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Did ‘The Great Society’ Ruin Society? by Pat Buchanan

800px-Lyndon_Johnson_signing_Civil_Rights_Act,_2_July,_1964 Did ‘The Great Society’ Ruin Society?

“I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it.”

Thus did Mitt Romney supposedly commit the gaffe of the month — for we are not to speak of the poor without unctuous empathy.

Yet, as Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation reports in “Understanding Poverty in the United States: Surprising Facts About America’s Poor,” Mitt was more right about America’s magnanimity than those who bewail her alleged indifference.

First, who are the poor?

To qualify, a family of four in 2010 needed to earn less than $22,314. Some 46 million Americans, 15 percent of the population, qualified.

And in what squalor were America’s poor forced to live?

Well, 99 percent had a refrigerator and stove, two-thirds had a plasma TV, a DVD player and access to cable or satellite, 43 percent were on the Internet, half had a video game system like PlayStation or Xbox.

Three-fourths of the poor had a car or truck, nine in 10 a microwave, 80 percent had air conditioning. In 1970, only 36 percent of the U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.

America’s poor enjoy amenities almost no one had in the 1950s, when John K. Galbraith described us as “The Affluent Society.”

What about homelessness? Are not millions of America’s poor on the street at night, or shivering in shelters or crowded tenements?

Well, actually, no. That is what we might call televised poverty. Of the real poor, fewer than 10 percent live in trailers, 40 percent live in apartments, and half live in townhouses or single-family homes.

Forty-one percent of poor families own their own home.

But are they not packed in like sardines, one on top of another?

Not exactly. The average poor person’s home in America has 1,400 square feet — more living space than do Europeans in 23 of the 25 wealthiest countries on the continent.

Two-thirds of America’s poor have two rooms per person, while 94 percent have at least one room per person in the family dwelling.

Only one in 25 poor persons in America uses a homeless shelter, and only briefly, sometime during the year.

What about food? Do not America’s poor suffer chronically from malnutrition and hunger?

Not so. The daily consumption of proteins, vitamins and minerals of poor children is roughly the same as that of the middle class, and the poor consume more meat than the upper middle class.

Some 84 percent of America’s poor say they always have enough food to eat, while 13 percent say sometimes they do not, and less than 4 percent say they often do not have enough to eat.

Only 2.6 percent of poor children report stunted growth. Poor kids in America are, on average, an inch taller and 10 pounds heavier than the youth of the Greatest Generation that won World War II.

In fiscal year 2011, the U.S. government spent $910 billion on 70 means-tested programs, which comes to an average of $9,000 per year on every lower-income person in the United States.

Among the major programs from which the poor receive benefits are Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit, Supplemental Security Income, food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food program, Medicaid, public housing, low-income energy assistance and the Social Service Block Grant.

Children of the poor are educated free, K-12, and eligible for preschool Head Start, and Perkins Grants, Pell Grants and student loans for college.

Lyndon Johnson told us this was the way to build a Great Society.

Did we? Federal and state spending on social welfare is approaching $1 trillion a year, $17 trillion since the Great Society was launched, not to mention private charity. But we have witnessed a headlong descent into social decomposition.

Half of all children born to women under 30 in America now are illegitimate. Three in 10 white children are born out of wedlock, as are 53 percent of Hispanic babies and 73 percent of black babies.

Rising right along with the illegitimacy rate is the drug-use rate, the dropout rate, the crime rate and the incarceration rate.

The family, cinder block of society, is disintegrating, and along with it, society itself. Writes Rector, “The welfare system is more like a ‘safety bog’ than a safety net.”

Heritage scholars William Beach and Patrick Tyrrell put Rector’s numbers in perspective:

“Today … 67.3 million Americans — from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries — depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid or other assistance. … The United States reached another milestone in 2010. For the first time in history, half the population pays no federal income taxes.”

The 19th century statesman John C. Calhoun warned against allowing government to divide us into “tax-payers and tax-consumers.” This, he said, “would give rise to two parties and to violent conflicts and struggles between them, to obtain the control of the government.”

We are there, Mr. Calhoun, we are there.

Essays by Pat Buchanan may be found here. Books related to the topic of this article may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.

