Did the Dems Lose Faith?

What happened to the Democrats' emphasis on reaching out to the religious left, as they did in 2008?  That's what David Gibson at Politics Daily wants to know.

Of the many reasons cited for the Election Day "shellacking" administered by Republicans to President Obama and the Democrats, perhaps none is as puzzling to political analysts -- or as maddening to religious progressives who put so much faith and work into Obama's success -- than the Democrats' failure to mobilize the Religious Left and reach out to conservative believers.

To be sure, little was going the Democrats' way this fall, and it would have taken something on the order of an Old Testament miracle -- say, the sun standing still until employment numbers improved -- to forestall serious midterm losses last week.

But the reality is that after making great strides since 2004 in mobilizing religious progressives and convincing some Republican-leaning evangelical and Catholic churchgoers that they could safely vote Democratic, the party punted on faith-based outreach after the 2008 vote. It came back to haunt them this year as religious voters abandoned Democrats at a rate higher than that of the rest of the electorate and many of the religious progressives who turned out in force in 2008 stayed home.

"Unfortunately, once Democrats took power, instead of building on our success, we went back to the political strategies that had failed us in the past," Eric Sapp, a partner at Eleison Group, a consulting firm that worked on religious outreach for dozens of Democratic campaigns in 2006 and 2008, wrote in a post-mortem at The Huffington Post. "Funding and staff were routed away from faith and values work and directly almost exclusively into base turnout. And the results were disastrous."


Read the rest of Gibson's analysis here.

James Martin, SJ

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Tom Maher
8 years 5 months ago
Do you remeber how Governor Carey of Pennsylvania a proi-life Catholic was not even allowed to deleiver a pro-life message at the 1992 Democratic presidential convention almost two decades ago?  With 50% of the delegates were women from the teachers unions made sure that Catholics as Catholics would not be heard.  Only Catholics speaking the party line are allowed to speak and then only rarely.   

Catholics are expected to vote for Democratic candidates while remaining invisible strickly within the party agenda formed by everyone else.  Catholics are increaingly passive followers of whatever agenda the increasingly secular Democratic party establishment serves up.  What role does faith play in today's Democratic party?  Faith has has little or no role. 

And don't look now loyal Catholic Democrates but as of January 2011 for the first time in sixty years no Kennedy will be in Congress or federal office office.  The remaining Joe Biden, John Kerry and Jerry Brown etc are token Catholics from the 1970s that will not be around foreverw and will not be replace.  What Catholic in the Democratic party other than these few have national stature?  Where is the future Cathollic leadership in the Democartic party?  There are no future Catjolics leaders. 

The Democratic party has a micro representation of Catholics in federal  office even though Catholics are 25% of the U.S. population.  But Catholics do not seem to notice their raidical loss of participation and influence in the Democratic party going on for many decades .  Diversity is not working to even minumally include  Catholics in the Democratic party. Once again as was the case less than a century ago Catholics need not apply for leadership in the Democratic party.

 So let's not kid ourselves that the Democratic party is a natural home for Catholics.  Look again.  Catholic influence and participation in the Democratic party is in sharp and continued decline.  Catholics now have fringe group status in the  Democratic party.   The day will soon be here when Catholic are outsiders in the Democratic opposed by most other groups in new the Democratic coalition that does not include Catholics.   
8 years 5 months ago
Everyone should read David Carlin's
''Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?''
This is a man who is a Democrat to his soul and he questions whether one can be a Catholic and be a Democrat.  His book is a pretty strong indictment of the Democrat party and I do not think he gets close to the whole rotten mess that encompasses what they have done in the last 50 years.  I see no social justice in what the Democrat party does.  I see just the opposite and this may be why many Catholics have problems with them.

And as an aside this election was about the economy and unemployment and the future of the country.  All look bleak and nothing the Democrats have done in the last two years have helped.  And do not give me the nonsense that they inherited a bad situation.  They are as much to blame for the bad economy as anyone, probably a lot more.
Pearce Shea
8 years 5 months ago
In the same way Democrats seem terrified of arguing on taxes and fiscal policy with conservatives, they also seem to have abdicated any voice in the faith debate. It's as if everyone forgot that part of the reason we all got excited about Obama is he had commercials in a Church and seemed comfortable weaving biblical themes/quotes into his speeches. Compare that, now, with Rep. Pelosi's weird ramblings on "the Word."

Part of the reason, I think, that Democrats seem unable to engage the issues on the level of faith is that they embraced a brand of liberalism which explicitly rejects religion as a valid sort of argumentation for political points. This isn't just about JFK/Cuomo's "separation of religious self and political self" but goes to an even deeper repudiation of just about everything having to do with faith. The great lions of pro-choice were, back when being a religious democrat was still not something that made you odd, largely pro-life people. The only people I know that embrace liberalism per the current incarnation of the majority of the Democratic party are only able to embrace a milquetoast sort of faith that magically conforms with each of their political commitments.

And all that said, I am a big believer in one of the mantras of the late Fr. Nuehaus (sp?): whenever your practice of religion (mostly regardless of the religion) causes you no difficulties in your public life, you're probably practicing it wrong.


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