Friday, July 29, 2016

Father Thomas Reese on How Catholic Vote May Well Decide 2016 Elections: This Analysis Leads to the Question, What's Wrong with White Catholics?

Like religious ‘nones,’ black Protestants strongly favor Clinton

Father Thomas Reese at National Catholic Reporter this morning on how the 2016 elections, which present a stark choice between two very different presidential candidates and two very different visions of American democracy, may well hinge on what Catholic voters choose to do:

The parties present two starkly different platforms and sets of candidates. The election may well be determined by Catholic voters. Will Hispanic Catholics turn out to vote for Clinton in the key states that matter? Will white Catholics go to Trump in high enough percentages to counter Hillary's advantage among minorities?

Will white Catholics go to Trump in high enough percentages to counter Hillary's advantage among minorities? A very good question to be asked, it seems to me, with half of white Catholics (operative word: white) stating that they support Donald Trump.

Or perhaps the question might be rephrased, à la Thomas Frank, What's wrong with white Catholics? Jim Jenkins thinks that Hillary Clinton, whose political outlook depends strongly on her strongly held Wesleyan convictions, about which she has never made a secret, may have a chance to win over religious voters.

And to my way of thinking, that assertion leads to a question, just as Father Reese's analysis does: What's wrong with white American Christians that they need to be convinced about the difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump?

What has gone wrong with the moral formation and moral pedagogy (not to mention doctrinal formation) of so many white Catholics in the U.S., that there should even be this need to convince Catholic voters that casting their votes for an unqualified former reality show star who trades in racism, xenophobia, and misogyny to win votes is a moral thing to do?

Where have the U.S. Catholic bishops been all these years, as they've led the Catholic church in the U.S. to this point at which Catholic voters (white Catholics — the ones with the most financial clout in American Catholicism, the ones who control its institutions, its academies, its journals) may be the deciding voice in dismantling American democracy in the 2016 elections? Where are they right now, for that matter, as the nation faces the 2016 elections? Where have the intellectual lay leaders of American Catholicism, who run its academies and control its journalistic sector, been all these years, as this situation has developed? Where are they right now?

Just asking. And aware that asking these questions makes me unpopular and makes many people uncomfortable.

But unable not to ask them.

The graph at the head of the posting, showing half of white Catholics supporting Trump in June 2016, is from a Pew Forum study released in that month.

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