Ed Morrissey had a great post inspired by the conversion, so to speak, of Jo Ann Nardelli. She is the former Democratic party official in Pennsylvania who left the party, prompted in part by the Democratic party’s embrace of gay marriage. Joe Biden’s appearance on Meet the Press sealed the deal. As a result, she has not been treated kindly by former colleagues.
The longtime Democrat from Blair County quit the party and registered as a Republican, and then boldly walked in a Memorial Day parade in support of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“A couple of people who I thought were friends turned their backs on me, literally, as I was walking in the parade,” she said on Tuesday. “I have to admit it made me sad, but that is the way it is.”
Morrissey discusses this as well as the case of Artur Davis, who also has quit the Democratic party. Then he explains, in very charitable terms, the reasons that some Catholics remain in the Democrat party, despite it holding positions that are antithetical to the Catholic Church on most social issues. He does a great job of explaining the nuances of Catholic economic teachings to an audience that is mostly non-Catholic. The following succinctly captures the tone of Morrisey’s post:
However, even while we do our best on a personal and institutional level within the church, our community, state, and nation have an impact on the scope and depth of the societal and human ills we hope to alleviate. Some Catholics feel that significant involvement of representative government represents the best and most direct way to achieve our mission, and support the political party that more closely aligns itself with that philosophy and agenda — Democrats. Others feel that the mission is best directed at a personal and institutional level and oppose significant government involvement as wasteful, impractical, and counterproductive, and those Catholics are more likely to be Republicans.
As such, these fellow Catholic liberals (many of whom do oppose abortion) do not deserve our scorn or a condescending attitude; they come to these positions honestly and faithfully. We may disagree on the best approach to the mission at hand, but we are at least united on the mission itself.
In a sense it might be more difficult for conservative Catholics to accept this than for conservative non-Catholics, particularly because we are so close to the issue. We can get easily frustrated by fellow Catholics who persist in supporting a party that upholds so many terrible positions on life and death matters. And I do think that a handful of left-leaning Catholics offer up merely token opposition to their party on social issues, but who largely ignore these matters so as not to distract from the more important (to them) economic issues. Yet there are leftist Catholics who are genuinely committed to the pro-life cause and who struggle with their party’s stance on social issues. And it is with regards to these individuals that we ought to heed Ed’s words.
Another thing strikes me about all this, and it’s that many of these political conversions have occurred due to differences of opinion on social issues. We have been told more times than I can possibly count that this election is all about the economy, and nothing but the economy. Yet we’re seeing more and more Catholics leaving the party that has been not only their home, but likely their parents’ home and their grandparents’ home. And they aren’t leaving the party because of its stance on income taxes. For those who insist that social issues are a losing proposition for conservatives and the Republican party, they might want to reconsider that position in light of the mounting evidence.