Pope Transcends Political Lines

Sep 23, 2015

The Pope landed in the States for the first time, in his papacy and in his lifetime, this week. When he opened his remarks at the White House with a reference to his immigrant childhood, things quickly took a turn for the political, as he went on to mention Obama's environmental policies.

Hans Hassell, a political science professor at Cornell College, says despite the Pope's praise for an Obama-led clean air policy, Pope Francis's views can't be described neatly as Republican or Democrat.

"The Pope is not situated within American politics. [...] He transcends ideology and partisan politics in a way that most Americans have a hard time grasping. This concept of recognizing climate change and not liking gay marriage is hard for most activists and most partisans to fathom."

No matter what Pope Francis's political beliefs are, Hassell believes he'll send a beneficial message to Americans about ideology at large.

"It's a good thing for us to get away from this idea that one particular set of policies has to go with another set of policies. I think the Pope's ability to do this is very helpful because it will send cues to some people that may say 'Okay, if this person agrees with me on this, it's okay to not agree with them on that because this other salient individual in our society does not do that."

On this Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer speaks with Hassell and with Donna Hoffman, professor of political science at the University of Northern Iowa, about the Pope's visit, Governor Scott Walker dropping out of the presidential race, and Carly Fiorina's rise in the polls.