CatholicVote looks to inform and increase Catholic political presence

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UD alumnus Brian Burch's website puts politics in context for Catholics. Photo by Anthony Garnier.

On March 7, 2016, the National Review published an open letter to Catholics, which urged them to condemn Donald Trump as a potential candidate for the presidency.

The letter was signed by a sizable list of Catholic thinkers, many of them involved in academia.

Dr. David Upham of the University of Dallas Politics Department and Brian Burch, UD alumnus and president of CatholicVote (CV), both signed the letter.

The election has, in many ways, changed dramatically since the early months of 2016.

Some Catholics who were staunchly opposed to a Trump candidacy have decided that a Trump presidency would be preferable to a Hillary Clinton presidency.

Others have remained firmly anti-Trump and now struggle with the choice between not voting, voting third-party and voting for Clinton.

Other Catholics have and continue to support Clinton. Recent surveys conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute suggest that Clinton is favored over Trump, 51 to 40 percent.

This overall disparity in Catholic voting preferences is not unique to the election of 2016.

Catholics are notoriously split across party lines, which led Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne to once argue that there is no “Catholic vote.”

CV, founded and led by Burch, appears to believe otherwise.

CV seeks to be a place where American Catholics can engage with politics in a way that services their faith.

“Catholics and all good citizens are obliged to participate in public life,” CV’s website reads.

In a democracy, this means taking measures to influence public policies and laws, since law teaches and shapes our culture.

In short, CV outlines its aims as such:

“CV advocates for laws and policies aimed at protecting the dignity of all persons, including policies that put families first,” the website reads. “Life is paramount, and families deserve to be rewarded, while excessive government interventions must be held in check.”

As implied, CV promotes and upholds orthodox Catholic positions on abortion, marriage and family.

CV also uses pro-family, pro-life politics to inform its positions on issues such as taxation, the environment and immigration.

However, much of the time, CV indicates that responsible Catholics can easily disagree on the nuances of certain political questions.

For example, CV does not suggest that Catholics must all agree on specific immigration policies, only that Catholics must defend those who are marginalized and whose God-given rights are not respected and seek to create just immigration system.

The website is an aggregate of humorous articles, news articles, op-eds and discussions of Catholic principles.

Much of its content, though not nearly all, reflects the impending presidential election of 2016.

Back in January, while the Republican and Democratic primaries were still ongoing, CV patently refused to endorse Trump as a candidate for president.

Since then, their refusal has softened: while CV still does not endorse Trump, it contends that Catholic voters cannot reasonably vote for Clinton.

Many Catholics will vote for Clinton come Nov. 8. Many will vote for Trump. Others will vote for Johnson and other third-party candidates.

CV, as of 2016, will remain something of a misnomer. However, the website’s existence as an educational tool for Catholic voters cannot be discounted.

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