Wednesday 6th May 2015

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic . . . Needed: A New Kind Of Politics For An Age Of Cultural Meltdown

August 15, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason’s “Neither Left nor Right, but Catholic” column appears monthly [sometimes bimonthly] in Crisis. He is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also co-founder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of several books including The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic [Transaction Publishers: 2012], and most recently published an edited volume entitled Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System [Scarecrow Press: 2013]. This column originally appeared in Crisismagazine.com. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

As we head into another election season, we’ll see the customary television sound bites, vague bloviating speeches by politicians far and wide, politicians pandering to different groups with a host of promises, and the usual recent practice of “gotcha politics.”
While the fundamental causes of the woes of our electoral politics are poor citizenship formation and democratization — the Founding Fathers established a republic, not a democracy, and as Federalist 10 makes clear they shared with all the great classical political philosophers a deep suspicion of democracy — we can’t expect in the short run to do much about this.
We at least can try to get those politicians inclined to the “conservative” side — to use an inadequate and misunderstood term — to see that the stakes in American politics nowadays are nothing less than the preservation of our constitutional principles and what’s left of Western civilization.
Further, the politicians who do apprehend this reality, even if inadequately, need to be urged on to recover the long-lost educative function of politics and to develop both the sophistication and courage to carry it out.
That means, of course, that sound bites, platitudes, avoiding “touchy” subjects, gearing political discussion to the least common denominator in terms of voter understanding, and, yes, utterly sacrificing the “bigger,” long-run questions to the often elusive hopes of immediate electoral success cannot be the norm. Immediate electoral success accomplishes little if the Republic and the culture are in shambles.
In The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic, I tried to show how the political order fashioned by the Founders progressively — especially in the 20th century — turned into something much less desirable.
The overriding object of our politics now has to be to try to recover it — and, to the degree that politics can, the culture that spawned it.
The recovery of the crucial educative function of politics requires, to be sure, a political savviness — I like the 1930s term “moxie” — that seems so often to elude the politicians, and others, who go up against the left. Besides having a sound substantive understanding of the questions of the day, they have to master rhetoric (in the best sense of the word). The old expression, “it’s not what you say but how you say it,” is pertinent here.
The left should not be permitted, as is so often the case, to define the terms of the debate. There needs to be a proper mix of education and confrontation. Indeed, to effectively carry out the educative function of politics one has to first create the conditions that make it possible, to clear out the obstacles to it.
What this means, among other things, is that one has to “call out” the left. The spotlight must be put on what has become their increasingly irrational and potentially destructive sociopolitical perspective and agenda.
So often, the very things they accuse their opponents of — such as the fraudulent “war on women” — are exactly what the left is doing, or will obviously result from their initiatives. They should also be confronted about their manipulation, deception, and opportunism.
It’s not just opposing politicians who should be vigorously confronted, but their enablers and allies like those in the media. So during the Republican primary presidential debates in 2012, when George Stephanopoulos pulled the contraception issue out of the hat, it wasn’t enough just to tell him (as Romney did) that he knew that wasn’t really an issue in the election.
The candidates to a man should have repeatedly hammered him for the rest of the debate for using his journalistic position to manipulate the facts, act unfairly (the left is always telling us how they’re interested in “fairness”), and assist Obama and the Democratic Party. He should have been put on the defensive, instead of them. That might have nipped the “war on women” in the bud.
As far as contraception is concerned, it has regrettably become a kind of “third rail” in American politics — in fact, almost a kind of (perverse) sacred ground. It’s a good example of how politicians won’t get anywhere near something that has become almost a way of life — no matter how much trouble it’s caused.
While I don’t expect politicians to lead the way in the fight against contraception, I do expect them to — repeatedly — set the record straight. The Republican candidates could have showed the hypocrisy of the “war on women” claims and made a masterful effort at the educative function of politics by presenting some facts about the serious health dangers of contraceptives to women.
Instead of just trying to run away from the issue once Stephanopoulos raised it, they should have kept reiterating these facts on the campaign trail — along with showing with hard facts and data how such leftist shibboleths as easy divorce (another third rail) and sexual liberation have disproportionately disadvantaged women — to make the “war on women” their issue instead of the other side’s.
If people won’t listen to moral, philosophical, or even commonsensical arguments about contraception, chastity, and the like, they’ll pay more attention to the personal consequences (again, not what you say, but how you say it).
As stated, politicians don’t lead the way on these things, but sensible discussion and rhetoric might encourage the unsung efforts of the people working in other domains about them.

