In response to my post on the idea of a Catholic Tea Party, Deal Hudson critiqued my post on the subject. After reading his commentary I came to the conclusion that we were talking past each other and that clarity of my post might have been better.
My two main thrusts were in regards to the name Catholic Tea Party and the dangers involved when faithful Catholics become identified with one political party.
The name Tea Party is a fairly apt name for the political movement calling for fiscal responsibility, limited government, and support of the free market. Social issues such as the pro-life cause is not a main thrust of this movement, though a majority of Tea Party Members are pro-life while a reported 35% are pro-abortion. There is certainly some overlap in opposition to the Obama health care plan. From what I have seen this is a worthwhile grassroots movement that Catholics certainly should participate in. The media’s hatred and mischaracterization of this movement has been rather obscene and a sort of projection of their own hate. Charges of the Tea Party being a racist movement are without evidence and quite laughable until you realize how seriously opponents of the Tea Party actually believe this meme.
If I am not mistaken Deal Hudson is calling for a movement of Catholics active in the political sphere to advocate in defense of life and other social justice issues as actually defined in Catholic teaching. That we should not be waiting for the Bishops to act and to apply pressure and we should organize and do so ourselves. Part of this political advocacy would also be in regards to the USCCB itself and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and the misuse of funds for organizations opposing to Catholic teaching and other problems. I would imagine such a movement would be involved in Catholic education and the myriad problems of dissenting organizations or ones that just go wobbly at times. I would totally support all of these aims – just don’t call it a Catholic Tea Party.
In the rich history of the Catholic Church surely we could take a name from the various reform movements in the Church and not from American history. While faithful Catholics will be disparaged no matter what name was attached to such a movement, surely Tea Party doesn’t help. So as to a Catholic Tea Party I think what Deal Hudson and I disagree on is the prudence of the name of such a movement.
As to politicizing the Church and the problem of the faithful being attached to one political party I would clarify my previous post which concentrated on why this can be a problem rather than the political realities. As I referenced before, previously Catholics were largely identified with the Democratic Party and when that party succumbed to radical feminism and the Culture of Death there were way to few Catholic Democrats objecting to this obscene turn of events. This change would have been very short lived if Catholic Democrats had mutinied or totally resisted this change. It took the Bishop’s conference decades to adjust to this change and to start to speak out. So I don’t want Catholic Republicans to do the same and to become just a cheap date for the GOP of expected votes. I hear too much talk about the Big Tent for republicans and that some seem to think you actually have a conservative in office if they have an R next to their name. I can hardly imagine the early Republican Party to have supported Republicans candidates in favor of slavery. As bad as slavery is, abortion is worse and the party supporting pro-aborti0n members as long as they are “conservative” on other issues frankly pisses me off. A Big Tent that enables the slaughter of the unborn is a tent that needs to be ripped down and rebuilt. Sure there are political compromises, but when you compromise on the murder of the unborn – what else are you willing to compromise on?
The political reality right now is that the Democratic Party is the Party of Death and that there are extremely few Democrats who could be called pro-life in their voting records. Democrats had picked up many seats by running so-called pro-life Democrats. The number that ended up opposing the Presidents health care plan was minuscule with almost all prominent “pro-life Democrats” getting their pottage in exchange for their vote. Even in the case of the mythical pro-life Democrat, if you vote for them against a pro-life Republican you end up supporting the Democratic Party and it’s advocacy of multiple intrinsic evils as “rights”. They have become a deeply morally corrupted party whose policies can not be supported by faithful Catholics. Though many take a heavy dose of moral relativism to justify such a vote and put on the same level prudential questions with ones that are intrinsically evil.
In contrast the Republican Party larges opposes those multiple intrinsic evils that the Democratic Party does. It is certainly a good questions how many Republicans are actually pro-life. Being in Florida I never trusted Charlie Christ who became “pro-life” to run for Governor and the snake certainly has shed his skin since then. On the other hand of course even if many aren’t ardently pro-life – they at least vote that way. We need to hold their feet to the fire and to not allow party politics to support members who are not in alignment with a basic plank of the party. We must rebel against pro-abortion candidates the same way the Tea Party rebelled against faux conservatives to support candidates more in line with their values. I think it was scandalous that Sen. McCain who supported research using human embryos got the party nod. Though to reduce evil and to vote for a greater good I voted for him since the reality of the extremely pro-abortin Obama is much worse. These types of compromises even when they are fully allowable within Catholic teaching should not makes us complacent about such things.
When it comes down to it I can see no way in Hell a faithful Catholic can vote Democrat in the large majority of circumstances. This does not mean that automatically the Republican candidate gets the nod though, it is just that in most cases you would be supporting a greater good. For good or for ill it is the Republican Party that is fighting against abortion. ESCR, homosexual marriage, euthanasia, and cloning and to pretend other issues are more important is to make a mockery of the Catholic faith. Voting third party can certainly be morally licit, though I personally don’t see how this advances much other than being able to feel better about that vote. I just have not yet been convinced by arguments by friends such as Mark Shea in this regard.
