Of Christians, Catholics and Tea Parties (Part II)

In my last post, I wrote about tensions, existing or potential, between the libertarian and social conservative elements in the tea party movement. Whereas before I was speaking of Christians in a broad and general sense, I will now turn to what I think the Catholic response to the tea party ought to be.

As I looked into this topic, I was dismayed by the utter predictability of responses from across the Catholic spectrum. The rad-trad response was irrational as always; the leftist response as arrogant and contemptuous as ever; and the mainstream response was unimaginative. Granted this is a very small sampling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was accurately representative of these currents.

28% of the tea party movement, according to the one poll we have so far, is Catholic. This means Catholics are slightly over-represented in the movement. As I also reported last time, 68% of tea partiers attend religious services regularly; for Catholics, that ought to mean they go to Mass every Sunday. Now one thing I think I can say that isn’t very controversial is that when it comes to fidelity to the Church’s teaching on non-negotiable issues, such as abortion, marriage, and parental education rights, Catholics that regularly attend Mass are doing a heck of a lot better than Catholics who don’t. So these Catholics that are faithful to Church teaching on important issues are also supporting the tea party; that to me is an indicator that there is little in the tea party that fundamentally contradicts Church teaching.

I can hear the leftists now: these Catholics often reject the economic teaching of the Church, and the teaching authority of the US bishops. Well, aside from the fact that the bishops in this country have almost entirely blown their political capital (though their persistence in supporting the Stupak Amendment was admirable, I must admit), it isn’t clear to me at all that rejecting specific proposals or even broader ideological agendas is at all tantamount to rejecting the broad aims of the Church’s social teaching. If they do, it is obviously a problem. That’s all I want to say on this for now.

A commenter on my previous article posed a dilemma, however, that is worth exploring here: what if the fiscally-oriented, libertarian-ish tea party gets behind a pro-choice fiscal conservative? Catholics would then be forced once again to struggle with their consciences at the voting booth. The first thing that should be said is that, at least in its beginning, the tea party rallied around Ron Paul, who has always been pro-life. I don’t think this is because the movement is inherently pro-life, but because, as I argued previously, one of its original principles was fidelity to the US Constitution. Paul and other strict constitutionalists have always viewed Roe as a dubious decision, invoking a “right to privacy” that has to be read into the Constitution because it isn’t explicitly stated anywhere. They believe the matter of abortion is best left to the states to decide, a position I once rejected but now have to admit is the most wise and really the only one that is possible.

This commenter also pointed out that the tea party denounced Mike Huckabee as a “Christian Socialist.” Now, as someone who almost made a career out of socialism, I can say that what the average American thinks “socialism” is usually has more error than truth, at least academically. That said, I think it is usually a healthy instinct, even if the historical and theoretical details are off. In one particular respect, I think the characterization of Huckabee as a “Christian Socialist” is accurate, though perhaps not in a way that was meant by those who first used the phrase.

What I mean is this: we live in a political climate in which to be “pro-choice” (and I’ll get to the pro-life angle in a moment) is to ultimately be in favor of the federal government guaranteeing unrestricted access to abortion. Some go even further, as we have seen in the healthcare debate, and insist that this unrestricted access, in practice, means government (and therefore tax-payer) funded abortions. Either way, as someone who is familiar with the historical legacy of socialism, from its most extreme variants such as Bolshevism to its milder cousins such as Social Democracy, I can say that the idea that one of the responsibilities of the state is to guarantee unrestricted access to abortion is a fundamentally socialist idea. It is true in Europe, and it is true in America; abortion on demand is, according to most American socialist groups (if not all), a “fundamental democratic right” – how they link democracy to abortion is something I still haven’t quite figured out, and don’t really care to.

[Let me preempt one objection here: yes I know there is a smattering of pro-life socialists. There's never been enough of them to form a party, or even a faction within a party, or if there has, its been an organization so small that it hasn't shown up on the radar screen. The Socialist Party did nominate a "pro-life" Walt Brown one time, and Britain's George Galloway is also described as "pro-life"; in neither case did they affect the party platform.]

