Archive for the ‘Elections’ Category

Election Results

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Gallons of ink, and millions of electrons, have been spilled on the results of last week’s election, and what it means for our nation, our state, the political fortunes of the President and a host of other presidential contenders, our new-fangled voting machines, etc.

I’m more interested in real results.

On the national level, the switch of control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans has brought with it a pro-life majority. The narrowing of the Democratic majority in the Senate also increases the chances for some pro-life legislation. These election results present new opportunities for real gains on Culture of Life issues.

The top priority has to be passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Currently, restrictions on public funding for abortion comes through piecemeal amendments to the budget bills. This means that pro-lifers have to be vigilant about all the various ways that canny legislators and bureaucrats can find to promote abortion. So, the Hyde Amendment restricts funding through the Medicaid program, the Helms Amendment stops funding for oversees abortions, the Smith Amendment prevents federal employee health insurance plans from covering abortion, and the Weldon Amendment provides conscience protection to medical personnel. Each year, these amendments have to be passed against the opposition of pro-abortion members of Congress.

This bill would take the provisions of these individual amendments, make them permanent law, and apply them across the entire federal budget. This would cure the major flaw in the health care reform law, as well as offer genuine and solid conscience protection for all medical personnel. This is a bill that would easily pass the House, and has a decent chance of passing the Senate — public funding for abortion is deeply unpopular.  It would be very interesting to see what our pro-abortion President would do if this bill appeared on his desk.

That’s one result of the elections that we’re looking forward to.

On the state level, the results of the election are not as positive. Our state has elected an ardently pro-abortion Governor and a radically pro-abortion Attorney General. Both men have committed to pressing for the passage of the extremist Reproductive Health Act. The chaos over the results of the elections for the State Senate (the final outcome is still in doubt) leaves Culture of Life supporters with a deep sense of uneasiness that the real result of the state elections could be very, very bad. So, we must remain vigilant in monitoring what goes on in Albany.

Perhaps the most interesting result of the election is the continuing demonstration of the popularity of the pro-life position. Conventional “wisdom” characterizes a pro-life stand as an electoral loser, and encourages candidates to avoid it. Conventional wisdom is dead wrong.   Polls show that 30% of the voters in this election said that abortion “affected” their vote. But it’s the breakdown of that 30% that’s most interesting — 22% voted for pro-life candidates, while only 8% voted for pro-abortion candidates. That’s an advantage of almost three to one in favor of life.

This reflects an on-going trend that I’ve written about but that continues to elude the mainstream media. Our culture is slowly changing towards greater respect for life, and a greater desire to promote life. The new pro-life majority in Congress is just one reflection of this trend. More will follow.

That is a very encouraging result of the election.

Varia

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Pro-life leaders reflect on the outlook for the new Congress.  The top priority is the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.
  • A pretty good overview by George Marlin on Catholics and the midterm elections.  See also this interesting statistical study of the trends over the last decade.
  • Amidst the (justified) cheering in this post-election press release from National Right to Life is an important poll result that needs to be shown to every pro-life candidate:  voters who considered abortion to have affected their vote (30%!) broke 22% to 8% pro-life — a 14% advantage for a pro-life candidate.  Not only is it the right position, but it is a winning position.
  • You also need to hear what the other side is saying — they know they lost big in the House.  NARAL says that 248 members of the new House are “anti-choice”, only 154 are “pro-choice”, and 33 are “mixed”, a gain of 44 pro-life votes.  They also realize that our top priority will be the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.  (Sorry for the link to one of Moloch’s favorite organizations — sprinkle holy water on your monitor after you’ve looked at the article).
  • Yet another example of how the health care law can lead to public funding for abortion on demand — through the decisions of state officials implementing the law.  It may also lead to a nation-wide requirement that insurance companies pay for contraceptives (including the ones like IUD’s that cause early abortions).
  • The Secretary of State vows to fight against sex slavery and human trafficking.  This scourge against the human person needs to be eradicated completely.  Good for her.
  • An encouraging profile of the new, more pro-life “Generation Y”.  The trend is for life.
  • This is how bad the threat to religious liberty has become in the UK — a couple is barred from being foster parents because of their belief that homosexual behavior is wrong.  Even bishops of the Church of England are critical of this decision.  Coming soon to the US, no doubt.
  • Check out this great animated video of conception to birth.   Should be required viewing in every school.
  • 40 Days for Life has now concluded.  They know of at least 541 babies saved by the grace of God.  Here’s the story of one of them.
  • A very disturbing story about fertility colonialism — where rich Westerners go to poor countries to use their women as surrogates.
  • A disappointing story — a leak of contents from President Bush’s memoirs reveals that he personally approved the torturing of prisoners by waterboarding.  If done by a private party, that would be a crime.
  • Ethical investors, including Christian Brothers Investment, strike back at the cable industry’s distribution of porn.
  • The Feast of Christ the King

