I’ve been diagnosed again

Failure to fall in line with Romney currently means I am a liberal again, as it periodically does whenever conservative Catholics get het up about some new shimmering glowing star in the political firmament. Last time I heard this, it was because I didn’t buy Santorum, and before that it was because I didn’t buy Gingrich. Just as a refresher, permit me to remind the diagnosticians of my soul of certain facts (slightly revised and expanded:

So a conservative Catholic who opposes abortion, euthanasia, and gay “marriage”, hates Communism, regards Obama as a tyrant, voted for Reagan and Bush twice, supports just war, supports capitalism (within just limits), says that all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims is revealed by God, stands for monogamy and rejects artificial contraception, denounces the HHS mandate and the Administration that is currently making war on Catholic conscience and thinks Benedict XVI is the bees knees? Yes, I am a “liberal” because I oppose torture and pre-emptive war and think it obscene that the strong prey on the weak in this country with increasing impunity, while middle class incomes flatline and vast amounts of wealth accumulate in fewer and fewer hands. That makes me a socialist, doncha know.

I totally respect the “I have to vote Romney because Obama is an open and naked enemy of the Faith”. Fine with me. But I’m not going to pretend that this makes Romney/Ryan a good ticket. It just makes them less bad. Sorry that’s a buzzkill. But it’s true.

  • http://321force.blogspot.com Barbara

    You are a total buzz kill! But, I owe you a debt of gratitude for giving a voice to the things my conscience has been trying to communicate for years. Sadly most of those who address the other life issues are people who think stabbing a baby in the head before he’s able to breath is a right and not homicide, so it’s been hard for me to take any of what they say as Truth. Thank you, and Dammit all in one!

  • Andy

    I see nothing in either set of candidates that is appealing – the Plastic-Android and his running mate vs. the Salesperson with awards and all and his running mate. Both sets are political animals who will say whatever to be elected. I doubt that the Plastic-Android man will address abortion, nor contraception and definitely won’t address the end of the middle class. The award winning Salesman will continue on his way with abortion and contraception and minimally address the middle class demise with a speech of sorrow. I agree with you that I cannot jump for joy or on a bandwagon for someone because he or she sees abortion as bad. I cannot vote for a ticket that does not truly embrace a culture of life – no torture, no death penalty, sees the need to find ways to support the dignity of all people, even if it means they should give up a bit. The other side we know about and to me they look about the same.
    I may right n Gandalf for President and Elrond for VP.

    • CJ

      So you’re willing to vote for a weed-smoking, pointy-hatted pagan!?! I guess the cafeteria is wide open. /sarc

      • Richard Johnson

        Why vote for the lesser evil. Cthulhu/Hastur 2012! A shoggoth on every roof!

        • Andy

          Isn’t it against the law to elect a non-humanid to the white house? Also wouldn’t the Chief Justice have to find a copy of the Necronomicon?

          • Andy, Bad Person

            Isn’t it against the law to elect a non-humanid to the white house?

            Oh great, another Birther.

  • Ellen

    Mark, I have been reading your column for years. Evidently, there is no candidate pure and correct enough for you. I am not a huge fan of Romney, but this is one of those elections where the choice is pretty clear. We have to vote The Won out. Four more years of Obama…..no, just no.

    • Mark Shea

      If there is no candidate pure enough for me, why have I repeatedly said I will likely vote for Ron Paul? It is amazing to me that Catholics talk about wanting to avoid supporting sins worthy of the fires of hell as “perfectionism”.

      • Ellen

        Mark, I just don’t want to waste my vote. We must get Obama out. We must and if it means holding my nose and voting for Romney. I will.

        BTW, Rand Paul is my senator and operated on two members of my family (he’s an opthomologist)
        He has much of his father’s good qualities, but not the baggage. I think he has potential.

      • Thomas R

        If Paul was remotely viable would you actually vote for him? Maybe you would, but I admit I don’t entirely get it. I guess the idea is that no action is better than bad action, and Paul’s known as Dr. No, but I think that’s problematic.

        It might be nicer to live in a country that’s small, has no responsibilities, and is relatively free of natural disasters. That’s not what the US is though. Nor is that level of non-intervention particularly Catholic in my mind. Even Fiji contributes a fair amount of peace-keepers to the world. We have responsibilities to the world’s poor and to disaster victims. Paul would totally curtail that. Nice he supports little evil, but if you stay in bed and doing nothing your whole life you’re not supporting evil either. That’s a pretty low bar.