Now as to some of Deal’s specific critiques.
I am guessing here, but I suspect the only reason Miller and others make this charge of partisanship is because of my association with the Republican Party. But what public figures — outside of the clergy — don’thave associations with political parties? Does that make anyone with a party association guilty of politicizing the Church, arguing only for partisan purposes?
Obviously the clarity of my previous post must have caused such a confusion since I believe nothing of the kind or I believe mentioned partisanship. I respect the Catholic outreach that Deal Hudson has engaged with in the Republican party, especially in the case when Pastor Hagee became an issue. Being associated with the Republican Party myself I can have no objection to his association. I have not voted for a Democrat since Jimmy Carter who I voted for in my first election. His incompetence brought me out of the Democratic party when I was the typical bleeding heart environmentalist wacko. The following election I did not vote since I could not bring myself to vote for Ronald Reagan who was the equivalent of the anti-Christ in my environs shaped in Portland, Or. I did vote for Ronald Reagan on his re-election.
Unfortunately, the Curt Jester’s point of view also suffers from a fundamental naiveté about politics. For example, he says:
It is such nonsense in politics to accuse others of not having what are really basic agreements. The real disagreements come into place in regards to prudential decisions on how to best achieve these goals.
Has Miller not noticed that many voters — even Catholic voters — do not agree with the Declaration of Independence on the inalienable right to life? That’s precisely why the abortion issue drives so much of American politics, because it contains a basic disagreement over the very meaning of human life.
What I was trying to get at was that all men seek the good, even if their apprehension of that good is greatly mistaken Though the examples I was specifically thinking of is when Democrats say that Republicans want to destroy the environment, hate poor people, or are racist because they oppose some program towards these goals that they think are either ineffective or will make matters worse. Or in the case of Republicans saying a Democrat wants to destroy the economy, when really the focus should be not on the motives but the actual program that might indeed be destructive of the economy. Let us offer thorough critiques of ideas not motives. This is difficult in the sound bite political arena which responds more to zingers than facts.
Mainly I guess much of what Deal Hudson responds to totally misses my intent which can easily be because I was not clear enough, the easy to fall into trap of reading into something, or a mixture of the two.
Finally, Miller laments the identification of the Catholic faith with one political party over the other for the moral relativism it engenders. He gives two examples: First, he notes the gradual acceptance of abortion by Catholic Democrats. Then he lays out the great crime of the Catholics in the GOP:
The same thing happened when torture was used by the Bush administration and once again moral relativists decided that an evil could be promoted to bring a greater good. Way too few Catholics who were Republicans spoke against this outrage and mostly went on to advance the same moral relativistic arguments the pro-abortion types advanced.
So in other words, 40 years of Catholic Democratic advocacy of abortion is thus equated with the arguments supporting waterboarding by Marc Thiessen, a single Catholic member of the Bush administration.
I certainly did not intend to equate the various intrinsic evils in any way. But an intrinsic evil is still an intrinsic evil even if the other party commits far more and results in millions of deaths. My main concern is that I don’t want conservatives to accept such an evil. I think Mr Hudson dismisses the Catholic response a bit here. While Marc Thiessen was the public proponent for waterboarding in the Bush Administration, no doubt there were others who agreed with him and I can certainly name a significant group of public Catholics who did support torture and some gave an outlet to Mr. Thiessen on Catholic Radio/TV. Whenever I bring up this subject myself there is always some negative reply in the comment boxes about this. Certainly Mark Shea, Tom Kreitzberg of Disputations, Erin Manning and others get loads of comments defending torture by Catholics.
One thing about Deal Hudson’s post that really gave me a hearty laugh was a comment by Deacon Ed, who said “Deal I suspect that what you wrote flushed out a Catholic Democrat and hit a nerve.” Now I know how Mark Shea feels when he criticizes a Republican and is charged as a Leftist Democratic operative.
Mea culpa, Jeff. (But I am happy to have made you laugh!)
Mr. Miller, as a fellow Catholic, I really like your blog, personal story, and graciousness in extending a charitable response to Mr. Hudson. It is really quite refreshing to see two people such as yourself and Mr. Hudson have a respectful exchange of views instead of resorting to cyberspace fistacuffs over a difference of opinion or simple misunderstanding.
As a faithful reader of your blog and a politically conservative member of the Church who finds himself constantly struggling to remain faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium, I do take exception to your admonition to conservative Catholics concerning torture. I agree that “an intrinsic evil is an intrinsic evil”, and hence, is never justifiable…whether it be abortion or torture. And while waterboarding can certainly be a method of torture in a certain context, the way it was applied in the 3 instances (with bipartisan oversight I might add) we know of, in no way constitutes torture, since the intentional infliction of pain is in and of itself, not morally illicit. The Church clearly allows for the intentional infliction of pain in certain justifiable contexts such as self defense, capital punishment, and just war, and I submit to you, that the way waterboarding was adminstered to the 3 terrorists in question and the results that led to intelligence that saved innocent lives (according to those who garnered the information from the terrorists), is a morally licit intentional infliction of pain.