Hard Issues

During the 2012 campaign Cong. Todd Akin probably lost a Senate seat for himself and found the Republican Party and even normally sympathetic commentators running to dissociate themselves from him because of how he answered a journalist’s gotcha question about abortion and rape.
The episode demonstrates how candidates opposing the left must be prepared to address the whole range of possible questions and think about the wording to choose — and also should be careful about whom they give interviews to.
It also points to what is the best way to deal with the issue of abortion for “hard cases” (which is usually a false issue raised by people supporting abortion on demand). Besides pointing out the small percentage of abortions sought as a result of rape, a pro-life candidate should “call out” the inquisitor, accusing him openly of insincerity: It’s a gotcha question with, simply stated, a pro-abortion agenda.
The best way to argue against abortion here and in all cases, of course, is to focus repeatedly on the conclusive facts about the unborn child’s humanity — regardless the circumstances of his conception.
The aim should be to put and keep pro-abortionists on the defensive and hold the rhetorical higher ground — provide the truth and, more, keep pounding it home. As important as sound arguments are, however, many people need to be touched personally.
So pro-life candidates could do no better than to occasionally have pro-life speakers who were conceived in rape but whose mothers chose life (such as Rebecca Kiessling) — or abortion survivors or just women who have suffered physically or psychologically from abortions — join them on the campaign trail.
Finally, how do pro-family candidates tackle same-sex “marriage”? This is actually harder, given the now deep-seated convoluted thinking about rights and equality. Rights are now viewed as essentially grounded in desires — personal preferences — that should prevail as long as someone is not obviously hurt by their exercise. Equality means that everyone should be able to exercise the same rights. Isn’t that just fair?
Our individualistic ethos also makes contemporary Americans unable to recognize damage to the social fabric and how that ultimately can hurt people. Since people need to hear about harms, candidates cannot go easy on active homosexuals; there is no way to oppose same-sex “marriage” without targeting sodomy.
So, the significant health consequences of homosexual practices must be repeatedly emphasized, as must the fact that their being allowed to “marry” will not check the tendency to have multiple sexual partners (as some claim).
The obvious harm of that for any children present — who were, say, adopted or from IVF or a previous heterosexual relationship or marriage — must be underscored. The emerging evidence, anecdotal and from studies, of the range of deleterious effects generally on children reared in same-sex households must repeatedly be pointed to.
Still, with the aggressive efforts of the homosexualist movement to debunk even the soundest research, pro-family candidates can’t be content with discussing empirical social science evidence. Like it or not, on this issue, they have to take the educative function of politics to a deeper level. They have to make a part of their stump speeches a commonsensical and even philosophical — as Mortimer Adler said, “philosophy is everybody’s business” — defense of true marriage.
That means explaining why companionate marriage, which helped spawn the current confusion, doesn’t work. The starting point here is with the reality that most married couples instinctively grasp: that, as Professor Gerard V. Bradley once put it, children cement a marriage.
They probably will even have to speak about another almost verboten topic of recent decades: how men and women actually are different and why children need both.
If they are uneasy about feminist attacks, they should occasionally feature thoughtful women critics of feminism at their campaign events. The effects of such efforts, of course, will reach beyond politics to help right the struggling culture.

Ivory Tower?

All this, of course, is not politics as we know it, but politics as it needs to be in this current time to address these and many other issues.
Naturally, some people will say that it will not work. Conventional political wisdom says otherwise. They might be prompted to say that Dr. Krason should stay in his ivory tower and write and teach about politics; he’s not a campaign strategist and doesn’t know the realities of it.
Yes, I guess we should just trust the judgment of the multimillion-dollar political consultants and operatives with their short-term horizon and “politics as usual” mentality — who keep losing big elections for anti-leftist candidates.

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Untitled 3

Pope FrancisAn Open Letter To His Holiness Pope Francis      Given the controversy and confusion surrounding the 2014 Synod on the Family, the staff of The Wanderer and its supporters thought it appropriate to address Pope Francis with an open letter . . .

Archbishop Cupich Getting Comfortable With Pro-Aborts On Immigration Reform

True to his claim that immigration reform is “God’s agenda,” Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich has been cozying up to pro-abortion Democrats to get his social justice initiatives underway.  On Sunday, the Archbishop joined Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Il), a…Continue Reading

Pope’s doctrine chief under attack as he takes strong stand for marriage and family

muller

ROME, May 1, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Francis’ top advisor on Catholic doctrine is coming under attack as he continues to defend the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and sexuality amid a campaign by a “progressive” faction of prelates. On…Continue Reading

Obama Admin. Denies Visa to Nun Pleading For Persecuted Iraqi Christians – Will Media Cover?

