A Manifesto for Battered Citizens

Progressives ain’t feeling the love from the man they fell head over heels for in 2008. The precipitous letdown from the hallucinatory mash notes, hymns, and messianic delusions they heaped on the God King four years ago has to stand as one of the greatest hangovers in binge politics in the history of the Republic. Click that link and ask yourself, O Progressive, how it was you could have said that stuff with a straight face. And reflect again on where things now stand:

The Lightworker, the Advanced Soul, who communicated with God-like Energy, gave you drone strikes on teenagers papered over with ex post facto declarations that we wouldn’t have killed them if they weren’t enemy combatants. He gave you (with bipartisan support), secret kill lists with zero due process, aimed at anybody he feels like killing, citizen or not. He gave you indefinite detainment. And he’s done nothing but get richer and more powerful as he’s done it–along with his rich and powerful cronies. And you’re still seriously planning to vote for him because you are terrified the Other Rich and Powerful Lizard will win.


Meanwhile, prolifers are likewise confronted with a man who will tell a bald-faced lie right to their faces to get their vote:

“I am a pro-life individual, I was a pro-life governor, I served as a pro-life governor, I’m a pro-life candidate. I simply do not want to participate in anything that takes the lives of an unborn child.” – Mitt Romney, lying to get your vote. No. Really.

Now, I get the Sucks Less argument, ably summarized by A Conservative Blog for Peace as “Better a jerk who doesn’t care about you than one who hates you.” I can see that. I really can. Obama actively hates the Church and is not merely cynically exploiting you, but making war on you. Romney, in contrast, couldn’t care less about you and may, by accident, fail to trample on you since he doesn’t have an interest in seeking you out to punish and stamp on you. After all, he finds you useful each election year.

What gets me, though, is how hard it is for prolifers to just stay with that and acknowledge that the most we can realistically hope for from Romney is that he just doesn’t care about our concerns, has no interest in the unborn except their utility in gaining him power, has no intention of doing anything about the HHS mandate, doesn’t care about gay “marriage” and is interested in the things that animate social conservatives only insofar as they may gain him power. If we clearly acknowledged that, we would recognize that now, not some future cloud cuckoo time, is the moment to put pressure on this campaign to knuckle under to basic demands that it pledge to rescind the HHS mandate, that it make concrete plans to do something real about abortion, and that it make serious and substantive policy pledges instead of vague “when we get around to it we will give your concerns some thought” noises. Instead, what we consistently see are conservative Catholics and Christians seriously attempting to defend and make excuses for this ticket every time it betrays them. It sounds… very much like betrayed Obama voters telling themselves that they have vote for O again last things too terrible to describe happen when Romney wins. As a reader writes:

Party politics has many of the dynamics of abused spouses.

1. Lots of excuses are made for the wrong-doings of the beloved, abusing partner.
2. Lots of arguments for proportionality are made about the partner’s added benefits to the relationship.
3. Extreme emotional defensiveness, animosity, and belligerence result when a friend or family member tries to point out that the that friend or family member will no longer be participating in and supporting the abusive relationship any longer. The abused partner will blame the friend or family member rejecting the abuse dynamic for problems and failures in the relationship, not the abusive partner whose faults in these arguments will never be acknowledged and whose good points will be inflated.

These responses intensify if the abused partner will find themselves “alone” if the relationship ends. (Ron Paul supporters or third party participation is this equivalent in party politics. Such arrangements electorally are pretty isolating.) These responses intensify with years of habitually engaging in items 1,2, and 3 above. These responses intensify if one has long habituated to being abused over decades.

Men like Obama and Romney will be what they will be: predators who view you as tools for attaining power, to be cast aside the moment your utility ends. One reader thinks “predators” is too harsh. I think any pol who climbs to power on a pile of dead babies is aptly (and perhaps too gently) described as a predator, and both these men have done so (though only one now lies to us that he was “prolife” during his climb to power while the other openly and naked proclaims his pro-abortion and church persecuting zeal. I’ll leave you to decide which is more repellent, I can’t). But there is no reason you have to put up with being seen as a tool. The biggest thing your vote affects is not the outcome of the election, but your soul. Think different. If you feel you must vote Romney (or if you are a Progressive, Obama) lest the other Lizard win, fine. Your conscience is to be obeyed. But please, stop and consider how many times these guys say to you, “I love you, baby, and won’t ever hit you again”–and how many times you tell your worried family and friends to stop talking trash about him because he’s not really that bad, and besides who else will love you, and you are afraid he’ll leave you. Vote if you must, but stop making excuses for these abusive predators when they look you in the eye and lie through their teeth and you know in your heart of hearts they are doing it. Put pressure, not on those friends and family who warn you in love about the lies and the abuse, but on the abusive liars. Trust Jesus, not these men. If not now, when?

