Leila Miller writes about subsidiarity:
Subsidiarity holds that decisions and policies should be made at the lowest level possible, and intervention by higher and bigger social organizations should only be undertaken when those lower levels truly need and desire a supporting (not usurping!) action.
The role of the family must not be usurped by communities and cities, the role of cities must not be usurped by states, and the role of states must not be usurped by the federal government. Worst of all is when the federal government overtakes a role proper to the family.
Generally speaking, this is true, but it cannot be applied strictly so. For instance, if a man is beating his wife, he may feel that he does not “need and desire” government intervention. In such a scenario, it is important for the state to protect her by having laws in place that will allow law enforcement to enter in and protect her. If the state refuses to pass such laws, it is then the responsibility of the federal government to pass laws that will protect her.
From Rerum Novarum:
Man precedes the State, and possesses, prior to the formation of any State, the right of providing for the substance of his body.
The rights of mankind always precede the State, prior to the formation of any State. This means that man’s rights automatically trump every level of government. That is an idea consistent with the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
The Founders agree with the Church that the only purpose of civil government is to “secure” our “rights” which come from God.
Also from Rerum Novarum:
The contention, then, that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error. True, if a family finds itself in exceeding distress, utterly deprived of the counsel of friends, and without any prospect of extricating itself, it is right that extreme necessity be met by public aid, since each family is a part of the commonwealth. In like manner, if within the precincts of the household there occur grave disturbance of mutual rights, public authority should intervene to force each party to yield to the other its proper due; for this is not to deprive citizens of their rights, but justly and properly to safeguard and strengthen them.
This is why I say that it is illegitimate under Catholic teaching AND under the Declaration of Independence for any candidate for president to say that abortion is not within the purview of the federal government at all, and that it is only a matter for the individual states.
It is also why the Fourteenth Amendment,which was authored by the still-new Republican Party (founded by Christians who sought to end slavery) and enacted after the Civil War, is a legitimate protection:
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Unfortunately, that very reasonable and basic protection has been abused by those who would rather not think in terms of the most basic rights of every human person but rather seek to divide us all into groups and drive wedges between us. If we were all merely considered “persons” and our rights were considered to be only those which are “inalienable” (God-given) then we would not have so many silly rules in our laws that drive wedges between people and build up resentments in society. The fact that this has happened for so many years and has created a government that has grown so very large does not give us license to “tweak” Catholic teaching and claim that lower levels of government have sole power to defend our rights. We must still defend the basic law of the land that is consistent with our Faith and never claim that any state may legitimately decide what our rights are. Those, as the Declaration says, come from God alone. They are not defined by vote in a state legislature.
The Founders were fortunate enough that these “truths” were, as they said, “self-evident” to them. They were very clear and needed no explanation. In today’s times, due to man’s continual rejection of God, we are faced with a population in which “truths” are no longer “self-evident”. “Rights” are no longer understood. This failure to recognize “truth” has been explained by the Holy Father as an “eclipse of reason“.
“To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.”
As Catholics we each have the duty “to preserve” our “capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and true” and always forsake any notion that it might be legitimate to do otherwise for expediency’s sake because we are faced with problematic man-made boundaries in politics.
Subsidiarity is not so cut and dry. Our rights are very basic and always trump all forms of government, at all levels, according to the Catholic Church, according to the Founding Fathers, and according to the Fourteenth Amendment. If our government does not defend those very basic rights, then our government is operating in illegitimacy on the point, and if we defend that illegitimacy, our defense is illegitimate no matter how convincing we, or others, may think it to be.
Some argue that because our federal government is not defending the right to life, then the federal government is operating in illegitimacy and, therefore, it is necessary to usurp the authority of the federal government on the issue of abortion. But the authority of the federal government is found in the framework of the laws, not in the persons who are elected. The laws are clear. We can see this from the Declaration of Independence and from the Fourteenth Amendment. There is no mistake that our government is sound on this principle in considering the framework of laws. It is not the law that is the problem. It is the people who refuse to enforce those laws who must be voted out and replaced with people who will enforce those laws.
The explanation I have given above regarding the duties of all levels to defend our rights, which trump all government powers, means that the Republican Party has been from its beginning, in my view, the most Catholic political party there ever was. It is now under great threat as those who believe “states rights” trump inalienable rights — manifest primarily in the abortion issue — used to only have one candidate, but now seem to have several candidates in the field taking that wholly illegitimate position that “states” have “rights”.