        There are things you say and do I like, but I think on politics you just have zero clue what you’re talking about. Or you effectively are saying people should permanently disengage from voting for President. Because Hoover, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr. et alia all supported some grave evil. If the government does virtually nothing than yeah it does almost nothing evil, but it’s just another form of disengagement.

    • Irenist

      Mark lives in Washington. It’s not a swing state. Why not use his vote to send a message?

  • MarylandBill

    Ellen, he gets that we have to vote Obama out. Heck, that was the last thing he wrote in this post. I think lots of us understand that voting for Romney may be necessary, but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. This is not a question of a candidate being pure and correct enough. Romney will make noises about being pro-life, but where really is the meat? And his support for torture and pre-emptive war are an embrace of intrinsic evil. And like Mark, I don’t accept that the alternative to socialism is economic policies that seemed designed to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.

  • ChrisKABA

    I think part of the reason most people pick their “horse” is the “What if I were President?” game.

    If you think “If I were President I would ban abortion, fix the economy, repeal Obamacare overnight, and bring God back into the schools!!” then you are likely to vote for a candidate who claims to want to do those things.

    Never mind that the President isn’t God and can’t actually do those things themself – apparently the point is that they “said they would.”

  • gina

    It’s good that catholics are involved in this election. Democracy, as Bishop Fulteen sheen shared, needs Religion and morality to function. Patriotism CAN stem from deep religious roots and prevent a citizen from looking to the government to be their salvation.

  • http://industrialblog.powerblogs.com IB Bill

    Neither political party is going to run on a pure “magisterial teaching” ticket, though it would be nice. I haven’t decided whether Romney/Ryan is good enough or not.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      Neither political party is going to run on a pure “magisterial teaching” ticket,

      For the last time (although probably not really), no one’s looking for that. Many of us would settle for a “doesn’t support intrinsic evil” ticket.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        I’d settle for a candidate who has never given a speech in which his support for intrinsic evil was an applause line.

    • Mark Shea

      I don’t need a pure magisterial ticket. I’d just like a “Not Asking me to Endorse Sins Worthy of the Fires of Hell” ticket. My needs, wants, and desires are really quite minimalist. And Catholics *routinely* label that “perfectionism”.

      • Thomas R

        I think you’re being melodramatic, but besides that this is not a Catholic country. So no you probably won’t get a viable candidate who supports nothing Catholic thinkers deem mortal sins. Hoover’s administration had tanks attack veterans. FDR interned the Japanese and I believe worked on the nuclear program. Truman nuked Japan. Eisenhower supported contraception and coups in the Third World. JFK was fine having foreign leaders assassinated. I imagine LBJ at least arguably supported unjust things in Vietnam. Nixon, too obvious. Ford and Carter were Pro-Choice. Reagan supported anti-Communist regimes that killed Catholics and not just liberation theologians. Bush Sr. armed some human-rights violating rebels. Clinton was Pro-Choice and gave weapons to Indonesia when they were killing Catholics. If you want I can likely do the people before Hoover too, I’d just need to look up the more obscure ones.

        American voters mostly believe in no-fault divorce, using the death penalty for retribution, rape exemptions for abortion, nuking Hiroshima, and frankly war that might not fit the “just war” standard. This isn’t “our elite” this is the average voter, often the average Catholic voter. Sometimes you have to deal with the country you have rather than the country you wished you had.

        • Mark Shea

          Yep. I agree. Americans do want those things. But I don’t and feel no obligation to go along with Americans when they want those things.

  • Peggy R

    I share Ellen’s take as well. No candidate is pure enough for Mark Shea. Both parties suck. Got it. It seems to me that you choose to sit on the sidelines and grouse about no one ever being good enough, saintly enough to earn your vote. Yes, we should desire candidates who reflect our Catholic values–but we are left with choosing some less than desirable. If we don’t get involved, we don’t stand a chance of affecting change. We’ll keep getting what we get.
    We are not electing a saint or savior or pope. We can in good conscience support the candidate who comes closest to Catholic teaching. We are free to vote our consciences. I am not looking for a candidate to get “excited” about. I’m not looking for a celebrity. I am looking for some one who can extricate us from this economic mess, return and respect our God-given liberties and who comes as close as we can to reflecting our Catholic moral principles. I want a grown up, decent man (or woman).

    • Allan

      “If we don’t get involved, we don’t stand a chance of affecting change. We’ll keep getting what we get.”

      No Peggy, you keep getting what you get because you keep throwing your half-hearted support behind candidates that only pay lip service to your values, which tells the party powers very clearly that they can keep pushing candidates who will say the right things to pro-lifers until the election, then return to serving the interests of the party big-wigs. You’re afraid to send a message, so you keep getting suckered.

