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American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years Of Political Impact Hardcover – September 27, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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From the earliest days in the New World through the disputed presidential election of 2000 and the 2004 election, in which Catholics gave a majority vote to the --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: St. Augustines Press; 1 edition (September 27, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587310236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587310232
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,053,399 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a great, riveting read. Though I expected an absolute focus on Catholics and politics, it turns out to be a fairly decent treatise on American politics at the local level (as well as state and national) for 200+ years. It was also a history lesson in the births of the Democrat and Republican parties, their original attractions and their morphing into present day opposites. The impact of generational shifts was incredible, and FDR's contribution to the destruction of neighborhoods and local clubhouses ironic. The "clubhouse Democrats" (pro-neighborhood) were the ones who considered themselves FDR Democrats, while the "reform Democrats" (pro-social engineering) wanted to destroy the neighborhood clubs (which actually provided great opportunities for newly arrived immigrants to assimilate and enter the workforce, eventually moving up to middle-class).

First-generation Catholic immigrants moved to ethnic neighborhoods in cities and opened shops. Second-generationers continued the family businesses and lived in the same neighborhoods. The third-generation usually moved out of the neighborhood and went to work in a corporation. Nevertheless, the neighborhoods were re-populated by more immigrants until the 1930s. In 1924, Congress passed, and Coolidge signed, the Johnson Act which reduced immigration quotas from Eastern and Southern Europe. (p.228)

FDR, interestingly, brought about many New Deal programs including the GI Bill and FHA/VA housing assistance. Ironically, though these appear to have helped returning soldiers from WWII, who had left the "old neighborhood" to fight in Europe or the Pacific, reintegrate into society as well as attend college and buy homes, the eventual effect was exodus from lower income (ethnic) areas of cities.
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Format: Hardcover
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 attends church and is socially "conservative" but economically 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.
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