States do not have rights. States have powers. Only people have rights.
The Republican Party’s current pro-life plank includes at least four phrases which fly in the face of the “states rights” position.
Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.
1. “Declaration of Independence” – As noted previously, it is in this founding document where “inalienable rights” are given as the reason for breaking away from tyranny. That is referred to as a “Natural Law” argument, which the Founders mention as “the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God”. If you do not agree that Natural Law should be embraced in the reading of the Constitution, then you agree with Elena Kagan, who is by no means a Republican, and disagree with Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican. (See video here of Senator Coburn questioning Kagan about whether the right to bear arms is a “natural right”.)
2. “[F]undamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed” – Any attempt to deny that right is illegitimate. Hence, the claim that any level of government — whether local, state or federal — may, if they choose, deny that right is an illegitimate claim on its face.
3. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution” — This is an acknowledgment that states cannot legitimately allow abortion.
4. “Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children” — This specifically refers to the provision “nor shall any State deprive any person of life.”
Sadly, most people appear to be taking a postion on abortion for expediency’s sake. Ask any who believe in “states rights” on abortion if they believe states may ban guns, or if states may allow unreasonable searches by law enforcement. I assure you, they will either not respond to the question, or they will fundamentally fail to understand that it is only the Fourteenth Amendment which guarantees that individual states must not ever fail to uphold our natural rights. If there is some other explanation offered from a reading of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence for these candidates failing to call for “states rights” in regard to other “natural” rights, I would be most happy to hear the explanation.
I conclude, therefore, that only two candidates currently campaigning for the Republican nomination are genuine Republicans on this issue, are genuinely in keeping with the Founders and genuinely in keeping with the Church. Not surprisingly, they are both Catholic. I will let you do the research to find out who they are.
Rick Perry has suffered in the secular polls due to his performance in the debates, Herman Cain has gained traction, Mitt Romney has remained stable and just received an endorsement from Chris Christie who himself has officially stated he will not run for president (this time around). In addition both Sarah Palin and Thad McCotter have also announced they will not pursue the nomination, in all this, Rick Santorum has maintained a lead among TAC readers of all candidates.
Will Santorum continue his popularity among Catholics or not?
Here’s our latest poll so please vote after watching tonight’s GOP debate:
On the particular issue of abortion, we find solid defense of the unborn in the Republican Party’s most recent party platform. It should be expected, therefore, that members of the Republican Party would uphold the pro-life ethic in accordance with the principles outlined by their party. On the pages of the New York Times, however, efforts to enact these principles into law are characterized by “boy wonder” A. G. Sulzberger as an “agenda” of the “GOP“ that the courts are right to suppress. Sulzberger opines that such suppression offers “relief to Democrats”.
The court actions around the country have brought a measure of relief to Democrats who are hoping some of those cases will result in the courts’ overturning laws that they were unable to stop. And while Republican proponents are hoping to see these laws eventually pass muster, even failure would be instructive for legislation explicitly intended to push legal boundaries.
Virtually every bill before every legislature, regardless of the issue, is “explicitly intended to push legal boundaries”. Every change in law “pushes legal boundaries” since current “law” is a “legal boundary”. There would be no need for legislatures if “legal boundaries” could not rightly be “pushed”. The suggestion that “legal boundaries” denying the right to life cannot legitimately be “pushed” amounts to a claim that anti-life law is sacred dogma.
Writing in the context of the judiciary, Sulzberg is operating on the assumption that Roe v. Wade is sacred dogma to the Democratic Party. Roe is ostensibly an objective truth, the “boundary” that may never rightly be “pushed” in any way without causing pain to Democrats. “Relief for Democrats” comes when this sacred dogma is upheld by judges who agree with the Democratic Party that the Republicans’ claim that life has sanctity is somehow suspect.
Exactly how far does this dogma extend? According to the Democratic Party platform, the “right” to abortion absolutely includes taxpayer-funding. Sulzberger ends with a quote from a Planned Parenthood official offering the shocking claim that the legal battle to end taxpayer-funding of abortion is “wasting taxpayer dollars”.
But Peter B. Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, was upset despite the early legal victories.
“I find it irresponsible,” Mr. Brownlie said, “that publicly elected officials are passing legislation that they should know is illegal and wasting taxpayer dollars going to court to defend things that are not defensible.”