The Liberty Amendments by Mark Levin (Advanced Chapter 1)

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I undertook this project not because I believe the Constitution, as originally structured, is outdated and outmoded, thereby requiring modernization through amendments, but because of the opposite—that is, the necessity and urgency of restoring constitutional republicanism and preserving the civil society from the growing authoritarianism of a federal Leviathan. This is not doomsaying or fear-mongering but an acknowledgment of fact. The Statists have been successful in their century-long march to disfigure and mangle the constitutional order and undo the social compact. To disclaim the Statists’ campaign and aims is to imprudently ignore the inventions and schemes hatched and promoted openly by their philosophers, experts, and academics, and the coercive application of their designs on the citizenry by a delusional governing elite. Their handiwork is omnipresent, for all to see— 1
page3image10488 page3image10648 page3image10808 page3image10968 page3image11128 page3image11448 page3image11608

 

2 MARK R. LEVIN

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a centralized and consolidated government with a ubiquitous net- work of laws and rules actively suppressing individual initiative, self-interest, and success in the name of the greater good and on behalf of the larger community. Nearly all will be emasculated by it, including the inattentive, ambivalent, and disbelieving.

The nation has entered an age of post-constitutional soft tyr- anny. As French thinker and philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville explained presciently, “It covers the surface of society with a net- work of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupe- fies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.”1 Continue reading

Ten Reasons I cannot cheer for my country this 4th of July by Marshall Connolly

Ten Reasons I cannot cheer for my country this 4th of July

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

July 3, 2013

My country is no longer what it claims to be

The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays. As a patriot, I greatly enjoy celebrating my country’s birthday. My ancestors came to this nation to escape religious persecution, fought in the American Revolution, the Civil War, and have been loyal, happy citizens for centuries. This has always been a great source of pride. Unfortunately, for the first time, I am greatly disappointed in my country and I worry for its future.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – Perhaps I have been naïve as a product of youth, or perhaps I haven’t been paying attention. Whatever the excuse, I sure am awake now. My nation has accrued a laundry list of sins for which it remains unrepentant. How can I celebrate my country when it does evil as a matter of policy and calls it good?Here is what’s ruining my holiday:

1.    Our government has been accused of funneling weapons and supporting the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico. This cartel and our weapons are responsible for the mass murder of thousands of human beings. Their drugs are destroying lives in America. Meanwhile, we refuse to intercept these shipments, or to control our borders in any meaningful way.

2.    Our government is about to impose onerous healthcare requirements on employers and taxpayers, compelling everyone to pay towards practices which they find morally objectionable. There is no real way to opt out. Instead, there is punishment.

3.    Our government is spying on citizens, allies, and much of the world by using a broad dragnet ostensibly to stop terrorists. The program answers to a secret court and if not for the heroism (misguided or no) of a single individual, we would remain ignorant of all this. Our government hunts this man, instead of taking steps to inform the public of the program, how it operates, and refuses to open discussion on whether or not such a program is consistent with the U.S. Constitution or the will of the people. Continue reading

Rush Limbaugh: Abortion is at the Heart of Society’s Ills by Calvin Freilburger

abortion-060109-main-425x282Rush Limbaugh: Abortion is at the Heart of Society’s Ills

by Calvin Freiburger

On his radio show Friday, Rush Limbaugh delivered a powerful monologue (transcriptvideo) asserting that in addition to its innate monstrousness, abortion is “at the root of our cultural decay” as a nation, its impact stretching from respect for life and personal responsibility to crime, immigration, and the economy:

If you use the popularly accepted figure of 1.3 million abortions a year, go back to Roe vs. Wade 1973, 52 million taxpayers haven’t been born, is the way Washington looks at it. They don’t look at it morally. They don’t look at it in any kind of cultural way or any kind of cultural impact. They just say we’re 52 million people short. We have 52 million fewer people paying taxes. We gotta replace ‘em. Hello amnesty. The Democrat Party needs a permanent underclass in order to keep themselves alive as Santa Claus, to keep winning elections and stay in power […]

I just want to tell you something. I really think that abortion is at the root — you could do a flowchart — I think abortion is at the root of so much that has and is going wrong in this country. I think that the number of abortions themselves, but what in toto it all means, culturally, in terms of the sanctity of life, how that’s crumbled, I think it’s almost at the root of everything. And if it’s not at the root of everything, it’s clearly had a profound impact on our culture, our society, and our politics, I think in ways that people don’t even stop to consider.