On the other side of the coin, there are pro-lifers, such as Huckabee – who compares abortion to slavery in a way I don’t find helpful at all – that believe that the power of the federal government should be used towards the opposite end; to restrict access to abortion, even if it means riding roughshod over state laws in the same way that Roe does. While this isn’t exactly what comes to mind when I think of the phrase “Christian Socialist”, there is an acorn of truth in the accusation. When you insist that the national or federal government come in and take over management of an issue or a problem that could otherwise be dealt with at a smaller level of government, you’ve crossed the line from subsidiarity to flirtation with socialism, or possibly fascism.

Rad-trad and leftist alike will screech about the duties of government as set forth by the social teaching of the Church. But nothing in Church teaching says that a federal republic is an immoral form of government, or that an authoritarian abrogation of its principles becomes a duty when faced with the problems of cultural polarization. Catholics have a moral obligation to support politicians who will, in their official capacity (quite apart from their “personal beliefs”), legislate in accordance with Church teaching on the fundamental, non-negotiable issues. In a political contest in which all of the candidates fall short of the Church’s criteria, we are to choose the one that will do the least damage on these issues.

This brings me back to the tea party. Assuming that this movement, at least in the majority, remains faithful to a strict interpretation of the constitution, it will support candidates such as Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin. It certainly won’t support a candidate who takes the socialist position that abortion is a fundamental right that the federal government must provide or guarantee access to. We might see a candidate who is “personally pro-choice”; but if he is running for president, this personal view should mean nothing if he is an authentic constitutionalist. If he opposes Roe, that is sufficient for Catholics to vote for him (all other things being kosher, of course). It isn’t necessary, no matter what some of the trads or the leftists maintain, for a candidate to promise that which our constitution does not allow him to do – to unilaterally decide the legal status of abortion in the United States.

As proof of my consistency, let me say that I never opposed Obama strictly on the issue of FOCA. For as much as I am sure he would like to, and his supporters would have liked him to, he had neither the willingness nor the ability to act as a dictator and simply issue decrees on abortion. When he promised a crowd of abortionists at Planned Parenthood that signing FOCA would be “the first thing” he would do, both the people in that crowd who cheered, as well as the pro-lifers that were terrified and angry, had the wrong impression. FOCA is an Act; it has to pass through the legislative process. He can’t sign what doesn’t reach his desk, and not even a Democratic majority is enough for FOCA, especially if it turns out that it isn’t enough to pass his health care legislation.

So to a certain extent, even officials who are minimally faithful to the Constitution usually can’t go much further beyond Roe, at least not without being undone by the next pro-life replacement; a tea party candidate who manages to convince me that he’s a constitutionalist like Ron Paul will have my vote regardless of what ontological position on unborn human beings he takes. Things aren’t substantially different with regard to the people we send to Washington to represent us. If they’re reliable constitutionalists, they’ll reject pro-choice socialism and support pro-life constitutionalism.

In sum: The tea party movement is a political movement that Catholics ought to support. They ought to support it because smaller government is good for Catholicism, and good for the culture of life. They ought to support it because Catholic social teaching demands subsidiarity, because the Papacy has always looked kindly on the American idea of religious liberty, and because whatever flaws this movement may have can be balanced by the presence of principled and faithful Catholics. In the final analysis, it is not the government’s job, but our job, to create a culture of life. Just  how we go about doing that is a topic I will have to address later.

Of Christians, Catholics and Tea Parties (Part I)

25 Responses to Of Christians, Catholics and Tea Parties (Part II)

  • [The bird-brained HELLywood shmucks affect even our Kansas birds - the HELLywoodized ones with their blaring boombox "mating calls" which scare our little feathered ones. So I am sharing this with all non-shmucks. Karl]

