Deal Hudson: "Catholics Organize to Elect Barack Obama"
Deal Hudson writes at InsideCatholic:
Lately there's been much talk about the endorsements for Sen. Barack Obama made by two Catholic leaders: Republican pro-life jurist Doug Kmiec and Democratic pro-life Senator Bob Casey Jr.of Pennsylvania.(emphasis added)
But these endorsements are just the tip of the iceberg. A well-organized effort is advancing behind the scenes to create a coalition of Catholics -- dissatisfied with the Iraq War, angry toward George W. Bush, and pushing "social justice" issues -- to win the Catholic vote in November 2008.
To know who the players are in the Catholic push for Obama, one has only to look at a brochure for "The Convention for the Common Good" to be held in Philadelphia during July 11-13. Organizers have already invited both presidential candidates to speak to what they estimate to be 600 attendees.
The brains behind the convention are Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and NETWORK, a national Catholic social-justice lobby. Sponsors include a who's who of progressive Catholic organizations: Pax Christi, USA; Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns; Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities; Catholic United; Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice; and the University of San Francisco, Lane Center for Catholic Social Thought. (Also listed as a sponsor is the AFL-CIO.)
The goal of the convention is "to move politics beyond selfishness and division to the common good." The convention will propose and ratify a "Platform for the Common Good" and ask the candidates, presumably Senators Obama and McCain, to sign it. The final morning of the three-day meeting, they will discuss how to "mobilize for action for Election 2008."
Look for Catholics in Alliance with the Common Good to take a leading role in gathering Catholic support for Obama. Led by co-founder Alexia Kelley, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, CACG has been steadily gaining visibility since its founding in 2004. Kelley worked for nearly ten years at the Catholic Campaign for Human Development of the USCCB. She raised some eyebrows by taking the job of religion outreach director at the Democratic National Committee during the Kerry campaign while still leading CACG. Like Kelley, the other seven staff members are impressively credentialed for their tasks.
I think M.Z. raises a valid point in his comment to my previous post, while "respect[ing] people's horror at his record on abortion", that discussions of Obama's record often "degenerate[s] into commentary on abortion rather quickly" at the expense of discussing "other parts of his record". I can agree with that. There is more to debate regarding Obama's fitness to be President than just his record on that particular issue, but discussions often get bogged down with name calling and excommunications over whether it is ever permissible to vote for a "pro-choice" candidate, etc.
But when I read something like "The goal of the convention is 'to move politics beyond selfishness and division to the common good' ", I can't help but think that those organizing such a convention want to move beyond the "divisiveness" of the arguments over legalized abortion and focus instead on policies that allegedly eliminate the "necessity" of abortion, all the while ignoring the fact that there is nothing more "selfish" than supporting the "right" to abort a child for what usually amounts to economic reasons.
Legalized abortion is sort of like the elephant standing over in the corner of the room. It's a little difficult not to want to address it, despite the attempts of those organizing the "Convention for the Common Good" to "move beyond" it.
M.Z. raises another valid point:
One could have fun with this I suppose. We could say that Mr. Hudson is organizing to elect Republican candidates. Maybe I could make the allegation sound more nefarious for fund raising purposes. I have no issue calling transparent political fronts what they are. Alexia Kelley I'm sure was aware that she would invite such criticism. One needs to hold off on the indignation a little when the shoe is put on the foot then, like (fair of unfair) criticism of Catholic Answers Action's guide. I tend to avoid it myself, because I dread fairness debates, which is what these things become. Suffice it to say there are advocates for everyone, some with better arguments than others.Certainly having worked in the Bush Administration, Mr. Hudson isn't exactly one who should be casting stones regarding Ms. Kelly's political allegiances and her experience of having worked for Democrats.
Nevertheless, were Mr. Hudson organizing a convention similar to that being organized by Catholics in Alliance, his detractors would be the first to point out his connections. And no doubt any such effort on Mr. Hudson's part would not be for the purpose of benefiting those with whom he disagrees politically.
I think it's fair to raise the issue of where one's political allegiances may lie (on both sides) when one is organizing such an event with the alleged aims of "moving beyond" partisanship.