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The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years Of Political Impact [Hardcover]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   420
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.26" Width: 6.12" Height: 1.49"
Weight:   1.67 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Sep 27, 2004
Publisher   St. Augustine's Press
ISBN  1587310236  
EAN  9781587310232  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
From the earliest days in the New World through the presidential election of 2000, the influence of Catholics on American politics has followed a peculiar arc. In Colonial America, Catholics were often denied participation in the process; but in the 19th and 20th centuries, the Catholic bloc was recognized as a swing vote that determined the outcome of numerous elections; and today Catholics are either so assimilated or disunited that as a group their impact is declining. George J. Marlin traces the political and electoral history of American Catholics from the time of Lord Baltimore and the founding of Maryland to the election of George W. Bush. It is an inspiring story of ethnic Catholics who arrived on America's shores with only the clothes on their back, worked through their parishes and neighborhoods to overcome nativist bigotry, and became a significant voice in local, state, and national political affairs.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > United States > General   [15836  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > History > World > General   [101287  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General   [16010  similar products]
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Catholic   [801  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Missed Opportunity for Great Scholarship  Sep 13, 2005
As a former student whose specialty was American politics and Catholicism, I was excited to begin reading my copy of George Marlin's book The American Catholic Voter. As a Catholic voter who regularly attenda church and is socially conservative but moderately liberal, I thought when I read the cover that this book would place aside modern political bias and present an unbiased study of American Catholic voting and would not serve as a defense of Catholic voters in one party or the other.

Until the analysis of the 1968 election, I found the book to be a valuable guide. Although it does discover very little new ground, I found his comparison of the 1928 and 1960 presidential elections to be a good piece of research, and would recommend to anyone interested in the history of the American Catholic voter to read the first 200 pages of the book.

I found that the post-1968 analysis was a justification of Republican doctrine and the conclusions drawn, while not entirely incorrect, to be faulty for the most part. When I read that Marlin described Richard Nixon as "the Catholic-hero," I was disgusted. I am assuming he drew this conclusion based on the election results in 1968 and 1972. However, one finds that a majority of Catholics voted barely for Nixon in 1968, a time when the Democratic Party was down because of the 1968 convention, and overwhelming in 1972, when no one voted for McGovern. Two elections with faulty opposing candidates hardly make Nixon a Catholic Hero.

The study of Catholic voting in America is a fascinating analysis, and one that should have more literature devoted to it. Although I agree with Marlin's current conclusion that Catholics are no longer a unified block, I find the book to be a political, not academic work. Catholics are not increasingly voting Republican, they are voting less Democratic and more like mainstream Protestant Americans. If you want something unbiased or with a liberal bent, avoid this book.
This Book Makes An Impact, Too  Mar 8, 2005
George J. Marlin is a former Conservative Party candidate for Mayor of New York and author of books on the history of the New York State Conservative Party to the works of G.K. Chesterton. In "The American Catholic Voter: 200 Years of Political Impact" Marlin has written a magnus opus for Catholic political interests in America.

Marlin traces the influence of Catholics by focusing on their size relative to the American population, their respective percentages in the two main political parties, and their presence in large, key swing states or cities. Anti-Catholicism was once described by historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. as the "the most deep-seated prejudice in the American conscience" mainly due to Protestant fears of domination by Rome. In colonial times, Catholics were often forbidden to vote, own land, or hold public office unless they publicly denounced the Pope and agreed not to attend Mass. Priests could be arrested for preaching. Many of the great early American Founding Fathers were either outright anti-Catholic or pandered to anti-Catholic sentiment for political expediency.

By 1790, Catholics were only 1% of the U.S. population. Legal and formal colonial anti-Catholicism gradually melted away during the 1800's and Catholics gradually improved their socioeconomic and political fortunes. By 1840, just prior to the great waves of Irish and German Catholic waves of immigration, Catholics numbered just under 5% of the U.S. population, a 400% increase in 50 years. Many anti-Catholic laws were repealed during this time, but Catholics still had to tread very carefully.

A recurring theme is the guiding principle by which Catholics survived and prospered from colonial times, namely the principle of subsidiarity. This governing philosophy held that problems of governance and society were best handled at the local (or parish) level. Not only were there formal Catholic papal pronouncements emphasizing local control over federal domination, but it was at the local level that small Catholic communities thrived. Catholic neighborhoods, Catholic parishes, and Catholic schools were all within walking distance for the millions of new Catholic immigrants who arrived from 1850-1924.

