North Western Winds

Contemplating it all from the great Pacific Northwest

The Ecumenism of the Trenches

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George Weigel writes:

The National Catholic Reporter editorially accused Archbishop John Myers, Professor Robert George, Father Richard John Neuhaus, and me of “a deliberate…attempt to delegitimize the Democratic Party in the eyes of American Catholic voters.” This was, the editorial continued, an unprecedented attempt by a “small band of ideological partisans…to make their narrow reading of a political race the undisputed view of the Church.”

Oh. Really?

The truth of the matter, as Senator Kerry’s ill-informed approach to the stem cell and abortion issues reveals, is that the Democratic Party has delegitimized itself in the minds of millions of Catholic voters (including many former Democrats) who require no instruction on these matters from the archbishop of Newark, the holder of Woodrow Wilson’s chair at Princeton, America’s most influential Catholic public intellectual, or me.

This severe division of the electorate is probably not a good thing in the long haul. The only benefit that I can see is that is provides an opportunity for religious people, mostly Christians but also Jews, to get acquainted with one another in a way that they would not otherwise have. I heard a nice phrase describing this process on EWTN this morning: it is the ecumenism of the trenches.

The downside is that too many good people are deprived of a choice in the voting booth. It is possible to dislike president Bush without falling into Michael Moore moonbat country. You might not like any one of a number of his policies – it may be trade protectionism, or perhaps you advocate a different but still vigourous approach to the War on Terror. Ideally, you would have a better choice than John Kerry, who many believe, including me, is simply not an option. Not for anyone who takes the War on Terror seriously. Not for anyone who takes their religion seriously. (If your religion is abortion, however, you have your man).

I do think a two party system is better than a multi party system. But for it to excel, both parties have to vigorously persue the middle ground. The Democrats are increasingly leaving the middle ground to the Republicans and pursuing instead paranoid fringe groups who think Chomsky is on to something. Perhaps this shift was inevitable given the numbers of Boomers* who simply refuse to grow up. They had to coalesce somewhere and not surprisingly it has been the Democratic Party.

If the Boomers are beginning to hit 65 in the next few years, does that mean we’re in for twenty years of this? No.

Note that the Boomers have had political control since the late 1960’s. From then until now, both parties pursued the middle ground, which became increasingly left as the WWII generation began to pass away. If you are a Boomer leftie, the scandal is that the Clinton years may have been your high water mark. There is a shift back to historical norms among younger voters. There are in our cohort some loud lefties, but for the most part we are turning away from their policies. We have seen those policies crash and burn. As we (Gen X and Y and so on) get older, the number of lefties will probably decline even more – time generally makes people less radical.

Right now we have terribly shrill rhetoric coming from some older leftists who are sensing and attempting to resist the turning of the tide. They are feeding and inflaming their young supporters – hence the violence and intimidation, as happened at the Republican convention. It won’t work. Demographic trends don’t respond to such things. Perhaps part of it is the smaller families liberal pro aborts tend to have that is coming back to haunt them.

So the shrill hostility we are currently seeing is not likely to go on infinitely. Someone is bound to come up the Democratic ranks and take them back to the middle, a la Tony Blair. For one thing they will get tired of losing. For another, some people are bound to get frustrated with the Republican party and seek to re-mold the Dems into a viable option. Parties burn political capital while in office. That’s just the way it is.

I see a similar trend in Canada, but it is much more muted. As for Europe – keep praying.

* Note that not all Boomers are lefties, I know. It may be unfair but for simplicity’s sake I’m using Boomer and leftie as equal in this post.

via Mark Shea

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Written by Curt

October 31, 2004 at 7:36 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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