“Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds,” Henry Adams famously wrote. Both his grandfather and great-grandfather had been presidents of the United States, so Adams presumably knew something about politics on the ground, as well as in theory.
I was reminded of that aphorism when, much to my surprise, we received in the mail something called the “Catholic Opinion Research Survey” from the conservative lobbying and organizing group CatholicVote. The survey itself consisted of eleven questions gauging one’s response to “Anti-Catholic Incident Summar[ies].” Summary is the key word here. These incidents of supposed anti-Catholic “bigotry” include such golden oldies as “liberal Senator Dianne Feinstein’s” questioning of federal judge nominee Amy Barrett in 2017. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein, a graduate of a Catholic high school, commented. That, in fact, seems to be an accurate description of Barrett’s ardent faith. The underlying issue, of course, was abortion rights—a question Barrett predictably sidestepped. Feinstein was accused of suggesting that there should be a “religious test” for judicial nominees. But since Catholics believe faith should influence one’s politics, was her question really out of bounds?
No opinion survey of possible Republican voters is complete, of course, without a question about that “nasty” woman, Hillary Clinton. CatholicVote puts the existential threat Clinton and other “liberals” pose this way. “If elected President, she promised to use the full force of government (including the Justice Department and the IRS) to punish those who believe in the traditional definition of marriage (‘a union between one man and one woman’) and who believe in the right-to-life.” It is true, of course, that Clinton is a fervent defender of abortion rights. But the improbable idea that she would try to have the Justice Department prosecute Americans who oppose same-sex marriage or abortion is wild speculation.
The people at CatholicVote seem to think that one of the salient issues of our time is how the courts have banished displays of the Ten Commandments from schools and public spaces. Presumably it wants the Catholic, rather than the Protestant or Jewish, version of the commandments restored to those places of honor. “How concerned are you,” CatholicVote also wants to know, “that Christianity (which includes Christian moral teaching) has become criminalized in America—especially in liberal-Left run states and cities”? Yes, Christianity is often denigrated and mocked in popular culture. But criminalized? Most Democratic politicians go out of their way not to antagonize people of faith. The Democratic Party’s most reliable constituency is, in fact, churchgoing Black women.