Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obama's Catholic Problem

A statistic the Clinton camp (or at least her boosters) keep pointing to regarding electability is her dominance among Catholics over Obama. There are different theories floating around why this is the case, but I think they are all looking too hard, and past the big reason staring them in the face. Here's Sullivan [emphasis added]...
Is the lack of support a function of many Catholics' distance from African-Americans? Or is it Obama's problem, as Deal Hudson counters? Deal says abortion is the issue, but against Clinton? On this, I feel as distant from my fellow Catholics as I do from my fellow gays. It may be that I have long been fascinated by black Catholics in America, their remarkable journey, and have attended a black Catholic church in Washington. Obama's reasoned faith seems to me very compatible with a Catholic sensibility. So I lean with the racial and cultural divide as an explanation.


It's race. As someone who grew up Catholic in Connecticut with my father's family being Irish Catholic from Boston, and my mother's family Polish Catholic from New York, plus my ten years living in and around NYC among the Italian Catholic community, there is no shortage of, nor subtlety to, the racism among Catholics.

Deal Hudson is full of shit (big surprise, right?) and is pretending his church doesn't have a problem with race by blaming regionalism and issues like abortion.

Not even counting the supposed reluctance of Latinos (overwhelmingly Catholic) to support black candidates, there is more than enough old-school racism in these tradional Catholic cities, communities and neighborhoods. Abortion need not enter the discussion...

All of that said, I think this issue diminishes in the general election. Those Catholics supporting Clinton now are in many cases staunch enough Democrats that they'll vote for Obama when the other Democratic option is unavailable.

I hope.

4 comments:

Smitty said...

The twins have arrived!

there is no shortage of, nor subtlety to, the racism among Catholics

I see it in my own suburban catholic church. It's got nothing to do with abortion; our suburb is trending Democratic and statistically, it wouldn't jive. It's latent catholic racism.

S.W. Anderson said...

I hope, too, but worry, recalling how many Catholics turned their backs on John Kerry four years ago.

Deb said...

What S.W. said.

VMH said...

...are in many cases staunch enough Democrats that they'll vote for Obama when the other Democratic option is unavailable.

I am not so sure about this, in my mind ethnic Catholics are the definition of Reagan Democrats.

I was raised in a heavily(>90%) Catholic neighborhood in the Northeast, my experience is not so much blatant racism as insularity. The lack of economic opportunity has made that community even more insular. Additionally, affirmative action programs have shut out the jobs that were the backbone of these communities (specifically police and fire jobs).

It is not surprising to me that a candidate that represents a broad world view is unpopular in this community.