Wednesday, November 05, 2008


We can pray in thanksgiving this morning that Proposition 8 in California passed (I believe a similar prop in Arizona also passed) despite CA going for Obama in a big way. The news wasn't so good for pro-life causes-as most ballot initiatives aimed at curbing abortion failed.

Two articles at Inside Catholic helped me form (or really confirm) my final judgment going into this election and going ahead in the future (although I might add that I haven't voted for a major party candidate in the the November presidential election in many years).

The first article is by Steve Skojec. Here are some key passages:

We've heard a lot of talk this election cycle (and the one before it... and the one before that...) about stopping a great evil by voting for a lesser one. And yet, the only certain outcome of constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is the perpetuation of evil. As for mitigating the damage, when you're headed straight for a concrete wall, whether you're going 90 miles an hour or 100 is about as immaterial as you're going to be once you get there.

...There are some who argue that a vote for Baldwin -- or Bob Barr, or Alan Keyes, or Ralph Nader -- is a vote for Obama. The logic escapes me. The only vote for Obama is a vote for Obama. If you want to point fingers, point them at the tens of millions of people who are voting for him. A vote for Baldwin, on the other hand, is just that -- a vote for Chuck Baldwin.

....After months of angst, my decision to vote third party was simple, regardless of Baldwin's prospects for victory. Simply put: When you vote for a candidate, you're telling the other parties that you will support candidates similar to that one. The political field is a lot like the market: If enough people buy a thing, you'll start to see a lot more of it. Every vote for McCain is another reason for the GOP to run another candidate just like him. Every registered Republican who votes third party sends the message that the candidate we've been given is not up to snuff.

And then there is this gem by Fr. Robert Johansen. Again, some key snips

The idea that we need to align ourselves with the party or candidate who most closely lines up with Catholic teaching is fine, as far as it goes. The problem is that it does not go far enough: It is hardly the robust, evangelistic, sanctify-the-world posture that our vocation to holiness and call to apostleship requires. In the fourth century, St. Ambrose stood up to and rebuked the Roman emperor Theodosius. Were he transported to our own time, I cannot imagine that he would find this policy sufficient.

...So where are the Catholics in politics? The teaching of the Church and of our bishops instructs us to take our faith as our starting point and build our politics around that. Instead, we choose our politics and then see how we can shoehorn it into our faith. We find ourselves having to explain away the conflict between the tenets of the Faith and our political allegiances in order to defend our Faustian bargain.

If Catholics were really serious about "transforming" our parties and politics, things would look much different than they do today. For example, where is the Congressional Catholic Caucus? There is a Congressional Black Caucus, a Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a Serbian Caucus, and even a Congressional Boating Caucus. So where is the caucus devoted to bringing Catholic representatives and senators together across party lines to promote, defend, and advance Catholic teaching on matters of justice and the common good? Imagine how much could be accomplished by Catholics in Congress who joined together to put the Faith first in shaping their agendas.

...So what is the solution? First, we need to quit prostituting ourselves to the political power class. We have to stop serving on the advisory boards of parties and candidates who advocate intrinsic evil. Furthermore, we have to be willing to say "Enough! We won't play along anymore."

...Will any Catholics step forward to lead us beyond the constraints of the two-party game? Whether it means a third party, or making our power felt within our existing parties by changing the rules of the game, something must be done. If we are to fulfill our call to sanctify the world, we must engage in politics in light of the gospel, and not by the categories of those more concerned with elections than the Kingdom.

I reflected quite a bit on the way back from the city last evening (before election returns started coming in.) I half-jokingly have a presidential bumper sticker for '012 on the sidebar. But maybe I should be running for county council or state legislature now. (49 seats in the SC legislature ran unopposed this year.) (Although I'd be much more at home in a soup kitchen than in a state house.) Maybe its time to put a fledgling party together as has been proposed in the past. But while the Democrats celebrate, the Republicans soul-search, maybe I ought to be doing some of that too.

And before I forget, there is a great article on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's thinking at The Distributist Review. Check it out.

Oremus pro invicem!


TS said...

Oh my but those Congressional congresses are a joke. No one besides themselves take themselves seriously. How many average black citizens consult the Congressional Black Congress!? Those mini-Congresses are like children playacting the Mass. It makes them feel good but the real work is done in committee. It's identity politics writ large.

Evangelizing within a major party is a great and noble effort and mea culpa for I need to do more of it. Evangelizing via a tiny 3rd party sect is an exercise in foolishness, imo. Martin Luther King Jr. showed the way to effective evangelization in a political setting. He didn't start a third party. He marched, he protested, he prayed, he preached. And eventually one of the major parties, the Democrats, listened.

But I realize that that is the way the world usually works. The major parties lose the best people because the best people see the gulf between both parties and see that gulf as too big to bridge. I sure wish Barack Obama had decided that the Democrat party was taking blacks in the party for granted and decided to start a new one.

Sorry I know I went on too long.

Jim Curley said...

But I don't think these Caucases are so much for citizens to consult but to strengthen each other.

