Steve Schneck
Why Catholics lost on Election Day
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This article is reprinted courtesy of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

Yeats is on my mind, following last evening's election returns. Remember the line? "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold..."
 
The church's years of efforts in America to support public policies that reflect its moral vision were dealt a blow Tuesday evening. This is true for its traditional concerns for social issues like support for the poor, welcoming the immigrant, stewardship of the environment and so forth. It's no less true for the church's work for progress on the moral issues that have been its crusade in recent decades. Indeed, most importantly, last night was a setback for all of us who have been working for progress against abortion.
 
Other Catholic commentators will disagree with such analysis, of course. Every nook and cranny of American public life is now suffused with ideological division and Catholics are as divided by their cable news channels and partisanship as Americans generally. I'm enough of a social scientist to suspect that my thinking, too, is compromised by these numbing ideologies.
 
But, my argument that the church was a loser in this election is not based on worries that Democrats lost or that Republicans won. No, my argument is that the moderates lost and that, in particular, moderate pro-life and pro-Catholic social teaching candidates were defeated by currents in contemporary American political life that are pushing both the GOP and the Democrats toward their respective right and left wings. Not only do both of those wings stand in tension with the church's traditional teachings, but their polarization undercuts the possibility for any real advance on the issues that are priorities for the church.
 
What are the losses that I have in mind? Let me use two House races to illustrate the larger trend: Republican Joseph Cao in Louisiana's 2nd district and Democrat Kathy Dahlkemper in Pennsylvania's 3rd. Both of these Catholic incumbents are anti-abortion advocates. Both, too, evidence in their votes and public comments a sensitive appreciation of the larger parameters of the church's social teachings. Both, moreover, are the sorts of moderates within their respective parties who might be inclined to reach across party lines and work for policies that the majority of American Catholics want on moral and social issues. Both, however, were especially targeted by opposition parties and lost last evening because moderates are cannon fodder in the ideological war that is contemporary American politics. Dozens of moderates from both parties went down in this election cycle, with the losses of pro-life, moderate Democrats most evident.
 
For American governance this is bad news. Democracy theorists argue that legislatures depend on moderates for the coalition formation, the bi-partisan cooperation, and the compromising that are so necessary for governing. But, Catholic concerns are directly impacted, as the disappearance of moderates like Cao and Dahlkemper moves the two parties toward policy positions that are worrisome from the perspective of the church's teachings. Overnight the number of anti-abortion Democrats in Congress was decimated. What lesson will that party take from such losses? I worry that it will be the wrong one.
 
On the GOP side, what lesson will be learned when compassionate conservatives like Cao go down while libertarian and "gospel of wealth" Tea Partiers promising to axe government do-gooders are in the ascendant? It's pretty hard to see now how the bishops' hopes for immigration reform--given the new realities of the GOP--have any chance. Let's also not forget that libertarians are theoretically lukewarm (at best) on issues like abortion. Most importantly, though, the loss of pro-life moderates on the Democratic side makes it awfully hard to see how pro-life forces will be able to cobble together a coalition in Congress for any measurable progress on life issues.
 
So, what's to be done? The church's teachings stress that Catholics are obliged to promote a politics of the common good--that is, a politics not motivated by partisanship, or ideology, or private interests. The ideal of the common good holds out a response to the polarization that now sunders America's public life. Like any ideal, realization is hard to imagine given the crooked timber of humanity. But, the way forward for our policy concerns depends--it now seems--on changing the corrosive climate of current politics. As Catholics, it's past time to put aside the temptation to use the church's social and moral teachings as wedge issues to sharpen the kind of polarizations that made last evening's election such a loss for us. And (not to sound too grandiose about what to expect) to the extent that we can bring the ideal of common good into the discourse of American public life, we'd not only be helping prospects for our own policy concerns, we'd also probably be helping American governance.
 
How's this for a starter idea? Perhaps when the American bishops convene this month, they might address the worrisome implications of excessive partisanship and ideological polarization from a Catholic vantage point.

Steve Schneck is a board member at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good.

Comments

Patricia McGeady | 11/11/2010 - 12:32pm

I’m humbled by these many gracious comments. 




The consensus concern seems to be where I stand relative to the hot-button issues of American politics.  To be sure, we should probably not be too quick to label one another as enemies or allies.  In particular, some commentators presume that I’m soft on abortion because I lament the losses of moderate Democrats and Republicans in this election cycle.  




