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In today’s Wall Street Journal, Steven Waldman looks at the data that John C. Green gathered for ” What Happened to the Values Voter? ” in our March issue. The big question for him was why the traditional Catholics voted for Obama more than Kerry. Green said that economic factors outweighed social ones. Mark Silk suggested that it was because Obama was not Catholic. If traditional Catholics see Catholic social doctrines as personally binding but not universal, then voting for Obama was fine because he wasn’t a Catholic.

Waldman then sketches three possible explanations of his own:

1. Catholics sided with Bush at the beginning of the Iraq War, but turned against it later when the going got rough.

2. To quote Waldman: “In 2008, for the first time in almost 90 years, we saw an economic calamity AND a growing anti-immigrant sentiment—both attributed to Republicans. And you had the Catholic Church preaching economic equity and support for immigrants. On some level, the children and grandchildren of the FDR Catholic Democrats may have carried ‘Democratness’ as a recessive gene, minor, rarely seen, but ready to reawaken under just the right circumstances.”

3. The “abortion reduction” argument permitted Catholics who wanted to vote for Obama to do so without thinking they were violating pro-life principles.

All of these seem plausible, but I find this last one especially compelling. All the more reason to show how allowing funding for abortion providers abroad, striking down conscience-protection laws, and appointing exceptionally pro-choice cabinet members will not, in fact, save more lives.



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