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Priorities Inside the “Catholic Vote” Bubble

December 20, 2010

Here is a short video from Catholic Vote (the people who endorsed Sharon Angle). It is basically a top ten list, the “top 10 reasons for hope in 2010″. Good title, lousy content. Check the list for yourself. You will find a mix of insignificant, and offensive. It’s basically a view into the mind of the right-wing American Catholic bubble, which is a fully contained subset of the broader American right-wing bubble. I’ll give a quick run down after the jump.

10. Mother Teresa stamps. OK, a nice gesture, but – with all the problems in the world – is this really significant? Strangely parochial.

9. Tea party and subsidiarity. OK, we’re automatically in the offensive zone. Claiming that the tea party philosophy is aligned with a Catholic understanding of subsidiarity is the biggest distortion of Catholic teaching since Mark Thiessen used just war teaching to defend torture, or Nancy Pelosi mis-stated the teaching on abortion. Fundamentally, subsidiarity is all about letting human dignity flourish by creating the space for social relations to take place at the most personal level. It is meaningless when stripped away from solidarity. It has nothing to do with low taxes, minimal regulation, or low spending. In the economic sphere, solidarity calls for government intervention in certain core areas (such as determining working conditions and support for the unemployed), while subsidiarity calls for the government to create favorable conditions for the common good to flourish. That, by the way, means correcting the problems that come with the free market. This was patently clear to Pius XI, the intellectual architect of subsidiarity, when he railed against the injustice created by unregulated large corporations, especially in the financial sector. Properly understood, subsidiarity provides a bulwark against both the centralizing tendencies of socialist collectivism, and the decentralizing tendencies of the free market. As Pius XI put it, the “economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces” – the “poisoned spring” of the “evil individualistic spirit”. This is the spirit of the tea party.

8. Voters, bishops, defend marriage. Really? Are we talking about really defending marriage? If so, then where is the attack on the rampant divorce culture?

7. Pope’s visit to England. I thought this trip was great, but does it rank as a great sign of hope? Personally, I thought the consecration of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona was a bigger milestone. But OK, let’s be fair and give them this one.

6. Commercials celebrate life. I don’t understand this. I don’t watch commercials.

5. Taxpayers against abortion funding. This is tired old ground by now. There is no taxpayer funding of abortion in the Affordable Care Act. It’s there in plain English. True, they refrained from codifying the Hyde Amendment into law, so I guess we will have to use the standard that has operated just fine for the past 30 years or so. But Catholic Vote doesn’t care about cases where taxpayer money can be used to subsidize the purchase of private healthcare that might include abortion – Medicare Advantage, FSA FEDS, the COBRA extension in the stimulus bill. Neither do they seem to care about the inability of the average person with employer-based insurance (the vast majority of people) to pay for an option that does not include abortion. But as we all know by now, the abortion funding was a cover for their real concern – an ideological opposition to the government trying to secure universal healthcare (a right under Catholic social teaching) through a combination of an individual mandate and direct subsidies for the purchase of private plans. Yes, Catholic Vote was one of the main culprits in this obfuscation. And this nonsense about a “government take-over of health care” has been named as the “lie of the year” – pretty impressive in the current culture of political slime. One more point: the Affordable Care Act is fully aligned with subsidiarity – it gives people the ability to provide health care for their families directly, and takes away the ability of the large impersonal insurance bureaucracy to deny them care.

4. Cardinal Burke and USCCB Bishop Dolan. I have no problem with Dolan, but what exactly is his election supposed to signify? As for Burke, this is cardinal who has zero pastoral responsibility for any United States diocese, or indeed, any diocese anywhere in the world. Strangely omitted is Cardinal Wuerl, who takes precisely the opposite view of Burke on the issue that endears Burke to the Catholic Vote cohort. And yet Wuerl has pastoral responsibility for the nation’s capital. And incidentally, since we are on the consistory, I could also praise some of the other new cardinals. How about Cardinal Reinhart Marx of Munich, a leading expert on Catholic social teaching who has strongly denounced the liberal tendencies that undergird economic life in the United States? How about Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, an activist on justice and peace, and co-president of Pax Christi International? How about Cardinal Medardo Mazombwe of Lusaka, who lobbies for trade justice, improved aid packages for poor countries, and debt relief? Surely these are all greater signs of hope? It was a great consistory. I was there.