    Our songbirds here in MitcHELL County, Kansas want
    to give the following update on the insane boombox noise here:
    “The noisiest kid over in the city of Beloink drives an older white sedan with license number 178-BJW. Our owner’s friends in Beloink have told the police about him several times, but it never dawns on the Keystone Kops there that they could use an unmarked car to verify the noise; the kids have cell phones and can warn their friends when they see a marked patrol car coming.
    “And it never dawns on the anti-social psychopaths (who may be making up for the lack of noisy rattles in their infancy) that their unlawful noise may be harming a sick baby or someone whose night job forces him to sleep days – or even some veteran who can get “flashbacks” of battlefield cannon booms!
    “It’s obvious that many Kansas kids are no longer Christians, or patriotic Americans, or even human because they have been slowly brainwashed and mentally enslaved by leftist, anti-family, perverted, unAmerican, Jesus-bashing, Marxist shlemiels and shmucks in HELLywood who exercise their first amendment rights by dangling every known vice before Kansas farm kids while secretly viewing them as red-state “hicks”! After America falls we’ll be able to blame the buyers of HELLywood’s videos and devil music as much as the HELLywood devils themselves!
    “If you think such music doesn’t create devils, why do little piggy Beloinkers blast quiet neighborhoods even on Sunday mornings during church time? Do those paranoids really think everyone is out to get them and they have to have growling tailpipes for the same reason a dog growls? Since we don’t get to democratically vote whether we want to hear their music or any music, will those “dictators” be happy when God responds in kind by letting America be taken over by a big dictator who will likely ban all “dirty capitalist” noise! Until then, maybe a tornado – or even a nuclear war – will cover up at least some of the noise!
    “Many other places (like Albuquerque and Reno) have huge fines for boombox noise and even impound offending cars! How can high-crime, gambling towns have better “Kansas values” than a north central Kansas town?
    “Have the little piggies here heard of headphones? We don’t care if they’re smoking pot and fornicating in the middle of our road at 3 a.m. as long as they’re quiet! North Bell St. over in Beloink is the noisiest place in the county. Would the BELLies care if one of our friends is a veteran a block east of them who might go postal over the noise? As long as the cops do nothing about this, we songbirds will keep singing to the whole world about MitcHELL County!”
    See what smart birds we have?
    Karl (in Karl’s Kastle)

    [Want more? Google "David Letterman's Hate, Etc."]

  • a tea party candidate who manages to convince me that he’s a constitutionalist like Ron Paul will have my vote regardless of what ontological position on unborn human beings he takes.

    Good enough. But in the end, you are making the case that in the defense of human life, lay Catholics should use their own judgment and reasoning to discern how we in the secular political process can advance Catholic values. You make a reasoned case for supporting the election of persons who do not share our firm view of the personhood of the unborn but do have a philosophy of constitutionalism or strict constructionism. And then you make a good argument that is the best opportunity to lead us to a better legislative position.

    But you have clearly put this whole issue in the realm of human reasoning and discernment. And since poor reasoning in itself is no sin, then others using different reasoning and coming to different conclusions (such as pro-lifers for Obama) are not moral failures but only (possibly) intellectual failures.

    Lastly, let me comment on the claim about support for certain legislative proposals that “Catholics that regularly attend Mass are doing a heck of a lot better than Catholics who don’t

    If you are referring to voting behavior, survey research does show that to be true (though it is less profound for Catholics than any other religious group). But when one looks for the starkest cleavage in the last presidential election, it is between Catholics who attend Sunday Mass with other white people as compared to those who at diverse or minority parishes. Frequency of Mass attendance has a paltry impact in comparison.

  • Americanism is a disease, just as it was spelled out by Leo XIII in his encyclicals. While we need to call this country to order, we have to realize that the first order of business is to see that we stand apart so that we can look within. The so-called religious freedom has wrought nothing but pluralism. Have we forgotten that the only anti-catholic western country before America was England? The rest were Catholic. What spiraled the American revolution was a country that had divorced herself from the Church. In turn, another divorce was brought about..and subsequently, other divorces–we call them revolutions during the so-called enlightenment era took place all over Europe. The divorce of the Church from the state is a world we live in now. That is what we have to realize.

    Religious freedom in my opinion was a way to marginalize the Church whether the Revolutionists in America knew it or not. We certainly know that the Church’s first daughter, France, knew that too well..at least, Napoleon did. He envied the power of the Church…this same error spread to even Mexico many years later.

