Party of God/Party of Satan?

I am not interested in having future fruitless arguments over whether or not the Republican or Democratic Party is pure evil or not. It is like the old canard comparing some contemporary American politician to Adolf Hitler- it is a deal-breaker. I am one who believes that truth in politics is pretty spread out among the various major and minor political parties- there are some huge moral gaps in all, so the choice of party for me is not based on trying to find the perfect Party of God here in America.

I have been more inclined to the Democratic Party ever since I was 13 years old, despite the fact that I had no adult influences steering me in that direction. Now that I am a middle-aged adult I am not suggesting that anyone should just blindly stick with their childhood faith- you need to take ownership of your beliefs and your political participation.

I won’t denigrate anyone in their choice to be a Republican, Libertarian, Green Party member or other. I think there is a lot of room for good Christians and people of good will to have legit discussions over the political philosophy and particular issue stands of the various parties. I know full well that the establishment Democratic Party is seriously flawed from my own Catholic social doctrine-inspired point-of-view- but I do not think it is a hopeless cause to try to make reforms on issues dealing with the right to life for the unborn, and promotion of traditional marriage and sexual mores. I do not openly endorse candidates who are opposed to the right to life for the unborn, but I also don’t believe that the mainstream Republican strategy of framing abortion rights as a state’s rights question is a legitimate pro-life solution. So, I am not beholden to either of the major parties, not even on the question of abortion. And I feel that if Democrats get behind the Pregnant Womens Support Act, this could have an extremely positive effect on reducing the number of abortions- a partial solution which is better than the current situation. I believe ultimately in a natural law reasoning process that would include Supreme Court decisions, as that should clear the way for an international right to life for all vulnerable unborn children. Coupled with that determination would be a bill of rights for pregnant women to provide them with the necessary supports to see their children through to birth and beyond.

But if one is determined to believe that no good person could be a Democrat or a Republican, then I would have to say that that debate is closed for me. That would be a non-starter. There are debates that just go south real fast- I want to be able to have friendships with people across party lines, but if someone thinks you are evil or belong to the Party of Satan, well that pretty much ends all friendly lines of communication. So, I will end with some advice from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church on the tentative loyalties we should give to any merely political organization:

573. A particular area for discernment on the part of the lay faithful concerns the choice of political instruments, that is, membership in a party or in other types of political participation. A choice must be made that is consistent with values, taking into account actual circumstances. In every case, whatever choice is made must be rooted in charity and tend towards the attainment of the common good[1200]. It is difficult for the concerns of the Christian faith to be adequately met in one sole political entity; to claim that one party or political coalition responds completely to the demands of faith or of Christian life would give rise to dangerous errors. Christians cannot find one party that fully corresponds to the ethical demands arising from faith and from membership in the Church. Their adherence to a political alliance will never be ideological but always critical; in this way the party and its political platform will be prompted to be ever more conscientious in attaining the true common good, including the spiritual end of the human person[1201].

12 Responses to Party of God/Party of Satan?

  • …but I also don’t believe that the mainstream Republican strategy of framing abortion rights as a state’s rights question is a legitimate pro-life solution.

    Hardly a fair assessment of the Republican strategy. The Republican platform calls for a Constitutional amendment to protect the right to life of the unborn from the moment of conception.

    Good luck with your project of bringing the Democrats around on the abortion issue, really.

  • Tim Shipe says:

    Paul- three quick points- first thanks for the good will to wish me luck- prayers will do even better!

    Second- I am aware of the official platform, but to be honest I don’t think these platforms really drive the operations in the parties- they are nice and symbolic, and if I had seen the kind of energy from the national Republican leaders to push for such an Amendment during the 8 years of the Bush Admin, my heart might have been won over- but alas- it seems that all I hear from the actual candidates and reps during elections is that they have their personal beliefs about abortion being wrong, but really all they intend is to send it back to the states to decide- taking the Scalia/Thomas road to pro-State’s Rights, not natural law/pro-life. So, yes it is a few hairs more than the Democratic sell-out of the unborn, but it doesn’t cut it if we want to make the right to life a universal human right someday. There is sometimes a tyranny in popular opinion- and right now abortion is something that requires national leaders to take up their godly role, not pass the buck. Again, I am convinced that many of my friends who support the State’s rights approach to abortion are genuine in their position- they don’t see a way clear to what I propose without undermining the Rule of Law- I respect their reasoning, but I don’t accept it. What I propose will require a big turnaround inside the Democratic Party, which is why I am focusing my energies there. I will leave the Republican CAtholics to do the heavy lifting inside their chosen party. The big point in this submission is simply to say that there can be no debate or common ground if one is simply to assert that the Democratic or Republican parties are just pure evil and anyone associating or working within one or the other major Parties is in grave sin. That is the only point of no return for me when it comes to having a dialogue. I don’t view the parties as hopeless, just major basket cases- if I decide to break with the Dems it will be to go and try to form a Natural Law/Common Good Party- but right now that seems like a strategy that would give me pleasure, but I’m not convinced it would actually help reform American politics to help on the major issues of my discontent.

