CatholicVote.org co-founder Joshua Mercer on winning over Catholic voters in 2016

Joshua Mercer is co-founder and political director of CatholicVote.org, an independent, conservative non-profit advocacy group. A project of the Catholic non-profit Fidelis, CatholicVote’s stated goal is “electing new pro-life and pro-family candidates to Congress and, of course, electing a pro-life candidate to the Presidency.” He also serves as a bimonthly columnist with Catholic Pulse.

Mr. Mercer holds a B.A. in political economy from Hillsdale College. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the National Catholic Register, Chairman for Students for Life of America and director of a Catholic retreat house. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.

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On Oct. 1, I interviewed Mr. Mercer by email about his work and about Catholic voters in the upcoming presidential election season.

CatholicVote’s goal of supporting pro-life and pro-family candidates seems tailor-made to favor Republican candidates, but the GOP now seems to have been taken over by the Tea Party, which has been ousting Catholic party leaders like House Speaker John Boehner in favor of Republicans from evangelical Protestant backgrounds. What must Republicans do to win Catholic votes in the 2016 presidential election cycle?

Sadly we have not seen Democratic candidates compete for pro-life and pro-family voters. There are exceptions of course. We have happily endorsed Rep. Dan Lipinski, a Democrat from Illinois. I wish there were more Democratic candidates fighting for pro-life and pro-family voters and support.

As for the Tea Party, they do not have command of the Republican Party. But you're right that they exerted their influence to force John Boehner to resign. That's because of the House's unique rules on the election of Speaker. This won't work the same way against Mitch McConnell in the Senate.

Data from Pew Research indicates that the Republican Party has done very well with white Catholics over the last decade. That might seem like a no-brainer to us today, but this is historically very significant. And it's one reason why the Republican Party is doing so well in non-presidential years. But if the Republican Party wants to win the White House, they need to do better with Catholics in presidential years. The last Republican to win the overall Catholic vote was George W. Bush in 2004. Bush won 56 percent of the white Catholic vote, but Mitt Romney did better among white Catholics, winning 59 percent. So what was the difference? Bush won 33 percent of Hispanic Catholic voters but Romney could only muster 21 percent.

Although many Catholic voters feel uncomfortable with the Democratic Party’s pro-choice platform, Democrats continue to win a fair share of the Catholic vote through their social justice rhetoric, and Vice President Biden recently told America there is “absolutely” a place for pro-life voters in his party. What must Democrats do to win Catholic votes in the 2016 election cycle?

The Joe Biden style of Democrat has definite nostalgic appeal for many Catholic Democrats. But in the 2012 election, Obama won just 40 percent of white Catholics. Obama barely won the overall Catholic vote, but that was because the Hispanic population is growing so fast and because Romney did so poorly among these voters. There will be fewer and fewer blue-collar white Democrats, like Biden, who pay lip service to the pro-life position, even casting the occasional vote to the pro-life side. Catholic Democrats of the 21st century will look more like Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, whose support for legal abortion shows no 1970s Catholic guilt. Castro doesn't offer any Biden-style hesitation. He gives legal abortion his full support. After all, he campaigned for strident supporters of abortion like Wendy Davis.

Who do you predict will be the next Republican and Democratic presidential nominees?

I correctly predicted Boehner would quit the day after the pope's address to Congress, but I didn't post it on Twitter so I can't prove it! But I'm not sure that means I'm getting better at predicting things. I have long thought that Hillary Clinton was vulnerable because she is just not that good of a candidate. That's not an assessment of her policies, but of her ability to connect with voters. She is too risk-averse and poll-tested to excite and inspire Democratic primary voters. She campaigns like a robot. But the Democrats today are facing the same problem the GOP had in 2008: Who else? Bernie Sanders is lighting up the base and raking in donations like mad. But he is a proud Socialist, and would definitely face vulnerabilities as a general election candidate. Joe Biden remains the best alternative to Hillary, and I think he is a strong candidate that the GOP would do well not to underestimate. But Joe Biden will be 74 on Election Day in 2016. He could answer that concern by only pledging one term. So far, though, it looks like Biden is opting against running.