      And as Mark said above, if no candidate is pure enough, why does he support Ron Paul? Just because he’s not a party candidate, doesn’t mean a vote for him is not legitimate. His chances of winning are obviously very slim, but nevertheless, he’s a valid candidate. I don’t think it’s Catholic doctrine that votes can only be cast for people who are likely to win.

      • Peggy R

        We keep getting what we get b/c we don’t get involved and affect a change. It won’t happen overnight. It takes work. You don’t have to work with an existing party. Start a new party. It might take a generation to get a Presidential candidate, I’d say. You can consider developing a sizable faction to change one of the existing parties. Look how the communists have taken over the Dem party. I saw a recent article that the tea party has made victories on many state fronts. I am not a sucker. I know what I am voting for. The primary was the opportunity for GOP factions to put forth candidates to their liking. If you didn’t participate, you can’t complain.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Who’s advocating not participating? Some people limit their participation to voting. Some go so far as to organize campaigns and knock on doors for candidates. Some write blog posts about their opinions. These are all actions and can’t be considered “not participating.”

          • Peggy R

            I don’t know what Mark’s role has been. His posts suggests he has sat on the sidelines and let others do the choosing, and he complains about the result. Blog posts (alone) don’t change the GOP or start a third party, whatever tact one wishes to pursue. I don’t have a preference. I am saying get involved or don’t complain about the results.

            • http://www.likelierthings.com Jon W

              Blog posts (alone) don’t change the GOP or start a third party

              No, but one man can only do so much, and Mark’s pretty good at writing, so he should keep focusing on that.

              • Peggy R

                I don’t object to Mark’s writing. I just think he throws too many stones at others from the safety of the blog. (Now, I blog, too and don’t object to commentary on blogs, but I object to his harping on the flaws of others. It’s become, forgive me, sanctimonious, frankly, to me. I am sorry to say that. I know Mark means well.)

                The people who steer political parties and make the major decisions are those who are active members who pay dues, attend meetings, participate in committees and other activities of the party. ( I am generally of the view that the general public ought not vote in party primaries, only dues-paying members should. And these activities ought to be privately undertaken, not under the auspices of the state government). The active members of a party determine its direction, not the primary voters. By then it’s too late. If we aren’t involved at that level, then we can’t complain too much, in my view.

                • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

                  So, let me get this straight: you want people to “participate” but you also want to bar the vast majority of that same population from voting in the primaries? I hope you like oligarchy.

                  • Peggy R

                    People who care, join a party and affect its activities and positions. The rest of us are just sponges and free riders. Parties are private entities. If the state gets out of primaries, that leaves room for many parties to exist and operate privately and get on the general election ballot. State funded primaries are collusive and limit competition among and within parties. We have more choices if we have more parties. If you care that much join and participate, otherwise you’re just a consumer of the party’s product chosen by party members. Most citizens choose to be the latter. I don’t care enough to join and go to meetings, but I’d pay de minimis dues to vote or attend a convention to choose candidates for the party that best represents me.

                    • http://ohnimus.wordpress.com Christian Ohnimus

                      First off, thanks for assuming that I haven’t already joined and participated in our political system. You know me so well. Second, there’s a big difference between deregulating primary elections and obstructing the general public from voting. Placing obstacles in voters’ way will not lead to a more free nation. You can’t save liberty by destroying it. I think that the two-party system is terrible. We need political power to be decentralized among more parties or, better yet, have no parties at all (although I know of no feasible way to eliminate parties with obstructing people’s liberties). However, you can’t accomplish that by giving even more power to the Republican and Democrat parties than they already have. You want to make it easier for parties to hold primaries? Great, more power to you. But don’t you dare try to obstruct people’s right to vote in the process.

                  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

                    I think people view the primaries as Round One of a two-round election. I take Peggy’s point to be that it would be better to view them as the process by which political parties nominate their candidates for an election, in which case we can ask whether there are better processes possible.

        • Jenny

          “Look how the communists have taken over the Dem party.”

          I doubt the *real* communists would agree that they’ve taken over the Democratic party. Communism is a political and economic philosophy that has a pretty firm definition that would pretty much exclude everyone who is a member of any mainstream American political party. Communists have no more taken over the Democratic party then fascists have taken over the Republican party.

      • Thomas R

        It’s legitimate, any vote is legitimate if the person voted for is over 35 and US born (plus has lived here for fifteen years I think), it’s just irrelevant. It’s in a way a statement that the system is broken and you are not supporting it.

