Saturday, July 5, 2008

ramblings of a simple hillbilly on the Presidential election

Christ is in our midst!

Bottomline line upfront (BLUF) - As then Cardinal Ratzinger taught us and now Pope B16 teaches us, we must become the little platoons of our society, the creative minority of our culture. Here lies the answers to our questions. Here lies what we should and must do.

Like so many in this election I am really struggling with whom I should vote for. I wrote a Catholic Online article about this struggle six months ago which is worth reviewing if you have a free moment.

Allow me to review some highlights from each of the major candidates from both of our major political parties. Neither Bob Barr of the Libertarian Party or Chuck Baldwin of the Constituion Party seem attractive to me. They're not worth spilling any cyber-ink over.

Let us begin with Sen. John McCain, a.k.a. John McBush. Electing him will equal a third term of Bush. With our current conflicts (two undeclared wars) now lasting longer than World War II there seems to be no end in site. Under a President McCain we could be in Iraq for decades, 50 or even 100 years. All of his foreign policy advisors, his close friends with whom he trusts and depends on, are Neocons. Does anyone doubt a President McCain wouldn't invade Iran? In my opinion we need a return to a realistic foreign policy like that advocated for by Brent Scowcroft and others. And what about the economy, the mortgage crisis or the price of gasoline? Does anybody think a President McCain will manage the economy better than President Bush? No there's not much hope to be seen or heard in someone I compare to stagnant pond water. Does he move anyone? For me it's not if Obama will win but by how much will he win? Will it be a landslide?

Now let's briefly discuss Sen. Barrack Obama, one of the most if not the most liberal members of Congress. With his radical support of abortion rights including partial-birth abortions he is totally unacceptable. He is also a major advocate for and supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Pay attention to the address of his website on this topic. As Catholics faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium we must support and defend traditional marriage and families. The success or failure of our civilization, of our society, of our culture is rooted in the the strength and vibrancy of our marriages and families. Popes PJPII and B16 really understood that. We are so close to really tipping the balance of the Supreme Court in our favor it's truly sad. The 1-2 justices that Obama will appoint to the bench will not be in the image of Scalia but move the court back to the center left. Remember though salvation does not come through the Supreme Court or politics in general but in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Having to pick between these two choices, these two very fallible human faces, really puts a Catholic in a jam. I feel as if I'm doing the limbo between the City of God and the City of Man. It sounds fun but I'm not very limber. The questions that I'm asking and that you're asking are also being asked by others as well. Where do we go from here? There are no easy answers but I recommend that you do some reading.

Besides reading the CCC, the Compendium of the CCC, the Compendium of Social Doctrine of the Church which are all great treasures which we should cherish and read often, we should should study of the thought of Popes PJPII and B16. I believe deeply in my heart that the Holy Spirit gave these men to us in these days to help provide much needed light in a fallen world. I would also recommend that you read men such as E.F. Schumacher (and Joseph Pearce's new ISI book on his thought), Russell Kirk, Wendell Berry, Allan C. Carlson, Bill Kauffman, Caleb Stegall and Deacon Keith Fournier.

If I had one book to recommend that you should should begin with though it would be Rod Dreher's book, Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots. His paperback version because it has a new much-needed chapter in it. Allow me to quote out of the new forward from the paperback.

Where is American conservatism going? Crunchy Cons speaks to an increasing number of right-leaning Americans weary of conservative politics-as-usual, but not tempted to apostatize to a liberalism that's even more spiritually and intellectually exhausted than contemporary conservatism. We seek a third way: the way of traditionalism.

In the 1940s and 1950s, when Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and other traditionalist thinkers were paving the philosophical path for the revival of conservatism, it was possible for a liberal giant like Lionel Trilling to write, without fear of contradiction, that 'in the United States at this time, liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition.'

Half a century later, the opposite is nearly true, yet the kind of conservatism you will read about in these pages has been neglected in recent decades. Conservatism has become associated chiefly with free-market triumphalism, tax-cutting, nationalism, and a moralism that is rarely connected to a more holistic understanding of what life in families and communities should be about. Within conservatism, it is true that pioneering a revival of traditionalist ideals is the pursuit of a small minority. But times are changing, and the collapse of faith among conservatives in Republican Party governance offers the best opportunity in half a century for conservatives to reconsider our first principles in light of tradition.