Defense of life might currently be characterized as a “GOP agenda” if the Republican Party platform’s comparison to the Democratic Party platform is any indication. It would be a travesty, however, if this remains the case. Defense of life is not something that should be confined to the realm of any party’s ideology. The paramount right to life should be defended at every time, and in every place, by everyone, regardless of party affiliation.
Though political ideologies, movements and parties may come and go, the dignity of all human life is a constant and objective reality that should be defended by all. Any movement which does not uphold the dignity of the human person is operating in illegitimacy on the point. Without the right to life, all other rights are meaningless.
Perhaps because most people still understand this basic truth, both of the major political parties in America lay claim, on some level, to defense of human dignity, but only one of these — the Republican Party — currently defends the unborn in an official capacity. Democrats would do well to embrace and promote the principle of the sanctity of life so that defense of life might be considered an American “agenda” rather than an “agenda of the GOP“.
The American Catholic (TAC) GOP Poll will be accepting votes until tonight, so if you haven’t voted, now is the time.
Thus far former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is still leading with 23% (up 1 point since Wednesday) of the vote followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry with 17% (down 2 points since Wednesday) of the vote.
The American Catholic (TAC) GOP Poll is still accepting votes until this Friday evening.
Thus far former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum is leading with 22% of the vote followed by Texas Governor Rick Perry with 19% of the vote.
Texas U.S. Representative Ron Paul follows with 13% of the vote with undecideds rounding the top four at 11%.
Top tier candidates Michele Bachmann is way back with 2% of the vote with Mitt Romney at 5% of the total vote.
The American Catholic (TAC) has been running a periodic poll of the GOP presidential field. So naturally following the Iowa Straw Poll we have this months poll for our TAC readers. We have included candidates that have declared their candidacy as well as other speculative* candidates. As the primaries arrive the field of candidates should narrow down a bit.
Tim Pawlenty has dropped out, but Rick Perry has “officially” entered the race. A newcomer to our poll is Representative Thad McCotter of Michigan. Tim Pawlenty garnered 13 votes in our last TAC poll, we’ll see where Pawlenty’s supporters will go to next. Rick Santorum won the last TAC poll.
You can view the results of our last poll here.
Update: My apologies, I have added Michele Bachmann.
* For example even though Chris Christie has denied he is interested in running, he still will be in Iowa for an inexplicable reason. Until then, he will be showing in the poll until we don’t see his name on the actual roll.
One of the consequences of the Republican sweep in 2010 is that the Republicans control many state legislatures by very wide margins. A host of pro-life legislation is making its way through these GOP chambers. One of the latest pro-life bills to be enacted into law is a parental notification law when minors seek to have an abortion in New Hampshire. The text of the law may be read here.
On its way to becoming a law it was vetoed by Governor John Lynch. Lynch is a Democrat, a Catholic and a pro-abort, a combination all too common in our nation. The veto was overridden in the New Hampshire legislature on June 22 by votes of 266-102 in the House and in the Senate 17-7. Continue reading
The American Catholic will be running a periodic poll of the GOP presidential field. We have included candidates that have declared their candidacy as well as other speculative* candidates. As the primaries arrive the field of candidates should narrow down a bit.
* For example even though Chris Christie has denied he is interested in running, he still will be in Iowa for an inexplicable reason. Until then, he will be showing in the poll until we don’t see his name on the actual roll.
Would you like to know where Republican candidates for President stand on the issue of preserving traditional marriage? Here they are, in their own words, in alphabetical order. Only those candidates and potential candidates who could be found expressing their position on video are included. If you find video for others not included here, send me an email and I will add them as an update.
Suggested things to look for include:
1) Whether or not the candidate is expressing a position that is in keeping with Catholic teaching on this issue.
2) Whether or not you believe the candidate is comfortable defending his/her position.
3) Whether or not you believe the candidate has an eloquent and convincing message.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann:
Businessman Herman Cain:
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie:
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman:
Congressman Ron Paul:
Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty:
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:
Former Senator Rick Santorum:
Picture it: Upper East Side of Manhattan, November 9, 1994. There is a buzz throughout the halls of Regis High School, and it’s not just because today is student exchange day and there will actually be girls in our school. The previous night the Republicans had won control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years, and my friends and I – little Republicans in training that we all were – were quite joyous.