On the Republican side, it's helpful to look not just at the polls, but at those polls which ask people for their second pick. What you discover is that Trump might lead in the polls right now, but that he is almost no one's second pick, and that he has a ceiling of support. In fact, a majority of Republican voters say they won't vote for him. Looking at everyone's second pick helps you to guess whom might gain support as other candidates leave the race. And when they ask that question one name stands out: Marco Rubio.

What are your particular goals for the upcoming election cycle?

The United States should not be one of only seven countries which allow abortions in the fifth month for almost any reason. That's an embarrassment. And now that the Supreme Court has forced same-sex marriage in all 50 states, we should ensure robust religious liberty protections for those people who have deep religious objections to participating in such ceremonies. Both of these policies enjoy majority support from Americans on both sides of each of those debates. It's common ground. Unfortunately every Democratic presidential candidate would veto them both.

How will CatholicVote pursue these goals?

We will educate Catholics about these policies and encourage them to vote for candidates who will support this legislation. On religious liberty and the protection of human life, Catholics face uneven support from Republicans. Some favor it strongly, others are timid. The other political party has more unity, but it's not for the better. Democrats are downright hostile on limiting abortion or strengthening religious liberty.

Besides pro-life and pro-family issues, what are some other things Catholic voters should pay attention to when choosing candidates for public office?

Every bishop will tell you about the need to protect religious liberty. The attacks on our religious liberty are not just related to the change in marriage. After all, the Obama administration is forcing Catholic nuns to pay for contraception, which is not only morally objectionable, but also ridiculous since they are celibate. Religious schools have also faced attacks on religious liberty.

During the 1980s, Native Americans lost some religious liberty rights because of the War on Drugs. Certain drugs used in religious ceremonies were federally prohibited. When the Supreme Court refused to defend their First Amendment right to religious liberty, Congress swung into action and passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. It was co-sponsored by New York liberal Chuck Schumer, and was passed by lopsided majorities in both houses, and signed into law by a Democratic president. Today that's changed. The Democratic Party thinks religious liberty is O.K. for smoking peyote, but it doesn't cover wedding cakes. And that's a shame.  

Why would Catholic voters feel attracted to political conservatives in the upcoming election?

I did say that white blue-collar Democrats are becoming a smaller piece of the electorate every year, but there still are quite a few such voters—especially in Pennsylvania. I think the Republican Party can win them over by appealing to them on religious liberty and the sanctity of human life. But to be truly effective, the Republican Party has to drop the Romney-esque rhetoric of the moochers and the 47 percent. It's the polar opposite of Ronald Reagan, who talked about a shining city on the hill and a rising tide lifting all boats. Romney couldn't win blue-collar white voters, but Reagan could.

Why would Catholic voters avoid political conservatives in the upcoming election?

I do not think the GOP will nominate Donald Trump, but if they do he will repel many voters who would otherwise be sympathetic to a conservative message. Ironically, his policies on taxes and health care are rather moderate, even liberal leaning, but his rhetoric is absolutely toxic. Scott Walker had the chance to provide an alternative vision, of a Midwestern Republican who was fighting for government reform because the taxpayer deserved a better government than they were getting. But Walker tried to out-Trump the Donald, and now he's out of the race. Jeb Bush is running a campaign stuck in 2002, and he's saddled with his brother's legacy whether he likes it or not.

Marco Rubio is so far the only Republican candidate with a consistently positive message. Rubio just announced a plan to give tax credits to businesses which offer generous paid leave. It's possible that this issue isn't on the forefront for many Republican primary voters, but it's an issue that a Republican needs to be talking about if winning the White House is the goal. If Rubio were to win the nomination, he would be a formidable candidate.

Why would Catholic voters feel attracted to political liberals in the upcoming election?