The Hudson Institute’s Nina Shea spotlighted the plight of a Catholic sister, who was denied entry to the U.S. by the Obama administration, in a Thursday item for National Review. She noted how “every member of an Iraqi delegation of…Continue Reading

States could force Catholic priests to perform same-sex ‘marriages’ or lose legal status: Justice Scalia

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 29, 2015, (LifeSiteNews.com) – If the Supreme Court rules that same-sex “marriage” is a constitutional right, one justice has said that the government could force clergy of all denominations to perform gay “weddings” or lose the ability…Continue Reading

The Attack on San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordileone–Who’s Behind It and Why?

In spite of a recent newspaper poll that showed 89% of the public supports San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, a small but vocal group of people are keeping up a campaign to get Pope Francis to replace him as archbishop…Continue Reading

Christian Leaders Threaten Civil Disobedience

“We will not obey.” That’s the blunt warning a group of prominent religious leaders is sending to the Supreme Court of the United States as they consider same-sex marriage. “We respectfully warn the Supreme Court not to cross that line,”…Continue Reading

Feminist Steinem Touts Abortion, Ridicules Church at St. Norbert College

gloria

Abortion advocacy, support for euthanasia and applause for excommunicated and “ordained” women priests—such were the highlights of last week’s “dialogue” with radical feminists Gloria Steinem and Bell Hooks on the Catholic campus of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.…Continue Reading

Vatican hosts two leading pro-abortion, population control activists at climate conference

April 28, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) — Two of the world’s leading pro-abortion advocates were addressing a Vatican workshop on the environment today. At the same time, a press conference at the Palazzo Cesi, in Rome, organised by the Heartland Institute, was…Continue Reading

Climate Change Skeptics Write Open Letter Urging Pope Francis to Rethink Global Warming

ROME, Italy, April 27, 2015 (Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.) – As the Vatican gears up for a high-level workshop on climate change this Tuesday, a group of 90 prominent scientists, religious leaders and academics have written an open letter to Pope Francis,…Continue Reading

Charlotte Bishop To LGBT-Advocate Nun Gramick: You’re Not Speaking in My Diocese

Charlotte Bishop Peter Jugis has cancelled a speaking event by Sister Jennine Gramick that was scheduled to take place at one of the parishes in his diocese. Sister Gramick is the founder of New Ways Ministry, self-described as a “gay-positive…Continue Reading

OVER 500 PRIESTS . . .PRIESTS INVITING PRIESTS TO WITNESS TO THE DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE AND FAMILY LIFE

As Catholic priests we commit ourselves anew to the task of presenting the teaching of the Church on marriage in all its fullness, while reaching out with the Lord’s compassion to those struggling to respond to the demands and challenges…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke criticizes German cardinal’s ‘ridiculous’ claim that German Church is not a ‘subsidiary of Rome’

ROME, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In an interview today with the prominent German newspaper, Die Welt, Cardinal Raymond Burke criticized Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who suggested German Catholic dioceses are not a “subsidiary of Rome” on the question of Communion…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

A Powerful Weapon: 15 Quotes on the Holy Rosary

We live in evil times. I hardly need elaborate the multitude of crises that fill the globe. Sadly, many are being swept away by this flood of evil and are succumbing to an overwhelming anxiety and discouragement. But no matter how tempting it is, we must not shrink back. We must pray and fast with a living faith and a firm confidence—and there is no better way to…Continue Reading

12 Ways to Become a Committed Catholic Man

There is a Catholic “man-crisis.” Large numbers of men who were baptized Catholic have left the Church and the majority of those who remain are “Casual Catholic Men”, men who do not know the Catholic faith and don’t practice it. This large-scale failure of Catholic men to commit themselves to Jesus Christ and His Church has contributed to the accelerating…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Pope Francis tells Swiss Guards they have a “significant” friendship

pope780

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis greeted the members of the Swiss Guard and their families on Monday, ahead of the annual May 6th swearing in ceremony for new Guards. Pope Francis said the meeting was an opportunity to “strengthen a [significant] friendship,” noting the words of Christ who said “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” “In the history of the Church, many men and women have embraced…Continue Reading

Pope: Bear The Fruits Of Membership In Christ And The Church

pope311

(Vatican Radio) On Sunday, Pope Francis spoke about Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches – Jesus is the true vine, and we are the branches, dependent on Him. Through this parable, “Jesus wants us to understand the importance of remaining united to Him.” What is this new way, the Pope asked? Although Jesus is no longer with us as He was with the Disciples, we are able to remain united with Christ “in vital…Continue Reading

Pope Francis Attends Swiss Guard Flag Ceremony

swiss

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis attended a Swiss Guard ceremony Friday afternoon — unexpected by most of the people present — and addressed the corps, speaking as well about the characteristics of a commander, according to the Gospel. Following the nomination in February of Christoph Graf as the new Commander of the Swiss Guard, the military corps held a ceremony May 1 for the inauguration and blessing of its new flag. Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Pope: Parish Must Be ‘Privileged Place’ Of Listening, Proclamation