    Monday, November 1st, 2010

    On this Sunday before Election Day, we celebrate the Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time in the new calendar.  But in the traditional calendar, which is used for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (the Traditional Latin Mass), today is the Feast of Christ the King.

    This is no coincidence.  One of the chief dangers of the modern world, in my opinion, is the excessive emphasis on politics and the government as the focus of all our attention, as if they are the answer to all our problems and aspirations.  This can turn into a dangerous form of idolatry — “statolatry”, if you will.

    The Feast of Christ the King is a healthy reminder to us Christians that we cannot fall into this way of thinking.  Pope Benedict, in his book Church, Ecumenism and Politics, had this to say about the early Christians, who faced the “statolatry” of Rome, but the situation in many ways equally applies to our times:

    The state is not the whole of human existence and does not encompass all human hope. Man and what he hopes for extend beyond the framework of the state and beyond the sphere of political action. This is true not only for a state like Babylon, but for every state. The state is not the totality; this unburdens the politician and at the same time opens up for him the path of reasonable politics. The Roman state was wrong and anti-Christian precisely because it wanted to be the totality of human possibilities and hopes. A state that makes such claims cannot fulfill its promises; it thereby falsifies and diminishes man. Through the totalitarian lie it becomes demonic and tyrannical.

    The world-view of Christians instead holds up authentic hope for man, and allows us to be authentically human and to live in a good way in this world.  As Pope Benedict says:

    The Christian faith destroyed the myth of the divine state, the myth of the earthly paradise or utopian state and of a society without rule. In its place it put the objectivity of reason… True human objectivity involves humanity, and humanity involves God. True human reason involves morality, which lives on God’s commandments. This morality is not a private matter; it has public significance. Without the good of being good and of good action, there can be no good politics. What the persecuted Church prescribed for Christians as the core of their political ethos must also be the core of an active Christian politics: only where good is done and is recognized as good can people live together well in a thriving community. Demonstrating the practical importance of the moral dimension, the dimension of God’s commandments — publicly as well — must be the center of responsible political action.

    And so, as we Americans are about to head to the polls at the end of a seemingly all-consuming political campaign, the traditional liturgical calendar reminds us of the larger picture.  We cannot find our ultimate hope and fulfillment in politics, in who rules us, or what laws are passed.

    The real ruler of the world and our lives is not the temporary office holder who happens to inhabit the White House or the Governor’s mansion, a seat in the Senate or the House, or any other position of secular power.

    The real ruler of our world is Christ the King, and we are his subjects.  It is in Him, and only Him, in whom we can find authentic hope and fulfillment.

    Viva Cristo Rey!

    How Will I Vote?

    Saturday, October 30th, 2010

    In my last post, I outlined the teaching of the Church in regard to voting — the formation of conscience, and which issues to consider.

    To illustrate how this works in practice, let me describe how I will apply these principles in my own voting decision.  Now, I’m not telling anyone how to vote.  I’m just saying this is the way that I’ve worked this decision through for myself.