If Republicans embrace class warfare rhetoric like they did with Romney, then liberals will have the ability to win over Catholic voters on the basic question of “who do you trust to look out for you.” It's the most important question in politics. You never know what issue might come up, so you want a president who shares your values and perspectives. There's no doubt that for a majority of Americans, Mitt Romney was not that person in 2012.  

Why would Catholic voters avoid political liberals in the upcoming election?

Liberals seem unwilling to find any common ground on abortion or religious liberty. Unlike Democrats of the 1990s, they're not even pretending to soften their rhetoric on abortion anymore. But they will also have to defend the economic record of Barack Obama, which has remained stagnant and caused high unemployment for lots of people, especially the young. I give credit to Democrat Bernie Sanders who has the honesty to admit that Obama's unemployment numbers are bogus because they no longer count people who have given up looking for a job. Sanders correctly points out that the real unemployment figure is 10.3 percent. Unfortunately, Sanders's solution is Obama's big government policies on steroids.

What have been the biggest accomplishments of CatholicVote.org since you co-founded it with Brian Burch in October 2008?

Over the last decade, Catholic voters have been more willing to support candidates who are pro-life and pro-family. For far too long politicians would mouth a few platitudes like "safe, legal, and rare" to assuage Catholic voters. But Catholic voters have realized that this moderate rhetoric always takes the back seat once the votes are cast in Congress. Pro-life Democrats are nearly extinct. That is driving more and more Catholics to the GOP.

What have been your group’s biggest struggles?

The Catholic Church is said to be obsessed about abortion and gay marriage. But I was 35 years old before I heard a Catholic priest mention "abortion" in a homily. Some obsession. So while I'm happy that the U.S. bishops issue press releases and statements about the dignity of human life, I do wish that priests and bishops would speak from their heart at the pulpit—rather than only on paper.

How does Catholicism influence your approach to being a husband and father?

I remember when Pope Francis called on parents to put down their phones and “waste” time with their children. Of course, he meant that it's not a “waste” of time at all, and that we need to break free from our distractions and remember why we are here. And my mission, like Saint Joseph's, is to serve my wife and children, and get them into Heaven.

What is your favorite Scripture passage and why?

Peter is my favorite apostle. He's an unlearned fisherman, and his language was likely salty like the Dead Sea. He was feisty, even rash. But in the end, Jesus entrusted him to lead his fledgling church. And because he knew he was such a sinner, he refused to be killed in the same manner as his savior. He asked to be crucified upside down. And it was Peter who said: "Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope." (1 Peter 3:15). When people see Christians, do they see that hope? Do they see Jesus? It's a call for us all to be better.

If you could say one thing to Pope Francis about Catholics and American politics, what would it be?

I would beg his forgiveness for how corrupted our politics have become because of abortion. The party once committed to helping the little guy now turns a cold shoulder to children in the womb. I also think conservatives show a lack of compassion when considering the plight of Mexicans who come into our country. Conservatives do have a point, though. The United States has had a very generous immigration policy on our books for 50 years in a row. And many people feel like they are being taken advantage of because of illegal immigration.

We need a solution to our southern border. But I think it would help if more Americans had a sense of solidarity for people who are fleeing poverty. We can't only see the money we have to spend building more schools. I agree it's not fair to pay more taxes because of someone else's illegal activity. But if we were more honest, we might admit that we'd also cross a border to escape poverty and put food on the table for our family.

What tensions have you experienced in the past between your faith and political work?

Christianity calls us to moral principles. We are called to affirm the dignity of everyone we see, to recognize that each person is an unrepeatable image of the face of God. The constant temptation of people in politics is focused on power. Do we have the votes we need to get this passed? How will this group react to this? Pope Francis was right when he addressed Congress. We need more of a focus on the common good.

What do U.S. Catholics most need right now in American politics?

Catholics in both political parties should be beacons of light. Catholics in the GOP need to welcome the stranger, and learn to walk a mile in another's shoes. Catholics in the Democratic Party have to pry their party away from its strident support for legal abortion.  

What are your hopes for the future?

