Molly Worthen's call for a stronger liberal Catholic voice in the public square is a good and thoughtful read. But it's hard to let this go by: Allowing Republicans to claim the mantle of Catholicism might cost the Democrats the election. As commentators have noted, Catholics may be the nation’s most numerous swing voters.
The primary problem with American political culture is that almost all of our scrutiny goes to the human beings running for president.
So you've probably already heard that Mother Jones has video of Governor Romney saying, among other things, this: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. . . . These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. . . . My job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. As is often the case, Wonkblog has heaps of great commentary.
The great newish online journal Religion & Politics alerted me to the fact that today is the anniversary of JFK's speech to the Houston ministers.
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has been a harsh critic of the Obama administration, but he is blessing Democrats and Republicans equally by giving the closing prayer at both parties’ conventions. The Republicans invited him first, and his acceptance raised questions about whether Dolan, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, was lending the authority of the Catholic hierarchy to the GOP. But then the Democrats shrewdly invited him to pray at their convention too. Dolan shrewdly accepted.
I don't get that excited about the perennial calls for civility in politics. Treating others with respect is important, and I certainly have no problem with political discourse that's even friendly and good-humored. But it's not clear that the latter serves any purpose beyond itself—that it builds understanding or encourages useful moderation or enables compromise. Chatting may be generally preferable to yelling, but it's not really a solution to division and gridlock. I do, however, appreciate timely reminders that our neighbors include those we disagree with.