  • jh says:

    Great post. I agree with a good bit of it. I am really glad that certain people are not in charge of RCIA programs. One gets a sense that Republicans would have to repent in public of many supposed sins before being allowed to enter :)

    I am hoping the Church (in all its facets) does a better job of engaging both major parties

  • …if I had seen the kind of energy from the national Republican leaders to push for such an Amendment during the 8 years of the Bush Admin, my heart might have been won over- but alas- it seems that all I hear from the actual candidates and reps during elections is that they have their personal beliefs about abortion being wrong, but really all they intend is to send it back to the states to decide…

    Here, I wish I could contradict you, but I can’t. I share your frustration, the moreso because I am a Republican. So many missed opportunities.

    The only solution I can see is to find more pro-life candidates at every level of government; which is why I am running for the Illinois legislature.

  • Eric Brown says:

    “Good luck with your project of bringing the Democrats around on the abortion issue, really.”

    That’s precisely the problem. “Good luck with YOUR project.” Why is it only OUR project? Call me an idealist, but I thought we were in this together and I hardly see how we’re going to get that constitutional amendment, overturn Roe v. Wade, or get any federal pro-life legislation without the Democrats who are pro-life. Even with the GOP control of Congress, no pro-life legislation has ever passed without the 40 or so pro-life Democrats who get on board.

    I’m not justifying the actions or cowardliness that many pro-life Democrats have taken. But it seems that hardly any can rise because the funding isn’t there nor is the support.

    If I ran for office right now, health care and environmental lobbies won’t give me funding because I’m pro-life. Pro-life groups won’t give me funding because I’m a Democrat. In a Democratic primary, pro-choice groups and Democratic groups will back my opponent(s) and I would be outspent terribly.

    The problem for pro-life Democrats is not the general election. It seems that to me, a pro-life Democrat more often than not beats a Republican and solidly too. It is not the general that we have to worry about. We have to survive primaries and the party machine is set up in such a way that, that is an enormous, almost insurmountable task. What’s even worse is those who should be our true allies, don’t support us. And I’m not talking pseudo-pro-life Democrats — Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, Jesse Jackson etc — I’m talking the Robert Caseys who don’t quite get into the game, like Mr. Shipe here.

    I’m not all too sure if there’s ever really a second glance at a Democrats’ pro-life credentials once you see the “(D)” after his or her name. Maybe I’m wrong. I pray I am. But this “buck your party” and “then give us a call” business is beyond unfair.

    For every missed Republican opportunity, for every time the GOP machine has taken advantage of pro-lifers, or has failed on its promises, I would love to see a swarm of angry letters in the mail to Congress or a threat to not vote for them. But, oh….we can’t. If we vote against them, we get the opposition which is rabidly pro-abortion. So we’re locked in the box with no one to vote for except for the GOP…and they’re going to give this strategy up, why? For justice? I think that’s delusional. Sure, there are some sincere pro-life Republicans, but I don’t think the machine is selling the votes anytime soon.

    So if I can ask myself as a pro-life Democrat, why should I vote eagerly for the party establishment if they will not even consider my views? If the Democratic machine knew it could get my vote no matter what positions they took, they would have no reason to change it. In the same way, if the GOP does in fact take advantage of pro-life votes, if it does in fact pay “lip service” to the unborn and do minimal work to end abortion, then in fact, why sell your vote to an establishment that is at best lukewarm? I’m not saying vote for a pro-choice opponent. Vote for a different candidate in the primaries, at least abstain from voting for one (or however many) on the ballot, or at least raise awareness about that candidate. I don’t see the party getting more serious unless something is done.

    I hardly see as much energy spent at developing and maintaining real energy on abortion than I see on other issues and throwing the word “socialism” around. Like Mr. Shipe, had I seen one bill like the Right to Life Act or fetus-personhood bill, even make it off of committee for a vote I’d be in a different party. The Democrats are using the “reconciliation process” so that they ONLY need 50 votes to get a health care bill through the Senate. Why could the Republicans have not done that? I don’t see half the energy in fighting it than I do in talking about it or pointing to the failures of those on the other side. And this is hardly the point of pro-life Republican criticism.

    Again and again, we are told vote for “pro-life candidates.” Why is it then, there seems to be a distinction? It often strikes me as unspoken or perhaps unrealized. “Pro-life candidates” are Republicans. There is a distinction made for “Pro-life Democratic candidates” as if they were a whole and separate category.

    So, the project of voting for pro-life Republicans is an obligation to the unborn (one of which I am not disputing). But the possibility of crossing partylines to help gain a broader pro-life coalition across parties is not an obligation. It is a problem only for pro-life Democrats to worry about. The solidarity seems to break down here.