A renewal of a strong marriage culture would truly be the tide that raises all boats. It would reduce crime, lower poverty, reduce animosity between the sexes, soften our coarse culture and help us all to make decisions not just for our current self-interest but for future generations.

What do you want people to take away from your life and work?

I think the modern media environment is horrible. We all lead busy lives, so a certain level of ignorance about news and politics is perfectly understandable. But MSNBC and Fox News both cash checks by simply affirming their audiences’ biases, rather than educating or challenging them. That's why I see the work of CatholicVote as so important. We're dedicated to helping Catholics cut through the clutter and learn about the very real and important public policy debates we're facing today.

Any final thoughts?

Pope Francis said that Christians can't be like Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of politics. It can be messy. It can produce much more heat than light. But will politics be better if Christians remove themselves? Of course not. Let's be the salt and light of the world.

Sean Salai, S.J., is a contributing writer at America.

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Bill Wheelen
3 years ago
Why Mr. Mercer would knock the tea party because they helped oust Boehner is laughable. Just because he is a Catholic. Just look at the Catholic Politicians. They are heretics. Biden, Pelosi, Durban=abortion any time any where for any reason. Boehner wouldn't even stand to not fund Planned Parenthood. Another bad joke. I am sorry Mr Mercer, but most of the Catholic politicians, Dems in particular do not support religious liberty and are in favor of abortion. It galls me to go to Mass and see Obama stickers on the cars of Catholics.
Winifred Holloway
3 years ago
I cannot add much to the comprehensive and sensible comments by Bill Dehaas,j so I will make one point. No, nuns are not being forced to pay for contraception as Tim O'Leary states. They can sign a paper stating that as a religious association, they are exempt. Claiming that even this too is an outrage to their religious liberty is absurd.
William deHaas
3 years ago
Where to begin on this biased and skewed opinion piece: - you state without documentation: "Castro doesn't offer any Biden-style hesitation. He gives legal abortion his full support. After all, he campaigned for strident supporters of abortion like Wendy Davis" You all but alander with your skewed opinion.....FACTS: Wendy Davis was strident because of the politics of Texas and the issue was a bill (now awaiting SCOTUS reveiw/decision) that would have closed more than 50% of all abortion clinics in the state of TX. We may disagree on a black and white reading of abortion positions but your opinion has no nuance and ignores facts. Most of those clinics would have closed because the bill requires that they have MDs with nearby hospital privileges and that the clinics meet the standards of an ER. Every medical and professional association, etc. along with actual facts about safety, births, abortions, etc. indicated that these two requirements were way over the top and only disguised their true motive. Davis actually was very articulate about her own personal experience. What your opinon reveals is a pro-birth stance (no nuance, no concern for women's health or the place of women in these decision; no actual ability to understand that poverty, inequality, lack of education, family breakdowns, etc. create the reason for abortions. To make abortion illegal will only add to these problems. Many (if not most) Democrats have tried to address the much borader issues around abortion - but have been stymied by Republicans who market themselves as pro-life - until we vote for paid family leave (recent vote on Pain Abortion bill); or early child education or centers; minimum family living wage; Affordable Care Act and free contraceptives (which experience shows reduces abortions the most, etc. Your pro-birth stance is SAD and reveals a very shallow understanding of facts and reality (you might want to study for a graduate degree and learn some things). - Republicans - okay, help me understand why abortions decrease the most in Democratic administrations and increases under Republican administrations. Does this have something to do with their pro-birth and forget about baby and mother after that approach? Suggest you read the other America article by Robert David Sullivan - he ends with: "The whole controversy is a reminder that subtleties are lost in coverage of hot-button political issues. The thinking is that because Francis opposes same-sex marriage, he must be held accountable for the tactics and the divisive rhetoric of all opponents of same-sex marriage. The “you’re with us or them” attitude simplifies but also stifles debate. So if you support any restrictions on the sale of firearms, you’re “anti-gun,” and if you oppose any restriction, you’re in league with the National Rifle Association. If you support access to abortion but think Roe v. Wade was a poorly reasoned Supreme Court decision, you’re not really “pro-choice,” and if you oppose abortion but think Planned Parenthood provides valuable women’s health services, you’re not really “pro-life.” Here is a well reasoned and balanced approach - too bad you don't understand it: http://millennialjournal.com/2015/10/01/millennials-the-whole-life-approach-and-the-democratic-party/ Robert Christian states: "The solution to abortion, as expressed in the #chooseboth campaign, is a comprehensive approach