1. Promote Mass attendance: All the exit polling since the late 50s shows that Mass-attending Catholics, not just self-identified Catholics, are most likely to vote for socially conservative candidates, i.e., those who oppose gay marriage, oppose abortion, oppose euthanasia, support the military, espouse traditional values, support fiscal responsibility, oppose the growth of federal power, and look upon the United States as an “exceptional” nation. The lower Mass attendance drops, the less likely Catholic voters will oppose the cultural norms that will shape the minds and hearts of present and future generations.
2. Maximize the likely: Outreach to Catholic voters should focus on maximizing the identification, education, recruiting, and actual voting of Mass-attending Catholics. Effort spent going after other groups is a waste of time and resources. Self-identified Catholics vote with the general population, and various Catholic ethnic groups will only embrace social conservatism after a long term effort of evangelization and education.
3. No Catholic language: Most Catholic politicians and activists sound like Evangelicals. That’s not meant as a criticism of Evangelicals but a criticism of Catholics who do not bring the concepts and diction of their own faith into the public square. It’s also a criticism of Catholics who think they have to sound like an Evangelical preacher to gain a following or create applause. Catholics speaking on politics need to develop their own effective political language and their own powerful, persuasive rhetorical models.
4. Dealing with the Bishops: The Church teaches that the Catholic layperson has a specific obligation to participate in politics, to be political all the way to the grassroots. Our clergy and religious have an obligation to vote but do not have the same obligation to engage politics in a partisan manner. Catholics make the mistake of asking for permission to create groups or support candidates, when asking permission is not required. Our clergy teach us the moral/social principles upon which our participation is based, but they cannot, and should not, become obstacles to lay participation in politics. (The only exception is in the case of ex-communication when a politician is “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin,” such as abortion; see Canon 915.)