Why Hillary Clinton failed to win over American Catholics

Hillary supporters at Wellesley College last night (AP)

It was a famous victory, but even more than that, it was a famous defeat. Hillary Clinton, who seemed to have it all sewn up, lost emphatically. The post-mortems will be many, but here are two reasons why I would never have voted for her.

First of all, those emails. Yes, we are all sick of hearing about them. Yes, she is not to be investigated for any criminal offence, but she has been branded as “careless” by the FBI, in allowing classified information to be transmitted by public server. That constitutes a rap over the knuckles. But if it had been you or me endangering the security of classified information, then you can be sure that we would have been hung out to dry, would have lost our jobs, and would have been professionally ruined. You see, it is one law for the elite, and another for the rest of us. And that drives ordinary people crazy.

The second reason is to do with her choice of running mate. Clinton chose Senator Tim Kaine, we assume, so that she would secure the swing state of Virginia, and so that her ticket would look more attractive to Catholics, who constitute a quarter of the population, and who have been identified as an important voting group. As Kaine’s Wikipedia entry puts it:

Kaine, a Roman Catholic, is personally against abortion, but is ‘largely inclined to keep the law out of women’s reproductive decisions’. Kaine has said: ‘I’m a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade and women being able to make these decisions. In government, we have enough things to worry about. We don’t need to make people’s reproductive decisions for them’.

In other words, Kaine’s Catholicism is about as convincing as that of Vice-President Joe Biden, that is to say he claims to be a Catholic while denying one of the Church’s central doctrines, care for the most weak and the most vulnerable, espousing a position that makes the rest of his avowed beliefs completely incoherent. It is really very simple, and has nothing per se to do with the morality of abortion, and everything to do with being what it says on the tin. “Personally opposed/publicly in favour” is an self-contradictory position. It is towering nonsense, and no one should be fooled by it. The fact that the Clinton-Kaine ticket has been defeated is a sign that not that many were fooled by it. Clinton made a bad mistake in asking Kaine to be her running mate, if she thought this would cut any ice with Catholics. It was a shallow and insulting ploy.

Nevertheless, the Trump victory makes the Church, or at least the hierarchy, look a little foolish. Many of them will congratulate the new President-elect through gritted teeth, not least the new Cardinal Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, who knows Vice-President-elect Pence rather well. The Pope, who recently promoted Archbishop Tobin, will also find that his words in one of his airborne press conferences back in February may now come back to haunt him, to whit: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”

The Trump victory means many things, but one thing most can surely agree on: it is a rejection of the political class, of the elites. Things will now look dangerous for the Church if she is seen to be on the side of the elites. A lot of people voted for Trump, a lot of working class people. The Church must not lose touch with them.