that secures legal protection for unborn life, while addressing the root causes of abortion, particularly the economic vulnerability faced by many pregnant women and families struggling to make ends meet who feel unable to choose life. Only a pro-woman, pro-child approach, which addresses crucial issues like healthcare, prenatal care, a living wage, childcare, and family leave can lead to the abolition of abortion. Restrictions on abortion are necessary and just, but they will never be enough. We need a communitarian approach that reflects a progressive commitment to government action and social justice if we want to build a successful culture of life." Republicans who are pro-life in name only: "When they see self-described pro-lifers cut programs that deliver food or other basic necessities to poor children in order to cut taxes for billionaires, they see hypocrisy. They see incoherence. They do not see compassion and a commitment to social justice and human rights. And many begin to suspect that these right-wing politicians are more interested in controlling women’s sexuality than in defending vulnerable people." "The truth is that these individuals are not witnesses to a culture of life. Even if they refuse to acquiesce to the direct destruction of unborn life, their devotion to economic libertarianism and indentured servitude to corporate interests rightly open them up to the charge of being pro-birth rather than pro-life. And to be honest, many are not even pro-birth, if they do not ensure that pregnant women have access to quality prenatal care and other measures that make sure babies are born healthy." It cannot be a hand servant to the Republican Party, always willing to do its bidding, while hoping to be thrown a few scraps from the table. The ignorant rhetoric of Todd Akin and others who undermine our cause must be replaced by a genuine compassion for women who are in desperate circumstances. Susan B. Anthony List and other Republican organizations that pose as nonpartisan pro-life groups and support these toxic candidates must be pushed away from the center of the movement or actually live up to their stated missions. Instead of supporting right-wing hacks and targeting pro-life Democrats for believing that healthcare is a right not a privilege, they can help to build a pro-life movement that can succeed rather than one that is subservient to Republican Party interests and complicit in vile rhetoric and policies that harm women and vulnerable families. You paint a skewed picture of Democrats in Congress - here from Christian correcting your inaccuracies: "Nearly a third of the Democratic party is pro-life. That is over 21 million people. Millions more have left because of this single issue. I’m afraid more will continue to leave if pro-life Democrats continue to be grossly underrepresented and disrespected by party elites. If the Democratic Party would like to become a majority party again, this obviously matters." Your black and white pro-birth approach has been tried and failed; repeatedly. Your opinion piece is dated and tired - past the use by date. Here is the challenge: Or to support pro-life Democrats who are the only candidates that can win in these pro-life districts and to regain the majority in order to support and enact progressive policies on healthcare, education, housing, childcare, workers’ rights, campaign finance reform, the protection of the environment, economic justice, voting rights, Social Security and Medicare, and countless other issues. Should all of these be sacrificed to the idol of abortion-on-demand? Or should we look to the approach taken in 2006 and 2008 and try to win again? Should we bring back the big tent and end the abortion litmus test? That is the choice. And that choice will help to define the future of the Democratic Party and our progress toward the common good in the United States.
William Snyder
3 years ago
I believe we need immigrants to replace the Americans we have murdered in their mothers' wombs. We need to heed Dt 10:19 "So you too must welcome the alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in Egypt". I believe we need to know who they are; from where they are coming (I feel all coming from Mexico are not Mexicans); what they are able to do; AND what they have done. Hospitality usually had a home add a cup of water to soup when a stranger came to the door; but if an entire foreign village came, it would be impractical.
Crystal Watson
3 years ago
As mentioned in an earlier comment, this is so biased it's hard to take it seriously. So Democrats aren't "pro-family"? I take it "pro-family" is code for homophobic.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Crystal - it seems to take less and less to be labelled homophobic by Democrats today. It used to be a term confined for those who had an irrational fear/hate of homosexual advances. Then, it was expanded to the vastly larger group who believed homosexual acts are unhealthy and immoral. Now, you use it to mean anyone who thinks a child should be raised by their real father and mother in a stable monogamous family (e.g Pope Francis). It has become the new n word of the left.
Crystal Watson
3 years ago
Tim, what then does the term "pro-family" really mean? Isn't it about trying to doom marriage equality?
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Pro-family is support of the family as I just described above - the position of Pope Francis in his recent visit here, and the same one President Obama supported a few years ago. What I objected to is your casual use of the H word to besmirch what essentially is the Catholic / Christian position. Did you see how much hate is being thrown at the poor 70 -year women in the video I linked to?
