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Angelo Matera | 09.12.08

Politics

David Brooks explains the Republican Party’s Catholic problem

In a NY Times column today called “The Social Animal,” David Brooks pinpoints exactly why so many Catholics hold their noses every four years as they vote Republican for president merely because of the party’s stance against abortion and gay marriage.
 
As any Catholic who’s watched a Republican convention knows, the GOP is about individualism—“the stout pioneer crossing the West, the risk-taking entrepreneur with a vision, the stalwart hero fighting the collectivist foe,” as Brooks describes it.

We’ve heard often enough that this Republican vision doesn’t square with the Church’s more communitarian view of life and reality, which stresses the common good, and a sense of “communion” best represented (although imperfectly) by the Church itself.

The problem is that in U.S. politics, the alternative—the Democratic Party—suffers from its own form of individualism (despite its advocacy of social programs). Their view of life and family is rooted in a radical autonomy that undercuts its talk about building community. 

As Brooks describes it, the world is learning what the Church already knows, but has a hard time communicating to secular society:

“The problem is, this individualist description of human nature seems to be wrong. Over the past 30 years, there has been a tide of research in many fields, all underlining one old truth — that we are intensely social creatures, deeply interconnected with one another and the idea of the lone individual rationally and willfully steering his own life course is often an illusion.”

Brooks isn’t arguing for socialism, but what I would say is the Church’s view of the person, as opposed to the individual. There is a big difference, as Brooks understands:

Cognitive scientists have shown that our decision-making is powerfully influenced by social context — by the frames, biases and filters that are shared subconsciously by those around. Neuroscientists have shown that we have permeable minds. When we watch somebody do something, we recreate their mental processes in our own brains as if we were performing the action ourselves, and it is through this process of deep imitation that we learn, empathize and share culture.

Geneticists have shown that our behavior is influenced by our ancestors and the exigencies of the past. Behavioral economists have shown the limits of the classical economic model, which assumes that individuals are efficient, rational, utility-maximizing creatures.
Psychologists have shown that we are organized by our attachments. Sociologists have shown the power of social networks to affect individual behavior.

What emerges is not a picture of self-creating individuals gloriously free from one another, but of autonomous creatures deeply interconnected with one another. Recent Republican Party doctrine has emphasized the power of the individual, but underestimates the importance of connections, relationships, institutions and social filaments that organize personal choices and make individuals what they are.”

Brooks is describing a view of reality that is no less than a reflection of the Trinity. The theological implications are too complex to discuss here. But on a practical level, what he’s saying has implications that go well beyond current party platforms. For instance, the brain imaging discoveries he cites help to explain why pornography and violent video games like Grand Theft Auto are so destructive—put simply, our brains can’t tell the difference between doing and watching. (That’s why therapists are using virtual reality to heal soldiers suffering from combat-related post-traumatic stress disorder)

Brooks traces the Republican cowboy mentality to Barry Goldwater, who despite losing to Lyndon Johnson in the 1964 presidential election, sparked the conservative revolution that has given us thirty years of every-man-for-himself government. The failures of that program, says Brooks, are the reason people are so unhappy:

“If there’s a thread running through the gravest current concerns, it is that people lack a secure environment in which they can lead their lives. Wild swings in global capital and energy markets buffet family budgets. Nobody is sure the health care system will be there when they need it. National productivity gains don’t seem to alleviate economic anxiety. Inequality strains national cohesion. In many communities, social norms do not encourage academic achievement, decent values or family stability. These problems straining the social fabric aren’t directly addressed by maximizing individual freedom.

Last spring I wrote that I would voting for “None of the Above.” I believe my argument still stands, although I may vote for McCain and a divided government. (The Dems will control Congress. Each side can keep the other from doing too much damage).

Until one party takes Brook’s analysis to heart, I don’t believe this country will be able to adequately address it problems. And Catholics will continue to lack good choices at election time. 