    (Important Note: I have to repeat again what is said in the disclaimer on the side of this blog — the opinions expressed here are mine and mine alone, they do not in any way reflect an official position of the Archdiocese, nor should they be considered an endorsement of any candidate by the Archdiocese.)

    To me, the fundamental issue is whether a particular candidate has the basic qualifications to hold public office. This is not just a question about their education, experience, and character. It also involves whether this candidate is willing to respect and defend the fundamental principles of our society, that all people are created equal, and that all have “inalienable rights”, most especially the right to life.

    Cardinal Egan once spoke very clearly and bluntly about the qualifications of our elected officials:

    “Anyone who dares to defend that [an unborn child] may be legitimately killed because another human being ‘chooses’ to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.”

    This boils down to a very simple test, that I try to adhere to, as best I can: If you think that killing unborn children should be legal, then I won’t vote for you. You haven’t earned my vote.  In my opinion, you’re not qualified to hold public office.  I just won’t vote for someone who will promote or permit grave evil.  I don’t subscribe to the principle of the “lesser of two evils”.  All that means is I’m voting for evil, and it still produces evil in the end.  If there’s nobody in a race that fits my standards, I’ll leave the line blank or write in a name.

    When I pick up my ballot on Tuesday, I will see a stark choice between candidates who are pro-abortion, and others who are pro-life.  In fact, several of the pro-abortion candidates are not just mouthing the old “personally opposed but…” sham, but are instead ardent promoters and defenders of the legalized killing of unborn children, and they have strongly campaigned on the issue.  If they are elected, there is a grave danger that the evil Reproductive Health Act will be pushed forward, as well as the legalization of same-sex “marriage”.

    I cannot see how I as a Catholic could vote for such persons.  So for me, the choice is easy — I will vote only for the pro-life candidates.

    I have thought about how to vote very carefully, not just in preparation for this election but over many years.  As I have said, to me the key thing is to vote as a Catholic, to act according to a well-formed Catholic conscience, and to take seriously my duties to the least among us — particularly to the defenseless unborn.

    That’s what I’m going to do.  What about you?

    Voting as a Catholic

    Friday, October 29th, 2010

    Once again, Election Day approaches.  At times like these, I am frequently asked how people can do the right thing as voters, as citizens, and as Catholics.

    According to the teachings of our Church — our Holy Father and our bishops — there are several critical questions involved here.

    The first is the formation of my conscience.  Our bishops have said quite clearly that

    “Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere ‘feeling’ about what we should or should not do.” (Faithful Citizenship 17)

    A good, Catholic conscience is obedient to the teachings of the Church, and open to hearing the voice of God.  It considers God’s will more important than any partisan interest that I may have.  It always directs me to do good and avoid evil, and in the case of voting,

    “A well-formed Christian conscience does not permit one to vote for a political program or an individual law which contradicts the fundamental contents of faith and morals.” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, The Participation of Catholics in Political Life 4)

    Building on the proper formation of conscience, we can then turn to the issues and the candidates.  One thing is crystal clear at this point:  all the issues are not the same, and the defense of human life is the paramount issue for Catholics to consider.  As the United States Bishops have said,

    “This exercise of conscience begins with outright opposition to laws and other policies that violate human life or weaken its protection.” (Faithful Citizenship 31).

    “The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.” (Faithful Citizenship 28)

    This means that in evaluating a candidate, we must consider, first and foremost, their position on the defense of human life.  As the U.S. Bishops have said:

    “As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.” (Faithful Citizenship 42)

    Our New York Bishops have said the same:

    “The inalienable right to right of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all.” (New York State Bishops, Our Cherished Right, Our Solemn Duty)

    Cardinal Egan once confronted us, in language as plain as possible,with the choice of conscience and discipleship that we face when going into the voting booth:

    Look [at the pictures of unborn children] and decide with honesty and decency what the Lord expects of you and me as the horror of ‘legalized’ abortion continues to erode the honor of our nation. Look, and do not absolve yourself if you refuse to act.”

