Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats

Overview

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 ...

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Left at the Altar: How the Democrats Lost the Catholics and How the Catholics Can Save the Democrats

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

In the days of the New Deal, Catholics supported the Democratic Party, sharing its concern for laborers and its language of moral responsibility for the poor and suffering. In the days of civil rights protests and the Vietnam War, Catholics were prominent, and Democrats spoke the language of social responsibility and a higher morality. Recently, however, the Democrats have championed the assertion of absolute personal autonomy and individual rights on moral issues. Their rhetoric projects an elitist bias against religion and traditional values, replacing Franklin D. Roosevelt's pragmatic liberalism and its moral underpinnings with radical moral individualism. This shift has driven a wedge between the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church and made the GOP the "God Party." Here, Winters (doctoral student, Catholic Univ. of America), a Catholic writer, recommends a return to the kind of moral and religious language once invoked by Martin Luther King Jr. and Msgr. Gerald J. Ryan, especially in defining human dignity, the common good, and just war. He believes that winning back the Catholic vote could be decisive in future elections. A well-written and thoroughly researched look at Catholicism and politics in our era with a thought-provoking thesis; recommended for academic and public libraries.
—C. Robert Nixon

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465091669
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 6/30/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Table of Contents

1 The Priest and the President Create the New Deal 7

2 The Uneven Assimilation of American Catholics 37

3 Kennedy's "Private" Faith 69

4 The 1960s: Race, Vietnam, and Vatican II 89

5 Abortion and the Collapse of the New Deal Coalition 113

6 From Roe to Reagan 135

7 From Cuomo to Kerry 157

8 Human Dignity, the Common Good, and Just War 183

9 Latinos and the Rebirth of the Catholic-Democratic Alliance 211

Acknowledgments 223

Notes 227

Index 237

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