In the wake of the election and the revelation that those Americans who gave Bush his second term were motivated to do so not for reasons of economics, national security, but moral values, Crooked Timber is discussing the need for Democrats to "shed their inhibitions about talking about faith" and "reconnect with the American heartland."
Problem is, Kerry actually did spend a lot of time talking about his faith. How many times did he remind us that he was an altar boy, or that he carried a rosary in Vietnam? How many times did we hear him quote that verse from James (as if he knew nothing else from the bible)?
But if this election established anything, it's the fact that many Americans had simply heard enough about faith from John Kerry, and no amount of pandering to the pews could conceal the moral incoherence of a "pro-choice" politician with a 100% pro-abortion legislative record proclaiming himself a "good Catholic" in open defiance of the nation's bishops and the moral teachings of his Church. Spin all you want, but that is an ugly fact that played a greater role in this election, and in the minds of Catholic voters, then Democrats would care to admit.
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Looking back at the presidential race, I can think of no more perfect an illustration of Democratic alienation from America's religious voters than the moment during the third debate, when a young woman by the name of Sarah Degenhart asked Senator Kerry whether he could provide her with assurance that he wouldn't use her tax dollars to support abortion.
Kerry responded by professing his "respect" for her question, and the moral convictions that her concern implied. . . . and then he proceeded to defend abortion as a constitutional right, and the necessity to preserve that right with taxpayer dollars. He went on to denounce religious criticism of abortion as a product of "rigid ideological restriction," a phrase he had often used on the campaign trail. And then, to top it off, he informed Ms. Degenhart that she would "do do a better job, I think, of passing on moral responsibility" by abandoning her opposition to taxpayer-funded abortion and embracing his pro-choice stance.
Senator Kerry's complete failure to understand her basic point, and his utter lack of respect for her religious convictions, spoke volumes.
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If Kerry -- and his fellow Democrats -- want to connect to the American heartland, it will not be by talking the talk, but walking the walk.
To do so, they must reconsider their allegiance to -- indeed, completely severe their ties with -- the abortion industry; repudiate those who would sacrifice the unborn in utilitarian pursuit of "scientific progress"; forsake their support of legislative policies in blatant opposition to Judeo-Christian values; recognize what it means to believe in the sanctity of life from conception until death -- and why, with that conviction, many Christians find themselves unable to adopt a corrupt and morally-incoherent stance of "personally opposed, but . . ." when it comes to the deliberate murder of the unborn.
Democrats don't need to talk about "moral values." They must truly understand what it means to embodythem.
Until then, I see no way for Democrats to "heal the divide" or "reconnect with the heartland."
Let this election be a wake-up call.
Ongoing commentary by the editors of CatholicKerryWatch
Sen. John Kerry stands with Kate Michelman (right) President of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Since 1995, Michelman's group has given Kerry a 100% rating for his voting record to defend abortion.