    The teaching of our Church is clear:  we must vote pro-life.

    (For more information about voting, including statements by the Archdiocese, the New York Bishops, and the United States Bishops, click here.  For information about the positions of candidates running for office, click here.)

    Varia

    Friday, October 29th, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts:

  • The headline says it all: “Pope says bishops must educate faithful to vote against abortion”.  The Holy Father went on to describe legalized abortion as a betrayal of democracy at its foundation.  Spread this word far and wide.
  • Watch this great new video from CatholicVote.org — “We are the Catholic Vote“.
  • A short overview of the recent Princeton conference, at which pro-life and “pro-choice” philosophers met.  For a flavor of what was said, see this excellent piece on the “moral status of the fetus” from Catholic philosopher John Finnis.
  • Rather than make a decision to stop a dangerous practice, the Iowa medical board has deferred decision on the so-called “Telemed” abortions, where the only contact a woman has with a doctor prior to being given the abortion drug is a video hookup.  Just keep repeating to yourself: “it’s all about women’s health”.
  • A panel of our Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers has let stand a resolution by City Council of San Francisco that denounced Church teaching on homsexuality as “hateful”, “insulting”, and “discriminatory” and implicitly threatened to de-fund Catholic charitable agencies unless they defy Church teaching.  Funny how the Establishment Clause doesn’t seem to apply in the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals, which seems to be channeling Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer.  Meanwhile, another Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Ruler has decided that the First Amendment doesn’t apply in Ohio, by refusing to stop the Ohio Election Commission’s effort to suppress the speech of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List PAC.
  • A valuable and important point by Wesley Smith about the ineffectiveness of graphic images in advocacy, including pictures of aborted children.  I whole-heartedly agree.
  • Someone has apparently reminded the President that our human rights come from God, and so he has begun to quote the Declaration of Independence correctly.
  • Meanwhile, the President says that his position on same-sex “marriage” is “evolving” (guess in which direction?).  Not surprising, since he openly stated he was in favor of re-defining marriage back when he was an obscure politician in Illinois.
  • The Temple of Moloch, er, I mean Planned Parenthood, is suing Montana to force the state to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives — for kids.
  • Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review reports on the Minnesota Democratic Party’s side of the story about that anti-Catholic ad from Minnesota.  It’s not a very convincing excuse.  They meant to attack an evangelical preacher who’s running for office — by printing a picture of a guy in a Roman collar.  Oh, so basically you didn’t mean to unfairly attack us, because you were busy unfairly attacking another clergyman.  Thanks.
  • Okaaaaaay.  Has the Times become the Onion?  Exhibit One: Here’s what they consider to be such a significant political trend that it’s worthy of attention one week before Election Day:  the role of transgendered candidates.  Exhibit Two: A “fit to print” op-ed by two “social scientists” in the Times explains that conservative political views stem from a feeling of disgust of germs.  Their “proof”?  People who stand near disinfectant dispensers are more likely to express conservative views.  You just can’t make this stuff up.
  • We talk a lot about politics, these days, but this puts it all in perspective — an awesome video of the ordination of priests in Milwaukee earlier this year.
  • Varia

    Friday, October 22nd, 2010

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which  I send out to some of my friends and contacts:

