U.S. Catholic Intellectual History and the Election

Paul Harvey

At U.S. Intellectual History, Tim Lacy has initiated a conversation that I wanted to note here:

No matter your politics either this election year or in the past, Pepperdine Professor Douglas Kmiec's recent book, Can a Catholic Support Him? Asking the Big Question About Barack Obama, is a game changer. I have read the book. My bold prediction is that it permanently modifies the debate about abortion politics and Catholicism for future elections.

You may join the conversation there, or in comments here. To me, the question is whether this is a peculiarity of one election, given the nature of the candidates and the recent overwhelming focus on economic realities rather than the usual stuff of values voters. But perhaps, there is something going on that is deeper than that.


Tim Lacy said…

Thanks for crossposting my piece here.

It might be that this book articulates issues in a way that resonates only for this year's election. But, if one reads it more deeply, I believe the conservative Kmiec has stated principles for an informed, reasonable dissent from the Anti-Roe-or-else mentality that has pervaded conservative pro-life Catholicism since about 1980. In this way it has historical significance. I can't think of another conservative Catholic intellectual in the past 25+ years that has ~publicly~ dissented from "the orthodoxy" on abortion politics.

I'm disappointed that my post at USIH has received little or no comment---from historians or otherwise. It could be that this is an intramural debate for Catholics that hasn't found its way out? Or maybe the concerned parties are set in their ways for now and holding off on historical relevance until after November?

- TL

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