None of it good and it’s caused all kinds of horrible problems that nobody knows how to fix. Because they refuse to even accept that abortion is more than what it is. To most people, it’s just a woman’s right to choose, and it’s nobody’s business, and leave it alone and I don’t want to talk about it. But it’s really had much more impact on this country than just that. It’s had impact on crime. It’s had a profound impact on our politics. It is at the root of our cultural rot and decay. Continue reading

Capitalism and the Moral Basis of Social Order

by Russell Kirk

Russell-Kirk-in-hat-in-front-of-Piety-Hill-233x300A number of Americans, fancying that the world is governed mainly by economic doctrines and practices, are inclined to think that an era of international good feeling lies before us. I intend to sprinkle some drops of cold water on such hasty hopes. I have no faith in the notion that an abstract “democratic capitalism” is about to gain acceptance throughout the world.

We find fairly widespread in these United States a “capitalistic” version of Karl Marx’s dialectical materialism – more’s the pity. It is not a theoretical “democratic capitalism” that can preserve, unaided, order and justice and freedom. Materialism was an American vice when Alexis de Tocqueville travelled in the United States. That vice has not diminished in power. People who maintain that production and consumption are the ends of human existence presently will find themselves impoverished materially, as well as spiritually.
It is true that the masters of what once was the Soviet Union have modified their Marxism – and not the disciples of Yeltsin merely. Consider this passage from Mikhail Gorbachev’s book Perestroika(1987):

We must encourage efficiency in production and the talent of a writer, scientist, or any other upright and hard-working citizen. On this point we want to be perfectly clear:socialism has nothing to do with equalizing. . . . Socialism has a different criterion for redistributing social benefits: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his work.”

Doesn’t this sound rather like democratic capitalism? If Perestroika and similar designs prevail in Eastern Europe and elsewhere, can any great obstacle remain to the universal triumph of democratic capitalism? Continue reading

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI CHRISTMAS 2012

URBI ET ORBI MESSAGE
OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI

CHRISTMAS 2012

 “Veritas de terra orta est!” – “Truth has sprung out of the earth”(Ps 85:12).

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, a happy Christmas to you and your families!

In this Year of Faith, I express my Christmas greetings and good wishes in these words taken from one of the Psalms: “Truth has sprung out of the earth”. Actually, in the text of the Psalm, these words are in the future: “Kindness and truth shall meet; / justice and peace shall kiss. / Truth shall spring out of the earth, /and justice shall look down from heaven. / The Lord himself will give his benefits; / our land shall yield its increase. / Justice shall walk before him, / and salvation, along the way of his steps” (Ps 85:11-14).

Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth do indeed meet; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven. Saint Augustine explains with admirable brevity: “What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth … truth has been born of the Virgin Mary” (En. in Ps. 84:13). And in a Christmas sermon he says that “in this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: ‘truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven’. The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman … The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe” (Sermones, 185, 1).

“If we believe”. Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith! We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born! “The earth has yielded its fruits” (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.

Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims. Once again I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.

May peace spring up in the Land where the Redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.

In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future – and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus – may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person.

May peace spring up on the vast continent of Asia. May the Child Jesus look graciously on the many peoples who dwell in those lands and, in a special way, upon all those who believe in him. May the King of Peace turn his gaze to the new leaders of the People’s Republic of China for the high task which awaits them. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.

May the Birth of Christ favour the return of peace in Mali and that of concord in Nigeria, where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. May the Redeemer bring help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grant peace to Kenya, where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship.

May the Child Jesus bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.

Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!