3. Sisters on Oprah. I have no idea what this means. I understand Oprah is popular with women of a certain generation, and the clip shows her talking to some nuns, but…the number 3 reason for hope???

2. Rescue of the Chilean miners. I concur with this wholeheartedly. Finally, they get something right!

1. Election 2010. This deserves a separate post (or essay, or book!). I think it is now patently clear that the over-riding objective of the electoral victors is the upward distribution of wealth and a reduction in the government’s role in the economy. In furtherance of that aim, they are willing to sacrifice many items of policy that are strongly supported by the Church – income security for the unemployed, the Dream Act, the START treaty to reduce the nuclear arsenal…and even a bill to fight forced child marriages. And this is only in the first few weeks after the election. A very strange sign of hope.

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27 Comments
  1. phosphorious permalink
    December 20, 2010 2:55 pm

    It’s absolutely bizarre that the Tea Party should be a source of hope for Catholics.

    • sean permalink
      December 21, 2010 7:54 pm

      The Tea Party is mostly a mass of childish anger and dismay — shrieking chickens running around with their heads cut off. There is little cohesive thought behind it. The establishment Republicans will co-opt the directionless energy for there own purposes.

      If there is a patron of the TP movement it would be Ayn Rand, a Darwinian Capitalist with no time for the common man. Her message is the anti-Gospel, the deification of the greedy self.

      You can be sure most Tea partiers have read little Ayn Rand and understand her less. As Jesus said , “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

  2. December 20, 2010 3:39 pm

    If we speak of subsidiarity the way the whig Thomists see it (and their uninformed minions who barely know what Thomism is, only that it’s a good thing), the Mafia is a perfect image of Catholic subsidiarity. It’s family oriented, in the local interests, entrepreneurial, and unregulated. But in homage to Brecht who once compared robbing a bank to opening a new one, what is a Mafia regulating the flow of stolen flat screen TV’s compared to the Mafia that determines the financial fate of entire nations through the control of international finance?

    Burke seems to me some sort of sociopath in cappa magna. He sort of reminds me of the words of another cardinal who told Napoleon: “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

    And why are we celebrating nuns being on Oprah? Isn’t Oprah a baby killer who drinks a frozen embryo smoothie for breakfast and dumps money on Planned Parenthood so that they can buy gold swivel chairs?

    And yes, the great uncatechized Catholic unwashed voted for the Republicans when last election they voted for Democrats and the next election they will vote Republican, ad infinitum. So what? We are still a long way away from Catholics being a block vote just as they were back in corrupt Chicago in the 19th century. The problem with you people who put any hope in electoral politics is that you get excited when the mindless herd walks your way, but when they don’t, you call it for what it is: a mindless herd.

    • sean permalink
      December 21, 2010 7:38 pm

      A mindless herd. Sad truth about most of the Catholic vote and of course the voting public generally. Catholics have assimilated into American culture.

  3. December 20, 2010 4:14 pm

    I can see being annoyed by #1 and #9. The Tea Party and the 2010 Election results are not necessarily reasons for hope (or despair either)from the Catholic perspective.

    I am all for Mother Teresa stamps, voters/bishops against gay marriage, perfectly nice people becoming leaders or cardinals, people refusing to pay for abortion, the Pope visiting England, commercials celebrating life, and Catholic nuns on Oprah.

    Sounds fine to me. Is your beef that it did not include your personal reasons for hope? Or you think it is not inclusive enough to be hopeful?

    “Catholic vote” is a bad idea because it wants to mobilize religion to serve a political agenda.( I see liberals want to do that too; vote for this or that, its your religious duty. Really? Syncretists.)

    But people can have their particular reasons for hope; I don’t see any point in mocking people’s “hope” lists. (I mean aside from #1 and #9)

  4. Kurt permalink
    December 20, 2010 4:34 pm

    I can’t believe he had nothing to say about renewed rumors of Notre Dame joining the Big Ten. Peters doesn’t have a clue as to what Catholics really care about.

