It’s NOT the economy, [stupid].

For several years, the conventional wisdom has been that conservatives who are Republicans should keep quiet about social issues since their positions are not mainstream enough. Instead, they have been advised to talk about the economy. Well, for the second presidential election in a row, we see where that got us.

In 2000 and 2004, it was widely acknowledged that value voters drove the election results. They turned out like Ronald Reagan was running for office. In 2008, they clearly stayed home. I’ll leave it to the experts to analyze what happened this year, but values were not front and center.

When we suffer defeat, we can always learn from our opponents. They did something better than we did. As Tom Peters and others have noted, they ran on social values: abortion, contraception, and gay marriage. Those “in the know,” i.e. those of us who tend to be more of the activist type, got the message that Romney was running on our issues, cloaked under the assumedly more palatable guise of the economy. But we activist types are the minority.

Unemployment and the fiscal mess that we seem to be heading into did not do enough to move voters.

I have supported Republican candidates because I believe that the social values issues, as set forth by the Catholic Church, are core to our society and the most prominent Democrat candidates have been explicitly opposed to the most fundamental of these same values. I don’t think that a society/government/economy will function well if human dignity is not respected at all levels. Looking back at history, I have yet to see one that did.

As Catholics, we have just begun the Year of Faith. If anything, this election tells me that we need to proclaim the truth that our faith teaches, particularly as it concerns the dignity of the human person. Let’s not try to sanitize the values issues with talk of the economy. It hasn’t worked. At the same time, there are a lot of Catholics voting who don’t understand or accept the Catholic Church’s consistent teaching on social values. That’s a great place to start our Year of Faith. As a church, we need to teach. As citizens, we need to voice our opinions, even when we fear that they might be unpopular.

Playing it safe just got us four more years of unprecendented support for the victimization and destruction of the least among us. It just guaranteed us a long, uphill battle to protect our freedoms of religion and conscience. What better way to start this next four years than with the Year of Faith?


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  • Christine Dalessio

    Thank you, Pia. This is well said. I, myself, am getting so tired of voting “against” someone rather than “for” someone. “Let’s not try to sanitize the values issues with talk of the economy.” I concur.

    Thank you for continuing to be active in promoting the truth, because it gives others of us that same courage.

  • Fr. Bob Gahl

    Excellent essay, Pia. You’ve seen straight through the “experts”.

  • Rick Beebe

    I totally agree with you and felt the same four years ago.

  • Justine

    You need to read “On all our shoulders, ” and a few history books on Christianity. Many of the dogma of today is a constraint of medieval beliefs. For example: If it wasn’t for the Spanish Jesuits and abolitionists the Church would have remained pro-slavery for a lot longer than it did. Not every Pope has been a good person let alone Christian. Think The Borgias and Spanish Inquisition. Servile fear breeds dumb Catholics. How many ignorant Catholics do not even know that Peter was a married man with children? Or that we have married Priests as we speak? And how many Catholics do you sincerely believe are anti-contraception. I am pro-life but that is as far as I go. Keep your all or nothing views based on dogma but I am going with the 10 commandments and sermon on the mount.

    • Nancy

      I, for one, am a Catholic who is anti-contraception. I am a parent who has known loss due to miscarriage, but am still open to whatever God has in store for my life. I am staunchly pro-life from womb to tomb, which means I am against murder (a.k.a. abortion) and the death penalty (in most cases). I KNOW I am not alone.

      Contraception is bad for your health. Women’s contraception has been classified as a CARCINOGEN (cancer-causing) along with asbestos and cigarettes. It’s like playing Russian Roulette with your health. No thank you.

      As for “all or nothing views”, if you disagree with the dogma of the Catholic Church you need to ask yourself why you call yourself Catholic. There are thousands of other religions out there you could associate with and be “in line” with their beliefs/dogmas. I pray for you and all others who follow this line of thinking. Peace.

  • Cathy

    So well said, Pia. What a strange world when abortion, contraception and gay marriage are seen as “good” for society/mankind. As a Catholic that is incomprehensible to me. Maybe in this Year of Faith, all will learn our Catholic faith and live by it.

  • Fr. Fromageot

    “As a church, we need to teach. As citizens, we need to voice our opinions, even when we fear that they might be unpopular.” And because the teaching mission of the Church has been largely neglected for decades, we can’t expect Americans to be receptive to a comprehensive pro-life message. Nor should we expect Republicans to fill the void left by the Church’s neglect. After all, it is not up to them to teach their constituents, but to reflect the views they already hold. Thus, if Republicans determine that this country has reached a “tipping point” as far as social issues are concerned, don’t expect them to fight the trend. As far as they can see, their political survival will demand that they accommodate and capitulate.

    Perhaps it’s precisely on account of the Church’s failure to respond to the rejection of her teachings by her own faithful with a vigorous and robust pedagogy that the current leadership of the Church in America is reduced to appealing exclusively to religious freedom (and neglecting the natural law basis of the Church’s position) to fight the government’s efforts to coerce Catholic institutions to violate the Church’s moral teachings. While casting the HHS Mandate as an assault on religious freedom resonates well with a broader spectrum of American society than the concept of natural law, it gives the false impression that contraception and abortion are wrong for Catholics and others who, as a secularist would put it, subscribe to peculiar religious opinions — but not necessarily wrong for everyone, regardless of religion.

    Let’s not forget, either, that religious freedom is not unlimited. And in the U.S., it’s the courts that decide those limits, not the Church. And with most Catholics ignoring the official teachings of their own Church, to say nothing of the rest of society, the time will come when the Church will be told that, if she wishes to be in the healthcare business, she needs to conform herself to the rest of society. And thus, the Church will experience the “dictatorship” of moral relativism.

  • Sarah Vercillo

    Amen! Thank you, dear Pia.

  • Dennis

    Two weeks later, and I still don’t know what people were thinking when they went to the polls. This particular election, I spent some time campaigning and spreading the word on the life issues, particularly to friends and family on the East Coast.

    I was happy that Romney picked Paul Ryan. First, I wanted Romney to pick Bob McDonnell (the Governor of Virginia), but as the campaign grew IMHO I could see that Ryan was a better “fit”. Second, with the press coverage showing major newspaper endorsements for Romney, I knew election night would be close, but I thought Obama would be driving off in a Chevrolet Volt on January 21, 2013.

    My pastor spoke up on the HHS Mandate, and frequently runs pro-life ministries in the bulletin. He also posted an Election Prayer in the bulletin (I sent him one a few weeks before the election) the Sunday before the election. I didn’t see one Obama bumper sticker in my church parking lot.

    Another priest spoke a month before the election about how marriage is defined in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 10, as “one man, one woman” and no court could change that. By the way, this priest is a former Episcopalian.

    I think part of the reason Obama was re-elected was apathy – people don’t seem to care anymore. That is sad. This was the most important election of our lifetime. The value voters who stayed home should have gone ahead and voted for the lesser of two evils, which was Romney ( For example, I voted in 1996, but I wasn’t excited about any of the candidates). I’m not looking forward to Obamacare (I was an EMT in my 20′s), and I was hoping that the HHS Mandate would go away, and our country could work harder on reducing the debt. I’m also worried about the Supreme Court.

    The Knights of Columbus spent time in Minnesota getting the word out on marriage (and so did some pastors), and I wish more people would have listened.

    I know one thing that is hard for me — I live in Texas. In the last four presidential races, I wish I could have voted in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, or Virginia where my Republican vote would have carried more weight. In 2000, I worked in Oklahoma, but I still had a residence in Texas. Since 2002, I have worked only in Texas.

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