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America's Babylonian Captivity?

A lot of people share this sentiment. So many, in fact, that the GOP saw the opportunity in the late '70s just as the Dems were making themselves willfully blind to it. So the GOP became, sort of, the party that "opposed abortion" and started to bill itself as the Party of Human Life. They also, to a degree, became serious about the Little Guy (though, to their credit, the Dems still have those sympathies too—to a degree). Of course, the GOP "opposed abortion" largely by phoning it in every Roe v. Wade Anniversary and occasionally enacting laws that brought American jurisprudence and legislation up to sub-Carthaginian levels of respect for the unborn. They also gave us such valiant pro-life warriors as David Souter, Harry Blackmun, Anthony Kennedy, and Sandra Day-O'Connor, who did ever so much to advance the prolife cause. And they reliably made the right noises to us prolifers every four years, keeping us on the reservation and getting our votes while coughing up an occasional token effort here and there. Oh, and they panicked the faithful into voting booths with dark prophecies about the horrors of Dem presidents who appoint pro-choice justices—even as they supinely approved the appointments of Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Stephen Breyer. But they were better than nothing and, while not much to write home about in their supposed dedication to the dignity of unborn human life for thirty long years, they were at least not zealous fanatics for the sacrament of abortion as the Dems were. So I supported Republicans on the theory that it's better to have politicians who don't care about abortion than politicians devoted to killing as many children as possible.

But the thing is, now both parties are increasingly the parties of Salvation through Grave and Intrinsic Moral Evil. Dems do it with their Nanny State devotion to the Culture of Death and the sacrament of abortion, their sole core value. "Bush Conservatism" does it with its insane combination of Mystical Imperialism that believes in redemption through democratic capitalism by means of torture and war crimes. And, as icing, both parties believe devoutly in the Drunken Sailor approach to the national larder. Dems want to build the Great Society at home and Republicans want to build the Great Society abroad. But for me, the deal breaker is not so much the utopian nation-building stuff as the grave intrinsic evil stuff: abortion or torture, which shall I choose? As a Catholic, I choose neither.

Now living, as we do, in the land where there are only two sides to every question, I find that the result of this choice is to be routinely accused of being a closet Obama supporter on the theory that failure to support the preferred grave and intrinsic sin of the GOP means I simply must support the preferred grave and intrinsic sin of the Dem party. But, in fact, when I turn my back on grave and intrinsic sins, my mind actually goes, not to the platform of either party, but to scripture.

I find myself thinking of Israel and Judah in 1 and 2 Kings. Israel apostatized immediately and completely after the split with Judah, embracing the worship of Baal and Moloch and never looking back. Israel was eventually smashed to atoms by Assyria after ignoring God's warnings that things would not end well for her if she did not repent. Judah apostatized slowly and had its good and bad spells as it circled the drain before finally ending in the Babylonian Captivity. But the fact is, both apostatized and both eventually paid the piper—as shall we if we will not face the fact that God is not mocked.

The Dems embraced the worship of Moloch thirty-six years ago and have never looked back (though the existence of people like Bart Stupak raises one's hopes that there may be a remnant that does not bow the knee to Moloch in that party). The GOP has made a vague and transparently reluctant gesture of caring about human life, which kept me voting for them for years on the off chance they might occasionally do something. And occasionally, they have.

But with the advent of Bush/Cheney Conservatism, the GOP too has embraced intrinsic moral evil in the dangerous form of cheerleading for torture. With the exception of a couple of leading lights in the Thing That Used to Be Conservatism (for instance, John McCain [sort of] and Ron Paul), the grave intrinsic sin of torture is now as much a pillar of conservative ideology as abortion is of liberal ideology. To criticize it is to be called evil and anti-American by the bulk of Movement Conservatives, just as to criticize abortion is likewise to be called evil and anti-American by the bulk of liberals.

So I find that the chances are growing ever slimmer that I can support either party's candidate if they spout the increasingly common party lines in favor of one or other (occasionally both) of these intrinsic evils. My reason for this is simple and eminently theological: It's not that I'm a closet Obama supporter. (In fact, I think Obama's actions with respect to torture have been dodgy and dangerous. And don't even get me started on his zeal for the sacrament of abortion!) It's that I'm a Catholic who thinks that when the Church declares something inexcusably evil, it must not be supported with excuses, much less celebrated as heroic. That goes for both abortion and torture. Indeed, in my more quixotic moments, I'm even a Catholic who hopes that the state will resume its traditional role of supporting the common good and not merely "not doing grave evil."

5/11/2011 4:00:00 AM