A Catholic person should always feel a bit homeless when it comes to politics. I know, in other countries, there is a smorgasbord of pickings. But here in the United States, for better or worse, it seems we have to choose either the red or blue team.
Oh, I know, there are third-party candidates. Over the last several years, I have experimented with stepping outside the two main groups, but in general, this is a gamble. Over the years, third-party candidates have been largely responsible, not for accomplishing their own goals, but for being so similar to the Republican or Democratic parties, they end up siphoning away votes from the side most aligned with their agenda.
But I am beginning to wonder if this time it’s different. The unbelievable chaos that has engulfed the Republican Party, as evidenced by the Capitol Riot, is more than just unsettling. It makes me wonder who I’m voting for if I help vote in a Republican. Has the GOP become the party of white supremacy or the latest conspiracy theory? It is disturbing to see how many of my own friends are getting caught up in this.
With Biden, though, we can expect an immediate rollback of abortion regulation. Open the floodgates to more unborn babies being murdered with the sanction of a Democratic House, Senate, and executive branch. It makes my heart sink to think of it.
At no other time in my voting-age life have I been so disgusted by both options. Is this really where we are? Is this just a moment that will pass or is this how it is now? What is my responsibility in all of this as a Catholic person?
I’ll just say this now: I don’t know. But I lay my set of paths before you. Maybe you can help me think through this, and perhaps I can give you, if you are a Catholic United States citizen, some food for thought as well.
Another Catholic Option in Politics
There are other parties out there. My personal favorite is the American Solidarity Party. It is centered around Catholic social teaching, but it’s not Catholicky. I have seen members of every stripe in there.
Ages ago, back in 2016, I helped them get their presidential candidate on the write-in ballot for California. There was a good amount of interest then for some alternative – any alternative – to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. And there may be a lot of appetite for that again.
Many of us Catholics cannot, in good conscience, support the Democratic Party. But the Republican one seems to be splintering. And let’s be honest, were they really promoting Catholic social teaching as they should have? Maybe now is a good time to take stock of whether or not the bedlam going on there is worth our vote.
The problem with going third party, though, is that there is so little return on investment – investment of time, energy, money, you name it. But remember that St. Benedict was but a single monk when he first started. Then he became the father of Western monasticism. Every redwood starts as a seedling.
Reform, Don’t Reject
If you have followed my blog long enough, you know I am not a fan of burning everything to the ground. Institutions like the church, the police, and the scientific community need our support both to do their work and to reform when they lose their way. Getting rid of them altogether is disastrous.
So the argument could be made that, love or hate the right and left, they are here to stay. And we might accomplish more good by infiltrating their ranks than by rejecting them. On the inside, we can help shape their platform, perhaps, and vote a better candidate in.
We see now how malleable the Republican Party is that they could jettison so much of what they stood for in the past because the winds changed. The truth is, both parties have done this at one point or another. Our voice in there might count for more than we think.
Whichever option a person chooses, one thing stays the same. If you want to do more than just vote, get involved locally. I’m sure someone, somewhere is being impacted by the Facebook memes we put up promoting our favorite candidate or policy but probably not many.
The video, For Love of Neighbor: Politics for the Common Good, makes the point convincingly that one of the best things we can do if we really want to make an impact in politics is act locally. Run for local office. Get on the school board. Campaign for the candidate running to be on the city council.
A Question We All Need to Ask
Dr. Russell Moore in the video mentioned above says that to be apolitical, to not care at all about politics, is not an option for the Christian.
In the 19th century, the people who were saying, “Let’s not talk about slavery. Let’s simply concentrate on our personal spirituality,” thought of themselves as apolitical. But they were actually hyper-political because if you don’t say anything about slavery in 1845 Georgia, then you end up with people who are just baptizing the status quo, whatever it is.Dr. Russell Moore, President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Southern Baptist Convention
The strange difference between where the average person has been for most of history and where we are now is that we have a say, however small it may be, in the politics of our country – how it functions, what laws are put into place, what our government sanctions and what it prohibits.
That places on each Catholic person a responsibility, however small it may be, to participate in the body politic. The easiest way we can do that is by voting. But a lot of us have more power over what happens in our city, state and country than one measly vote every four years.
Maybe it’s time to take more of that power into our hands.
©2021 Catholic Anonymous
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