    200+ years later, we wonder what has happened? Well, folks, they got us Catholics hook and sinker to move to the United States from the most Catholic countries in the world and now we have Catholics who believe in this religious freedom but yet support abortion, legalized same-sex “marriages”, and want priests to be women. These people are calling themselves Catholics and work for you and me in the Congress. Why are we surprised? We are living in a protestant country found by so-called Deists who didn’t even believe in Christ.

    End of Rant

  • Thanks for engaging some of my concerns. I am going to add some stuff later. Let me say as to Huckabee and the Federal Govt on abortion

    “When you insist that the national or federal government come in and take over management of an issue or a problem that could otherwise be dealt with at a smaller level of government, you’ve crossed the line from subsidiarity to flirtation with socialism, or possibly fascism”

    The Human Life Amendment and all the talk of people that support it or don’t has never been a big deal to me. That is Human Right Amendment vs Going to the States.

    THis is because the there will be never be a human rights amendment until it goes to the States and only after a long discussion in the States. If enough States become pro-life then under the Const they would be in their rights to propose such an amendment.

  • “This brings me back to the tea party. Assuming that this movement, at least in the majority, remains faithful to a strict interpretation of the constitution, it will support candidates such as Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin.”

    This is the rub what is strict “interpretation of the Constitution” Even in conservative circles you have different camps that have real different results.

    See for instance Arkes and his advocating Natural Law versus the Scalia view.

    One problem with some Tea Party folks is they seem to go beyond a healthy Federalism to a extreme State rights position. I am serious when I say there are quite a few I talk too that missed the memo on the Andrew Jackson Nullification crisis.

    Further many seem to think the Const was frozen in time at the founding. The Civil War amendments and their implications cannot be wished away.

    Now what I do like about the Tea Party movement is at least they get the discussion going. Though I wish conservatives would retire the phrase “State rights” that has negative implications because of hisotry and return to Federalism

  • So, Philippus, do you think we’d all be more devout if we had stayed in Europe? Really? If you think America is a disease, you are welcome to move to some more purely Catholic area or country – Quebec, for instance, or Ireland, or Spain. I’m sure the churches there are packed every Sunday with Catholics untainted by Protestantism, secularism, and the sexual revolution.

  • Replies for all.

    Kurt:

    “But you have clearly put this whole issue in the realm of human reasoning and discernment.”

    I don’t see how.

    “And since poor reasoning in itself is no sin, then others using different reasoning and coming to different conclusions (such as pro-lifers for Obama) are not moral failures but only (possibly) intellectual failures.”

    Well, poor reasoning may not be a sin in itself, but Catholics have a duty to inform their conscience. If they remain willfully ignorant of the Church’s criteria for voting, then I would say they are culpable. And if they know, and defy it, then certainly they are in the wrong.

    I only mentioned FOCA – but there were plenty of other reasons for Catholics not to vote for Obama. Just that particular one was not well thought-out.

    Philippus:

    Well, since I see you’ve read my post on American history, I don’t really know what more I can tell you. My counter-argument is that post, which you don’t address at all. You just left a pithy comment. If you have a rebuttal to offer I’d like to hear it.

    “Americanism” was a trend in the American clergy at Leo’s time, and it wasn’t even a big one; my reading of the situation is that Leo was preempting more than condemning.

    Religious liberty was brought to North America by Catholics. That is a historical fact. It allowed Catholicism to survive in an environment that would have otherwise been unbearable.

    JH:

    “One problem with some Tea Party folks is they seem to go beyond a healthy Federalism to a extreme State rights position.”

    How so? See, I think the problem is that the federal government has gone far beyond a healthy federalism into an extreme nationalist position, and the tea party is a proportionate response.

    Case in point: Obamacare, if imposed upon the states, will bankrupt several of them. AZ’s budget is hanging by a thread, which is why even the governor got behind AZ’s own healthcare nullification bill. It isn’t even primarily about principle anymore – as at other points in history, the principled vanguard is now drawing in the support of the usually cautious, conservative, skeptical masses and leadership.

    Federalism is not a suicide pact.

  • “Federalism is not a suicide pact.”

    I agree with this. And the impact on the States as to the Health Care Bill is a important thing to highlight.