In fact, I am militantly pro-life - in the narrow sense that sees opposing abortion as the foremost duty of present politics and also in the fulsome sense that demands everything encompassed by the Church's moral and social teachings.   On this basis, I believe we are called as a nation to step up and do more for life and the common good than we are currently doing.  Not less; more.  Now is not the time for meanness and self-serving, but rather for caritas and self-sacrifice, recognizing both the role for government and the private resources of civil society.  And, more than anything else, what defeats our generation in this task is the ever-sharpening polarization of our public life.




Thanks again to all who responded!

Michael Campbell | 11/8/2010 - 9:28pm

I wonder what the supporters of abortion say when the Catholics argue about terminating a baby. That is the subject matter. Those who support abortion will not use the word baby. What is being aborted is a baby. This is not a choice of what we are having for dinner. It is whether a baby lives or dies.
I also wonder where these supporters would be on slavery. I am sure they all would be against slavery, yet it was the same Supreme Court said slavery was legal. The public was then and now either you are for  or against slavery. The situation is the same for abortion of babies.
I still  vote for a probaby candidate which in my state is almost always a republican.  The democratic party here in New York is antibaby and pro gay. I believe that gay marriage will be one of the first bills that our new governor will be supporting and he is catholic. What do you think his position is on aborting babies? He supports aborting babies. I vote porbaby and profamily. I hope that we start talking about babies.

David Haschka | 11/8/2010 - 4:22pm
I am confused by the expression "'gospel of wealth' Tea Partiers." Generally the expression "gospel of wealth" refers to Andrew Carnegie's 1889 essay "Wealth." in which he argues for the responsibility of the wealthy to distribute their wealth responsibly and for the common good and if not then by high and progressive estate taxes.  Not a refrain characteristic of our contemporary Tea Party.

I believe the appropriate expression for Mr. Schneck's purpose here would be "prosperity gospel" Which is a distinctly contrary to Catholic teaching.
Tom Maher | 11/8/2010 - 12:39am
Utopian politics of the author is not credible.  The author is trying to create an alternate universe under his own copntro.   This does not make sense back here on earth. Obama ruled from the left or far left despite his appeal as a Post partisan president.  He is very divisively partisan to the point of where people are calling him the post-American president .   Very oddly Obama taught Consitutional law but seems to lack respect for the Constituion and the freedoms and its system of governance.  What president has ever before reported tha state of Arizona to the United Nation over the legislation it past to protect its citizerns from illegal alien invasion and mayhem?  What President has such contempt for a sovreign state legally inacted law?   This is very far left nonsense that reveal the contempt Obama has for the laws and people of the United States.  We are in big trouble when a president referes an American state of Arizona to the United Nations for human rights monitoring.  Even Jimmy Carter fired Andrew Young when Young failed to properly defend Amreica in the United Nations.   If our own President will not protect and defend our contitutional rights who will?  Certainly the United Nations will not defend our freedoms under the U.S. Constituiton.  No woder the tea party movement is so influencial.  The integrity of the American system of government is in jeopardy under the Obama adminsistration.  Obama is not advocating for America and the voters let him know they strongly disapprove. 
Kerianne Kuenz | 11/7/2010 - 4:26pm
A board member for "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good," perhaps we should, regretfully, expect commentary like this from Mr Schneck.  For those unaware, one of the founding members of "Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" (CACG) was now soon-to-be former Congressman (VA) Tom Perriello, who was among those "pro-choice Catholics" defeated this week.  He is worth examining to understand the (misplaced) despair of this author over the recent elections.  In his own words, Mr Periello has this to say about abortion:

"Based on my faith, I oppose abortion. Based on the Constitution, I also firmly believe that abortion should not be criminalized, and I support a strong reading of our Constitution that does not limit people to exercise their rights only in ways I personally approve of."  (The comment continues: search-engine his name for the rest.)

As this is what one founder of CACG boldly thinks and says, a founder who wrongly and deceptively advanced the false notion that Catholics could licitly support the most pro-abortion president in American history and still have favor in the eyes of Christ, readers might now see the author's (again, misplaced) despair at the recent election results.  I take special note of Mr Perriello, however, because his positions betray an all too common and very un-Catholic lack of respect for logic: simply, he contradicts himself.  The Catholic Faith is not needed to see the horror of abortion, and its violation of human diginity and natural law, and NO one can claim the Faith while supporting abortion in any form.  Still, one can conclude these same facts even from the same Constitution Mr Perriello claims to adhere to so "firmly:" either humans have unalienable human rights (life) that cannot be overwhelmed by government-given civil rights ("privacy"), or they do not.  Interestingly, Mr Perriello is (commendably) working hard against genocide in Darfur, but strangely he doesn't seem to realize that through is own "logic," all the government of Darfur need do is pass a "law" or "constitution" stating that genocide is a-okay, and he'd have no authority-again, by his very own logic-to protest against it!  Would he "firmly" hold to that constitution? 