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(24) COMMENTS

By Dave AT 09.12.08 11:24AM Not Rated

Dave

Angelo, please don’t vote for another Republican in the white house. That’s not even a good argument. Actually. that’s a horrible argument because we’ve got that situation right now and nothing is getting done. I live in Michigan and our economy is really bad right now. For me to vote for another Republican would be a joke. Don’t make that mistake buddy.


By Fr. Shawn Matthew, osb AT 09.12.08 12:17PM Not Rated

Fr. Shawn Matthew, osb

Yes, we are indeed a nation that does NOT need a greater influence from the “Mr. Potters” (the evil antagonist from “It’s a Wonderful Life”), but from the George Baileys of our Nation.  Where are the George and Mary Baileys?  Where are those who are willing to put the size of their own checking accounts second and the welfare of the Common Good first?  As Catholics, this ought to be our primary concern.  However, how many of us, as Baptized and anointed Catholics, are willing to step up the plate and truly offer our bodies as living sacrifices?  How many of us are willing to spend at least one hour a day EVERY day in prayer for the healing of our Society?  How many of us are willing to offer whatever little or significant sufferings we are called to endure in union with the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ? 

Yes, we want a better country with healthier workplaces, homes and schools, but are we willing to pay the price it requires?  Until our answer is transformed from a very luke-warm maybe into a fervent YES, life, as we know it, is not going to change that much.  As the Psalmist says, “Give us help against the foe, for the help of man is vain.  With God we shall do bravely, and He will trample down our foes” (Psalm 108:13,14).


By freethinkingtheist AT 09.13.08 12:48PM Not Rated

freethinkingtheist

My conscience will not allow me to vote for Obama and his cold-blooded resistance to the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) on more than one occasion.  My conscience will not allow me to vote for a continued senseless war either, so I’m leaning toward none of the above/third party.


By Dave AT 09.13.08 09:25PM Not Rated

Dave

Shawn, stop quoting chapter and verse while using cliches to try to make an argument. It doesn’t work.

Freethinkingtheist, I agree with you if that’s your conscience choice.

I cannot, however, vote for McCain (because other than his pro-life stance which for him includes being for embryonic stem-cell research, I don’t agree with him on anything else) and a third party candidate (because they honestly won’t get elected at the federal level.)


By Fr. Shawn Matthew, osb AT 09.13.08 09:45PM Not Rated

Fr. Shawn Matthew, osb

I didn’t realize that I was trying to make an argument!  grin  The Second Vatican Council, the Popes who have ascended to the Chair of Peter, including our current Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI have concurred in their analyses that the primary need for our society is centered around holiness.  And for holiness to transform the human heart, the human heart must be willing to submit him/herself to the One (the Only One, it ought to be stated) who is capable of making the primary and most essential change, that of removing the heart of stone (resulting from sin) and replacing it with a heart of flesh. 

War, poverty, racism, hatred, division, anger, bitterness, jealousy, all of these ways of using and reducing the human person to a thing to be used and manipulated (yes, even when it is via the Internet) all begin in the heart of single human beings (and Catholics, being those gifted with the truth, ought to be held to the highest degree of accountability - myself at the top of the list) that do not encounter the living God, or when they do, return to their former lives and life as if the Lord Jesus Christ had not sought them, placed them upon His shoulders and brought them back into His fold.  Veni, Creator Spiritus!


By freethinkingtheist AT 09.13.08 10:17PM Not Rated

freethinkingtheist

Fr. Shawn,
I think what you are saying is wonderful, beautifully written and it is also very upliftingly idealic. But, how does this translate into helping us face the moral dilemmas related to voting amidst two candidates with major moral liabilities this upcoming election?