    I understand it is a response I just wish it would stress Federalism more than a sort of STATES versu the bad Feds. As we have seen in our not too ancient hisotires State Govts can surpess rights too. I just wish they would stress the dual Soverignty notion more.

    I am open to the Tea Pary movement though I doubt I will be a member of it. To me the real test as a Catholic is how they will handle the immigration issue. Will there be room for constructive disagreement or will it be a TANCREDO line only. That is perhaps my biggest concern right now as a Catholic

  • Ah yes, immigration and Tancredo. This could become a problem, if say the Minutemen merge with the Tea Parties.

    That said, Catholics aren’t obligated to support open boarders. I’ve been down this road before. My position won’t make me many friends on the far-right, but it is the only one that makes sense to me.

    The people who are here – who haven’t committed violent crimes or drug deals – I say, they made it. They beat the system. There’s 12-20 million of them and it would cost more to round them up and deport them than it would to allow them to become productive citizens while paying fines for breaking the law. So, I’m for amnesty, provided that anyone who came here illegally pays a fine.

    But at the same time, I have no problem militarizing the boarder and shutting it down for a few years to prevent FURTHER illegal immigration. This is perhaps the one darned thing the military ought to be doing, instead of being the world policeman or democracy-bringers or… what the h**l are we doing in Afghanistan again? Does anyone even know?

  • Joe,

    As you said:

    “Americanism” was a trend in the American clergy at Leo’s time, and it wasn’t even a big one; my reading of the situation is that Leo was preempting more than condemning.

    Bingo!!! Joe, you are right. Leo was certainly preempting! It was sort of a prophetic warning to us to watch and listen and not to let the culture we live in dictate our lives as Catholics. Gibbons could have done more to educate his priests.

    I am not anti-American, I just have a healthy reality of the evils that exist here and how the rest of the world has bought into the culture that we export at a very costly price when all is said and done.

    And, I wish I could go line by line to talk rebut what you wrote in your post on American History, but as God is my witness, I did not read that entry before posting as I did here. When I do, I’ll respond.

  • Joe,

    When you say, Religious Freedom, are you endorsing massive displays of heresy by a group..say, Mormons(as their temples have been built in Washington, DC )or are you promoting something that existed in Rome, where the Jews and other Christians gathered privately without any bold visible signs and banners but yet were also not persecuted because the Church would not allow that?

    Should Iran for instance, being a now Muslim country grant the same rights to Catholics as it does to the religion of its state?

    My point is, no matter where we are in the world, we should respect the free will of persons, but not to the point of accepting error as part of that freedom. One is free to go to hell, but not to drag others there.

    America’s laws protects vile language against the Church, protects pornography, protects man-boy love associations, protects Freemasonry, protects divorce and remarriage uncontested. How many unjust laws for the sake of what we call freedom?

    Our aim is to present a world that is totally Catholic and is unapologetic. Perhaps we could all learn something from the Muslims in Europe save their violence and disrespect and disregard of human life. They seem to know how to take over countries by multiplying. Plus, today…laws that did not exist are being put in place to accommodate people of these faiths. We have been compromised as Christians in the world because we want to sing kumbaya.

  • Donna V.,

    You stated:

    So, Philippus, do you think we’d all be more devout if we had stayed in Europe? Really? If you think America is a disease, you are welcome to move to some more purely Catholic area or country – Quebec, for instance, or Ireland, or Spain. I’m sure the churches there are packed every Sunday with Catholics untainted by Protestantism, secularism, and the sexual revolution.

    My point is that the results of the American Revolution aided the French in divorcing herself from the Church. Was the American revolution a bad thing? Well, to answer that I have to not directly. With England already separated from Rome she was bound to have more problems. I just blame Henry VIII for creating a hostile Catholic environment. Opportunists and others used us Catholics as scapegoats. We didn’t flee to other parts of Europe, but fled to America. Nevertheless, we have been blessed, but this blessing does not guarantee us a 100% foresight. We have made some mistakes and still continue to. God is with us, but the more we align ourselves with man-made ideals (socialism and Marxism)we’ll find ourselves reaping some horrible consequences.

