A Revival of the Old Religious Left
Why David Alvarez will be San Diego’s Next Mayor
by Daniel Smiechowski
The French have an old saying, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” A century ago from shortly before the Great War, America’s Catholics joined forces with immigration and labor advocates within the Democratic Party in a quest for social justice. Mr. Alvarez finds himself unwittingly caught in the current transformation of his own political party. The old religious left has come home to roost.
It is not a coincidence that the Holy See is occupied by a Spanish speaking pontiff who has largely taken sins of the flesh off the table. It is not a coincidence that San Diego has a Hispanic Bishop. How times have changed within our local Democratic party. The old guard feminists and local LGBT community who railed against any mention of Catholicism now have the wind to their nose. But why the contradiction and what exactly has changed.
Perhaps we can draw comparisons from “The City of Churches,” Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Catholic labor together with a largely democratic electorate built the homes and factories that dominated the Midwestern landscape one hundred years ago. Until the Kennedy Administration of 1960-63 most Catholics voted Democratic. The ten following years leading to that fateful day in 1973 being the enactment of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision legalizing abortion had eviscerated the Party of Jefferson and Jackson. A few years earlier, Father Groppi walking hand in hand with African American leaders in the civil rights battle on Milwaukee’s south side ignited our nation’s collective conscience. My Father attended the same seminary in Saint Francis as the good priest and I spent my youth in the surrounding neighborhood. In a letter written to my Dad in 1970, the great Jesuit priest, Father Drinan of the Boston College Law School said, “I certainly appreciate the great compassion which you have for the terrible tragedies of the Vietnam War.” At this point, the Catholic Church was divided over the morality of Vietnam.
Ironically and perhaps unknowingly, our local Democratic Party now seems conflicted in regard to the present social issues coming out of the Vatican. Surprisingly, among the two candidates for Mayor, David Alvarez is the more socially conservative. Mr. Alvarez is a good and decent man who just so happens to be at the right place at the right time. It is doubtful if leaders within the local Democratic Party understand both the political philosophy and social psychology inherent in this mayoral election. May I humbly suggest that they read the Maureen O’Connor playbook for mayor including the unspoken pact with Helen Copley former publisher of The San Diego Union-Tribune. David Alvarez will become San Diego’s first Latino mayor. It’s important to remember the unspoken in politics being that when former Democratic House Member Daniel Rostenkowski IL was asked why he was so chummy with then President Reagan, he simply replied, “Because the President likes me.” And, I like David.
Daniel J. Smiechowski spent his early years in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is a substitute teacher and formally elected to the San Diego County Democratic Central Committee. He writes for AmericanChronicle.com