        But I guess he justifies Paul under the idea inaction is better than bad action. Many atheists I know celebrate atheism for similar reasons, in itself atheism doesn’t do anything. I know Mr. Shea disagrees with that, but I am willingly to believe atheism is what it claims which is basically nothing. It’s not an ideology, religion, or system. It offers no guidance or warning. No one creates or destroys based on nothing. Paul is largely about the government not doing things. So you can be happy Paul would do nothing evil just as John Lennon’s “Imagine” can be happy about people sitting around doing nothing.

  • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

    I hope Mr. Shea will look up the newly formed US “Christian Democratic” party at cdpunitedstates.webs.com, and post a blog for us all, giving us his take. Whether we agree with him or not, I’m sure we’ll find it interesting. (I know zero about it — I’ve been too lazy-or-busy even to log on there myself.)

    • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

      Having now clicked on Christian Democratic Party U.S.A.’s home page, I find Their stated ideas O.K., at least at a glance; but I’m put off by two things. One, it has a section called “Prayer Requests”, a section incompatible with my idea of any political party. Two, the very name “Christian” (or “Jewish”, or “Muslim”, etc.) in the name of any political party (even European) rubs me the wrong way. Maybe a better name would be simply “Centrist Party” or “Central Party”, i.e., a party claiming to stand as as a high Mid-ground between the two low grounds of Left and Right.

  • Joannie

    What the heck is wrong with having a third party that supports all of our values even if it does have the name “Christian” in it ? Is the term Christian Muslim Jew or any faith a dirty word because God forbid it might “offend” some people? Tough beans. Christianity is by its radical message and nature offensive because it is counter cultural. As for Ron Paul not having a chance, that remains to be seen as he has won enough states at least 5 or 6 to be officially on the nomination ballot even though he has not been officially invited or his son Rand. His 250 or so delegates will be there and there have been reports many are being forced to support Romney despite GOP rules.

  • Jenny

    I’m just so tired of the whole “liberal” versus “conservative” thing. No ‘mainstream’ Americans are anything remotely conservative. We’re all liberals…we just pick our poison, so to speak.

    Here’s a link to a talk by a Chicago priest I’ve heard good things about (kind of trad-ish, I guess). It’s from a few years ago (and a few elections ago) but I think it’s a pretty good summary of where things went wrong. http://www.catholiccitizens.org/press/contentview.asp?c=41521

    • Annettte Guy

      Mark, did you unfriend/block me because I disagreed with you on Elizabeth Scalia’s FB page? I don’t know if you did, but I certainly can’t get on your page anymore. I guess you don’t believe in friendly disagreements? Perhaps only you can disagree?
      You say you are going to vote for Ross Perot, I mean for Ron Paul. Well, I guess that was a Freudian slip. Do you remember Ross Perot in 1992, when Bill Clinton got elected in a close race over GHWB? Would you like to see that happen again? I know many (so called conservative, Christian) people who are voting for Ron Paul this year because they think Romney just isn’t pure enough on certain issues. I think people like you are encouraging them. I am not thrilled about Romney either, just as I wasn’t thrilled about Bush #1, or Bush #2, but I believe that a second Obama term will be the end of America. What do you think?

      • Mark Shea

        I haven’t done anything to your FB status. Probably just a glitch. Try again tomorrow.

  • R.C.

    What I never get about Mark is this bit:

    …obscene that the strong prey on the weak in this country with increasing impunity, while middle class incomes flatline and vast amounts of wealth accumulate in fewer and fewer hands.

    Yes, the strong prey on the weak in this country. But on the rare occasions that “the strong” in this sentence doesn’t actually refer directly to government, it refers to persons (whether organized as corporations, non-profit organizations, unions, lobbyists, or special-interest groups) who have bought off politicians through campaign contributions.

    I mean, consider what Progressive Insurance just did to that comedian’s family in the death of his sister. Do you think that if they were remotely afraid of being prosecuted to the full extent of the law, they’d have had the stones to pull that kind of stunt? But ask yourself, why wasn’t that company afraid of being prosecuted to the full extent of the law? Of a Congressional hearing? Of unfavorable media coverage?

    And, yes, middle-class incomes have flatlined and wealth accumulates in fewer and fewer hands. But how in the world is that a criticism of the right? If anything it’s a criticism of the left, for of course it’s leftist policies that tend to do this.

    (Yes, including their redistributive schemes, which deliver wealth and circuses but do nothing to provide wealth accumulation or cultural/social capital, and thus perpetuate themselves, which is the whole point. What on earth would the leftists do to buy votes, if poverty were solved? …or if the poor were to enter the investor class, and start voting like investors?)