    Anyway, after the American revolution came the French revolution and from there, it was a domino effect even reaching into Mexico which finally came about in the early 20th century. Church and State separated for how long? We’ll see…

    And by the way, I said, “Americanism” not “America” as you stated.

  • When I say “religious freedom”, I’m talking about the Western Catholic conception that was born in this country in 1649 in Maryland, and grew to maturity in the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

    Catholics owe their continued existence in a country that was initially violently hostile towards Catholicism to this conception of religious freedom, which was impossible in England at the time.

    I think the Mormons have a right to build whatever temples they want. The Mormons have earned that right, by creating a homogeneous religious culture through a rational economic and political organization, and through efficient and effective evangelizing. There’s a lot Catholics can learn from them.

    As for Iran, why is that my business? Iran is sovereign state.

    “America’s laws protects vile language against the Church,”

    The founders didn’t envision a total collapse of Christianity – they would have been as horrified with vile language against Protestantism or even theism. This isn’t their fault; the cause lies in social and cultural problems that are of a more recent origin.

    The founders assumed religion would remain the province of family and local government. We have to fight to keep it that way.

    “protects pornography,”

    See the previous point.

    “protects man-boy love associations,”

    See the previous point.

    “protects Freemasonry, protects divorce and remarriage uncontested. How many unjust laws for the sake of what we call freedom?”

    Now you’re getting into areas where I can’t support you. You’re calling for what amounts to a Catholic theocracy, and we aren’t mandated to do that by the Church. It will never happen here anyway. Catholics at best make up 1/4 of the population, and most of them are cafeteria Catholics to greater or lesser degrees.

    If what you propose isn’t politically possible or rational, then you may as well not propose it. We need to accept reality as it is. If we want to change it, we have to abandon theocratic fantasies that have no chance of implementation. In practice this fantasizing leads to one thing only: a bunch of grumpy men and women, in social and political isolation, patting one another on the back for the rest of their lives. No thanks.

    “Our aim is to present a world that is totally Catholic and is unapologetic.”

    Without cultural and economic foundations, the political argument is meaningless. That’s why I’m a distributist, a constitutionalist, and a localist.

  • Man, I really wish I had the time to compose a good response to these posts. I’m going to have to make time.

    For now, I’ll just say that I think you have an Americanized vision of subsidiarity: that is you view subsidiarity as requiring less federal government in favor of either state governments or of the individual. This isn’t the case. First, state governments are usually still too big, especially when we talk about mega-states like Texas, CA, NY, Florida, etc. You might need to go lower, into the local communities & families. However, that doesn’t mean you have to bypass government entirely into the individuals, as the communities (and government) are still responsible for what they can do best. If the federal government can provide healthcare better or if the more local governments are failing to provide it, then the federal government under the principles of subsidiarity would still be obligated to provide for healthcare (I’m not saying that is the case but merely outlining the burden the government has to satisfy in order to justify its actions).

    Applying this to your post, if the federal government finds that states are failing to provide proper protection for the unborn, then they have to step in just as they did to protect the rights of African-Americans.

    So reducing subsidiarity into the federalism debate or individual rights debate doesn’t work. It’s not that clean. Subsidiarity is far more than states rights.

  • Michael,

    Thanks for your post.

    “I think you have an Americanized vision of subsidiarity”

    I wouldn’t say that at all. I think the view of subsidiarity I hold fits within, but is not a replacement for, the broader Catholic view.

    “state governments are usually still too big”

    I agree. Its hard to use precise language to cover every contingency here because of what you point out; some states are very small, like New Hampshire, and some are very large, like CA. In the big states, I agree with you – more powers should be delegated to counties and cities (I’m a fan of the city-state, personally).

    But there are still small states, geographically, territorially, or both. For now, I think sticking to the Constitutional conception is the safest bet.

    As a Catholic I would support amending state constitutions to better reflect subsidiarist principles. That has to be something that the people want, and we ought to persuade them that it is in their interest.

    “that doesn’t mean you have to bypass government entirely into the individuals”

    Who said anything about that?

    “as the communities (and government) are still responsible for what they can do best”

    I agree. But I think communities are better off when a strict reading of the Constitution prevails in Washington. Freer states = freer communities, especially for Christians. The secularization of centralized national government has seen to that.