The Catholic percentage of the U.S. population increased from 15% in the 1870's and crossed the 20% threshold in 1900. As Catholics increased their presence in large cities, they elected local politicians who used increased Catholic voting clout to establish positions of power in both the Democratic and Republican Parties. Since most Catholics were living in large cities, they tended to vote Democratic and most of the successful inner-city Catholic leaders were Democrats. But the total Catholic vote was very fluid depending on the candidates, positions on issues of concern to Catholics (parochial school aid, support for Nativist groups, etc), and the ethnic attachments. Irish and Italians in the Northeast would sometimes vote very differently from Germans or Slavic Catholics in the Midwest. Marlin's book contains meticulous and detailed voting data on Catholic voting blocs in key cities, states, and precincts. This provides a fascinating look at how regional, ethnic, and religious loyalties cut both for Catholics and non-Catholics in state and federal election contests.

Marlin's analysis provides an in-depth look at two of the more celebrated Catholic election contests, the candidacy of Al Smith in 1928 and the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960. Where Smith was hurt by anti-Catholicism outside the major cities, Kennedy was able to hold together the old FDR coalition. As Marlin noted, the 1960 election of JFK was a victory not for Catholicism, but for liberalism. The tenuous hold the Democratic Party had on Catholics - Kennedy received 70% of the Catholic vote after Ike had "stolen" millions of them in 1952 and 1956 - camouflaged the fact that Kennedy's Catholic vote percentage was 10 percentage points lower than what Al Smith had received, not withstanding the efforts by the Kennedy family, a supportive liberal media, and big city machines like Chicago's Richard Daley that pulled out all the stops for JFK.

The book looks at how economic, cultural, and military issues influenced Catholic voting pre-1968. This explains the much more fluid Catholic voting bloc as opposed to Jews or Southern Protestants. After 1968, cultural issues like crime, quality of neighborhoods, sexual permissiveness, abortion, busing, and quotas/affirmative action all combined to weaken the traditional Democratic Party allegiance that Catholics had shown for decades. Along with Southern Protestants and Jewish neo-cons, conservative Catholics were the lynchpin of Ronald Reagan's appeals to Democratic voters, the so-called "Reagan Democrats."

The book analyzes the post-Vatican II cultural wars which created many of these Reagan Democrats by focusing on non-economic cultural and social issues that were of concern not only to inner-city Catholics but the descendants of Catholic immigrants who by now were among the middle and upper-middle class of American society. These Catholics who had "made it" tended to continue to support the conservative economic and social policies that had helped them and their ancestors succeed in America. While there was now a pronounced and growing split between the voting practices of Catholics who attended Mass and considered themselves religious versus those who did not, the Catholic vote was still important in the close elections of 2000 and 2004 (the book covers the early part of the 2004 campaign).

In certain respects, the circle for Catholics is now complete. Once Democratic and confined to the inner-city, Catholics today are increasingly Republican and suburban. Where the anti-Catholicism once emanated from the right-wing of the Democratic Party's Southern and evangelical Protestant wing, today's anti-Catholicism is exclusively the domain of certain secular liberals and the Left. One observer has called Catholic-baiting "the anti-Semitism of the liberals." Meanwhile, the hostility from Southerners and evangelicals has all but disappeared.

"The American Catholic Voter" is an extremely valuable resource for Catholics, particularly as the Catholic vote increases in electoral importance in coming years. This makes it a must-read for Catholics concerned about their Church's drift in recent years amid the growing anti-Catholicism emanating from liberal enclaves. It is also an important resource for anybody interested in analyzing past and future election trends.

The Definitive History  Sep 29, 2004
The role of the Catholic voter in American elections since at least the time of Jefferson has been critical in determining outcomes--even when Catholics themselves were barely accepted as Americans. Today, when Catholics are disunified (traditionalists, "cafeteria Catholics"--as Marlin aptly calls them--and Hispanics), the Catholic vote remains very important, perhaps especially so in a presidential race in which one of the candidates is (nominally) Catholic. This is a fascinationg book; thorough and honest and readable.

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