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  • Josee Turner

    Good Day. I have say that while I love to read your blogs this won was over the top. It sounds as if you are advocating making no decision, not voting.That is what my 21 year old son who doesn’t care about politics says, and it is not admirable. We catholics have to make a decision, and it is never going to be cut and dry. It should not be. I prefer to think about Fr Richard John Neuhaus said in the Naked Public Square, the gist of it being that there should always be tension between Catholics and any political party. No one party perfectly follows the Gospel, and we should not be deceived that it will. We are not in heaven, but we have a duty to work with what is here. You make a compelling argument for both sides demonstrating some real anti-Gospel traits, but you are mistaken if you think that an Obmama presidency unhampered by re-election desires would do a great deal more damage to what he has already done to the moral fabric of this country. We have the added evidence that we have a president who has demonstrated not only an unwillingness to be a leader that brings people of opposing sides together but a willingness to find a way to impliment his plans without the participation of the very institutions that our country established, Congress, to avoid a dictator like governance. I concede that no matter who is elected, pro-lifers have work to do. They will always have work to do. Given the technological advancements, changing hearts and minds will always be required whether it be for the unborn, the death row inmate, for the terminally ill or for end of life issues. That wouldn’t change with even the best of American nominees.

    • JB

      For someone with the option to vote, not voting is a decision.

      Re “we have a duty to work with what is here”, what is here – what Americans have available to work with – includes a lot more than a Presidential election, or electoral politics at all for that matter. Christians worked with what was available to them for around 1,700 years before any Modern Age popular democracy existed, and the effects of working with what was available included the kind of Christendom that produced the likes of Thomas Aquinas, who wrote and taught unmolested by any state.

      During the Great Persecution under Emperor Diocletian, Christians working with what was available meant not working “with” the state at all. Christianity became legalised within one generation afterward, and within one century paganism had all but been abolished within Rome’s jurisdictions. The Holy Spirit never chooses any worldly political faction as His instrument; He doesn’t need to, and neither do we.

    • Scott W.

      As ZippyCatholic put it, universal suffrage is the lex orandi to Liberalism’s lex credendi. In other words, the system itself is designed to destroy anything not in the system. (Catholic truth for instance). So-called conservatives victories do nothing but keep an unsustainable system alive.

  • David

    Brilliant. (apparently, the combox does not allow one word comments: “Your comment was a bit too short, please try again.”, so here’s some filler).

  • JB

    I’ll preface this with a disclaimer against possible accusations that I’m anti-American, by mentioning I’m a native born and raised American, sixth-generation on the oldest line, son of an American WW II combat vet, descendant of a Union soldier wounded at Gettysburg. So I’m not foreign to American politics or America’s history and national character.

    That said, sometimes I wonder if one of the main reasons why so many American Catholics seem to have less faith in the Holy Spirit’s guidance and protection of the Church than in America’s political system, might be because as America’s national character (especially its origins) is after all essentially Protestant, perhaps many American Catholics have come to share the essentially Protestant doubt that in this world, the Holy Spirit operates principally through the Church rather than the state?

    I mean the conflation of Church (or today “spirituality”) and State is essentially Protestant, not Catholic at all. So is the peculiarly American belief that the USA is God’s chosen instrument in the World, such as was expressed so often (more or less impliedly) by Lincoln, and more expressly by the series of escalating maniacs in the White House since Wilson and especially since Nixon.

    In my own – dare I say fairly well educated and logically reasoned? – opinion, American Catholics ought to remember always, that our Church was an extremely small and generally excoriated minority when the USA was created in 1776-1787, therefore although patriotism is a categorical virtue in ALL countries, nonetheless we should be wary of confusing our love of country with unreserved faith in its political organs, even including the Constitution which is after all a temporal, secular document, not part of the Church’s magisterium.

  • MissEmly

    All I have to say in response to this is “ugh.” You lost me at putting marriage in quotes when you were talking about the gay version of same. That’s really Christian of you. If homophobes such as yourself want to stay home on election day, go ahead. I will be voting that day and I will vote for Obama. Obama has come out (pun not intended) in favor of gay rights and that’s a way more humanistic approach than the church’s medieval ideas. Btw I am straight, but I support the gay community and its quest for equal rights. Romney has no ideas and no policies and the GOP is insane, bigoted, homophobic and sexist. Obama is a centrist attempting to govern a center-right country. Also, your assertion that Obama “hates” the church because he would like, for example, a Catholic hospital to provide access to birth control for its doctors and nurses is just specious hyperbole. I was raised Catholic and rabid pro-lifers and homophobes such as yourself are the reasons why I don’t go to church anymore.

