I went to early Mass this morning with my daughter Bridget. She likes to go to early Mass. And since, because of her health issues, she is unable to drive, I went with her. I usually go to a later Mass, as I am no longer much of a morning person. In my youth, I was very much a morning person. Not anymore. And not being a morning person combined with being at early Mass made me a little cranky, which made me start to think about the topic of this post. I have thought about it other times -- when I was not cranky. But, my crankiness in combination with my middle-aged broad menopausal-ness have given me the audacity to actually write about it.
As we all know, if we have been paying any attention whatsoever, is that the Republican party has essentially become the party of the those who oppose legalized abortion and the Democratic party has essentially become the party of those who support legalized abortion.
The Catholic Church teaches very strongly against abortion -- legal or otherwise. It is not my purpose in this post to discuss this teaching, but what this teaching has wrought politically in our country.
When my parents were young, most Catholics were Democrats. My mother explained to me when I was growing up that the Democratic party was the party of the "working person" -- it supported labor rights and a social safety net for people who worked hard for a modest living. And most Catholics were working people. Hence, most of them were Democrats.
As time went on, the Democrats began to support many other ideas that are very "Catholic." The Democratic party still supports a strong social safety net for the poor and the elderly, and champions the right of working people to a living wage and a safe work environment. It also views access to adequate healthcare, housing, and education as essential to human dignity; sees war as something to be engaged in only as a very last resort; promotes the welcoming of the immigrant; and encourages us all to work in solidarity to form a civil society that allows for all people to live according to their beliefs.
The Democratic party also supports abortion rights.
And herein lies the conundrum for Catholics -- and this is how the Republicans have them by the balls.
Because the Republican party does not support abortion rights, and because many in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church have made statements to the effect that the abortion issue should be seen as the top priority for Catholic voters, a lot of Catholic voters will vote for Republicans based primarily -- or even solely -- on this issue. I have personally known Catholics who vote this way. I have also personally known Catholics who feel that you are endangering your immortal soul if you vote for a pro-choice Democrat -- even if you vote for that person based on issues other than abortion.
But, there is a danger to this. It basically gives the Republicans a pass to potentially get away with what I will call "crap" without a whole lot of scrutiny by the Catholics. I have, at times, seen Catholics almost turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to some of the objectionable things Republicans say and do as long as those Republicans "toe the line" as far as abortion is concerned. And this worries me. It worries me because I think the Republicans are very well aware of this situation, and I think that at least some of them take advantage of it from time to time.
Please know that I realize I am generalizing a great deal in this post. Most Catholics are not mindless dupes. Maybe some politicians are people of good character. I do not mean to say that Republicans are war-mongers who don't care about poor people. I do not mean to say that Democrats are all selfless do-gooders. There are even Republicans who are pro-choice and Democrats who oppose legalized abortion. My main purpose here is to point out the danger -- no matter what political party you belong to -- of having one issue become so overwhelmingly important that it leaves you vulnerable to those who might manipulate you to their own ends.