The Decline and Fall of America by Marvin Folkertsma

The Decline and Fall of America The Decline and Fall of America

by Marvin Folkertsma

 Nov 17, 2012

 
A few days after the election of 2012 the very talented Michael Ramirez published a political cartoon that perhaps conveyed a more profound meaning than he anticipated. He depicted a pair of hands extending from star-studded sleeves (presumably from a mendicant Uncle Sam), which were held in supplication, as though waiting for a handout or petitioning voters to relinquish more of their earnings to the federal government. There’s another way of interpreting this image, however; the hands appeared not only pathetic and a bit contemptible, but also aged and withered, as though belonging to an old man. In which case, this representation captured perfectly the situation of the United States as it enters the second decade of the 21st century: America is getting older and is entering a state of decline.

 

No one understood the dynamics of aging societies approaching decrepitude better than Mancur Olson, an economist who taught at the University of Maryland until his death in 1998. Olson’s crowning achievement was a book published in 1982 titled, “The Rise and Decline of Nations.” Olson argued that the proliferation of interest groups (collusions or distributional coalitions, in his terms) eventually spells doom for the societies they inhabit. And proliferate they have, from 6,000 in 1959 to 22,000 at the beginning of the 21st century, according to the Encyclopedia of Associations. Like it or not, every man, woman, and child in the country is represented by an interest group.

But when we say “interest group,” what exactly do we mean? America’s master political thinker, James Madison, said it best with his definition of “faction” in Federalist 10, as comprising “a number of citizens, whether amounting to a minority or majority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community” (italics added). So much for our contemporary, naïve notions about how factions (interest groups) proclaim to represent some greater good.

It gets worse, especially considering three additional developments. First, America’s mammoth federal government constitutes an interest group itself, which means it does all the things other public and private groups do to protect itself. Second, about half of the population receives some form of aid from the federal government, according to the Heritage Foundation’s 2012 Index of Dependence on Government, and these recipients constitute perhaps the most behemoth group of them all. Third, close to one-half of the entire population does not pay federal-income taxes, a figure that climbed from 12 percent in 1969 to 34.1 percent at the beginning of the Bush administration to its current figure as President Obama starts his second term. The question is: What does all this mean for the destiny of America?

Prepare yourself for some very bad news. As societies age, they “tend to accumulate more collusions and organizations for collective action over time,” which in normal speak means that societies become infested with interest groups just like arteries become more rigid and clogged with body gunk as you get older—a phenomenon Jonathan Rauch referred to as “Demosclerosis.” Further, groups “reduce efficiency and aggregate income in the societies in which they operate and make political life more divisive.” Example: anyone read the healthcare bill lately? And the thousands of regulations in existence and forthcoming? And consider its huge increased costs?

The keystone of this argument is a passage that is terrifying in its implications and is worth quoting in full: “The typical organization for collective action [interest group] within a society will … have little or no incentive to make any significant sacrifices in the interest of the society” and “there is … no constraint on the social cost such an organization will find it expedient to impose on the society in the course of obtaining a larger share of the social output for itself” (italics in original). This means nothing less than it says: a group will kill its host, the American republic in this case, before relinquishing even a modicum of benefits for itself.

Nations die this way, empires collapse, societies atrophy, and countries implode (like the old USSR) or are conquered from without. In the United States, this phenomenon cannot be blamed exclusively on Democrats or Republicans; both parties represent coalitions of groups that all want something from the government. Indeed, if there is any difference between Republicans and Democrats in this regard it is that President Obama has accelerated this process over the last four years. But institutionalized selfishness was a going concern before he came along.

All of which is suicidal, right? Yes, it is. Can anything be done to arrest or reverse this process? Absent some kind of revolutionary demolishing of governmental interventions, no, there probably is not. What, then, might happen to America? Considering the current economic situation, some kind of collapse is of course possible. Most likely the United States will change into something else, into a “soft” totalitarian society envisioned by Alexis de Tocqueville, where its citizens are “cared for” but weighted down by mountains of rules and bereft of any dynamism, creativity, or imagination—subservient, socialist, and senile.

And we will have no one to blame for the fall of our country but ourselves.

In 2012, Who Is for Hope and Change? by Patrick J. Buchanan

 
“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs, and who, by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly established general liberty and independence.”
 
So wrote John Jay in Federalist No. 2, wherein he describes Americans as a “band of brethren united to each other by the strongest ties.”
 