  • The Daily News editorialized against the discriminatory bill in the New York City Council that targets crisis pregnancy centers by violating their First Amendment rights.
  • The other day, there was a debate among the candidates for New York’s governorship. One of the minor party candidates was a woman who advocated legalizing prostitution. It would be easy to dismiss her as a joke, except for the horrors of the life of prostitution and human sexual slavery. If you have a strong heart, read this account by a psychologist who has worked with prostitutes for years (warning about some strong language). Please pray for all those caught in this terrible life.
  • Another step into the Brave New World — scientists have developed an “artificial ovary”. Fr. Thomas Berg explains the science and the ethics.
  • Fascinating analysis of poll data about Catholics’ belief in — and knowledge about — the doctrine of the Real Presence. What’s remarkable is how many Protestants believe in the Real Presence, too.  As always, the Body of Christ is a source of unity.
  • Dr. Mildred Jefferson, a pro-life stalwart and pioneer, has passed away. May God receive this heroic woman into His arms.
  • Andrew Cuomo showed his true colors once again, trumpeting his support for the legalized killing of unborn children, which appears to be a centerpiece of his agenda.
  • An interesting poll that shows significant shifts in political views among Catholics. There’s a bit too much emphasis on race in the report, and not enough on Church attendance, which I suspect is a more significant factor, but it’s still illuminating.
  • A frightening overview of the grave threat of low birth rates and the aging of the population worldwide.
  • More studies showing the increased risk of breast cancer among women who have had abortions.  You’d never know this by reading the regular media, which ignores this evidence.
  • Last Saturday was the anniversary of the day in 1898 that former fetus William O. Douglas emerged from the emanations and penumbras of his mother’s right to privacy and became a person whose Constitutional rights we are bound to respect. Douglas went on to become one of our worst Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers on the Supreme Court, including writing the abominable Griswold decision (with its infamous “emanations” and “penumbras” and its “right to privacy”) and joining the Roe v. Wade and Doe v.  Bolton majorities, thereby dooming millions of unborn children to un-personhood and death.
  • Varia

    Saturday, October 16th, 2010

    Pretty much every morning of the work week, I send out to my friends and contacts an email entitled “Varia”.  It’s basically a morning briefing, based on my review of what’s going on in the world that affects the Culture of Life.   It usually consists of a link to an article or blog, plus a pithy comment or two by me.

    I thought it might be handy to occasionally post here the highlights of those daily mailings.

  • The appalling New York City Council, having solved all problems facing the City, has now turned their attention to singling out crisis pregnancy centers for burdensome regulations — in other words, acting at the behest of the abortion industry to intimidate a bunch of volunteers who help pregnant women.  Here’s the story and an excellent critique.
  • Msgr. Charles Pope of Washington points out that, according to a recent survey, only 30% of Catholics who attend Mass regularly agree that pre-marital sex is always morally wrong (only 14% of all Catholics believe that). The numbers for our Protestant brethren are much better.  We have a lot of work to do.
  • When all else fails, the powers-that-be resort to censoring pro-life views, in this case an Ohio elections commission ordering the Susan B. Anthony List to take down billboards because the incumbent Congressman thinks they’re false.  Funny, I thought the First Amendment applied to Ohio.
  • Interesting polling numbers about religious people and their political preferences in the upcoming elections.  Strong trend towards the GOP among Catholics, especially among churchgoers. Protestant churchgoers trend GOP even more strongly.
  • From Australia, a blood-chilling story about babies who survive late-term abortions but are being left on shelves to die.  Now, explain to me again how we are any more civilized than the ancients who exposed or sacrificed unwanted children?
  • Freedom of conscience is frequently under severe attack in Europe, most recently in an attempt to eliminate the right of physicians and hospitals to refuse to participate in abortions. Fortunately, pro-lifers held firm and the Council of Europe instead re-affirmed the right to conscience.
  • I decline to link to the awful Slate.com, but I couldn’t resist this. They asked a number of women to define who gets to be called a “feminist”. Here’s what director and writer Nora Ephron said: “I know that I’m supposed to write 500 words on this subject, but it seems much simpler: You can’t call yourself a feminist if you don’t believe in the right to abortion.” Yes, indeed, that pretty much says it all about the state of modern “feminism”.
  • (If anyone is interested in receiving the daily version of Varia, leave a comment with your email address and I’ll add you to the list).

    Keep Politics Out of the Church

    Friday, October 8th, 2010

    One of the modern forms of idolatry is to view everything through the prism of politics, and to treat all matters as if they were essentially matters of power and partisanship.  The result of this is the subordination of all things to politics — even those things that properly belong to God.