The reason this is important, is for the very reasons you cite in your response to Mr. Hudson. Specifically, how can any good Catholic in their properly informed conscience, vote for a party or politician who may on the one hand have stong “social justice” credentials but on the other, be so blatantly anti-life? The answer to that question can be found in the abysmal voting guide document that came from the USCCB prior to the 2008 election, which offered no guidance, but instead, conflated issues such as abortion and captial punishment. These two issues are on totally different moral planes, but were subtly used, IMO, in this document as a way for Catholics to justify their votes for Democrats. This is just one example of the terrible catechesis that went into this document, and I submit to you, was at least partially responsible for Obama receiving 54% of the Catholic vote. My point is, that we all need to be careful about what we call intrinsic evils these days, as it may just end up giving further impetus to the phenomenon of otherwise good Catholics making very bad political choices.
God, bless you, sir, and thank you for your blog.
The only surname permissible for an Orthodox Catholic, is ROMAN, meaning that the Succesors of Peter orders us from Rome. The Adjectives “American Papist”, or “Evangelicals (heretics = evils) & Catholics Together” from the the peculiar folklore of Mr. Hudson, are not used in bad faith, bad carry the seed of being protestantizers. Some Inquisition is needed for the USCCB too, where they think Canon 915 ordered by Rome is discretional and not obligatory.
I’m with you on this.
There is no “Catholic” Party out there; the capture of Republican fancies by the aborto-lite/contraceptive bunch is utterly disgusting.
I’ll remain Catholic first, TEA Party second, and, really, the twain will not meet.
I should point out that the Republican Party is NOT a conservative party. It simply happens, at this time, to be the only major party that conservatives can use to promote their program. The liberal elements in the Republican Party are well entrenched, and extremely well-heeled, even thirty years after the Reagan revolution. The battle to make the GOP a conservative party with a Christian conscience is still on, and still has a long ways to go. People who see themselves as conservatives need to remember this, and act accordingly.
Political parties are not ends, but means to ends.
I for one long for the day when our political disputes will be over ways and means over which good men may differ, and not over foundational issues that determine whether or not one is a good man (or woman).
dad29, how can “the twain not meet” in a properly formed conscience? All our political decisions should be informed by Catholic teaching, since those decisions affect the common good and have moral repercussions. Indeed, that is what our Holy Father was alluding to in his recent speech at Westminster Hall.
Deliberately depriving another human being of air is torture.
“The Church clearly allows for the intentional infliction of pain in certain justifiable contexts such as self defense, capital punishment, and just war…”
These are not intrinsic evils.
“…and I submit to you, that the way waterboarding was adminstered to the 3 terrorists in question and the results that led to intelligence that saved innocent lives… is a morally licit intentional infliction of pain.”
And if it hadn’t saved innocent lives? What would you call it then? Merely asserting moral liceity won’t make it so. All I see here is the usual consequentialism.
Mr. Luse, I am not asseting “moral licenity”, whatever that is. I am asserting that the intentional infliction of pain is not in and of itself an intrinsic evil, which you obviously agree with, since you concur that self defense, etc, are not intrinsic evils. Certainly if it is morally licit to take the life of someone in certain circumstances, then it is morally licit to submit a human life to 90 seconds of simulated drowning if there is a good faith reason to suspect that life saving information may be obtained. As far as “usual consequentialism”…that applies to self defense, capital punishment, and just war doctrine just as certainly as it does to waterboarding.
Scott W…when some military personel are waterboarded during the training as a way to prepare them for the possibility that this may be done to them by an enemy, and henceare deprived temporarily of oxygen, is it torture?
Good work, Mr. Miller. Not always being terribly comfortable as a Republican I sometimes refer to myself as a recovering former Democrat. There is no current political movement or party that reflects Catholic moral and social teaching. Even if we could find or develop such a movement, the broad strokes of such teachings would still allow for a great deal of latitude on the prudential means of achieving the ideals. It is a disservice to Catholic teaching to allow the church to be too closely associated with any particular political sect. I try to be a faithful Catholic who forms his political views so that they do not contradict church teaching and I am comfortable as a TEA Party supporter because government that embraces subsidiarity and fiscal responsibility in no way contradicts Catholic teaching but I do not wear political shirts to church or my Knights of Columbus pin to political events. I do not want potential Catholics discouraged by my political views or potential TEA Party supporters chased off by my religious beliefs. The church and the gospel are much too important for our eternal concerns to be too closely tied to movements limited to our transitory political concerns.
how can “the twain not meet” in a properly formed conscience?
Perhaps I was unclear.
It is unlikely–in the extreme–that the (R) Party will have identical objectives as does the Church. Same applies to the TEA Party.
One can bring one’s Faith to the party (I certainly do); but one cannot possibly place one’s faith IN the Party–nor, for that matter, would the party have an interest in placing itself within the Faith.
Does that help?