That “band of brethren united” no longer exists.
 
No longer are we “descended from the same ancestors.”
 
Indeed, as we are daily instructed, it is our “diversity” — our citizens can trace their ancestors to every member state of the United Nations — that “is our strength.” And this diversity makes us a stronger, better country than the America of Eisenhower and JFK.
 
No longer do we speak the same language. To tens of millions, Spanish is their language. Millions more do not use English in their homes. Nor are their children taught in English in the schools.
 
As for “professing the same religion,” the Christianity of Jay and the Founding Fathers has been purged from all public institutions. One in 5 Americans profess no religious faith. The mainline Protestant churches — the Episcopal, Methodist, Lutheran and Presbyterian — have been losing congregants for a half-century. Secularism is the religion of the elites. It alone is promulgated in public schools.
 
Are we attached to “the same principles of government”?
 
Half the nation believes it is the duty of government to feed, house, educate and medicate the population and endlessly extract from the well-to-do whatever is required to make everybody more equal.
 
Egalitarianism has triumphed over freedom. Hierarchy, the natural concomitant of freedom, is seen as undemocratic.
 
Are we similar “in our manners and customs”? Are we agreed upon what is good or even tolerable in music, literature, art?
 
Do we all seek to live by the same moral code? Abortion, a felony in the 1950s, is now a constitutional right. Homosexual marriage, an absurdity not long ago, is the civil rights cause du jour.
 
Dissent from the intolerant new orthodoxy and you are a bigot, a hater, a homophobe, an enemy of women’s rights.
 
Recent wars — Vietnam, Iraq — have seen us not “fighting side by side” but fighting side against side.
 
Racially, morally, politically, culturally, socially, the America of Jay and the Federalist Papers is ancient history. Less and less do we have in common. And to listen to cable TV is to realize that Americans do not even like one another. If America did not exist as a nation, would these 50 disparate states surrender their sovereignty and independence to enter such a union as the United States of 2012?
 
Nor are we unique in sensing that we are no longer one. Scotland, Catalonia and Flanders maneuver to break free of the nations that contain their peoples. All over the world, peoples are disaggregating along the lines of creed, culture, tribe and faith.
 
What has this to do with the election of 2012? Everything.
 
For if America is to endure as a nation, her peoples are going to need the freedom to live differently and the space to live apart, according to their irreconcilable beliefs. Yet should Barack Obama win, the centralization of power and control will continue beyond the point of no return.
 
His replacement of any retiring Supreme Court justice with another judicial activist — a Sonia Sotomayor, an Elena Kagan — would negate a half-century of conservative labors and mean that abortion on demand — like slavery, a moral abomination to scores of millions — is forever law in all 50 states.
 
President Obama speaks now of a budget deal in which Democrats agree to $2.50 in spending cuts if the Republicans agree to $1 in tax increases. But given the character of his party — for whom Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, food stamps, Head Start, earned income tax credits and Pell Grants are holy icons — any deal Obama cuts with Republicans in return for higher taxes will be like the deal Ronald Reagan eternally regretted.
 
The tax hikes become permanent; the budget cuts are never made.
 
In the first debate, Mitt Romney said that in crafting a budget that consumes a fourth of the economy, he would ask one question: “Is the program so critical that it’s worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?”
 
If a President Romney held to that rule, it would spell an end to any new wars of choice and all foreign aid and grants to global redistributionsts — such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. It would entail a review of all U.S. alliances dating back to the Cold War, which have U.S. troops on every continent and in a hundred countries.
 
Obama offers more of the stalemate America has gone through for the past two years.
 
Romney alone offers a possibility of hope and change.
 
Published with permission of the author. Copyright 2012, Creators.com

Make no mistake, this election is about values by Russell Shaw

Make no mistake, this election is about values

 
By Russell Shaw
 
10/15/12

When Americans go to the polls next month, they will be participating in a national referendum on values. This “values” dimension makes the election, in the estimate of seasoned observers, the most important in many years. “The closest thing to political Armageddon since 1860,” Frank Gannon and Jeffrey Bell of the conservative Washington-based American Principles Project write. If that is stretching it, it’s not by much.