    • Chris M

      Is this a copy/paste template somewhere online? I see this exact response over and over and over and over and over.. it’s amazing.

      • Scott W.

        Few things are stupider that a heterosexual addled by gay rights ideology. As one celibate homosexual put it, “It’s despicable because they don’t know what they are doing. They just bandwagon on someone else’s slave morality to the degradation of everything around them. And worst of all, they are Zealous about it. They get mad, scary mad about it.”

        • MissEmly

          I am addled when I see people being bullied. I am addled when people bully blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, Jews or Christians. It bothers me when people pick on others for something that they either can’t change or don’t want to change, such as the case of religion *which is a choice). Your friend doesn’t speak for every straight person who supports gay rights. I have gay friends aplenty who would like their right to marry someone respected by the federal government, and they appreciate it when people who have that right stick up for them.

          • Scott W.

            Let’s try a different route since there is not much to be done with the premise that because one was bullied in Catholic school, that means it is morally acceptable for two males to engage in anal sex and call it marriage.

            Lisa Miller was a lesbian and got one of those fake marriages in Vermont. She then bore a child Isabella via sperm donar. By the grace of God, she converted to Christianity and naturally, told her creepy “spouse” to hit the road. The “spouse” demanded unlimited visitation rights which included some creepy baths with Isabella, so Lisa put the kibosh on that as well. So she went to court and in a fit of insanity, the court awarded full custody to the woman with no biological connection to Isabella whatsoever. Rather than turn her over Lisa fled to Virginia for a time, but with the homosexual juggernaut on her heels (Hey! She was “born that way”, that means no backsliding!) she ended up fleeing the country. They have recently arrested and convicted the pastor that helped her.

            So, if you were in Lisa’s position, would you flee or comply with the law? And while we are at it, answer a somewhat fantastic hypothetical: suppose in the future a law is passed in which heterosexual couples had to surrender their children for adoption by homosexuals in the name of “family diversity”. Would you support such a law? Would you compy with such a law and surrender your children?

      • MissEmly

        Nope, no template, but you conservatives sure sound the same to me.

        • Chris M

          You seem to have basically thrown up a bunch of leftist buzzwords (homophobes, medieval, insane, bigoted, sexist, rabid, etc) with some linking words and then the obligatory “I grew up Catholic!” schtick.

          Anyway, your claim that Obama is a centrist is laughable, as are your pained responses about how mean we are when you show up and open fire with the screed you did above.

          By the way, the reason you don’t go to Church anymore isn’t because of mean homophobes. It’s because you believe you’re infallibly correct on all these matters. You can’t possibly be wrong, can you? It would just turn your whole worldview on its ear if you were. I should know. I used to be you.

    • Mark Shea

      Gay “marriage” is an ontological impossibility. Sorry, but it is. If you make “marriage” simply mean “any consensual relationship” you have emptied marriage of all meaning.

      • John

        If a “marriage” is defined as solely to produce children, then it is an ontological impossibility. It’s been used for a long time in describing an array of activities that have nothing to do with producing children. But, that definition doesn’t hold water in this country anymore.

        Marriage is used in sports all the time, as a way to describe the consummating of a relationship between player and ownership when a deal is struck. It’s used in business to define mergers and joint ventures. Marriage has been something that has been minimized for quite a long time.

        The mistake made, from a legislative perspective, is that these should have been defined as civil unions. The term “marriage” should not have been used. Too late. Good luck herding those cats.

        But, as far as I am concerned gay marriage doesn’t affect the Sacrament of Marriage, as the church has the ability to define marriage in God’s eyes.

        • enness

          Not “solely”…but primarily.

          I don’t mean this as an insult, but you don’t seem to appreciate any significant difference between metaphorical language and the actual thing being compared (sometimes I feel this must be symptomatic of a culture that sees less and less utility in poetry, but that’s a pet theory). If you’re suggesting that the creative use of metaphor means it doesn’t matter what meaning we try to impose on a word, non sequitur.

    • dpt

      “I was raised Catholic and rabid pro-lifers and homophobes such as yourself are the reasons why I don’t go to church anymore”

      I have always found comments like this dishonest. Because someone else behaved “this or that” or the pope said “that”, they are to blame for your decision to walk away from the church.

      Then add to the broad swipes about sexists, homophobes etc, I can’t help be recall this from MLK:
      “How hard it is for people to live without someone to look down upon–really to look down upon. It is not just that they feel cheated out of someone to hate. It is that they are compelled to look more closely into themselves and what they don’t like in themselves.”