    Three recent news stories have brought this disturbing trend to my attention, and have gotten under my skin.

    Same-Sex “Marriage” Activists Attempt to Politicize the Eucharist.
    A group of students at a purportedly Catholic university (St. John’s Abbey in Minnesota) showed up at a Mass being celebrated at the school by their local ordinary, Archbishop Nienstedt.  They came adorned with a rainbow sash, a political symbol that conveys a very clear message:  “we reject the Church’s teaching on the morality of homosexual acts, we reject the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage, and we reject the Church’s authority to make public comments about moral matters that affect public policy”.  Despite wearing a badge that proclaims their breach of communion with the Church, these students presented themselves to receive the Eucharist.

    To his credit, Archbishop Nienstedt properly denied them Communion, since they were trying to make a political statement out of the central mystery of our faith.  The lesson taught by the good Archbishop is not difficult:  if you don’t believe what God teaches us through the Church, and if you have no intention of living as God desires as He has communicated to us through the Church, then you are not properly disposed to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  You need to make a choice: politics or God.

    Calls for a “Catholic Tea Party”.
    From another front, there have been calls for what one advocate terms a “Catholic Tea Party”, directed against some of our bishops, due to their alleged indifference towards heresy by some activist clergymen.  I certainly have no problem with people contacting their pastors about matters that concern their own spiritual good and the spiritual good of the Church as a whole.  The Code of Canon Law says that laypeople “have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Canon 212.3)

    I note especially that phrase, “with respect toward their pastors”.  In the case of a call to a “Tea Party”, I cannot see any way that this shows “respect towards their pastors”.  The original “Tea Party”, after all, was a (justified) violent rebellious act against an oppressive government.  Is that really the image we want to use when lay people address their pastors, especially when we address a bishop, who is a successor of the Apostles?

    No, just no.  The Church is not a political entity, but the Body and Bride of Christ.  If people believe that there is a problem within the Church, they need to address the matter in the appropriate way.  The Bride of Christ should not squabble and wrangle in public like a bunch of unruly delegates on the floor of a political convention.

    The Hypocrisy of the Media.
    Complaining about a double standard from the mainstream media has become a bit tiresome, because it is like constantly pointing out that 2+2=4.  But I have rarely seen such a clear example of it, centered on politics and churches.  Consider two cases: Case #1: Catholic bishops in Minnesota speak out to defend marriage and the media questions their “meddling” in politics. Case #2: New York politicians go into churches to make campaign speeches from the pulpit, and are given glowing, unquestioning profiles that talk as if this is just a nice bit of local curiosity.

    I don’t know how other Churches justify to themselves being used by politicians.  But Catholic churches cannot allow politicians into the sanctuary for a very simple reason.  Not just that it’s against the Internal Revenue Code (which it is, even if we’re the only ones who obey the law).  But there’s a deeper reason, and it’s the fundamental truth that lies beneath each of these recent stories.

    Polarizing secular politics have no place in the Church, particularly in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  We need to recall that the Mass is not just a gathering of like-minded people, or just a group of voters.  The Mass is the assembly of the People of God, come into the presence of the King of Kings, whose eternal sacrifice on Calvary is being opened up for us anew for our participation.  We are there to worship and adore the Eternal One, and to grow in holiness and intimacy with Him, in an anticipation of the heavenly liturgy described in the Book of Revelation.

    With that awesome task on the agenda, you can see why I think there’s no room for politics in the Church.

    Are We Invited to the Tea Party?

    Saturday, September 18th, 2010

    If anything is clear at this point in the electoral season, it’s that the Tea Party movement is a significant force, and that anyone who hopes to understand American politics needs to understand it.

    My interest in the Tea Party comes from the policy issues that are my particular interest — the “Culture of Life” issues, primarily abortion and marriage. To me, these are the issues on which Catholics are called to devote their greatest energy.