Thus, if these un-Catholic and illogical thoughts are the seeds of CACG, can we be surprised as to the fruit it yields? 
Patricia McGeady | 11/7/2010 - 7:57am
Turning and turning in the widening gyre 
The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 
The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 
The best lack all conviction, while the worst 
Are full of passionate intensity.

Anarchism and libertarianism are surely cousins, no?

Charles Erlinger | 11/6/2010 - 11:30am
The lack of sound argumentation technique in America's editorials is very frustrating to me.  My impression is that the exercise of rigor in the service of persuasion is becoming rarer and rarer.  I don't know who taught you fellows  to write (or to edit) but it certainly was not the Jesuits of the caliber that I remember from 50-60 years ago.
Mike Evans | 11/6/2010 - 9:53am
Sabine, seriously? When people are starving, homeless, suffering from untreated illness they cannot bootstrap themselves upward or go to school or be job retrained. They are in desperate straits now. Why can't we afford to help them? Because those who are richest among us need $700 billion in tax cuts? What if we at least offered them some dignified employment to rebuild our infrastructure at a living wage? They would then be an asset to our economy, pay taxes, and create and produce something of lasting value. Why can't we afford that? Is it better for the people to see their assets become worthless or should we instead try to create stability in our markets? If we can wage war on a defenseless people in Iraq and Afghanistan, why can't we wage war on the underlying causes of poverty and despair in our own country?
sabine atwell | 11/5/2010 - 7:42pm
With all due respect, I see no particular evil in restraining our government's profligate spending. That level of spending has caused a deficit that in itself could be called " an evil" as serving our everincreasing debt , our inability to restructure the entitlement programs we can no longer afford in their present form preclude us from spending funds on education, investment, research and an industrial policy of retraining workers  that would permit our citizens to live better and less stressed lives.
We should try and eliminate poverty through training, access to education , not through handouts that make no one proud and to bandaids that don't last.
I see these issues as far reaching and very important and much in line with Catholic teaching. For us to have more social justice in society, we need to do a few things and restructure our society away from one of consumption  to one of production and education.
Frederick Keck | 11/5/2010 - 2:40pm
There were lots of issues at play in the recent election.  Tax cuts was one big one.  Conservative candidates claimed to favor the "little person" who needs a job, the person who can't afford to have his taxes raised.  Presumably, tax cuts for the rich create jobs.  I just haven't seen that really happen in the last thirty years.

Conservatives talk about fiscal responsibility and ending excessive spending.  Yet, these same folks don't want to even discuss not renewing the Bush tax cuts for the rich, not even in the name of fiscal responsibility.  As in the last thirty years, such candidates want the rich and the working poor to be dealt with, taxwise, as a single entity.  Guess whose advantage that goes to.

And what "excessive" spending will be cut?  We cannot cut the debt we are in, already, for the unjust invasion, occupation and, then, rebuilding of Iraq.  Conservatives mention a few things that must be cut, like the recently-passed health care bill.  Conservatives talk about that bill as if it were so extremely liberal that it, in fact, constitutes a major inroad of socialism into our society.  Yet, many of them voted for it, after gaining a tremendous amount of compromise on the part of the moderates in Congress.

I could go on.  But all of these kinds of issues get glossed over when the only question is whether you are an anti-abortion politician or not.  All these issues are about life, too. Not opposing social evil is just as wrong as not opposing procreative evil, with all due respect to the New York Bishops.
TM Lutas | 11/5/2010 - 1:40pm
The duty of moderates is to speak forcefully within their own parties and stand against a headlong rush to extremism. The Democrat moderates failed to do that, signed on to legislation that was extreme and have paid the electoral price for it. Bart Stupak was not the victim of the GOP but his own failure to live up to the principles he said he stood for. In a time when so many things are going so wrong, the american people rightfully do not have a lot of patience for talk moderate, vote extreme politicians. 