(Vatican Radio) Faithful from the Diocese of Isernia-Venafro paid a return visit to Pope Francis on Saturday. The Pope received the pilgrims in an audience and recalled the message of solidarity he shared with them during his pastoral visit last July. He also spoke of the call of parishes to be missionary communities. “Every parish is called to be a privileged place of listening and of the proclamation of the Gospel; a house of prayer…Continue Reading

Betrayed By Culture

By DONALD DeMARCO I was reading, with genuine sadness, about a Jesuit priest who visits a Catholic home for unwed mothers three times a year to give weekend retreats. He describes the tragedies in the lives of these young girls as “appalling.” The age of these young mothers ranges from 13 upwards, with the median…Continue Reading

Can America Stop The Tide Of Assisted Suicide?

By CRAIG TURNER (Editor’s Note: Craig Turner is a graduate of the English honors program at the University of Texas and a former journalist who covered Capitol Hill. Since 1990, he has served as director of communications for three Washington, D.C., companies. Turner is the author of two books recently published by Saint Benedict Press:…Continue Reading

Reel Faith . . . An Interview With Catholic Actor And Filmmaker Eduardo Verastegui

By REY FLORES Eduardo Verastegui is a man on a mission. He is tirelessly traveling, either working on his latest film project or helping to promote his most recently completed one. On top of that, Verastegui (pronounced Ver-ah-steg-eeh) also helps run a crisis pregnancy clinic in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles. The…Continue Reading

Give Every Child In Baltimore A $17,329 School-Choice Voucher

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY (Editor’s Note: Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com. Creators Syndicate provided this column. All rights reserved.) + + + “The education system has failed them.” That is part of the explanation that Billy Murphy, a lawyer representing the family of Freddie Gray — who died after his spine was…Continue Reading

John-Henry Westen . . . Addresses Developments In The Synod Of Bishops On The Family

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: Maike Hickson holds a doctorate in French literature from the University of Hannover. She is a contributor to LifeSiteNews.) + + + John-Henry Westen, cofounder and editor-in-chief of the world’s largest pro-life and pro-family website, LifeSiteNews.com, gave a talk in Front Royal, Va., at Human Life International (HLI), on April…Continue Reading

The Wanderer Interviews His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke . . .

burk10

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, who previously served as Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome from June 2008 until November 2014, recently visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis. Prior to that he served as Archbishop…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Social Networks, Virtual Reality, And Trinitarian Love

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The omnipresent cell phone is blamed as often as it is praised. We like our cell phones for the convenience of reaching out to others by voice or text whenever we like as well as surfing the Internet and obtaining information and directions whenever we need them. Electronic devices of all kinds have become a…Continue Reading

Did Jesus Christ Found A Church? If He Did, How Can She Be Identified?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 4 The Church is holy. Sanctam: The ultimate goal of the Church is personal holiness, identification with Christ, as St. Paul says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). It is not merely covering oneself with the Blood of Christ, and allowing the inside to remain sinful…Continue Reading

The Mystery Of The Church

By DON FIER The one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, as the “convocation” of God’s people, was prefigured from the beginning when our first parents sinned and were promised a Redeemer. Her remote preparation began with the calling of our father in faith, Abraham, and her immediate preparation began with the election of the Chosen People of Israel, a sign…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: Writing in his blog (http://johnkippley.com) about the long-term consequences of dissent from Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, John Kippley said that this dissent not only “entailed the rejection of the whole idea of natural law as the reasoned basis for Catholic moral teaching,” but it allowed Catholics to substitute personal preference for personal morality, which means…Continue Reading

True Love Of Others

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Sixth Sunday Of Easter (YR B) Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 1 John 4:7-10 John 15:9-17 In the second reading today, St. John calls us to love one another because love is of God. This last part of the sentence is very important, especially in light of what follows: Whoever loves is begotten by God and…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Philip Neri

By CAROLE BRESLIN Throughout the history of the Church when great persecutions and heresies have been promoted, there were also great saints who underwent persecution in their attempts to protect the Deposit of Faith. Such was the case in the early 16th century, when the Catholic Church was suffering her greatest crisis to date with the Protestant Revolt. During this…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . Pope St. Pius V

By CAROLE BRESLIN Can anyone imagine a more challenging time in the history of the Church than the 16th century — besides this century? The Protestant Revolt north of Rome decimating the numbers of faithful Christians; to the west, England persecuting all Catholics; to the southeast, the Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquering at will place after place, setting their…Continue Reading