First period was US History, and our teacher knows that I am certainly excited about the election. So he writes on the board the following:
His point? As was the case in 1946, the Republican victory would be short-lived. Republican gains in 1946 were wiped out – and then some – in 1948. On top of that, Harry Truman was re-elected. History would repeat itself.
I scoffed at this ridiculous notion. There was certainly no way that Slick Willy Clinton could possibly earn a second term as US President. I had been counting the days to his 1996 electoral humiliation since roughly November 7, 1992. Surely this was the first stage on the road to that inevitable defeat.
Fast forward to November 5, 1996. Needless to say I was as disappointed on that night as all us Regians were at the end of that November day in senior year. (I mean come on, we’re talking about a bunch of nerdy kids from an all boys school. It took most of us a full year of college before we could properly talk to members of the opposite sex.) Mr. Anselme was right.
But not entirely. Though Bill Clinton had indeed won re-election, the election was not a total repeat of 1948. The Republicans lost a few seats, but in the end they retained control of both houses of Congress – something they had not done in successive cycles since the Hoover administration.
History is informative, and we certainly should be aware of the lessons of elections past when we think about what will happen down the line. But we should refrain from assuming that events will necessarily repeat themselves. Continue reading
One of the big stories of the year is the growth in prominence of the tea party movement. Whether or not you are in accord with them politically, they have had an undeniable impact on the political landscape, bringing a new energy to the political scene. Though tea party- backed candidates have not been 100 percent successful, they have defeated a fairly substantial number of GOP incumbents and other Republican establishment candidates. Even relatively conservative Republican incumbents like Senator Bob Bennett of Utah have been sent to an early retirement thanks largely to a grassroots revolt against his like.
One of the most recent successes of the tea party rebellion occurred in Alaska where Joe Miller defeated Senator Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary. Murkowski was appointed to the Senate to replace her father. The governor who appointed her also happened to be her father, and it seems that she was led to believe that she is entitled to said seat. So in the face of electoral defeat in the primary, Senator Murkowski – or Daddy’s Little Princess as she’s being dubbed in some circles – has launched a write-in campaign. Evidently many voters in the state of Alaska crave royalty as she is actually running neck and neck with Miller in the general election campaign.
Murkowski is not the only moderate Republican who has demonstrated his or her contempt for the unwashed masses who dared to remove them from office. Governor Charlie Crist, faced with a humiliating primary defeat in Florida against Marco Rubio, decided to jump ship and run as an Independent. Alas Charlie now faces a humiliating thumping in the general election instead. Mike Castle, who lost to Christine O’Donnell in the Republican primary for a Delaware Senate seat, toyed with a write-in campaign. He decided against it, but has ostentatiously declined to endorse O’Donnell. Other defeated incumbents, like Bennett above as well as Representative Bob Inglis have thrown temper tantrums because the voters dared remove them from office.
Alas it is not just so-called RINOs who have rejected the will of the primary voter. Continue reading
This is meant to be a fun post speculating about who might run for the Republican Presidential Nomination. Here’s my list, who do you think will run?
Rick Santorum-former Senator from Pennsylvania
Tim Pawlenty- Governor of Minnesota
Mitt Romney-former Governor of Massachusetts
Still looking into it:
Mike Huckabee- former Governor of Arkansas
Mitch Daniels-Governor of Indiana
Sarah Palin-former Governor of Alaska
Newt Gingrich-former Speaker of the House
Bobby Jindal-Governor of Louisiana
Paul Ryan- Congressman from Wisconsin
Mike Pence-Congressman from Indiana
Tom Tancredo-former Congressman from Colorado
Ron Paul-Congressman from Texas
John Thune-Senator from South Dakota
Jeb Bush-former Governor of Florida
I think potential candidates like Huckabee and Palin have to be considered front runners in Iowa because of that state’s social and culture conservative leanings. Pawlenty may have an advantage in Iowa since he governs a neighboring state. Meanwhile, I think potential candidates like Romney and Daniels will play well in New Hampshire. I think all the candidates are going to have to build their war chests for the remaining candidates. I don’t really see any one of the current candidates running away with the nomination early on, so it may be a long drawn out battle. I don’t think it will go the distance like Obama-Clinton, but its not going to be wrapped up in a few primaries. What do you think?