Yes, moderates were turned out in large numbers, but justifiably so based on their performance in the Congress that is just now ending.  
Michael Barberi | 11/5/2010 - 1:28pm

Before we can change the idealogical polarization in the house of Washington, we need to change the polarization in our Church's house.  We have a Church characterized by criticism, division and intransigence on both social and sexual ethics.  We have no sense of compromise despite compelling reasons on various isssues ranging from contraception to abortion under specific circumstances to marriage/divorce. The most recent survey in 2007 shows that the majority of the laity have beliefs about these issues that are far from the Church's official teachings. We also have many priests and bishops that dissent to many doctrines. Such contradiction helps polarize our Catholic house further. With respect to politics and the Catholic citizen, the Kaveny article and the follow up articles by several prominent theologians and clergy is a case in point.

One can argue that the inability to find harmony and solidarity within our own Church on many issues are causing more losses than Tuesday's election results.

Michael Appleton | 11/5/2010 - 1:19pm
From reviewing the comments on this thread, I am convinced that the next two years will be legislatively unproductive. There is no doubt that the result of the mid-term elections is a more liberal Democratic Party and a more conservative Republican Party. But I believe that we have more to fear from the right than from the left. The main base of the Republican Party is now centered in the southeastern United States, which is also the center of conservative evangelicalism. The irony is that Catholics, in our commitment to ending abortion, have aligned ourselves with this branch of Christianity over a single issue, aiding in the emergence of a politically potent Republican base which is staunchly anti-Catholic doctrinally and socially. This is the segment of the population that regards the Church as the anti-Christ and Catholic teachings on social justice a thinly-veiled form of socialism. It is the segment that believes that wealth is the reward for righteousness and that the poor have only themselves to blame. It opposes religious, ethnic and cultural diversity in society and endorses a crude form of American exceptionalism in the conduct of foreign affairs. It renounces separation of church and state in favor of laws promoting fundamentalist protestantism. And it is suspicious of science and intellectuals in general. If Catholics are searching for political allies, the new Republican Party is the last place to look.
Keyran Moran | 11/5/2010 - 12:30pm
Mr Schneck,
I sympathize with your feelings. You may be right.

But you should remember that on the issue of state terrorism only about one tenth of all the 535 members voted the right away. One must assume that 90% of the Catholics went along with this dreadful resolution promoted by Israel.

I am with you on abortion, but I assume that you will recognize the right of life of the 410 children who were shelled or bombed to their death....with alarming silence on all sides of the Church.
JOHN DAHMUS | 11/5/2010 - 12:27pm
Mr. Schneck suggests that bishops might take up the question of ideological polarization in their next meeting. I suggest rather that the bishops stay out of politics completely. Let us turn the argument slightly. If a Muslim represents constituents in Congress, should that individual have the right (or perhaps the duty by his/her religion) to try to impose Muslim law on the rest of society? How is that situation any different from the bishops trying to dictate to Catholics in Congress how they should vote? Does that kind of demand not put the bishops in the position of dictating to the non-Catholics represented by those congressmen/women how those non-Catholics should believe and live? In the health bill debate some bishops were so angry that nuns supported the bill that they later took measures against nuns in their dioceses, despite the fact that hospital nuns know far more about health matters than most bishops and despite the fact that many neutral observers thought the bishops should have been satisfied with the outcome of the legislation anyway. As a result the bishops helped to poison the debate and gave cover to those who did not want to help their fellow citizens gain a precious right, a right in my opinion not a privilege. It seems to me that lay people should make political decisions, not the bishops. Lay people must follow their own consciences, and life and politics often do not provide clear-cut choices to which everyone of good will can easily agree.  If at least some bishops felt justified in demanding that a health bill be stopped because they did not believe that abortion was sufficiently prohibited, why did they not also demand that Catholic members of Congress refuse support for the unjust war in Iraq, a war which Pope John Paul II begged President Bush not to start? And when and where will they stop their demands?
THOMAS FARRELLY | 11/5/2010 - 12:15pm
I do not know the author nor do I know anything about the Catholics in Alliance group.  But I must say that his argument appears to me to be a disguised way of expressing his chagrin that the Demorxats suffered a significant defeat.  An assertion that a loss for Democrats hurts the pro-life cause has no credibility at all.  That party is rightly known as the party that favors abortion; self-identified Catholics like Pelosi, Biden, Gilchrist, and the late Ted Kennedy are well-known advocates of abortion rights.