By dsconi AT 09.14.08 11:19PM Not Rated

dsconi

If I’m not mistaken, there are five prominent issues that are non-negotiable for the Catholic voter:  abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, human cloning and homosexual marriage.  One candidate, along with his running mate and his national party, support every single one of these moral evils and actively cater to the groups pushing each of these agendas.  The other candidate may not be battling 1.000 on these non-negotiable issues, but he, his running mate, and his national party are far closer to the Catholic ideal.  Of course these five are not the only issues, but they are the first and foremost issues because they concern the dignity of the human person and determine how we value or devalue human life.  PJPII wrote that all other human “rights” are false and illusory if the right to life is not defended.  Those wishing to vote against the war in Iraq would do well to remember that Mother Theresa told the delegates of the United Nations that ending the war on the unborn was the first step to ending all wars.  As for plans to vote for a third party candidate or stay home on Nov. 2nd, the political reality is that you are throwing your vote away and potentially allowing a candidate to win who promised to sign the “Freedom of Choice Act” into law his first day in office and to nominate Supreme Court Justices who will defend Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand for the next 30 years.  Sorry, but this election is not a tough decision for a Catholic serious about defending life.


By Dave AT 09.15.08 12:44AM Not Rated

Dave

Or for a religious fundamentalist.


By Angelo Matera AT 09.15.08 01:11AM Not Rated

Angelo Matera

Dear DSCONI:
If it were as simple as that, the Church would just tell us who to vote for. It doesn’t do that, because it leaves to each person the freedom to make decisions based on prudence.

The philosopher Joseph Pieper said prudence involves “a transformation of the knowledge of truth into decisions cor­res­pond­ing to reality.” The key word here is reality. There is a truth to reality, but it’s complex, and each of us experiences it differently.

Based on my understanding of Catholic social teaching, and my observations of reality, it’s my judgement that the choices presented to us for the past fifty years have done nothing to further a genuine culture of life. Catholics have been voting Republican since Reagan and things have only gotten worse.

The problem goes way beyond the “five non-negotiable issues.” These issues are all symptoms of a deeper, underlying problem, which is that our society is based on maximizing the freedom of individuals to use each other. That we end up aborting, mercy killing, exploiting, is the natural playing out of this logic. That’s what Brooks was getting at.

Until our democracy re-orients itself according to genuine Christian principles of mutual support, and recognition that our lives are a gift from something greater, and applies these principles to life, family, work and international relations, then nothing will change.

My conscience won’t allow me to associate myself with the particular evils that I believe each candidate will bring about. Obama will promote violence in the womb and violate the rights of families to nurture their children as they see fit, and McCain will promote violence around the world as the answer to conflict, and will continue the destructive Republican policies that favor capital over wage labor. I can’t stomach either one.


By Vico AT 09.15.08 12:16PM Not Rated

Vico

Vico:
  It might be interesting and informative to hear how people who wish to criminalize abortion would describe how a woman who has an abortion once it becomes illegal should be punished from a Christian perspective.


By Fr. Larry Gearhart AT 09.15.08 04:00PM Not Rated

Fr. Larry Gearhart

I agree whole heartedly with your thesis, Shawn.  Democrats are for radical individualism in the moral sphere.  Republicans are for radical individualism in the economic sphere.  (Many independents are for both.)  Both, thus far, appear to be invincibly ignorant because they fail to recognize the illusory underpinnings of their own thought. 

Thus, a Democrat will argue that you can’t legislate morality, when all he/she really means is you’d better not legislate his/her morality, as he/she fails to recognize that all legislation touches on morality.  In the same way, a Republican will argue that government should stay off the backs of the people, particularly when he/she sees an opportunity to exploit someone else’s ignorance or naivete, like the vendors of sub-prime mortgages or the vendors of paycheck “advances,” or the executives that bail out using a golden parachute when their leadership wrecked the company, or the economy as a whole, as he/she fails to recognize the responsibility of all leaders to the public good.

What’s particularly sad about this is that even David Brooks fails to fully appreciate the implications of this line of thinking.  Then again, he did come to a deeper understanding of foreign policy when the Iraq War failed to turn out the way he planned.  Who knows, maybe he’ll come to appreciate the folly of “gay marriage.”