Values like justice and charity and economic self-determination are fundamental to economic policy. Values are at stake regarding the scope and configuration of government, the central challenge here being balancing solidarity and subsidiarity. Values speak to the question of America’s role in the world, including a realistic and constructive stance toward a resurgent and sometimes hostile Islam.

And it hardly needs saying that values are at the heart of the social issues — pre-eminently abortion and same-sex marriage — that are intimately linked to the sanctity of human life and the meaning of marriage and family. Apparently reflecting the preferences of both parties and their candidates, not a lot has been said about social issues in this year’s campaign. But whether the politicians and the media acknowledge it or not, everyone knows these issues are there, this year’s political version of the elephant in the living room. What role they will play in the election has yet to be seen.

In order to understand how America reached this present state of affairs, a bit of context will help. It comes from a Church source. Speaking at the world Synod of Bishops now nearing its close in Rome, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., referred to the “tsunami of secularization” that swept over Western Europe and much of the rest of the world in the last several decades.

Powerful currents from that cultural tidal wave also have pummeled — and, indeed, they continue to pummel — the United States. For fresh evidence of that, we need look no further than the new Pew Research Center study that shockingly found nearly 20 percent of Americans now describing themselves as religiously unaffiliated. (This group includes atheists, agnostics, and a significant number of people who just don’t identify with any particular denomination.)

The tsunami of secularism reflected in this situation didn’t come from nowhere. In his influential book “Modern Times,” historian Paul Johnson notes that the breakdown of the religious impulse among members of the West’s cultural elite occurring in the 19th century left in its wake what the author calls “a huge vacuum” of convictions and values. Efforts to fill that vacuum make up a large part of modern history.

Much of this work, as Johnson and others point out, has been done — usually with disastrous results — by zealots of secularist ideologies (think fascism, Nazism, communism) who busied themselves with constructing secularist utopias of one or another sort. The United States has, happily, been largely spared the most noxious expressions of this unhinged zealotry up to now, but the urge has been present all the same. Of late it has tended to take the form of a kind of statist populism, practiced to varying degrees by both political parties, that seeks to win and hold power by organizing coalitions of heterogeneous interest groups held together by rhetoric, habit and the promise of rewards.

And so we come to the election of 2012. Every election is a choice, but the choice this time focuses on an especially large question: what kind of values — contemporary secularist or modestly traditional — shall 21st century America officially espouse and practice? Good luck with that one.

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

Cardinal Dolan on the US Election, the Radical Abortion License, Religious Liberty, Marriage, Debt and Solidarity

 

By Deacon Keith Fournier

10/7/2012

I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues,

I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).

 

NEW YORK, NY (Catholic Online) – On the Feast of St Francis of Assisi, one day before he headed for Rome to participate in the historic Synod on the New Evangelization, Cardinal Timothy Dolan authored another outstanding column. It was one in a series he regularly pens for the “Catholic New York”. The series is entitled “Lord, to Whom Shall We Go” and the article, entitled “Cherished Saint Brought Christ to World Around Him”, can be read in its entirety here

Our readers should be well aware of the leadership of this great Cardinal of the Church and the esteem with which he is held by this author. I write regularly about his courage and the clarity which he has brought to the leadership of the Conference of Bishops in the United States at this critical time in our history. You can click here to read the most recent of numerous articles I have written about the Cardinal Archbishop of New York. I have written many more and plan to continue the practice. He is one great gift to both Church and Nation.

However, though I share the Cardinal’s appreciation for St. Francis, the little poor man of Assisi, I was concerned that the title of the Cardinal’s recent column, dedicated to and written on the Feast of Francis, as well as its placement, might limit its readership. That would be tragic. The instruction and insights this column offers on the exercise of our faithful citizenship is simply too important! The concerns which the Cardinal shares must become the material out of which we approach this election and our own exercise of voting.

I offer below a portion of the Cardinals recent article for your serious and prayerful reflection as November 6, 2012 draws near.

*****
Timothy Cardinal Dolan

“Those Americans who have faith in God, and in His Son, Jesus, and venerate saints such as Francis, also find themselves in the middle of the world, and cherish our freedom to bring the teaching of Jesus, which we hear both in the Good News proclaimed in the Bible and in the life of Francis, to the public square and political process.”