The article, like so many of the opinion pieces and editorials in America magazine,
assumes that illegal immigration is a human right, favored by the bishops and by all right-thinking Catholics.  Like most Americans, and certainly most of the people who contribute to America's blogs, I consider it no such thing. 

I hope, but without much optimism, that the Republican House, the Democratic Senate, and Obama can help the US get out of the financial mess created by Democratic legislation, Republican lack of regulation, and millions of feckless, dishonest borrowers, crooked mortgage brokers, and robber baron bankers.
Frank Bergen | 11/5/2010 - 11:59am
Indulge me, please, while I ride my hobby horse.  At their November meeting the bishops might ponder prayerfully the consequences of too many of them having urged what amounted to single issue votes in the past several election cycles.  After practically demanding that their constituents vote Republican, they have strengthened just the kind of legislators, at state and federal levels, who oppose the common good in nearly all its manifestations.  Here in Arizona we have a governor and legislature that almost seems ready to secede from the Union.  Didn't we decide that wasn't permissible in 1865?  To win the fight against abortion at the cost of losing America to know-nothings who wouldn't recognize the common good if it hit them in the face is a pretty high price to pay for what is, after all, a matter of conscience more than it ever can be a question of law.
Al McPartland | 11/5/2010 - 11:52am
A  MODERATE PRO LIFE POLICY IS AN OXYMORON LIKE PROMOTING A MODERATE TRUTHFULNESS POLICY OR A MODERATE VIRGINITY STAND. JESUITICAL.
Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2010 - 11:50am
Monica,

So long as a candidate says he or she is against legal abortion, he or she gets the vote.  This is true even if he or she believes in putting the Catholic Church under the control of the government and forcing it to preside over gay weddings. ;}
MONICA DOYLE | 11/5/2010 - 11:40am
An insert in last Sunday's bulletin by the Bishops of NY State said "The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs (Italics mine) other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all."

Absolutely no ambiguity here, it's not about creating a society which would make it conducive for a woman to give birth to her child.  It's the "Legal" right to life.

Any comments ???

Marie Rehbein | 11/5/2010 - 11:19am
The center did not hold because US troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The center expected troops to come home and those countries left to their own devices. 

The center thinks that Yemen should be on notice that its terrorist training camps will soon go the way of Afghanistan's.  And, the center thinks that any country that hosts terrorist training camps should be alerted that the same fate awaits the camps in their countries.

The center thinks that repeated disruption is more effective against terrorists than is building up cultures that will be less inclined to harbor them.
Colin Donovan | 11/5/2010 - 9:49am

With respect, Father, on abortion, the many Catholic politicians who won are those who have taken Evangelium vitae seriously; whereas, those Catholics who lost are those who have ignored it, especially the crucial paragraphs on material cooperation with evil. I believe that it is precisely the firmly prolife politicians who will also take social teaching seriously in matters of intrinsic good and evil. There will always be prudential differences based on political philosophy, even among orthodox Catholics.

However, many of those who pay lip service to Catholic social teaching, while ignoring her more fundamental moral doctrines, are gone. I can only say Deo gratias!

ROBERT KILLOREN | 11/5/2010 - 7:29am
I agree with Maurice, the comments demonstrate that the same particanship that divides the country is dividing brothers and sisters in the Catholic Church. Witness the "talking points" language and us versus them mentality:

"The only sad ones are the pro-abortion, government knows best Catholycs." 
"Catholic activists push a liberal Democratic agenda."
"We have a chance to repeal the monster of health care."
"I find it difficult to see how this can be construed as a Catholic loss unless one opposes very clear and emphatic church teachigs on these issues."
"Is it just to those who provide tax dollars to care for the thousands who enter our country each week?"
"My reaction to many of Americas positions is that it is just one side of an argument."

Can both sides just get off their soapboxes and be quiet for awhile?

Well, at least there is some comfort that the TV commercials have stopped. This fall must have been the greatest "lie fest" in history - and did I hear that nationally candidates spent over $2 billion during this campaign? How many poor in great need would that have fed? And how much of that is dirty money coming from those who have exploited those whom Christ loved most?

 
Maurice Dufilho | 11/4/2010 - 10:23pm
I find it amazing that readers of America (the author of the article and his respondents) fall so easily into the facile rhetoric of cable news and muddled thinking of political candidates and those that echo them.  I am old enough to have been brought up on Jacques Maritain's "Man and the State" but have by people here in Houston, Texas, been told that the old French Conservative was pink fellow traveler.