Next week, New Hampshire Republicans, and probably some irritating Democrats, will decide who the Republican Nominee is for the Republican New Hampshire Senate Candidacy. It appears to the best of my knowledge that Ovide Lamontange is the only consistent pro-life and limited government candidate on the ticket. I urge anyone you know who lives in New Hampshire to vote for Ovide. No, he’s not a genius, but he’s principled, more than the others. Primaries should be about principles. Playing Machiavelli can wait until November. We have to choose the right people to put up for office, and the right people are principled people who think that government is more than simply another way to stimulate the economy. We have a debased and corrupt form of politics that only recognizes the material dimension of our lives. We need candidates who understand that material life is not the only good, and that material well-being is in some way really dependent on our spiritual well-being. Our spiritual well-being is in a real way determined by our laws, and our politicians create our laws, not just “our jobs” (which is ridiculous, politicians don’t create jobs). We need to look for politicians who have but an inkling of an understanding of this countercultural idea. Our laws are not just about money; they are about truth and justice and goodness and even beauty.
Republicans are upset about not being in power. Republicans are not in power because they have failed to live up to their principles, and everyone knows it. Republican principles are good principles, and we should not concede them because we have hopes of winning an election. Republicans have won elections, and they have acted frivolously and ignorantly with their power because they were not principled. We need to elect politicians who will behave responsibly with their power, and not just win the election. Elections don’t matter; justice and truth do.
President Obama seems to carry the world view that of an elite academic, that all the problems this nation faces can be solved with government intervention through high taxes and and legislation that enacts social engineering of a society of independence to that of dependence.
Or as the average layman would say, President Obama is a socialist, plain and simple.
I understand the subtleties of his liberal leanings and his good intentions, but the path to Hell is often made with good intentions. With the failed Communist experiment in Russia in 1988 and the current economic collapse of Greece with Spain and Portugal on the horizon to experience the same, I don’t see how more spending with money we don’t have for welfare programs that we don’t need will solve our economic woes.
Solicitor General Elena Kagan, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, is already being painted as a moderate by the media and some political interest groups. This portrayal of Kagan is difficult to dispute comprehensively because of her lack of a public record and accompanying statements that delineate her actual personal views on judicial philosophy, thus, complicating the venture of placing her on an ideological spectrum.
Despite this hermeneutical difficulty, allegedly confident political portraits have been made with the details that we do know about Elena Kagan. The New York Times on May 11 published a piece—“As Clinton Aide, Kagan Recommended Tactical Support for an Abortion Ban”—by Peter Baker discussing a memorandum authored by Kagan while she was working for the Clinton Administration. Kagan in the memo counseled President Clinton to support an amendment, authored by Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), to Republican-sponsored legislation to ban partial-birth abortion that would include an exception for the “health” of the pregnant women in a ban—so broad an exception that it could be easily employed as a loophole that would prevent few, if any, partial-birth abortion procedures.
President Clinton and his advisors (in this case, Kagan) anticipated that the Daschle amendment would not secure enough votes to pass, but White House support could provide enough political cover for Democratic lawmakers who could reiterate their alleged support of the partial-birth abortion ban, but justify their vote against it because of the lack of inclusion of the broad “health” exception for the pregnant woman. In the end, the Daschle amendment failed and the Republican-sponsored partial-birth abortion ban, endorsed by the National Right to Life, was successfully sent to President Clinton who consequently vetoed it. Kagan’s advice to the President was successful and held up the passage of a partial-birth abortion ban for six years.
Douglas Johnson, the legislative director of the National Right to Life, before a joint-hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the Constitution Subcommittee of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 1997 said:
“The Clinton-Daschle proposal is a political construct, designed to provide political cover for lawmakers who want to appear to their constituents as if they have voted to restrict partial-birth abortions, while actually voting for a hollow measure that is not likely to prevent a single partial-birth abortion, and which therefore is inoffensive to the pro-abortion lobby.”
In other words, a better reading of the facts is not that Kagan is “in the middle” on abortion, but rather she was advising President Clinton of the pragmatic steps (endorsing a pseudo-ban on partial birth abortion) needed to defeat the actual pro-life measure. Kagan may very well be a “legal progressive” as was recently claimed from the White House defending the nominee from the political left suspicious of her liberal credentials. Continue reading
In recent months, primarily due to the health care debate, much attention has been given to the contentious issue of public funding of abortion. Though it is true that the status quo, for the most part, has been not to directly subsidize abortion, Americans have been both directly and indirectly subsidizing abortion in a number of ways virtually since its legalization in 1973. Continue reading