Cultural Revolutions

Who Votes Catholic?

Quite a few years ago (1977, to be exact), a colleague tried to convince me that the best way to make our college conservative was to set up a curriculum and a program in Christian studies that would appeal to conservative Catholics.  There are lots of Catholics who are fed up with the “R.C. lite” of most so-called Catholic schools, he reasoned, and since there are more conservative Catholics than conservative anybody-elses, such a strategy would be money in the bank.

Actually, he was not that cynical.  He was convinced that believing Catholics were running out of educational options for their sons and daughters—and he had a point.  Since then, conservative Catholics have begun to put their educational money where their faith is.  There hasn’t been a stampede yet, but foot traffic has not been toward the educational left.

What about Catholic voters in the so-called public square?  Barrels of ink have been spilled showing that Catholics, ever since the glory year of 1960, have been “swing voters.”  Catholics are always on the winning side in presidential elections.  The old “lunch-bucket” Catholic voters who lined up for FDR sort of sidled over to Reagan but haven’t been all that reliable as Republicans and probably won’t be.  Analysts from Commonweal and the Nation all the way over to First Things and National...

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