      • MissEmly

        I don’t hate you and I don’t hate myself, and it’s pretty nasty of you to compare my lack of churchgoing to the Civil Rights movement. Ugh. Do you even listen to yourselves? When did I say I hated you? I said I don’t go to church because of the rhetoric coming from the altar. It is hardly the same thing as lynchings, Jim Crow, peonage and institutionalized racism. Thanks. I said something you don’t like in a response to a hyperbolic column, and you accuse me of being hateful, by being pretty hateful yourself. Thanks for reaffirming my believe that the Catholic Church is populated by people I don’t want to be around. I like Jesus fine. It’s just his followers scare the crap out of me.

        The reason I stopped going to church was because I couldn’t help but seeing, at the tender age of 7 or 8, that I was told to “love my neighbor,” but the adults and children around me did not act very Christian, and didn’t act according to the Golden Rule. Kids pick up on hypocrisy very quickly, and I learned that this particular faith was full of hypocrites. I was bullied at my Catholic school. I went back as an adult and I realized I couldn’t agree with what was being said by the priests. So I stopped going. I couldn’t support it, and I wasn’t going to give my money to it. End of story. Your argument makes zero sense.

        • Mark Shea

          There’s no rhetoric coming from the altar. The issues that you speak of are virtually never discussed from the pulpit. I’m sorry you were bullied. I would suggest stopping in at some random local parish and seeing if your memories are really all that accurate.

        • dpt

          “compare my lack of churchgoing to the Civil Rights movement”

          I wasn’t comparing your lack of churchgoing to the Civil Rights movement.
          I was showing your broad labeling is as demeaning and hypocritical as the charge you are making of others. MLK statement rings true–for all of us, so we all need to be careful of labels. Your sensitivity hints at an unclear conscience. Peace.

        • dpt

          “I like Jesus fine. It’s just his followers scare the crap out of me. ”
          Do remember though that Jesus loves his followers with all their failings, sins, and shortcomings.

        • enness

          “it’s pretty nasty of you to compare my lack of churchgoing to the Civil Rights movement”
          Leaving aside that this isn’t what dpt actually did — why? What’s nasty about it? Emotional reaction doesn’t suffice for an argument.
          When you find me any institution made up of human beings that does not include hypocrites, please come back and let me know. I have a comfortable place to wait.

    • Ted Seeber

      If you’re such a heterophobe that you can’t stand your own parents, then perhaps it is a good thing that you’re not going to church anymore?

      • MissEmly

        I don’t hate my parents. My dad is dead and my mom is mentally ill. Neither of them go to church anymore, either. How dare you.

        • MissEmly

          Also, I’m not a heterophobe. Hyperbole, hyperbole, hyperbole.

          • Ted Seeber

            Then perhaps other people aren’t homophobes if they are merely against gay marriage?

            • Jarnor23

              This. +1 (million)

        • Mark Shea

          Ted: You are way out of line. Apologize.

        • Ted Seeber

          I am way out of line on this one- and I am sorry for that.

    • enness

      “You lost me at…”

      I doubt that very much. It doesn’t sound like Mark had you to begin with.

      You say you don’t hate anyone. Okay. However, in your certainty that you are right and your eagerness to ridicule thought that it (honestly) seems like you haven’t entirely made a good faith effort to understand (if you automatically shut down over something like quotation marks), you do not seem concerned that you are casting a wide net and possibly slandering many people you do not even know. Yet you want us to give your personal favorite the benefit of the doubt. It goes both ways, sister.

  • CW

    Well, I’m either going to be voting for Obama or Jill Stein.
    I have a big problem with Romney. I haven’t seen much of Obama’s “war” on whatever little godforsaken piece of ideology you sit on. Obama hasn’t gotten much done because of the amount of filibustering that the republicans have done, but everyone just sees Obama and so blames him.
    I’m going to go kiss a lesbian, shout some pro-choice slogans about vaginas, and go convince some people that wind power is a viable alternative source of energy that is VERY clean especially compared to coal.

    • The filibuster argument just doesn’t fly. Here’s why.

      The way the US government funding system is supposed to go is that the two budget committee chairmen and the President present their budgets, they get marked up, and voted on, something gets passed and the appropriators are supposed to work within the broad limits of the budget resolution to lay out the details of what gets spent. This is a huge part of the yearly legislative task and in the past few years, President Obama hasn’t only not been able to get his budget passed but he hasn’t even been able to get one person of his own party to present it for a vote. The last two years, GOP legislators have presented it as a courtesy and then voted against it, just like everybody else (Obama’s budget got 0 votes in 2011 and 2012). Obama is falling down on a major part of his job. Democrats in the Senate haven’t passed a budget resolution in 3 years. The GOP controlled House has, under Paul Ryan’s direction, passed a budget resolution.

