Sunday, December 30, 2007

Politics and Desire

Yesterday, Fred posted on the coming election: "Above all, we need a reasonable candidate, or better yet a contest between two reasonable candidates. We also need to keep the ideal in the public square, and not reduce issues to whichever candidates get nominated." He included a link to Noonan's excellent column on reasonableness and our own Major David Jones' piece offering a criterion to face the election.

It is a huge temptation to duck out of this election. The last one also appeared dismal to me. And I remember just before the Iraq invasion that I could not bear to watch television or discuss the imminent horror with anyone, as most that I knew supported the war vigorously. After some time, I had to pull myself out of this denial to return to participate in the most human debate of politics and to engage again from a position of hope that Christ is saving the world now.

I would invite everyone to read David's piece in its entirety. It is beautiful and the best thing I have read on the election so far, with its fine and full Christian perspective. I have stolen the title of the upcoming issue of Traces for my post, not knowing in particular what it will contain. But I believe David has also addressed this desire of ours for peace and solidarity with all of humanity.

I appreciate first of all that he doesn't tell us how to vote. He doesn't contrive a complicated point system to rate the candidates as one might do for the attributes of racing horses. "Like so many I wish I could make my own Mr. Potato Head' candidate, but this is not possible, nor even desirable, for many different reasons. The first and foremost being the need to embrace reality for what it is and not for what one desires it to be."

He suggests the possibility of trust which allows us to look beyond particular blindnesses and limits to a candidate's potential. He acknowledges the fallen nature that we all have, which need not block God's grace for our country.

When judging these political candidates we must consider our obligation to be in solidarity with one another. Who has the greatest compatibility to unite the American people? Which candidate has firm convictions and beliefs but will work with others both within their party and in Congress to serve the common good? Who can move beyond their own particular political ideology to see the world and current events as they truly are? Who are their trusted advisors and friends who will guide them in these very difficult times? These are all questions we must ask ourselves in judging who the best candidate for President is.

He reminds us that what will change our country and the world will be our faithfulness to Christ, and concretely that is in our adhesion to the Church in the person of the Holy Father. The Pope speaks on the fullness of human dignity in its various concerns. There is no reduction to a single-issue or hierarchy of needs, but we desire the full freedom and life of every person in the world without exception. David reminds us:

In conclusion, let us never forget that America will be transformed by Christ through Catholics staying faithful to the Holy Father. Additionally Europe will be transformed by Christ through Catholics staying faithful to the Holy Father. Lastly the world will be transformed by Christ through Catholics staying faithful to the Holy Father. As Pope Paul VI taught in his first encyclical letter, Ecclesiam Suam (Paths of the Church), the transformation of America, Europe and the world will happen first through our own personal Awareness.


JACK said...

I don't disagree with the premise of reasonableness, but I must wonder, given Noonan's application of it to the candidates, if she really uses the word in the same way I would.

Freder1ck said...

I liked Noonan's attempt to be as broad as possible in finding candidates to be reasonable. Her defense of Romney is a bit weak in that it "He hasn't made himself wealthy by seeing the world through a romantic mist." Well, that's true enough, but making buckets of money doesn't necessarily indicate an attention to reality in all of its factors.

JACK said...

That's part of my problem with her approach, Fred. It is so broad as to no longer be a criterion in this circumstance. In fact, she shows as much, when she rejects Giullani as "not desirable" even though he's reasonable. For her, it's a necessary condition and not a sufficient one. That's fine, but that seems to me to be a definition of reasonableness built really on cultural folksism and not much more than that.

Freder1ck said...

Yes, "JACK." I think you're right that she's not using the word "reasonable" in the sense of attention to reality in all its factors. Instead, it means something along the lines of "We would like a candidate who does not appear to be obviously insane."

And her critique of Huckabee is based on demerits (his gaffes which hurt his appearance) and not his fideism...

JACK said...

I agree with your assessment of Noonan's article. I guess I just don't find myself incapable of weeding out the "insane" candidates, so I had hoped for more from her assessment of things.