    Mark, surely you have the brains — you’re not an uneducated man — to read a bit of economics? Sowell’s Knowledge and Decisions, say? To know about Hauser’s Law and understand the implications?

    I don’t know whether Mark has noticed it, but the leftists in the U.S. are the party of the wealthy elites, and the right wingers are increasingly the party of the middle class, with the sole exception of the dwindling cohort of Republican Moderates (i.e., not the “conservative base”). These are the so-called “Rockefeller Republicans” who don’t give a damn about the unborn or small businesses but, like their leftist counterparts, believe in trading a favorable regulatory environment for campaign funds from large corporations (small businesses don’t have the cash).

    This is why Wall Street hasn’t been a reliable bastion of funding for the right-of-spectrum since, oh, Nixon, perhaps: The Moderate Left and the Moderate Right equally believe in taking campaign contributions as payment for allowing large businesses to write their own regulations.

    But people keep thinking of Republicans as the party of Wall Street and of Conservatism, and thus of Conservativism as the ideology of Wall Street. Hasn’t anybody read a political science book written anytime after 1976?

    So you have the hard left which are anti-business in nearly every form, save perhaps local organic farmers. And the hard right (not in the continental sense, but the U.S. “Tea Party” sense) are ambivalent about corporations but very much pro-small-business. Within each party, the Party Leadership strategically counterbalances these forces with the party elite who “know the game.”

    On the left, these are the Democratic leadership, including the White House. They’re not really moderates, ideologically, but they know they need money, so they’re very much in bed with big business for that reason. It’s why the Obama administration is often known as the “Goldman Sachs” administration, for the revolving-door between jobs in the administration and jobs in the elite financial sector which most benefits from the bailouts.

    Among Republicans, the “Republican Moderates” or “RINOs” have the same role: They cozy up to big business and thereby bring in the campaign cash. This has historically allowed them to control the party, although the Tea Party revolt has knocked off a lot of these incumbents in primaries recently.

    In the meantime, these Big-Business-To-Big-Government-Liason Groups fend off takeover attempts their party bases with different techniques.

    The Elite Left issues toothless anti-business rhetoric to keep the Critical-Theory-And-Gaia-Worshipping “progressives” in line, all while funding their reelection campaigns with gifts from a particular set of unions, special-interests, and large corporations, and rewarding those businesses (they’re all businesses) with regulations intended to secure those businesses against any up-and-coming competitors which might eat into their markets. It’s one form of incumbent-protection feeding another form of incumbent-protection.

    Meanwhile, the Moderate Republicans issue weak-tea pro-small-business and pro-family rhetoric to keep the Fiscal Cons and the Social Cons in line, all while funding their reelection campaigns with gifts from a particular set of pro-life/pro-family organizations, special-interests, and large corporations, and rewarding those businesses with regulations intended to secure those businesses (they’re all businesses) against any up-and-coming competitors which might eat into their markets. It’s one form of incumbent-protection feeding another form of incumbent-protection.

    This is how it works folks. Clue in, if you haven’t before now.

    And this is why the original quote from Mark seems so out-of-place: Conservative Tea Partiers are being frantically fended off by the RINOs just as Progressive Occupiers are being fended off by the Elite Left. If the Elite Left were to be conquered then the Democrats would become anti-business and the economy would collapse, but Obama, despite being pretty ideological in other ways, learned the game and kept Wall Street happy even while Main Street went into the toilet over the last 4 years. But if the Conservative Tea Partiers were to conquer the RINOs, the Big Business linkup which sends money away from the middle class and into the pockets of financiers would be replaced by…what? By people who want to restore the currency value (which incentivizes middle-class savings), who’re into small business (the only way, apart from aging, that people advance out of class-stratification), who’re more authentically pro-life than the RINOs, and by people who oppose the government intrusions in family and civic life which undermine social and cultural capital. In short: These folks are the middle class’s great hope, as far as politics are concerned!

    Why then, Mark, do you seem to treat these folks as if they were to blame for the income inequities? It makes no sense! They haven’t until recently had any power to do it if they’d wanted to do it, and the very policies they promote are the opposite of the policies which created the problem!

  • R.C.

    Correction:

    In the above post, at one point I said, “…redistributive schemes, which deliver wealth and circuses but do nothing to provide wealth accumulation or cultural/social capital,” which obviously makes no sense. (Deliver “wealth” but do nothing to provide “wealth?”)

    My brain got ahead of my fingers. What I meant to say was, “…redistributive schemes, which deliver BREAD and circuses but do nothing to provide wealth accumulation or cultural/social capital.”

    The commenter regrets the error.


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