Friday, April 18, 2008

The Blogosphere, The Left, and the Catholic Vote

First Read has an interesting piece this morning about the "power" of "Obama Nation" and their reaction to the perceived bias in ABC's presidential debate the other night. If Mark Murray is to be believed, this group of people is so powerful that they simply cannot be stopped. One thing I absolutely disagree with is Murray's impression that Move On and the Leftist blogosphere is going to be a deciding factor in this election cycle:

To put it simply, ABC was under siege yesterday. This may only be a taste
of how the ObamaNation would react to a Clinton nomination. If MoveOn is
motivated to do a petition campaign against the media over a debate, imagine
what Clinton delegates and undecided superdelegates would face this summer if
there is doubt.

And as the
Politico’s Ben Smith pointed out yesterday, it’s also what the
GOP would face in the general election, especially if Obama is nominee. The
level of devotion among Obama's supporters rivals what Bush had with his flock
in 2004. The left-wing blogosphere is MUCH more powerful than what you see on
the right this cycle and it reminds us of the advantage Bush had in '04. While
we all know about that so-called right-wing voice machine, don’t forget that
there is now a left-wing noise machine (on the internet) as well. And it has
found its voice.

I agree with both Murray and Smith that the blogosphere on the Left has become a potent and effective political force. Whether that is good for the country is certainly questionable, but I think it is good for the blogosphere as a whole that sites like The Daily Kos and many others are proving that people can use the blogosphere as an effective political organizing tool. Conservative blogs and blog agregators such as Red State, GOPBlogs, the Tennessee ConserVoliance, and many others are proving just as effective in politics nationally and here in States like Tennessee as their liberal counterparts. The only real difference is that conservatives aren't enthused about their nominee-but I think the Left underestimates both conservative hatred for the Clintons and the newfound dislike for Barack Obama (not to mention Obama's ability to shoot himself in the foot in a way that will likely cost him in the General Election campaign).

The Left also believes-both in the blogosphere and out of it-that because of the nomination of John McCain, they have managed to neutralize the evangelicals who would normally vote for Republicans in droves. Our friends in the party opposite are failing to factor in a possible evangelical reaction against Obama in November that could bubble over because of a proliferation of things, including the Wright controversy and Obama's "bitter religion and guns" San Fransisco remarks. Further, with the Pope in the U.S. this week, the one question the press always fails to ask or answer effectively is this: What role will the Catholic Church play in this election?

Allow me to educate those of you who are regular readers but who are not Catholic about the nature of the Catholic vote in 2008. The national media tends to speak of the "Catholic vote" as though that is a singular thing and Catholics are a monolith. Catholics are not only an extremely diverse group of people, but there is a vast difference in the voting patterns of "Catholics" who identify themselves as such but don't regularly attend Mass or make frequent use of the sacraments, and those who are weekly (or greater) Mass-attendants, receive the Eucharist, go to Confession, and observe to the best of their ability the precepts of the Church. Among the latter group, there has been an extremely sharp right turn in the last 30 years. While the Church in the U.S. isn't big on getting involved in national elections, observant Catholics were sent an indirect but clear signal in 2000 that Al Gore was not acceptable. There was never any love lost between the Vatican and the Clintons, and it was presumed that Gore was more of the same.

In 2004, observant Catholics might as well have been sent a radio message from on High that said "vote for Bush." The so-called Catholic in the race was not Catholic enough, and was widely viewed as lacking any fidelity at all to the Holy See. I remember attending a talk in 2004 by Father John Corapi that focused largely on spiritual warfare. Father Corapi pulled no punches, however, in his view of John Kerry and his perceived heresy. Without mentioning Kerry by name, he called him "the candidate who doesn't get it, from the party that doesn't get it." He went on to speak directly of the Democratic Party-"it is sad," he said, "that they used to get it, but they choose not to anymore."

If Hillary Clinton somehow pulls the Democratic nomination out of a hat, the distrust among many in the hierarchy of the Church for the Clintons is so great that Cardinal Levada might as well unfurl a huge John McCain banner in St. Peter's Square. If Obama is the nominee, there is always the possibility that the Church as a collective order may choose to send no indirect signals to the faithful at all in this cycle, other than the normal bishops' letter shortly before the election. The reason would be because it will be presumed that Catholics are truly in fidelity with the Holy See will already be educated enough about Obama's pro-abortion record and liberal position on social issues to consider that when voting. Just as many evangelicals distrust McCain, so do many faithful Catholics...something the Church Universal is very mindful of.

If a few inderect signals are sent to those who are truly in union with the Holy See that the Democratic nominee and Democrats as a whole are again unacceptable, Obama will have a new problem on his hands: Convince faithful Catholics why they should support him when his views are so contrary to those of Holy Mother Church.

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