    “If the federal government can provide healthcare better or if the more local governments are failing to provide it, then the federal government under the principles of subsidiarity would still be obligated to provide for healthcare”

    Not if the federal government makes taxpayer-funded abortion part of the deal, or if the legislation will bankrupt the states. Like I said: federalism is not a suicide pact.

    “Applying this to your post, if the federal government finds that states are failing to provide proper protection for the unborn, then they have to step in just as they did to protect the rights of African-Americans.”

    I assume you mean the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and not the Civil War. I’ll go on that assumption for now.

    The cultural situation is much different. You can try every which way, and I might even agree with you philosophically – but you just aren’t going to be able to equate born and grown black people in particular with unborn children in general, not in the minds of at least half of Americans and significant majorities of several states.

    The true pro-life position is a minority in this country. A significant minority, perhaps, but as I said, state-by-state the numbers are skewed. CA and other states have already passed pro-abortion legislation to go into effect if Roe is overturned.

    At this point I think federal pro-life legislation would be unenforceable. Obamacare, from the other end of the spectrum, may prove to be unenforceable for similar and additional reasons. AZ has effectively nullified Obamacare or any other program that mandates individuals or businesses to purchase health insurance. Other states may follow suit.

    Both sides need to relax and stop insisting the federal government solve all problems. If we want to defeat abortion, we need to create a culture of life. And I’m all for outlawing it at the state level. But how many nullification crises can we handle?

  • My mistake: the AZ legislature has approved a measure to appear on the ballot this year to nullify Obamacare.

    http://www.tenthamendmentcenter.com/2009/06/26/arizona-hcr2014-national-health-care-nullification/

    I think it will pass.

  • I think the positive thing about the Tea parties is that Americans are getting involved in the public debate instead of leaving it to increasingly deaf politicians. I attended a few in Washington DC area and for the most part they were composed of well meaning people who feel picked on. They did an admirable job of picking up after themselves.

    The trouble for Catholics that it seems mostly about a group looking for their own economic advantage. Now that in itself is a bad thing but I could see getting fiscal conservative, pro leviathan state politicians who tell folks to “be realistic” about abortion.

    One comment I need help in understanding:

    “But in the end, you are making the case that in the defense of human life, lay Catholics should use their own judgment and reasoning to discern how we in the secular political process can advance Catholic values.”

    Why is that bad thing? I thought it is the job of the laity to use our judgment in this area. Not that we determine what the values are but we have some latitude in the best what to implement them.

  • Joe:

    Quick points:

    I brought up the individual rights b/c I think many on the right, especially in the Tea Party, have extended subsidiarity so that the individual is almost always the proper actor.

    I don’t know if freer states=freer communities, simply b/c it depends on which state and what the national government is at the time. For example, from the perspective of Alabama the national government may be more secular but from the perspective of Californians the national government may be the last hope. This is why I think subsidiarity is such a useful principle: instead of relying upon generalizations about “states better than national government” or vice versa it relies upon the particularities of the issue and the situation. Some issues are better for states, some for the national government but it depends on what we’re talking about.

    I think said I was using the healthcare example merely to illustrate what the national government would need to assert before being justified. I have no expertise on the matter as to whether that is the case. However, I am for the killing of the bill with the current Senate provisions. If the House version is adopted, I might vote for it but that’s beside the point (and I really have no expertise about healthcare other than its currently a Planned Parenthood subsidy).

    While I would eagerly take the state by state approach over the current situation, if I had a chance to make a Constitutional amendment forever banning abortion I would take it. Sure, that’s not going to happen right now but I don’t think that its current impracticality should render state by state the permanently favored method. It depends on the country & what prudence dictates at that time.

  • Faustina,

    Right on!

    Michael,

    There may be an individualist streak in the tea party, to be sure. It’s something I would argue against.

    “I don’t think that its current impracticality should render state by state the permanently favored method”

    Well, talk to me when circumstances change. I don’t see it happening in this country any time soon, and I think the overturning of Roe is a necessary step on that road anyway.

    “from the perspective of Californians the national government may be the last hope”

    For what, exactly? What do they have a right to expect from the national government?