In recent months, I've sense growing anxiety, especially among conservatives; people know that something new is coming, that the political and cultural forms we've been living with for some time now have outlived their usefulness. They no longer speak convincingly to the world we live in, or wish to live in. Though we will always have the necessary fights over the usual stuff of modern politics, there's a growing awareness among the most creative thinkers on the right that in our eagerness to fight culture-war clashes, we have neglected the slow, patient work of building local institutions and relationships that help people resist the disorders of the age. People hunger for stability, family, companionship, virtue, and a sense of belonging. Only a radical renewal of our spiritual and cultural traditions can hope to feed them.

Though unabashedly rooted in the rich and fertile conservative tradition, Crunchy Cons seeks to go beyond the shopworn ideological categories of left and right. As prophetic social critics like Alasdair MacIntyre and Christopher Lasch argued at least a decade ago, today's political language serves to confuse more than clarify. It's time we stopped asking what's conservative and what's liberal. Maybe instead we should create a new politics by asking: What's good? What's true? What's beautiful? What's authentically human? - Rod Dreher
Cross-posted on my blog.


Freder1ck said...

And what will foreign policy look like under Obama? How will BO manage Iraq?

clairity said...

I would say Obama's foreign policy interests may be less imperial than McCain's ... but then there are the serious social policy questions with Obama.

Look, I think we're starting wrong here. I would go more for the Catholic Worker ideal more than the Crunchy Cons, but I want something more than my own measure and temperament. Let's work differently.

Personally, I'm not interested in doing the same old impossible debate of the lesser of two evils, which goes nowhere. At least I think we can do more.

If we're going to go with politics for a subject, let's work from the movement's criteria, and that is the Church's. There are a series of recent articles in *Traces*. Also, there's the article by Fr. Giussani on *Politics and Desire*. And the idea with this blog is to work it together.


David said...

Fred - BO's foreign policy seems to me to be more reasonable and less "imperial than McCain's" as Sharon says.

Sharon - Both Fred and I have a deep admiration for Day and the real work that the Zwicks, among many others, do on a daily basis. I take it mean what you say is that we should focus on serving the poor. Charity is a pillar of our charism, of the movement. It might be helpful to remind folks about it. How do we incorporate acts of charity with SoC or Fraternity?

In my opinion Dreher's emphasis on the following questions is excellent. What's good? What's true? What's beautiful? What's authentically human? His book deals with the practical, not just thought/theory. It deals with experience - folks living their lives today. I'm not asking for a reading group to begin. It was only a suggestion for those that wanted a good place to start.

Roe is begging for some answers over at the Yahoo group - Catholics and US 2008 Election.

clairity said...

Dorothy Day's movement is not just about charity. In fact, she didn't want charity to be a cop-out for the addressing and living by justice. These issues are necessarily global. And yes, we have a charitable work in our community, as it turns out, at the Dorothy Day hospitality house.

But this wasn't the point. I'm asking about the method of our political discussion on Cahiers Peguy.

Freder1ck said...

Thank you for the correction, Sharon. Let's begin again in an original, orderly way. What do you think would be best for us to start with?

clairity said...

We could go back to Pope Benedict's statement on the White House lawn and other statements from his visit, as well as the Traces articles.

On a forum of CL friends, I hesitate to have us declaring for something ahead of what the movement is doing. I'm sure a flyer will come out at some point. On personal blogs, it's another thing because it's not so likely that there will be confusion.

I think in this country our political arena has been shaped by a Protestant heritage, therefore more oriented toward individual responsibility. I believe part of the reason so many Catholics continue to vote Democrat is because of a long history and education in Catholic social encyclicals which directly engaged Catholics in labor union and other initiatives, gains which have been reduced by a free-market mentality which relegates social needs to the sphere of private charitable work (which we will always be called to regardless). Until we bring the Gospel of Life and the Social Gospel together, I think we are seriously hampered in bringing our faith fully to bear in the political arena. In traditionally Catholic European countries, even as secularism takes root, this dichotomy is less evident than here.

There's a lot of educational work for us to do to change the mentality, and the Pope has given us a great help here.

Freder1ck said...

The CL statement on the 2008 Italian elections is clear and concise: Elections 2008: What is dearest to us.

Joe C said...

Hi CL folks,

I'm going thru this also about whom to vote for.

David, I think your discussion could benefit from more prudence, as in the cardinal virtue.

An example: Obama's gay rights agenda is a problem. However, marriage is currently a matter of state law only, and so I don't think we have to weigh the issue as heavily in our votes for national office. The same is true of the death penalty. Although there is a rather rarely used federal death penalty, it is primarily a state issue, so this would let McCain off, since he is a death penalty supporter.

You see were I'm going with this? Prudence can seem a bit laywerly, but it's a messy world.


Freder1ck said...

Joe, my biggest concern with the gay rights is how it's being used as a vehicle against freedom of religion.