A strange article on the catholic News Agency, citing a recent analysis, makes the hypothesis Obama has not shot himself in the leg with the HHS mandate, but be expressly wooing the non-Christian and non-believer vote, moving from the assumption that the Catholic vote has been slowly drifting away anyway and the numbers are rapidly tipping the scale in favour of non-believers.
Firstly, allow me to say I am perfectly persuaded Obama is a Christian as I am a communist, and if he has some affection for a religion – meant as a cultural, not spiritual phenomenon – this is most certainly Islam, not Christianity.
Still, I think I should examine the argument and say why I disagree and think the Obama people have simply vastly understated the price they would have to pay if they anger the catholic world.
1) It seems strange to me that whilst we have been told for so many years – and have had impressive demonstrations, see G.W. Bush – that the Catholic vote can make Presidents, suddenly it would pay to woo the enemies of Catholicism. Certainly, in the course of a generational change this might happen, but Catholics are not getting less numerous, nor are they getting less Catholic (than they already are). Vocations in the US have been on the increase for many years now, and the vote has been moving progressively to the Republicans,which is certainly in part due not to the fact that they aren’t Catholics anymore, but that they still are (with all the caveats about the state of the US Catholic culture, of course).
2) Which in my eyes neatly introduces my second point: Democrats lose the Catholic vote, at least in part, because Catholics understand Democrats do not protect Catholic values: the idea that as they are losing them in instalments be better to be losing them altogether seems to me a rather suicidal logic. If Obama were not so blinded by ideology, he would be thinking day and night what to do to please them, not to anger them.
3) Catholics are spread only in certain parts of the countries, and are a powerful force only in a dozen or so of them. But Catholics are, most importantly, crucial in key States like Florida and Ohio: who on earth would willingly set to sacrifice their vote in such important battlegrounds?
4) The theory goes that for every Catholic you lose you will earn at least one atheist. Very strange. I think I am not very far from the mark thinking the majority of the atheist vote is already solidly in Democratic hands, and many of the Republican atheists are socially conservative enough not to want to go against established religion even if they don’t believe in God themselves. Where is this huge untapped reservoir of non-voting Democratic atheists only waiting for the HHS controversy to go vote Obama & the gang? On the contrary, the prospective of losing the Catholic vote is painfully real, and backed by the impressive fact of more than 55 millions voters. The idea of willingly cross them is, in my eyes, pure madness. Don’t believe me? Ask John Kerry.
5) The fallout on the Protestants is completely ignored. In fact, Santorum’s candidature is being propelled in decisive measure by protestant votes, and Protestants can be mobilised as well as atheists. Granted, they vote Republican in their majority already, but there is a lot of potential loss here anyway.
In conclusion, it seems to me Obama has, very simply, done something very stupid whose consequences he had not foreseen, and is now trapped by a controversy he allowed to go too far before noticing the quicksand was all around him. If you ask me, there is no “cunning plan” at all, and political analysts merely try to give, in retrospect, some sense to this senseless ideological entrenchment, initially started in the illusion it would not cause any big conflict, and no so difficult to get out of without loss of face. Exit without loss of face the Government has already attempted a couple of times, with the only result of making the choice between all out fall out or retreat more difficult.
But it’s a lose-lose for Obama. If he caves in he loses face, and if he doesn’t he loses desperately needed votes.
Six months of ferocious controversy on the HHS mandate, and good luck in Florida. I so hope Archbishop Dolan & Co. continue the fight to the end, and step up the tone in Summer.
And so after the various religious ones, the first lay Catholic organisation (EWTN) filed a lawsuit to stop the so-called “contraception mandate” (a misnomer, if you ask me: firstly the real issue is clearly the one of religious freedom; secondly “contraception” is extended to abortifacients; that is, to outright abortion). I have more than a vague impression that this is not going to go away very soon, and will make the B.O. administration increasingly more sorry of having undervalued the extent of the problem, and the might of the opponent.
The fact is, Catholicism in the USA is a sleeping giant, and it was rather naive from the B.O.organisation to think the giant would not awaken at all. It is as if those people really thought the likes of Pelosi are representative of the Catholic faithful, let alone bishops. Alas, now it’s too late, and if you ask me in a couple of months at the latest it will become clear the alternative is between a most humiliating backpedaling and a devastating, lacerating battle pitching against each other those who would have voted for B.O. anyway, and those who will not do it anymore. However I look at it, I can’t see this as a smart move.
Of course many will think Catholics do not really care, and those who vehemently oppose the B.O. administration on this wouldn’t have voted for him anyway; but I think they are wrong. With the only exception (to my knowledge) of G. W. Bush, the Democratic party always bagged the majority of the Catholic vote; but will this be the case if the bishop continue to thunder against the government for months to come, with tones and a determination I cannot remember seeing from them before? Methinks, this is going to hurt. Badly.
We have seen the first fruits of the progressive embarrassment of the B.O. administration with the pathetic attempt to “compromise” of the last days. I couldn’t see much of a “compromise” myself, but what I could clearly see is the government sees the need for one, though they’ll try to make the retreat as little and as little humiliating humiliating as possible.
I’d love to be a fly on an Oval Office wall. I think what I’d see is some embarrassed faces and a still unexpressed, but omnipresent thought: why have we started this.