By Fr. Larry Gearhart AT 09.15.08 04:04PM Not Rated

Fr. Larry Gearhart

Sorry, my bad.  I meant “I agree whole heartedly with your thesis, Angelo.”


By Catholic gal AT 09.15.08 07:46PM Not Rated

Catholic gal

Right on DSCONI. There is a hierarchy of rights and the right to life is the primary one, without which you can have no others. To vote for a man who opposed a bill to provide medical treatment to aborted babies who are born alive is inconceivable to me. Hilary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry may have supported partial birth abortion, but at least they agreed that once the baby was outside the womb the argument about abortion being about the autonomy of a woman’s body no longer applied.


ROBERTSDAVID50 – your condemnation of DSCONI as a religious fundamentalist could also be made about Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict, Mother Teresa, etc. Insults are not a substitute for rational argument.


By Dave AT 09.16.08 02:15AM Not Rated

Dave

CATHOLIC GAL - the author (of this article) posted a comment just below mine explaining what, I would agree, is the proper context of this topic.

That wasn’t an insult, it was a correction.


By RickCross AT 09.16.08 08:22AM Not Rated

RickCross

Angelo said: “Catholics have been voting Republican since Reagan and things have only gotten worse.”  Here are three points in reply: (1) It is historically incorrect to say that “Catholics” have been voting Repub; Catholics DO NOT vote Dem or Repub. as a block. For example, Clinton-Gore took the Catholic vote in ’92 and ’96, and Gore-Liebermann took the Catholic vote by 6% in 2000. For the first time in 16 years, a Republican presidential candidate took the majority of Catholic voters in 2004. Conservative Catholics have tended to vote Republican since Reagan, but this group is a relatively small percentage of Catholics overall, perhaps 20% of all Catholics in the electorate (estimated by the percentage of Catholics who are not on birth control!)  The Catholic vote is pretty much divided between the two political parties, which leads to my second point.  (2) At one time, the bishops had enormous leverage over the Catholic vote and Catholic politicians, (Phil Lawler’s book, the Faithful Departed documents this) but since the 1970s, the bishops as a group have exercised little leverage on Catholic politicians who are pro-abortion. The bishop rebukes of Biden and Pelosi this year are proving an exception to the rule. Nevertheless, it has been the rare bishop that publicly challenged these left-wing Catholic politicians BY NAME on their abortion positions in the context of an election. Indeed, the USCC and the NCCB were openly hostile to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, at a time when the prolife movement had been successfully driven out of the national Democrat party. In the Reagan era, Cdl Bernardin set back the pro-life movement perhaps 20 years by his seamless garment doctrine,—which linked the issues of nuclear proliferation and abortion—at a time when the pro-life movement was making major gains in the public eye and within the Republican party; Bernardin single handedly impeded the pro-life political momentum. (3) This last point addresses the Brookes/ Angelo supposition that Republicans are radical individualist. This supposition sets up a straw-man argument. First off, conservative Republicans are huge supporters of religious and philanthropic giving. Republicans have championed policies since the Reagan years which have been an enormous help to the poor; e.g., Jack Kemp’s enterprise zones, charter schools, school vouchers, welfare reform.  Now there may be some Libertarians who call themselves Republicans, but the conservative wing of the Republican party is NOT Libertarian; it does NOT subscribe to radical individualism. What conservative Republicans do believe is in a more limited government and private philanthropy as the most effective ways to deal with social ills, such as poverty, education of the young, health care etc.. The social welfare policies championed by the Democrat party have demonstrably undermined the family, the low-income neighborhoods, and the low-income school systems. Where they have been allowed to flourish, private religious and philanthropic efforts in helping the poor have been much more effective. Conservative Republicans want to help the poor, but they understand the indispensable role of Christian religious charity, voluntary help, and personal initiative.


By chassup AT 09.16.08 09:24AM Not Rated

chassup

RICKCROSS ,

Bravo, couldn’t have said it any better!