    How many pro-life Democrats have positions of leadership or head committees? The problem is, as long as they are the “freshman” and can’t form a meaningful coalition, the pro-abortion majority won’t see any reason to take them seriously.

    This isn’t helped by pro-life Democrats without so much as a blink voting for pro-abortion candidates. However, neither are we helped by those from the other side who wouldn’t so much as lift a finger.

    We talk about double standards a lot in politics. Is this not a double standard?

    Forgive me here, but at least I can acknowledge and blatantly point out the obvious failures of pro-life Democrats. We have some serious issues that need to be worked out. However, I sure as hell don’t think we’re the party that is going to end abortion. I don’t think Republicans will end abortion. Pro-life American people will end abortion.

    Pro-choice Americans are marching in lock-step. The pro-life house is divided against itself. Can we not find some consensus on this? Lord, Have Mercy On Us.

  • Just a few points here, Eric…

    That’s precisely the problem. “Good luck with YOUR project.” Why is it only OUR project?

    Because I’m a Republican; I have no capacity to reform the Democratic Party. I’m working on the reform of the GOP. Race you?

    It seems that to me, a pro-life Democrat more often than not beats a Republican and solidly too.

    That’s because so many people assume that the “pro-life” Democrat doesn’t really mean it. Does the name Bob Casey, Jr., ring a bell?

    I’m not all too sure if there’s ever really a second glance at a Democrats’ pro-life credentials once you see the “(D)” after his or her name. Maybe I’m wrong.

    And maybe you’re not. When I see the “D” after a name, I want to know what’s wrong with a person’s pro-life sensibilities that they would be part of the party of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, Kathleen Sebelius, and the rest of the crowd who lie about abortion and about pro-lifers in order to keep abortion money coming in. My suspicion is, I think, understandable.

    But, oh….we can’t. If we vote against them, we get the opposition. So we’re locked in the box with no one to vote for except for the GOP…and they’re going to give this strategy up, why?

    And the Democratic Party is going to make a home for these disappointed pro-life voters… when?

    Both parties are becoming increasingly pro-abortion. The GOP can only abandon the pro-life issue because the Democrats did so long ago.

    But the possibility of crossing partylines to help gain a broader pro-life coalition across parties is not an obligation. It is a problem only for pro-life Democrats to worry about. The solidarity seems to break down here.

    In my area, my state rep is a pro-abort Republican. If the Democrats were to put up a pro-life opponent, I would support that candidate. But last year, they ran no one in the primary, and slated a pro-choice accountant for the general, whom the incumbent succeeding in getting removed from the ballot on a technicality.

    But let the Dems offer me a real choice, and I’ll take a good look.

    This year, with no rumors of an opponent in the (Feb. 2010) primary, I have entered the race myself, unprepared and inadequate though I may be.

    We talk about double standards a lot in politics. Is this not a double standard?

    Not that I can see. I want the best pro-life candidate I can find. After that, I want the candidate I think is best on other issues, too. A pro-life Democrat isn’t likely to get my vote over a pro-life Republican.

    I personally have never seen a ballot that had a pro-life Democrat against a pro-choice Republican. I suspect that pro-life Dems run against pro-life Republicans for purely partisan reasons. I rarely see much Democratic opposition to pro-choice Republicans.

  • Eric Brown says:

    Paul,

    Together, we uphold the status quo quite nicely.

    I’m a Democrat because I feel profoundly that God wants to me sitting at a table with particular sinners for a particular reason–warring that sin as an “enemy from within.”

    I never imagined it would be easy or simple. I didn’t even think it would come without suspicion from others who disagree with me. I doubt that’s avoidable in this life.

    The more I think about it, the more I think I’m meant to do it. In fact, what convinces me that it is my vocation is that it scares the daylights out of me. The media will love the election of a homosexual Catholic who opposes same-sex marriage, civil unions, domestic partnership, gay adoption, etc etc.

    So, indeed, Paul. Race you.

    I’ll continue to profoundly disagree with you on this, as on other matters (obviously).

    Good luck with your campaign. I’ll pray for you and probably, sooner rather than later, I’ll help fund it.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    One problem we have Eric is Democrats who run as pro-lifers and who then convert to the pro-abort cause after they get elected. Believe it or not, Dick Durbin, pro-abort Senator from my state, ran as a pro-lifer to win a congressional seat from Paul Findley, a Republican pro-abort. Durbin received a huge amount of support from pro-life Republicans around Illinois, and I have no doubt that Durbin would not have been elected in downstate Springfield without that support.
    http://www.illinoisfamily.org/informed/contentview.asp?c=27439

    Enough Democrats have pulled this trick to give many pro-lifers concern about the bona fides of a Democrat running as a pro-lifer. It is a shame that this impacts truly pro-life Democrats, but that is the situation.

  • Eric Brown says:

    If I held every single Republican politician accountable for my suspicion of a pro-life facade that I generally suspected, I wouldn’t vote for any of them and support third party candidates, or write-in candidates.

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