    “Some issues are better for states, some for the national government but it depends on what we’re talking about.”

    Well of course. I don’t mean to imply otherwise. I’m not a fanatic – I just believe that genuine federalism is the best way for us to solve our problems right now. Resisting federal over-reach and reasserting the rights (or powers, if you want to be a stickler) of states is in our best interest as Christians and Catholics at this time.

    Like I said, I’d love to go back to the city-state. Heck, I’d love to see the rebirth of Christendom. But it isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

  • “The trouble for Catholics that it seems mostly about a group looking for their own economic advantage. Now that in itself is a bad thing but I could see getting fiscal conservative, pro leviathan state politicians who tell folks to “be realistic” about abortion.”

    By the way I meant to say that looking out for one’s economic interests is NOT necessarily a bad thing….

  • Sorry to come to this late but I had to throw in a couple of random thoughts about this.

    There is no Tea Party to be a member of.

    I went to Washington DC on 9/12/09 AD, just me my wife and my dog. We found several hundred thousand other people there. We were all different and individual and yes, some were individualists (I can spot them quite easily I used to be one in the Ayn Rand mold, then I became a libertarian so I can spot them too). There were state’s rights folks to – I can spot them because I am all for state’s rights (I have been given the derisive moniker neo-confederate here before). There were also the Alex Jones (no, not that one, the Texan radio host and conspiracy theorist although we may need to call that something stronger than theory these days as these ‘conspiracy theories’ continue to bear fruit) types there.

    Do I as one trying to be a faithful Catholic agree with all of them? YES! On everything? NO!

    That is the beauty of America. We DO NOT need to agree on everything and that includes who God is and how to worship Him. We do need to agree on some basic principles and just about everybody in Tea Parties does. Are there some wackadoos? Of course. Should we be surprised? We are Catholics trying to live our faith – God’s way. People think I am weird because they know so many Catholics but those Catholics don’t think and behave as I do. Duh! Most ‘Catholics’ are more protestant than most Protestants I know. Is it that hard to believe that some Tea Party supporters are off their rocker and don’t actually know what the Constitution states or what exactly is a socialist or fascist? Gimme a break.

    We are civil, nice, polite and most Tea Partiers I know believe in Jesus Christ even if they don’t get the privilege of eating His flesh and drinking His Most Precious Blood.

    We agree that the problem is government that does not adhere to the Constitution, collectivists of all stripes and a general lack of morality.

    We agree that the solution is the Constitution, God and unity.

    The finer points – well that’s where it gets blurry. How do you fix that? Hmm, let’s see. Oh, I got it, we elect men (that includes women) of character and virtue. We send them to Washington DC, the State House and our county and town governments. They check the rules, deliberate and come up with solutions. If we like the solutions we send them back, if not, we replace them. If an issue is too big for them to handle we have a ballot box and courts and judges. Neat, huh?

    Return to a civil, honest, God-fearing, Constitutional government and the rest can be sorted out.

    What part of that don;t people get?

    As for free speech – there is no such thing using the vernacular we are accustomed to. The first amendment prevents the federal government from infringing upon political speech. It does not allow us to use any language that we want in any place that we want. In my presence – no one is allowed to say G** D**m – no matter where I am. Does that mean I am infringing on someone’s free speech? I don’t think so. Despite that Larry Flynt and Hef think – Hustler and Playboy are not political.

    States and localities have every right to curtail speech that is no political to conform to community standards – in most places (Hollyweird excepted) that will Christian standards.

    If we Catholics want a Catholic country – we change the culture. If we want a Catholic government – we elect faithful Catholics. That’s what we did here in the Commonwealth of Virginia and our current governor and our future governor (present AG) are faithful Catholics who govern in a Constitutional, federalist, ethical way.

    As for Mormons – most of them are fine but that cult is a Masonic front. I think they are harmless. The nice young men that come to my door trying to teach me about Jesus often leave confused, but they are harmless.

    I think I’m done. Sorry for the length, there was just too much good stuff in this thread.

    I find it easier to be Catholic at a Tea Party than I do in most catholic parishes North and East of here.

    Nice post. Is there a part III?

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