  5. December 20, 2010 5:25 pm

    5. Taxpayers against abortion funding. This is tired old ground by now. There is no taxpayer funding of abortion in the Affordable Care Act. It’s there in plain English.

    That’s not entirely accurate. Hormonal birth control pills are covered by the ACA, and they are abortifacient. You mean to say that surgical abortion is not covered by the ACA.

    And, for what it’s worth, it’s the Republican party/”Tea Party” movement that generally opposes coverage of the birth control pill. On the other hand, virtually every Democratic politician supports it.

    But Catholic Vote doesn’t care about cases where taxpayer money can be used to subsidize the purchase of private healthcare that might include abortion – Medicare Advantage, FSA FEDS, the COBRA extension in the stimulus bill. Neither do they seem to care about the inability of the average person with employer-based insurance (the vast majority of people) to pay for an option that does not include abortion.

    But Catholic Vote is clearly concerned with taxpayer funding of infanticide. The organization opposes all taxpayer funding of infanticide, so they don’t bother to specifically oppose individual cases where people are required to buy insurance plans that fund it. But that doesn’t mean that they take no issue with some people’s inability to buy insurance plans that don’t fund infanticide.

    But as we all know by now,

    Oh, I can already tell this is going to be good..

    the abortion funding was a cover for their real concern – an ideological opposition to the government trying to secure universal healthcare (a right under Catholic social teaching) through a combination of an individual mandate and direct subsidies for the purchase of private plans. Yes, Catholic Vote was one of the main culprits in this obfuscation.

    What exactly did Catholic Vote obfuscate? If an insurance plan covers the birth control pill, it can be said to cover abortion. The confusion here arises from your ignorance of how the birth control pill works.

    I understand that you are a Democrat, and for that reason want to make voting Republican sound as un-Catholic as possible (and, by inference, make voting Democrat seem as Catholic as you possibly can). But the birth control pill is a method of infanticide, it is not contraception. When the ACA speaks of abortion, it incorrectly excludes the birth control pill from being defined as abortion. And when you speak of abortion, you too make this mistake. Catholic Vote, on the other hand, did not. I hope this clarifies things.

    1. Election 2010. This deserves a separate post (or essay, or book!). I think it is now patently clear that the over-riding objective of the electoral victors is the upward distribution of wealth and a reduction in the government’s role in the economy. In furtherance of that aim, they are willing to sacrifice many items of policy that are strongly supported by the Church – income security for the unemployed, the Dream Act, the START treaty to reduce the nuclear arsenal…and even a bill to fight forced child marriages. And this is only in the first few weeks after the election. A very strange sign of hope.

    The Republicans who were voted into office will oppose taxpayer funding of infanticide. They are overwhelmingly pro-life, unlike the Democrats you wish were in charge. Sure, the Republicans oppose some of the economic policies that the Church supports, but I feel it is safe to say (and I am certain the Church would agree) that infanticide is the major issue facing us today.

    Infanticide is the single most important issue confronting us today. Everything else — universal health care, income security, you name it — is insignificant compared to the monumental importance of this issue. Democrats support infanticide. Republicans oppose it. Right now, this is all that matters.

    I’ve read many of your other posts, and I’m convinced that you’re a concern troll. What I mean by this is that you aren’t even a Catholic — or at the very least, are a Democrat first and a Catholic second. Your ultimate goal here is to get conservative Catholics to vote Democrat. You try to achieve this goal by fronting as a conservative Catholic and arguing that it’s really the Democratic values that are best in line with those of the Church. But in reality, all you really care about is getting Democrats elected, and you will obfuscate and lie in order to create the false impression that Republians Are Bad and Democrats Are Good.

    • December 20, 2010 7:19 pm

      There is no scientific agreement, even among pro-life physicians, on whether or not the birth control pill has an abortifacient effect.

      The Catechism treats infanticide (2268) and abortion (2270-2275) separately. Abortion is not infanticide. Infanticide is not abortion.