      The President of the US should be able to get somebody in the Senate and the House to at least submit his budget for a vote. No Republicans are trying to stop Obama from doing so. Obama has not done so.

    • Chris M

      “I haven’t seen much of Obama’s “war” on whatever little godforsaken piece of ideology you sit on. ”
      Huh. Imagine that.

    • Ted Seeber

      What part of this do you not understand?


      By IRS rules, many Catholic organizations are not exempt from this rule, and thus, are no longer religious. A order of nuns running a hospital, because they serve the sick, isn’t exempt from their health insurance plan forcing poison on them.

    • dpt

      “wind power is a viable alternative source of energy”
      Except when the wind is not blowing.
      If we want our 24/7 running water, electricity, internet, heat/AC, entertainment, etc. we will be using multiple sources of energy, including coal (though hopefully less) for decades to come.

      • Ted Seeber

        Which is why I prefer the form of wind power that is gathered by bouys in the ocean. I have *never* seen the waves stop.

    • enness

      I think what you probably mean is you aren’t inclined to see it because you haven’t got a personal stake in it. That’s sort of understandable, even if not commendable. What bothers me more is that you, and many others, don’t appear to have the foresight to realize that it could just as easily have been YOUR “little godforsaken piece of ideology,” a.k.a. something you care about. And next time, it might be. If you can’t be moved to oppose the mandate for us, then do it for yourself, because it sets a terrible precedent.

  • thomas tucker

    With regard to point number 3 above about the dynamic of party politics: I hate you Mark Shea!
    For you have made me question my trust of Mitt Romney, just as you turned me against torture-for-the-sake-of-good.
    Damn you!

    • Mark Shea

      I hate God, babies, and puppies too.

      • dpt

        What about apple pie?

        • thomas tucker

          Now that would be going too far.

  • I suppose the choices I have are: Vote for one or the other candidate of a major party, vote for a candidate of some other party or an independent, or don’t vote (or vote for some impossible Mickey Mouse character – the same). Right now don’t know how I will vote, as I’m not particularly thrilled with any candidate. But then, if I take that view to the limit, I’m not particularly thrilled with anyone in anything – people being a sinful lot in a fallen world and all. My guess is, I’ll either take the extraordinary step of simply not voting for the office of president, and then keeping my mouth shut for the next four years, or I will look to see which is the greatest possible chance to achieve the greatest possible good, given the limitations at hand. We’ll have to see.

    • Ted Seeber

      That would be wonderful if good tainted by evil was still good.

      • Of course, and if I was to insist on pure good I’d have a long, long wait. And of course that goes for more than just politics. Right now, I’ll have to make decisions based upon what is available.

  • MissEmly

    Ted Seber:
    “If you’re such a heterophobe that you can’t stand your own parents, then perhaps it is a good thing that you’re not going to church anymore?”

    For your information, my dad is dead and my mother is mentally ill. Neither of them go to church anymore, either. How dare you? It is, in fact, people like you why I started to question the hypocrisy endemic in people who call themselves Christians.

    • Ted Seeber

      I do apologize for responding to your “homophobe” comment by crossing the line myself.

      ” It is, in fact, people like you why I started to question the hypocrisy endemic in people who call themselves Christians.”

      And that is exactly why I dared to cross the line- “. If homophobes such as yourself want to stay home on election day, go ahead. I will be voting that day and I will vote for Obama. Obama has come out (pun not intended) in favor of gay rights and that’s a way more humanistic approach than the church’s medieval ideas. ”

      You called us homophobes- so I simply reversed the insult.

      • Richard Johnson

        Better to reverse the cheek.

        • Ted Seeber

          True enough. That’s what I should have done.

          I just have a problem with intolerant people who claim to be practicing tolerance.

  • Ted Seeber
    • enness

      There are two ‘Outside the Asylum’s written by Catholics? *head expodes*

  • enness

    Now and then I am turned off by what strikes me as hyperbole, but there is such a thing as being grossly unfair to Mark (which ought to go without saying).
    Now that that has been covered…
    Where are the excuses? Maybe I am not looking in the right places. I wasn’t under the impression that the argument was anything other than “sucks less.” Even the e-mails I get from NRLC (which I have actually taken to deleting, as it makes me slightly ill to look, something I really never thought I would say) are decidedly anti-Obama and not so much pro-Romney. It may not be good enough to get my vote in the end, but still…