I often reread his pages on the nature of pluralistic societies and make that the raison d'être for political compromise.  The Catholic Church finds its mission in the mysteries of the Incarnation, the kingship of Jesus, and eternal life more than in moral reprehensibilities, mortal sins if you like, such as abortion.  "Father, forgive them." transcends both politics and the stoning of adulterers.

Our moral lives are our personal immediate concern.  The consciences of the pregnant woman, of the physician, of the drug addict, of the alcoholic, of the homosexual, of the morally compromised politician, and (let’s say it) of the lecherous cleric are to be reformed by example before law.  “We have a law and, according to that law, he must die because…”

Thomas More, now a saint, sought a perfect society and in that quest bloodied the executioner’s axe.  We will find the “Common Good” when with the homeless Francis Thompson we see shining “the traffic of Jacob’s ladder/ Pitched betwixt Heaven and Charing Cross” and “Christ walking on the water, /not of Genesareth but Thames,” the Hudson, and the San Jacinto.
Bonnie Jachowicz | 11/4/2010 - 8:24pm
The author uses sweeping generalities to express his disappointment with the election results. Here in Wisconsin, we replaced a pro-abortion (Catholic) governor and a senator, both Democrats, with pro-life Republicans. The change was good for us in our state. Irresponsible spending is not virtuous. Conscientious stewardship of hard earned money from our citizens has to be practiced.Yes, the sick and poor need our care. That care, however, needs to be well researched in order to provide the best solutions for the limited funds we have; not middle of the night voting behind locked doors. The residents of border states can also attest to the feelings of futility in trying to care for all the undocumented persons who cross our border illegally. Is it just to those who provide tax dollars to care for the thousands who enter our country each week? Can we at least provide some kind of legal process for them to enter our country if they are experiencing hardship? Let's allow the newly elected to at least express their new ideas to fix the financial mess we are in. They deserve our encouragement.
C Walter Mattingly | 11/4/2010 - 7:50pm
The election removed a House leader professing to be Catholic who was strongly and publcily proabortion and questionable on the issue of gay marriage and replaced her with a new Catholic leader who is strongly prolife and clearly opposed to gay marriage. As the new leader of the House, as opposed to the old, holds fundamental beliefs consistent with the church, I find it difficult to see how this can be construed as a Catholic loss unless one opposes very clear and emphatic church teachigs on these issues.
Mike Evans | 11/4/2010 - 7:26pm
Perhaps a more vocal response from our U.S. conference of bishops as well as individual state conferences might be of significant help. Their silence regarding the horrific cuts to mental health, social services, and health care programs are an abdication of their leadership responsibilities. Catholic Charities USA just introduced co-sponsored legislation to set a new standard for national discussion about provision of services to the poor. Again, the rooting section from bishops and clergy is silent, in fact few seem to even know about it. The only problem with the Gospel is that it has never been proclaimed.
William McGovern | 11/4/2010 - 7:03pm
On the point about excessive partisan politics playing a destructive role, I agree with your comments with one important exception.  We have a very liberal president who is highly partisan (calling Republicans the "enemy" during the recent campaign) so it's not just the "tea party" candidates that should be cited.   Catholics and the American people want results, not partisanship.

With regard to your point about the defeat of "moderate" Democrats and Republicans, you cite two examples.  I would need to see more evidence than that to accept your theory that "pro-life" lost as a result of the election.  How many pro-abortionist's lost compared to those in favor of the pro-life position?

Although you don't come out and say it directly, I suspect your call for Catholics not to use the church's "social and moral teachings as wedge issues" is really a call to accept and endorse candidates who are not pro-life when they accept most other Catholic social and/or moral standards.  If you believe that abortion is the killing of another human being, such acceptance and compromise is difficult to justify. 

 
James Collins | 11/4/2010 - 6:45pm
One of the ways Catholics can help this polarization is to adopt a non partisan approach themselves. I find that too often Catholic activists push a liberal Democratic agenda and adopt the rhetoric of the liberal side. Opinion journals like America can publish both sides of an issue without just adopting the political rhetoric of one side. My reaction to many of Americas positions is that it is just one side of an argument. If Catholics cannot engage in logical discussions of isssues without using partisan language how are we going to persuade others to do it. We need to take an even handed, reasoned discussion and include the arguments from both sides.