      • Liam permalink
        December 21, 2010 10:11 am

        David,

        You forget that it’s an article of faith among some that the Pill is conclusively proven abortifacient. They got tired of the nuance that it might be prudent to treat the Pill has possibly having that effect, and just collapsed a prudential stance into a concrete (if ersatz) fact. This has been done for a few years now that people are surprised when the factual basis is challenged (because basically their opponents don’t even bother to address this issue, so it’s left to fellow pro-lifers to do this from time to time).

  6. December 20, 2010 5:46 pm

    AV

    I would disagree with you about Burke. I have been impressed at the time he has spent in the USA the past month. He was in Louisiana for several days and was accessable it appears. He also has been all over the place since then. SO at the very least he seems to be making some effort to get the lay of the land.

    I like Wuerl too and I understand in some conservative quarters there is some agst about him. However on the flip side Lopez over at National Review had a nice column on both and him and Burke that was pretty glowing and I think was widely read. Needless to say his involvment in the bringing in the new Anglicans is going to be critical and from what I can see he is taking that seriously. So for that reason alone I woul have put him on the list of hope

  7. December 20, 2010 6:13 pm

    Austin:

    – If the only issue is birth control pills, then we move this onto an entirely different conversation. But that’s not the issue, not for Catholic Vote or the NRLC or any of those other groups.

    – All life issues are connected. You do not compartmentalize. This is nicely stated in Caritas in Veritate – yes, life and social justice issues only make sense when taken together. On the empirical point, you can believe what you like, but the switch between Republicans and Democrats doesn’t seem to matter much for the unborn (and abortion rates declined most under Clinton’s 8 years_, but you can be sure other areas of the gospel of life take a beating under Republicans. How many infants were killed in Iraq as a direct result of the American invasion and occuption? Don’t they matter too?

  8. Kurt permalink
    December 20, 2010 6:33 pm

    Austin N,

    Accepting your claim that hormonal contraceptives are a means of infanticide, President Bush sent Congress EIGHT budgets funding infanticide at a taxpayer cost of over $265 million a year. It had the support of all of the incoming Republican leadership. 4.5 million Americans made use of federal funded family planning services, exceeding the number of surgical abortions in the US by all funding sources.

    You have made an argument that there is scant difference between the Democrats and Republicans.

  9. Cindy permalink
    December 20, 2010 7:32 pm

    So what exactly about the tea party is so Catholic? Can anyone explain that one?

  10. Kyle Cupp permalink*
    December 20, 2010 7:43 pm

    What? Colbert didn’t make the list?

  11. December 20, 2010 7:52 pm

    - If the only issue is birth control pills, then we move this onto an entirely different conversation. But that’s not the issue, not for Catholic Vote or the NRLC or any of those other groups.

    No, it would still be a conversation about abortion.

    Read this article. The birth control pill works by artificially preventing implantation. This is no different from a surgical abortion, but the birth control pill is often wrongly thought of and described as “contraception.” It is not contraception, it is a method of abortion or infanticide. The ACA includes funding for the birth control pill. In other words, it funds infanticide.

    - All life issues are connected. You do not compartmentalize. This is nicely stated in Caritas in Veritate – yes, life and social justice issues only make sense when taken together.

    I know, but some issues are more important than others. Defunding infanticide and ultimately banning it are far more important than universal health insurance. Ideally, there would be candidates who supported both of these things, but right now, there just aren’t, so we have to go with the lesser of two evils here.

    On the empirical point, you can believe what you like, but the switch between Republicans and Democrats doesn’t seem to matter much for the unborn (and abortion rates declined most under Clinton’s 8 years

    When you speak of the “abortion rate,” you are referring to the number of surgical abortions per 1,000 women per year. As Catholics, we are interested in reducing the percentage of infants killed by abortion. We don’t measure the rates of infanticide by determining how many people per 1,000 people per year commit infanticide. Instead, we ask “what percentage of infants are being killed?”

