Item description for Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats by Micheal Sean Winters...
Overview Recounts the rise and fall of the alliance between the Democratic party and Catholic voters, the reasons why many Catholics defected to the Republican party, the repercussions of that break, and the need to reestablish the alliance to preserve the future of the Democrats.
Publishers Description In 1960, Democrats and Catholics united to elect John F. Kennedy, America's first Catholic president. As we approach the 2008 presidential election, the Democratic party is struggling to secure Catholic votes. For most of the twentieth-century, however, the Catholic vote was solidly Democratic. In "Left at the Altar," Michael Sean Winters chronicles the rise and fall of this vital alliance, and offers compelling arguments for its revival. For the Democrats, the stakes could not be higher: The explosive growth of the Latino population will make the Catholic vote decisive in the twenty-first century. The stakes are high for Catholics, too: In their defection to the Republican party, Catholics have drifted from their traditional advocacy of core values including peace and social justice.
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Michael Sean Winters has worked as a speechwriter for top political candidates including General Wesley Clark (ret.), and is currently completing his doctorate in Church History at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He has written for The New Republic, the New York Times, Washington Post, Washingtonian, Dallas Morning News, Slate.com, and America, and has appeared as a commentator on "ABC News" and "Capital Sunday." He lives in Washington, D.C.
Reviews - What do customers think about Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats?
Well written book--but the thesis is wrong Aug 18, 2008
Winters is a good writer, and this is a thoughtful and engaging book, although it does slant left. Essentially, the bulk of the book is a history of Catholics and the Democratic party. This part is outstanding.
There is only a short chapter or two at the end which dealt with the future of the Democratic party and Catholics. This surprised me, given the title.
Winters suggests that the huge, new population of Catholic Hispanics in the United States will eventually create a solid majority of Democrats. "Hispanics may change America...The Catholic Left...can lead the way by making local parishes into effective melting pots" (p 220).
His sympathy for the new immigrants is touching, but I doubt he's right about their connection to the Democratic party.
How can practicing Catholics vote Democratic so long as Democrats insist on abortion on demand?
Winters says "the Left must challenge the Church to put less emphasis on changing the law and more emphasis on changing the culture. The Left must say that although the Church is free to try to persuade women not to abort, it cannot coerce them" (p 187).
There is nothing unclear about Catholic teaching and belief about abortion. You can pick up a Catechism of the church in any bookstore and it will tell you that Catholics believe abortion is a terrible moral wrong. It is the murder of a child. By allowing its legalization 40 million babies have been killed. Catholics cannot vote for anyone who supports abortion.
The Democratic party has tied itself to gay marriage and abortion.
So, what will happen to those millions and millions of Hispanics flooding the US? Right now, many vote Democratic because of immigration issues. Polling suggests many do not even know which party supports abortion.
But wait. Sooner or later these immigrants will reach the middle class, and once they do, if they remain Catholic, they know they can't vote for anyone who supports abortion.
So I believe Winters is simply wrong in his conclusion.
One thing his book did not emphasize was the history of anti-Catholicism in America. There are only a few pages and a very brief mention of the Know Nothing party whose party had only one plank: to stop Catholic immigration.
Nor does he mention the issue which has been the flash point for anti-Catholicism the last 150 years--public funding for Catholic schools.
Public schools originally taught Protestantism and anti-Catholicism. Simple as that. They used the King James bible and a curriculum which sometimes called the pope the anti-Christ.
As recently as 1971 the Supreme Court Justice William Douglas wrote, in regards to funding Catholic schools: "In the parochial schools Roman Catholic indoctrination is included in every subject. History, literature, geography, civics and science are given a Roman Catholic slant. The whole education of the child is filled with propaganda. That, of course, is the very purpose of such schools...That purpose is not so much to educate, but to indoctrinate and train, not to teach Scripture truths and Americanism, but to make loyal Roman Catholics."
Actually, things haven't changed that much. I believe many Democrats today would deny funding to Catholic schools for exactly the same reason.
How Obama can win Jul 26, 2008
This book is really smart. It goes all the way back to FDR and the New Deal to discuss how Catholics have been involved politically with the Democrats. I hope Obama and his campaign team read it - Obama did badly among Catholics in the primaries. Hillary beat him 70%-30% among Catholics in Pennsylvania. This book will give him ideas about how to win them back. The last chapter on Latinos is especially good.