Crystal Watson
3 years ago
Yes, I watched the video. The H word is descriptive of an attitude about gay people - that they aren't people in the same way the rest of us are and that they therefore don't deserve the same rights. The fact that some people who discriminate against LGBT people might also be elderly and nice doesn't make discriminating ok. And as Thomas Reese SJ once wrote ... (http://ncronline.org/blogs/faith-and-justice/how-bishops-should-respond-same-sex-marriage-decision) ... "Let's be perfectly clear. In Catholic morality, there is nothing to prohibit a Catholic judge or clerk from performing a same-sex marriage. Nor is there any moral obligation for a Catholic businessperson to refuse to provide flowers, food, space and other services to a same-sex wedding. Because of all the controversy over these issues in the media, the bishops need to be clear that these are not moral problems for Catholic government officials or Catholic businesspeople."
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Well, I believe (as Mrs. Stutzman does) that gay people are people in the same way the rest of us are - sinful fallen people subject to temptation like the rest of us, and at risk of confusing a desire for something as a justification for it. They should be loved as my brothers and sisters, and, just as I might be worried for the salvation of a brother who was living in an adulterous relationship or who had abandoned the Church's teachings. Keep in mind that I think the gay life far less evil than killing unborn children, or abusing children sexually. I would be treating homosexuals or abortionists as less than fully human to not want them too to be saved and live the good life, as Jesus taught it. I also think homosexuals do not have the right to hate those who disagree with them, or who want to hurt them, as many obviously want to hurt Mrs. Stutzman, who obviously loves the very gay man whose partner is suing her, because she could not participate in his "marriage" since it contradicted her conscience. Note that your loose definition of homophobia (as opposition to mongamous marriage between one man and one women includes Jesus Christ (Matt 19).
Crystal Watson
3 years ago
You have to make a lot of assumptions to believe that Jesus is against same-sex marriage. The fact that a number of other Christian denominations support marriage equality (Quakers, UCC, Episcopal church, Presbyterians, etc.) suggests that there's no inherent conflict between 'living the good life as Jesus taught it" and being a married gay person. And of course, a majority of Catholics feel the same.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Jesus words are absolutely clear, as is the Catechism and the consistent teaching of the Church over 2000 years. Other self-identifying-Christian denominations believe a lot of things and deny a lot of things. That of course proves nothing about their truth, as does any so-called majority of self-identifying Catholics on a poll, apart from the political. Lots of the same people believe in abortion, euthanasia, pre-marital and extra-marital sex, divorce. Do you think Pope Francis' opposition to homosexual marriages is homophobic?
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Another great interview. The difference between the US political parties on religious freedom and life issues hasn't been so dramatic since the Civil War, when the Republican party was formed by a coalition of anti-slavery and anti-polygamy religiously motivated groups. The Democrats even defend sending $500 Million to the baby-killing, organ-dealing Planned Parenthood, who have admitted 87% of their revenue comes from their abortions. This is a sure sign that the Democratic Party has no place for pro-life Catholics, no matter how much they try to hide their extremism. Here is an example of their disdain for religious freedom http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/20/living/stutzman-florist-gay/ A 70 year old florist could lose everything because her Christian conscience prevented her from participating in a gay "wedding." It's remarkable how she still can love her attackers. How easily the Democrats have given up on conscientious objections and one's right to follow one's conscience. i'm sure this great woman will now be ridiculed and called the H word. see this interview https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDETkcCw63c
John Adams
3 years ago
Probably off on a tangent, but Pro-Life (Family Life) I would hope would include workers' rights and livable wage. Can we think of anyone's wealth that is detached from the laborer that builds, farms, constructs? Pro-Life or Family Life policies should support investments in education, health and welfare. Do we have that with any politician? I'm hearing more of that from Bernie Sanders than anyone. Much of the economic and education issues (my presumption) touch the root cause behind the abortion issues. In order for us to understand the dignity and sanctity of life, we need to stop treating our labor force as a commodity - (all life matters). How will any of the GOP candidates improve the ways and means for health care? How will families be able to continue to afford education for their young? How will the GOP promote a sustainable wage for families living on the edge? These are also pro-life issues.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