By chassup AT 09.16.08 09:49AM Not Rated

chassup

Vico asks, “It might be interesting and informative to hear how people who wish to criminalize abortion would describe how a woman who has an abortion once it becomes illegal should be punished from a Christian perspective.”

I wonder if similar questions were contemplated when they criminalized slavery… from a Christian perspective, that is?  I know it’s a little like apples and oranges, slavery isn’t child-killing.


By Vico AT 09.16.08 01:24PM Not Rated

Vico

Vico:
  Oh, that’s right Chassup, slavery is not “intrinsically evil”. Avery Dulles uses that concept in his defense of the Catholic Church for how long it took the Church to condemn slavery.Abortion is regarded as “intrinsically evil” but since “illegal” is not synonymous with immoral, if abortion becomes illegal women who break the law must be punished.
  Perhaps it would be a good thing to hear a Christian perspective on punishment for a crime that is also regarded as “intrinsically evil”. Context may be considered by civil law, for example, but it’s difficult to imagine context is in any way relevant to something “intrinsically evil. And we do live in this democracy with all its weaknesses.


By Fr. Shawn Matthew, osb AT 09.16.08 08:20PM Not Rated

Fr. Shawn Matthew, osb

Freethinkingtheist,

First of all, I have been crunching Biochemistry for the past 48 hours, so I haven’t had time to reply to your keen perception.  You are right on with your “analysis” of my two above statements.  While they exist within a philosophical substratum that forms the foundation of much of my world and other-wordly views, they seem to emerge in a particularly vehement way every four years during the late summer/early autumn months…... could it be…. ELECTION TIME!  grin

Yes, it is during the presidential election season (beginning with the primaries) that I find myself increasingly frustrated time and again.  As far as I am concerned (for whatever that is worth, not very much) there simply is NO ONE to vote for.  Check that: there has not been anyone to vote for many, many moons.  I have never voted FOR anyone in a presidential election.  I have faithfully voted against candidates each and every presidential election.  I voted against Dukakis in 1988, against George I in 1992, against Clinton in 1996, against Gore in 2000 and against Kerry in 2004.  In 1992, I was not Catholic.  I was Catholic in name only, and so I was completely in favor of change for the sake of change as it was being promoted by then Democratic nominee Bill Clinton.

The most dangerous thing that the Democratic party has done over the past 30 years is abandoning the anthropological roots of human society - abortion on demand, homosexual unions, false feminism (Pope John Paul the Great was an authentic feminist).  These are NOT religious issues, they are human issues.  These are issues that are rooted in the human soul, in the human heart.  These are issues that have shaped and formed human culture and societies since the beginning.  These are anthropological issues, and to completely undermine them is the undermine one of the foundational principles buttressing the Church’s social doctrine: the principle of subsidiarity.  One fact that people don’t mention very often in the midst of these debates is the fact that in the wake of the sexual revolution of the 1970’s, there are more single women trying to raise children who live under the poverty level TODAY than, I do believe have at any other time in the history of our nation.

So, what is a voter to do?  What is a Catholic voter to do?  What is THIS Catholic voter going to do?  I’ll do what I’ve done each and every election since I have been approaching the voting booth - I’ll vote against Senator Obama.  Anyone who is that against the weakest, most defenseless human beings in our nation, simply is not fit to take control of that much power.  Because the power will be used (as it always is) against the weakest and most defenseless.  1.4 million a year.  Yes, there are many fronts that are calling for Christians at arms.  There are many fronts that need to best that Christianity (and humanity, for that manner) has to offer, and we are simply not up to the task.  The Republican party may be using the Pro life issue as a way to attract a certain portion of the Catholic vote without any sincere desire to promote the Pro-life cause.  The mighty hurricane of sin has been battering the moral levies of our nation for decades, and they are beginning to spring innumerable leaks.  The only solution I can see is to try to plug the one leak that I am able to plug, and pray for converted hearts (beginning with my own) to join together and repair these walls before it is too late.  When he ran for president in 2000, George W. Bush was asked if he would try to repeal Roe-v-Wade if elected president.  His answer: Hearts must first change before this law is changed.  The United States is not ready for this change.  How right he was, and still is.  Transformation of society is not something that can be legislated.  It cannot be brought to fruition through this party or that party, but by hearts being opened to the overwhelming truth of God’s love. 