    Also, the “abortion rate” (as you define it) does not include deaths caused by the birth control pill. For these two reasons it is a meaningless statistic.

    but you can be sure other areas of the gospel of life take a beating under Republicans. How many infants were killed in Iraq as a direct result of the American invasion and occuption? Don’t they matter too?

    The number of innocent people killed in the “war on terra” per year pales in comparison to the number of infants killed each year in the US by surgical abortion, the birth control pill, stem cell research, and IVF. And let’s not forget that Democrats support funding infanticide in other countries, while Republicans oppose it.

    In the US, there is, unfortunately, no “Catholic party.” Neither political party supports policies that are entirely in line with the policies that Catholics desire. But the Republican party is by far the lesser of two evils. It is disingenuous to argue otherwise, and I suspect that you are not so much concerned with Catholic values as you are with getting Democrats elected. This becomes particularly problematic when you present yourself as Catholic on a supposedly Catholic blog, and pretend that your support for the Democrats is a result of your Catholicism rather than something that exists in spite of it.

    • Dan permalink
      December 20, 2010 10:54 pm

      The number of innocent people killed in the “war on terra” per year pales in comparison to the number of infants killed each year in the US by surgical abortion, the birth control pill, stem cell research, and IVF.

      So, your argument is that, because the overall volume of killing is lower, it is moral to support the party? Wouldn’t the truly Catholic position be to support neither party?

      • sean permalink
        December 21, 2010 8:11 pm

        Neither party is very concerned with morality, Catholic or otherwise. You can only look at individuals who are better or worse, more or less moral in their outlook.

        Aligning with either party is a foolish proposition. When voting pick and choose as best as you can.

    • Dan permalink
      December 20, 2010 10:58 pm

      It is disingenuous to argue otherwise, and I suspect that you are not so much concerned with Catholic values as you are with getting Democrats elected

      That’s a very provocative statement that I would retract if you’re interested in true dialogue. The folks here at VN have the best of intentions, and they are just as Catholic as you. The difference is in what issues receive the most emphasis. For many here, the social and economic policies of the Republicans will effect just as much damage and destruction as the Democratic ones; the only difference is that it is long-term versus short term.

  12. phosphorious permalink
    December 20, 2010 9:25 pm

    This video annoys me more and more. The assumption that 2010 is a time where “hope” is somehow needed more than ever is. . . problematic.

    If I didn’t despair up until now, then I why am I in need of “reasons to hope?”

    The economy is bad, yes. But is 2010 somehow apocalyptic in a way I hadn’t noticed?

    • AdamV permalink
      December 21, 2010 2:35 pm

      Its because the year ends in a zero. The same thing went around in 2000.

      • phosphorious permalink
        December 21, 2010 3:33 pm

        Seriously? I knew 2012 was a “disaster year”, but this is the first I’ve heard of anyone putting any significance on the date 2010.

        I thought maybe the Catholics who made that video had some specific reason for despairing.

        I guess not though.

        • AdamV permalink
          December 21, 2010 9:47 pm

          Well you know, new decade, new century etc.

        • phosphorious permalink
          December 21, 2010 10:32 pm

          So this alleged need for hope is not tied to current events in any way?

          Look, I’ll be blunt: conservative Catholics despaired when Obama was elected. They loved Bush, they hate Obama. THIS is why they seek out “reasons to hope.”

          Because as far as conservative are concerned the apocalypse is upon us.

          They have hopelessly mixed up their religion and their politics.

          This is why the Tea Partiers are included; this is why the recent election is included.

          Conservative Catholics are against torture and war and socialized medicine. . . when Obama can be blamed. When Bush was in power, they cheered these things.

          I find this video absolutely offensive, for this reason.

  13. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    December 21, 2010 2:44 pm

    If the video simply gets people to discuss how and whether this list is really the top ten hopeful signs for Catholics, then it does a worthy service.

    Challenging American Catholics to compare and contrast their faith and their political actions is good.

    • phosphorious permalink
      December 21, 2010 3:31 pm

      Still not sure why we are in sepecial need of “hope” at this moment in history.

  14. phosphorious permalink
    December 21, 2010 4:00 pm

    Hey! More good news for the people at Catholic Vote!

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_census2010_count

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