the Pope on board. (I'd say that the amount I have in common with Anne Widdicombe could be sketched on the back of a toenail.)

That said, there's also the assumption that Sen. Kerry will be a strong contender for the Democratic nomination next time around: and that, I think, is something that the Bush political machine is trying to pre-empt. Kerry's very much in the liberal RC New England tradition: and it's easier for Catholics to vote for someone who's grown up in that messy moral lifestyle than someone who attempts to "acquire" it. (Tony Blair, for instance, is a High Church Anglican, which is bloody suspicious.) As my grandma said, "never trust a convert."
posted by holgate at 5:52 PM on April 16, 2001

If Bush wants to court the Catholic vote in 2004, he'd better skip the visit to Bob Jones University next time.
posted by briank at 6:15 PM on April 16, 2001

But without a visit to Bob Jones, how will Bush court the racist homophobe vote for '04?
posted by zempf at 6:23 PM on April 16, 2001

There's a trade-off for you -- Catholics or racist homophobes....hmmmm.....
posted by briank at 6:44 PM on April 16, 2001

(that's bound to piss off somebody, don't you think)

posted by briank at 6:45 PM on April 16, 2001

Even if Catholics did vote as one, Bush still has his work cut out for him in 2004.

Personally, I think the Nader vote will drop significantly, which helps Dems more than Bush.
posted by jragon at 7:41 PM on April 16, 2001

posted by ParisParamus at 7:55 PM on April 16, 2001

There's a trade-off for you -- Catholics or racist homophobes....hmmmm...

Listen, there's a big difference between redneck racist homophobes and Catholic racist homophobes.... :-)

note: as one born and raised Irish/Italian Catholic, who has been "born again" into atheism, I feel I am within my rights to mock Catholicism. If you take offense, please feel free to bite me. :-)
posted by jpoulos at 8:10 PM on April 16, 2001

Found the quote made by the Catholic University professor "The more you attend church, the more likely you are to vote Republican" one of the more laughable things I have read lately. Dubious logic indeed.

Perhaps, I'll need to reconsider my renewed interest in the faith upon which I was raised (Quaker) if it will turn me toward voting against my basic beliefs!
posted by sillygit at 10:00 PM on April 16, 2001

sillygit: the argument goes like this: the more Catholic you are (ie. the more you follow what the church advocates) the more aligned you become with conservative beliefs. Granted, that may not necessarily mean that those are *Republican* beliefs all the time in all the races, but in our two party system, most people tend to agree that republicans are more conservative than democrats. (with exceptions like Trafficant here and there) Therefore, as a generality, the statement holds true in our political landscape. Or am I missing something?
posted by Witold at 11:10 PM on April 16, 2001

The professor who remarked, "the more likely you are to go to church, the more likely you are to vote Republican" obivously mistakes correllation with causation.

Witold, you're incorrect to say that the Catholic Church advocates conservative beliefs. If anything, the Church's views on economics and the treatment of the poor and opporessed are highly liberal, and the Church has been a bulwark of progressive economic changes, organized labor, and so forth.

The Church's views on personal morality, opposing abortion, divorce, contraception, sex outside of marriage, etc., are views that, as recently as 30 years ago, were just as at home among the most liberal of Democratic politicians as they were among the most conservative of Republican politicians. Only very recently (in the timeframe of the Church) has Western liberalism adopted a package of personal-morality stands which differ with the Church in significant detail.

What has changed is that Church leaders and many / most practicing Catholics have gradually become so outraged by the left's abandonment of traditional standards of personal morality that many are now saying that the conservative position on economics is a lesser evil than the liberal position on personal morality.
posted by MattD at 6:34 AM on April 17, 2001

Witold: Liberation theology.

And I happen to think that the liberal position on personal morality is by far the lesser evil, because if there's anything that's likely to trigger social collapse, it's a political culture led by people who say that "there is no such thing as Society". But that's because I'm not a posh Catholic.
posted by holgate at 12:58 PM on April 17, 2001

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