“We’ve certainly been reminded of that these past 10 months, which have seen the religious community in the United States engaged in a major conflict with the administration over the first freedom-religious liberty, our “first and most cherished freedom.” I am deeply grateful to the Catholic people of the United States, to my brother bishops and priests, to men and women of all faiths or none at all, for accepting this challenge, and for rising to the defense of religious liberty in full.”

“In that defense, we stand for every man and woman of conscience; we seek no special favors, but we insist that the inalienable rights of religion be respected and honored in law and federal regulatory practice.”

“In the document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” published by the bishops of the United States, we are reminded that, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation. This obligation is rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and to bear Christian witness in all we do.” And so, as I leave for Rome, I want to share with you some of the concerns that I will bring with me to the tombs of the apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, and to Assisi, the town of St. Francis.”

“I am concerned about a culture that has become increasingly callous about the radical abortion license, and a legal system that affords more protection to endangered species of plants and animals than to unborn babies; that considers pregnancy a disease; that interprets “comprehensive health care” in such a way that it may be used to threaten the life of the baby in the womb (and, it should be noted, to exclude the undocumented immigrant as well).”

“I am concerned as well for the infirm and elderly who are nearing the end of life, that they will not be treated with the respect, dignity and compassion that is their due, but instead be encouraged to seek a hasty death before they can become, according to some, “a burden to society.”

“I am worried that we may be reducing religious freedom to a kind of privacy right to recreational activities, reducing the practice of religion to a Sabbath hobby, instead of a force that should guide our public actions, as Michelle Obama recently noted, Monday through Friday.

“I am bothered by the prospect of this generation leaving a mountain of unpayable debt to its children and grandchildren, whose economic futures will be blighted by the amounts of the federal budget absorbed by debt service.”

“I am anxious that calls for a fiscally responsible society are met with claims that those calls come from men and women who don’t care about the poor; that we may be tempted to write off the underprivileged as problems to be solved, or as budget woes, rather than treating them with respect and dignity as people with potential and creativity; that we’re at times more willing to cut programs to help the sick, our elders, the hungry and homeless, than expenditures on Drone missiles.

“I am concerned that our elections increasingly resemble reality TV shows rather than exercises in serious democratic conversation.”

“I am bothered that we are losing sight of voting as an exercise in moral judgment, in which certain priority issues-especially the life issues, with the protection of unborn life being the premier civil rights issue of the day-must weigh heavily on our consciences as we make our political decisions”.
“I am worried by attempts to redefine marriage, and to label as “bigots” those who uphold the traditional, God-given definition of marriage.”

“I am anxious that we cannot seem to have a rational debate over immigration policy, and that we cannot find a way to combine America’s splendid tradition of hospitality to the stranger with respect for the rule of law, always treating the immigrant as a child of God, and never purposefully dividing a family”.

“I am worried about the persecution of people of faith around the world, especially with the hatred of Christians on a perilous incline; and the preference for violent attacks upon innocents instead of dialogue as the path to world peace.”

“I expect that many of you share these concerns. In the words of “Faithful Citizenship,” how we should respond is clear. The document says, “Our focus is not on party affiliation, ideology, economics, or even competence and capacity to perform duties, as important as such issues are. Rather, we focus on what protects or threatens human life and dignity.”

“As you consider these concerns, I will be praying for you in Rome that the humble, joyful Poverello of Assisi intercede for us, and that Mary Immaculate, patroness of the United States and Star of the New Evangelization, will inspire in us wisdom, prudence, and courage.”
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Pope Benedict XVI’s Prayer Intentions for October 2012:

General Intention:New Evangelization. That the New Evangelization may progress in the oldest Christian countries.

Missionary Intention:World Mission Day.  That the celebration of World Mission Day may result in a renewed commitment to evangelization.

Keywords: Timothy Dolan,Cardinal Dolan,Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Faithful Citizenship, Catholic Vote, abortion, marriage, family, debt, solidarity, Romney, Ryan, Obama, Biden, Deacon Keith Fournier

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