    And I am wondering, as the Tea Party gets going, whether we’re invited.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I have to say that I am neither a Republican nor a Democrat.  No party really exists for me in the United States.  My politics tends to be closer to what in Europe and Latin America would be termed “Christian Democracy”.  So I don’t have a partisan interest in the outcome here.

    I also have to admit that, even though I am not a Tea Partier myself,  I am sympathetic to their general goals.  I tend to favor small, limited government solutions to problems, which is a practical application of the Catholic social teaching about subsidiarity.  I view with abhorrence the current culture of “honest graft” that is at the heart of modern American government, and which is so clearly typified by the mess of a State Legislature we have here in New York.  And I am very impressed by the citizen activism that the Tea Party has energized, and their effective viral style of non-organized organization.

    I have some reservations, though, because the Tea Party agenda is silent on Culture of Life issues, and because of the current state of thinking in the leadership of both major political parties.

    It’s sad to say, but with a few notable exceptions (State Sen. Ruben Diaz, for instance), the Democratic Party, its core of activists, and its leaders have become the enemies of the Culture of Life.  Name an anti-life, anti-marriage initiative and you’ll find it on the agenda of the Democratic Party.  Prospective Democratic candidates are told, sometimes implicitly and many times brutally frankly, that they cannot advance in office unless they are pro-abortion.  Once in office, they relentlessly appoint officials and promote activities that are destructive to the Culture of Life.  All this, from the party that professes to be looking out for the poor and powerless.  It has become quite clear that, at least as far as the national Democratic Party is concerned, people who are seriously committed to Culture of Life issues are not welcome at the festivities unless they are willing to overlook their principles.

    That leaves the other guys.  The Republican Party, at least nationally (and much less so here in New York), has been sympathetic to Culture of Life issues, and has given us some significant victories.  A pro-life position has certainly helped the GOP, giving it a clear electoral margin among those for whom the issue matters, and giving them access to an energetic base of religious-minded voters. But as Culture of Life voters become more and more associated with the GOP only, we increasingly run the risk of being taken for granted and shoved aside in favor of the flavor of the month.

    And that is precisely what is going on.  As GOP mandarins sense the possibility of large gains in the upcoming election thanks to the Tea Party movement, Culture of Life issues are being pushed to the back burner or even being dismissed outright.  For example, GOP Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana has suggested that we accept a “moratorium” on pressing for the defense of marriage and human life.  Sen. John Cornyn, the head of the GOP’s effort to re-take the US Senate, has openly suggested that the party’s position on abortion is alienating independents, and should be muted.

    The apparent advice from many in the GOP leadership to Culture of Life voters  is, “Sit down, be quiet, and help us win elections.  Then maybe we’ll talk.”  Some allies.

    But now there’s an alternative for us.  Each of the major Tea Party candidates who have won primaries recently appears to be pro-life, and that hasn’t seemed to hurt their electoral chances much.  Some of their candidates are eccentric, but after so many years of corrupt professionals, maybe eccentric amateurs are worth a try.  I suspect that most of the people who are active in the Tea Party movement are also Culture of Life supporters, but are just focusing their energies on fiscal issues right now.  And, in general, the kind of candidates being supported by the Tea Party appear to me to be likely to support Culture of Life issues, once they are in office.  Over the past few years, it has clearly been most helpful for our issues to support candidates who are more politically conservative across the board, and those are the kinds of people associated with the Tea Party.

    The reality is this.  It would be best if Culture of Life voters could find a home in both major parties.  But we have been effectively ejected from the Democratic Party, and we have been only grudgingly welcomed and suffered in the Republican Party.  The Tea Party seems to offer a new dynamic, presenting us with the possibility of an alliance with voters and candidates who are amenable to our positions and who may prove to be potent supporters.

    So, I’m not sure if we’ve been explicitly invited, but I also think they won’t mind too much if we cautiously crash the Tea Party and see what happens next.