But this diverts from my point (and yours). Dismissal of 3rd parties is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Everyone would participate if they were already viable...

Exit polls in Ohio show that Republican turnout was down over by several percentage points. Third party support by some of these Repub would boosted the message sent.

We have laws and procedures to discourage third party success (for example the button on voting machines for straight party ticket is a collaboration by the major parties to lock out 3rd P's. We need to work to stop the lockout.

And, who said we are called not to be successful, but faithful. My observation is that the longer and more deeply a Catholic works in the Republican party, the more likely said Catholic begins to reject Catholic teaching especially on Social and economic issues. (Same for the Dems-just different issues).

This doesn't mean we have to abandon the Repubs and that 3P is the answer-but continued compromise sells our souls. (Good intentions you know...)

As Catholics we need to be counter-cultural.

I feel like I am lecturing, and God knows you should be the one lecturing me.

God bless you.

Kevin McLaughlin said...

Hi Jim

I recall another Curley, with a successful political career, in Boston....go for it!

Jim Curley said...

Hey Kevin-Good to hear from you-where you been hiding? Say hello to the family for me!

TS said...

I was the one that lectured and certainly should not have, and so now have that familiar post-comment regret!

Afterwards I realized we're coming at it from different angles; you are seeking a Third Way of distributism, while for me the Republican party platform aligns pretty well with my views.(Whether it should is a whole 'nother question obviously.)

A third party makes a whole lot of sense if neither party aligns well with your views.

Re: Exit polls in Ohio show that Republican turnout was down over by several percentage points. Third party support by some of these Repub would boosted the message sent.

Or might've helped McCain win Ohio had they not sat it out. But of course we're back to square one and the prudential decision of choosing the lesser of two evils.

Maybe you could point me to a resource showing where Republican economic policy violates church teaching? Do you mean an issue like how the minimum wage should be raised to a livable wage?

Jim Curley said...

"violates" church teaching may be a bit strong...(even reject may be, as I wrote: although as I have mentioned before, WFB (either him or with his approval) wrote we could ignor JP when writing against Capitalism and still be good Catholics because popes aren't economists. He missed the point, JP wasn't proposing economic systems, or critiquing their effectiveness as economic systems, he was commenting on the morality of the economic systems based on evidence and theory-which is in his purview.)

Sure living wage is one. But if you look back at the papal (so-called "social") encylicals from Leo XIII's Rerum Noverum through John Paul's you will find a condemnation of both socialism and capitalism-at least in how it treats man as less than human-that is as a tool.

Of course the Dems trend towards the former and the GOP towards the latter. The popes say it much better than I, but Capitalism tends to de-humanize man into a simply a tool. Working in industry of years just solidifies my beliefs (although I must say, I have been pretty lucky in my employment-until RP got a hold of me-they're slavedrivers..)

Whether true Capitalism works (I don't believe so) as an economic system is another story-depending on what you want the outcome to be.

I am too long now-maybe a post next week will outline things better.


TS said...

I can easily see capitalism as creating a tendency to use people as a tool though I've never experienced it personally so it's hard for me to relate to that. My employer has consistently been extremely generous and very understanding even in the face of my ingratitude.

Capitalism in real life seems less an abstract philosophy than something that is shaped mostly by those just above you on the hierarchy chart.

But I get that there are a lot of people for whom that is not the case. So I'm ever left with the question of whether capitalism is evil or the misuse of capitalism that is evil. One could say the same of Communism, of course. And just as Dorothy Day is not seen in violation of Church teachings for her appreciation of Communism, I don't get how Richard Neuhaus is wrong for his appreciation of capitalism. I just see economics as so different from, say, the pro-life issues. But it's quite possible I'd feel differently if I had a terrible experience with capitalism.

Jim Curley said...

Ah, but Dorothy Day was a Communist before her conversion-not after. After she was more of a Distributist, but she would work with people on issues upon which they agreed.

And you are correct, Capitalism does not reach the same height of importance as pro-life issues.

I don't read Fr. Nehaus often so I can't comment, but if the popes are correct, Capitalism always (is that too strong-usually?) leads to the same end (exploitation of the worker-just as in Communism, but in a different way and by a different method) because it's ends is not with the good of the worker, but for the good of the owner or investor. There is never enough wealth for the owners-even at the expense of the workers who are asked to work longer hours with less staff.

(BTW, I too -even though laid off twice in my career-have felt my employers have been good to me personally-especially but not limited to my immediate bosses. Yet I have also seen those same companies not be so kind to others.)

TS said...

The problem with my view of capitalism, which must be in error if in conflict with church teaching, is that I see the good of the owner and the worker as typically mutually enriching. Certainly has in my experience. The level of material comfort enjoyed by workers and owners via capitalism has never been rivaled by any other system. Of course we don't currently have a purely capitalistic system so that could account for some of what I perceive to be its success.

This is looking at it from a purely material perspective. It might be better from an eternal perspective if we were poorer and less self-sufficient and holier.