John - expansion of the pro-life term to include economic and education payments is likely done to provide cover for those hell-bent on maintaining the killing of the unborn, rather than to actually improve the economic or educational status of poor people. It could even result in the ridiculous situation of demanding that pro-life people support a living wage for an abortionist (something no doubt Bernie Sanders would fight for). Both Democrats and Republicans strongly support improved jobs, wages, and better education and healthcare, even though they strongly differ in how it is best done. The Democrats generally want everything done by and through the government and Republicans want as much as practical done by and through the private sector. For example, Republicans support educational vouchers and Democrats oppose them. One can have legitimate and moral reasons for preferring one or the other and there are plenty of empirical data on both sides of the arguments.
Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life.” Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. Demographics of Republican dominant states support Sister Joan’s belief. Divorce rates, minority incarceration rates, police fatality rates, suicide rates, etc. all run at least 25% higher in Republican dominant states than liberal dominant states. You can visit Joan Chittister's website at Joan Chittister.org.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Chuck - you are forever claiming this analysis at the state level. But, most of the bad stuff (abortions and other murders, family breakdown, minority incarceration & police fatality rates, etc., are firmly concentrated in Democratic-run cities. One cannot deny that the Democratic approach to welfare and crime and social disorders over the past 50 years has produced great dependence and misery in the cities, and have especially hurt the poor and minorities.
Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
You assume that two or three cities you pick are somehow representative of 39,000 local (city) governments nationwide. Despite Chicago’s notoriety, the firearm fatality rate in Illinois runs lower than any conservative dominant state. State demographics can show you the forest, not just the tree in front of you.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Chuck - you have to go deeper than a few cities. Take the top 100 or so. With a very few exceptions, it is Democratic cities, with very strict gun control laws, that are the most violent, and have the most gun-related violence. See links in my comment above. Even in Illinois, look at the top 5-10 cities in the table below. Over 70% of the murders are in Chicago (500 murders) and the rest have less than 20 murders but are still predominantly Democratic run. See these crime stats https://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/8tabledatadecpdf/table-8-state-cuts/table_8_offenses_known_to_law_enforcement_by_illinois_by_city_2012.xls
Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
Only twenty-four percent of the 118 largest cities have republican mayors. The list is basically a list of democrat mayors. Somebody picked Chicago and I choose NYC. Chicago’s firearm fatality rate runs 25% higher than conservative dominant states. New York City runs 70% lower than conservative dominant states. The five states with the lowest firearm fatality rate (all liberal dominant states) also run 70% lower than conservative dominant states. Hawaii rarely gets mentioned, but Hawaii has the toughest gun laws and lowest firearm fatality rate.
Phil Tanny
3 years ago
The concept of "religious liberty" being sold here is dangerous business. Here's some examples... You try to go out to eat and find this sign in the restaurant window, "We don't serve Catholics on religious grounds". You try to apply for a job and at the top of the application form it says, "Catholics need not apply, because we don't believe in Jesus". You try to rent an apartment and the landlord says, "We don't like the Pope, so we don't rent to Catholics." Any form of discrimination we might want to aim at others can just as easily be aimed back at us using the very same rationale. Moving in this direction would aim our culture in the direction of another place you might have heard of, The Middle East.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Phil - Mrs. Stutzman was completely willing to serve anyone coming into her flowershop, and was serving Bob for years (she always knew he was gay), so your examples do not apply. the new crime is the insistence that people who believe something is immoral (gay 'marriage") are being forced to participate in it. I would not sue a gay Buddhist or an Islamic or Christian fundamentalist who did not want to provide flowers or otherwise show up for my Catholic wedding. I would respect their religious freedom, and their right under the U.S. Constitution. It protects us all from forced association with things we do not believe or support. To take your argument to its logical conclusion, a Jewish flowershop would have to support a neo-Nazi wedding or face being put out of business. Or a Catholic hospital would be forced to perform abortions (the ACLU is suing Catholic hospitals for this right now) or euthanasia (coming soon). Faithful Christians are being forced out of providing adoptions, several types of healthcare and many other businesses. They are pilloried in social media and ridiculed in elite entertainment circles. Gay activists went on for years saying that gay marriage legislation wouldn't hurt anyone - see what a lie that was!
Sean Salai, S.J.
3 years ago