In closing, I forgot that I DID vote FOR someone this year in the Primary - Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas.  He is very pro family, and also is in favor of implementing social reform legislation that is “too liberal” for the GOP.  The result?  He got no press time, he was a primary target of the conservative yelling heads like Rush, Sean Hannity and Mike Savage.  We in the USA are desperately seeking for someone to lead us in a new direction.  It is like the line at the end of Batman, the Dark Knight, after Harvey Dent’s (Gotham’s White Knight) funeral, as Batman (now the hunted Dark Knight) rides off into the darkness, “Gotham didn’t get the hero it needed (Dent), but the hero it deserved.  As we have lost our faith and our reliance upon God as our source and final authority, we too no longer see the leaders we need raised up from among our ranks.  We simply get the ones we deserve.  And the Church says…. AMEN.


By RickCross AT 09.16.08 11:36PM Not Rated

RickCross

FR. SHAWN MATTHEW, OSB said:
“… I DID vote FOR someone this year in the Primary - Gov. Mike Huckabee, the Governor of Arkansas.  He is very pro family, and also is in favor of implementing social reform legislation that is “too liberal” for the GOP.”

Huckabee is very good man and very pro-family and would have been a major asset to the pro-life cause. But his political philosophy is that of a “Christian statist”, which is to say, that he views the government as the principal authority for the remedy of social ills in morals, health and education.

Consider the fact that statism, as a political and juridical philosophy, gave us the pro-abortion movement because statism encourages people to view the government and the courts, and not the Church,  as moral arbiters. Statism gave us legal positivism, which gave us Roe v. Wade. 

In regards to statism on issues other than abortion—issues addressing human welfare—the main problem with any form of statism is that it violates the principle of subsidiarity. Statism simultanously allows for moral individualism on matters that are not legislated within the statist framework and it also encourages the erosion of family and local community cohesion, and especially displaces traditional moral law.

Subsidiarity, unlike statism, recognizes that parents, families, and communities are best equipped to deal with the moral challenges of the community—indeed, individuals, families, and local communities that are imbued with Christian moral principles, have the prudence to direct action to remedy social ills.

County, state, and federal initiatives can legislate proscriptions against certain behaviors, but they cannot realistically enact positive remedies to social ills whose roots reside in moral turpitude, or whose natural remedy resides in the family (such as in the education of the young) because these remedies require moral prudence. Positive law by its very nature strips the individual, family, or local community of the prudential resources to bring about positive change in these matters.

Hadley Arkes, Charles Murray, and James Q Wilson, among many others,  have demonstrated through their respective research how state and national government cannot educate or remedy social ills that arise from moral turpitude.  Religious and other volunteer activities that have free reign to exercise prudential judgment provide real solutions.

Pope John Paul II encyclical Centesimus Annus addresses the problem of subsidiarity in detail. Here is a brief excerpt: 

“In recent years the range of such intervention has vastly expanded, to the point of creating a new type of State, the so-called “Welfare State”. This has happened in some countries in order to respond better to many needs and demands, by remedying forms of poverty and deprivation unworthy of the human person. However, excesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the “Social Assistance State”. Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. (rf. Pius XI, Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno, I : loc. cit., 184-186.)”

Huckabee is very pro-life, but he fails to understand the problems of statism and further does not understand the principle of subsidiarity. He would not be the best person to put a stop to the hedonistic anti Christian direction of our culture.


By dsconi AT 09.22.08 11:02PM Not Rated

dsconi

I am delighted that my post has generated a few responses, and am proud to be called a “religious fundamentalist” if that phrase means knowing, accepting and sincerely attempting to live out the “fundamental” tennets of one’s “religious” faith!

As for Mr. Matera’s comments, I can only conclude that we’re two very different kinds of Catholics regarding truth, conscience, obedience and humility.  Indeed the Church doesn’t dictate to the faithful who to vote for by name or by party, but She does instruct us how to vote according to the issues at stake.  First and foremost among these are matters concerning the inherent dignity of the human person and the inviolability of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Elevating socio-economic, environmental or foreign policy issues above the life issues may seem prudential to your way of thinking or mine, but only if we are not thinking with the mind of the Church!  As for the rebuke about my failing to realize or grasp the complexities of voting responsibly, I confess to being a simpleton who sees these things in black and white.  After all, I am just following what the Universal Church teaches—in the black ink and white paper of the Bible, the Catechism, Papal Encyclicals, and the documents of great Councils—not to mention the writings of the Saints and Doctors of the Church.  As an adult convert to Roman Catholicism, I vowed to be faithful and obedient to the teaching authority of the one true Church instituted by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit.  In choosing the Church, I must reject the contrary views of any philosopher who would lead one to claim that “There is a truth to reality, but it’s complex, and each of us experiences it differently”.  How does a Catholic adopt such a relativistic view of truth and reality without denying the Church?

Others have already refuted the absurd contention that “Catholics have been voting Republican since Reagan”, so I won’t bother to address it in detail.  It is important to note, however, that many of our most notorious public officials regarding life issues proudly proclaim their Catholicism to their constituents and are faithfully returned to office—very often by the Catholic voters of their district.  Could it be that this continuing scandal of prominent Catholic politicians who are unabashedly pro-abortion, pro-embryonic stem cell research, pro-euthanasia and pro-homosexual marriage somehow contributes to a belief among voters that religious faith is a private matter that shouldn’t impact public policy?  Or that the constant teachings of Church are one opinion among many and optional so long as one exercises prudential judgment in following ones’  conscience—however malformed?  I think I’ll ignore the ruminations of philosophers and the rationalizations of politicians and just humbly submit myself to the teaching authority of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.


By AgapeMargaret AT 09.23.08 12:48AM Not Rated

AgapeMargaret

DSCONI-

I think you misunderstand Mr. Matera. He is saying he can vote for NEITHER candidate because of some of the reasons of conscience you are listing. While I agree those life issues are non-negotiable, what good does it do to vote for another supposedly “pro-life” candidate when these so called “pro-life” republican presidents have done relatively little with their time in office to promote life positions? Besides, socioeconomic issues and foreign policy issues ARE life issues, especially if you are struggling to afford medical care or if your country is involved in a war. The Church warns us against failing to see these issues.

I am not saying 3500 children dying a day to abortion is proportional, but can you honestly say that a vote for John McCain will save all those children? And the tiniest of children, the embryos?

I am not saying I will vote for Obama, I doubt very much I could justify it. However, I completely see where people like Angelo Matera are coming from.


By dsconi AT 09.23.08 11:13PM Not Rated

dsconi

My initial comment on Mr. Matera’s article was to point out the fact that “none of the above” helps to elect the candidate who has pledged to his supporters that he will do everything in his power as president to expand the taking of innocent life by signing into law a bill that strikes down every single restriction on abortion in every single state in the country just as Roe did, and further that he will appoint justices to the Supreme Court using Roe as his litmus test.  Of course this reality of which I spoke was not addressed.  Instead, the response I received in return was:  a) to question my intelligence b) to rationalize the decisions of Catholic voters who ignore the clear teaching of the Church in favor of “prudential” judgments based upon one’s individual take on truth of reality and c) to redirect the discussion to the failure of Republican presidents to accomplish anything positive despite supposedly “owning” the Catholic vote since Regan.  Now, let us add insult to injury by claiming that I somehow “don’t understand Mr. Matera” despite the fact that I answered his claims without distorting his words, insulting his intelligence or changing the subject?  For good measure, I get scolded for not recognizing socioeconomic and foreign policy issues as “life issues” before being assured that McCain won’t do anything to reduce the slaughter of the unborn innocents anyway—as if to suggest that I should make a prudential judgment to vote for Obama because at least he will be able to secure good jobs, universal health care and world peace with his magic wand?