Thanks everyone for reading. I'm glad the interview has sparked some dialogue about our common desire to make the world a better place. Let's continue to pray for each other and for our country.

Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
The firearm fatality rate alone of conservative dominant states runs over ten times higher than the violent death rate of the ten most socialist countries in the world. Life expectancy in conservative dominant states runs two years shorter than in liberal dominant states. Of the entire world prison population, 1 in 4 is imprisoned in the land of the free. Conservatives can claim pro-birth, but pro-life, not a chance.
Tim O'Leary
3 years ago
Chuck - The cities with the highest crime rates are nearly all run by Democrats. Neighborhood Scout has tracked the cities with the highest violent crime rates for several years. The organization explains its process by saying: “Our research reveals the 100 most dangerous cities in America with 25,000 or more people, based on the number of violent crimes per 1,000 residents. http://www.ipi.org/ipi_issues/detail/democrats-run-the-cities-with-the-highest-violent-crime-rates Every major city in America which is a center of poverty is run by Democrats and has been under Democratic party control for a very long time (http://www.thefederalistpapers.org/us/every-major-city-which-is-a-poverty-center-is-run-by-democrats-heres-the-solution)
J Cosgrove
3 years ago
Tim, Nearly everything Mr. Kotlarz cites is made up or cherry picked or distorted. His one value is that he is a champion of anti-capitalist ideas and is also at the same time pro Democratic party. Which means he identifies the Democratic party with anti-capitlist ideas. Something we all know but few on the left will admit.
Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
Deaths Due to Motor Vehicle Accidents per 100,000 Population in conservative dominant states run nearly double that of liberal dominant states, 15.6 vs. 7.9. For example, Texas has 13.3 vs. California at 8.3. See for yourself at http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/usa/motor-vehicle-death-rate. Comparisons between conservative and liberal dominant states expand upon comparisons from http://www.slideshare.net/equalitytrust/the-spirit-level-slides-from-the-equality-trust. The slides are from The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, published in 2009. Written by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, the book highlights the "pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, (and) encouraging excessive consumption.
Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
People capitalism perhaps should be the goal. Reagan cut billionaire taxes in 1982 and the number of billionaires quadrupled by 1988. Median income today is nearly the same as in 1982. Does an economy only for billionaires differ from health care only for heart surgeons?
Chuck Kotlarz
3 years ago
Thanks for the links. The "Spirit Level" link noted in my reply below to Mr. Cosgrove has several country to country and state to state comparisons. Liberal and conservative dominant state violent crime rates are nearly identical. Does Neighborhood Scout also track the hundred safest cities? I believe El Paso, Texas has been the safest major US city for several years. Also, Texas has the top public high school graduation rate for Blacks (84%) and second highest for Hispanics (also 84%).

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