And still, my initial argument about an Obama presidency ushering in a new age of increased abortion on demand and without even reasonable restrictions such as parental consent or partial birth abortion goes completely unaddressed by my detractors.


By dsconi AT 09.23.08 11:33PM Not Rated

dsconi

Perhaps a brief civics and history lesson is in order to dispel some of the more outrageous comments that keep popping up.  The president is not a king and doesn’t issue edicts from the oval office.  There is a Congress in place that proposes bills which the president may or may not choose to sign into law.  Some of these laws may be challenged by those who oppose them and have their fate decided by the Supreme Court.  The justices who sit on the Supreme Court are nominated for this lifetime appointment by the president but must be confirmed by the Senate if the nomination manages to make it out of the Judiciary Committee and onto the floor where the Majority Leader chooses whether or not to schedule it for a vote.  A Republican president may nominate a judge for the Supreme Court (or any federal court), but that person will not get an up or down vote on the floor of the Senate or even make it out of committee if his or her “judicial philosophy” (i.e. position on Roe) doesn’t meet the litmus test of the party in power.  Likewise, bills supported by the president (as in attempting to fulfill a campaign promise) may never come to the floor for a vote if the majority leader opposes the bill.  Conversely, a bill may vetoed by the president despite support from whichever party happens to control the Congress.  Ronald Regan (Republican) nominated a strong pro-life judge, Robert Bork, whose nomination was condemned on the Senate floor by Ted Kennedy (Catholic Democrat) and killed in committee by chair Joeseph Biden (Catholic Democrat).  Bill Clinton (Democrat) twice vetoed a bill brought to his desk by a Republican controlled Congress to ban partial birth abortion.  George W. Bush (Republican) waited over two years to sign this bill into law because Majority Leader Tom Daschle (Catholic Democrat) refused to schedule it for a floor vote.  Would Roe v. Wade still be enshrined into law if Bork had been confirmed to the Court instead of Anthony Kennedy?  Would any precious lives have been saved if the ban on partial birth abortion hadn’t been stalled by Clinton and Daschle?

What will the fate of the unborn be for the next 30 years with President Obama signing the “Freedom of Choice Act” (a prime example of Orwellian double speak) into law and packing the Supreme Court with justices sworn to uphold Roe with the support and blessing of many a Catholic Democrat?  No, the pro-life Republicans in the White House and the Congress over the past few decades have not exactly delivered the goods on ending abortion on demand.  Then again, self-proclaimed pro-lifers who nonetheless vote Democratic certainly aren’t helping the cause, are they?  How do you like the poster I’ll be holding at my local voting precinct on November 4th:  a large graphic photo of a dismembered victim of abortion with the NPR-inspired caption “Made possible by Pro-Choice voters like you”.  This same message applies as well to those of you who otherwise facilitate the election of abortion supporters by refusing to vote against them.  Please don’t pretend to be a serious Catholic or refer to yourself as “pro-life” if the lives in question have already taken their first breath.  This tired “social justice” angle as a rationalization for overlooking and excusing the grave evil of abortion is completely fraudulent despite the many clerical adherents who continue to provide cover for pro-abortion Catholics in public office and those of you who vote for them.

“Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.”  Unless you can name a social class with less power, less of a voice, and more at stake than the unborn, you cannot distract a devout, Christian pro-lifer from the cause—especially with the specious arguments and contempt I have encountered here.  John Paul II told Joe Scheidler in a personal encounter that he was “doing the most important work on earth”.  What would that make the work of those of you who resist and oppose our efforts?


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