Editorial: Will the Republican Party Compromise on the Moral Basis of a Free Society?
Freedom is much more than a freedom from, it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. The early founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to just such an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life
As a Nation we have lost our moral compass. As a direct result, we are losing real, genuine freedom. The idea that we can separate moral issues from fiscal or international issues is wrong. There is a moral basis to every political and social concern - that includes economics and foreign policy. Making this claim is not reserved to the religious.It acknowledges a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. That Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built.
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - The pundits have been burning the technological version of the midnight oil concerning the future of the Republican Party. An April 1, 2013 article in Politico entitled "Social conservatives fight back" offered the response of Rick Santorum who told Politico in an interview, "Look, the Republican Party isn't going to change. If we do change, we'll be the Whig Party. We're not the Libertarian Party, we're the Republican Party."
I may not share his confidence any longer on the Republican Party. I left the Democratic Party many years ago, after its leadership was taken over by a morally incoherent coalition of social and cultural engineers. I am a reluctant Republican. In fact, I never officially registered as a Republican. Now, I am deeply concerned about the leadership of the Republican Party as it retreats from defending the moral foundations of a free society.
When there is nothing objectively true - which can be known by all and form the basis of our common life - there is no basis for true freedom. Freedom can neither be realized, nor can it flourish, unless it is exercised in reference to choosing what is true and what is good. Our choices not only affect the world around us, they change us as a people.
As a Nation we have lost our moral compass. As a direct result, we are losing real, genuine freedom. The idea that we can separate moral issues from fiscal or international issues is wrong. There is a moral basis to every political and social concern - that includes economics and foreign policy. Making this claim is not reserved to the religious.Such a claim acknowledges a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. That Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built.
The Natural Moral Law gives us norms needed to build just societies and govern ourselves. It must inform the positive law of a Nation or it becomes lawless and devolves into anarchy. We need men and women in to run for office and govern who are unafraid to acknowledge this fact. They need to be strong enough to withstand the incessant effort to caricature, label and disparage them because they openly espouse such views. Truth does not change, people and cultures do; sometimes for good and sometimes for evil.
There is a hierarchy of rights, which begins with Life. When there is no recognition of a preeminent right to life, there follows an erosion of the entire structure of all human rights. Human rights do not exist in a vacuum; they are goods of the human person. When a society fails to recognize that persons are more important than things, when it loses sight of the primacy of the inviolable dignity of every single human person at every age, every stage and of every size, it embraces a form of practical materialism, worshipping a new golden calf.
The division between social thought and economic application is a false dichotomy. The market was made for man and not man for the market. Only a moral people can ensure that a market economy remains free. Without the freedom to be born, all of the talk about compassion for the poor as well as the promise of economic freedom is hollow. Our failure as a Nation to recognize that our first neighbors in the womb have a right to be born and live a full life in our community is a foundational failure in our obligation in solidarity.
It is also an open rejection of the entire ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper and its implications. There can be no enduring lasting solidarity upon which to build a secure future in a culture that kills its own children and actually calls it a right. Freedom is much more than a freedom from, it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. The early founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to just such an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life.
In addition to insisting upon the recognition by the State of the fundamental Human Right to Life we must also defend authentic marriage. Marriage is the first society into which children are to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish and take their role in families and communities. We can only be fully human - and experience human flourishing and freedom - in relationship with one another. We are by nature - and by grace - social creatures.
The effort to redefine marriage out of existence threatens our future as a free, virtuous and healthy people. Marriage and family have been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of creation and relation. In the words of the first book of the Bible we read "it is not good for man to be alone". It all begins with the family. We can only be fully human - and experience human flourishing and freedom - in relationship with one another. We are by nature - and by grace - social creatures.
Children have a right to a mother and a father. Of course we must care about the single parent family and the many broken homes. However, their existence does not change the norm necessary for grounding a stable and healthy society. In tact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order.
Freedom brings with it obligations to do what is right and to care for others. We have an obligation in solidarity to one another and, in particular, to the poor. We are our brother/sisterīs keeper. The division between social thought and economic application is a false dichotomy. The market was made for man and not man for the market. Only a moral people can ensure that a market economy remains free.
However, we also need to apply the social ordering principle of subsidiarity in implementing this obligation in both governing structures and the economic order. This principle insists that governance should be exercised at the lowest practicable level - first - beginning with the family. Larger governing entities must never usurp the rightful role of families and the mediating structures of society such as religious institutions, associations, charities and small self governing structures between the family and the institutions of civil government.
Statism never works, whether of the rightist or the leftist version. It squelches freedom, creativity, initiative and genuine human compassion. Not because government is somehow intrinsically evil, but because collectivism is simply not good government; it is tyranny. The question we should ask is whether government is good, including whether it is efficient and effective as well as healthy. That can best be assessed by considering who does the governing, where it happens and whether such governing reflects truly moral values.
We must insist upon the moral foundation of freedom. We may be free to choose, but some choices are always and everywhere wrong. We know this is true because it is written on the human heart. It does not require religion to reveal it or to make it obligatory. It is a part of our common morality. For example, the shared knowledge of what is right is the basis for our criminal justice system. We all know it is always wrong to kill an innocent neighbor. This is true even if that neighbor lives in the first home of the whole human race, their mother's womb. We hide voluntary abortion behind Orwellian language such as choice and abortion rights in an attempt to make it sound noble, but it is barbarism. It does not free us; it enslaves us.
We need men and women to run for public office who can champion authentic freedom - in a way that inspires people to sacrifice for it. We need candidates who promote an authentic vision of human freedom; not a libertinism masquerading as liberty or a selfish individualism rejecting our obligation to one another. They will also need thick skin because they will face the brunt of the intolerant secularists along with the derision of some within their own political circles.
The secularist censors want to relegate our truth claims concerning the dignity of every human life and our defense of marriage and the family founded upon it by claiming they are just religious positions. They then insist that these positions are not an appropriate subject for public policy or political discourse. They want truth claims to be confined within our Church Walls. They now try to use the Police power of the State to silence us.
This is not freedom it is tyranny. There is a difference between a secular state, a state which welcomes all religious expressions or none at all, and "secularism", an oppressive anti-religious regime which seeks to censor out of the public forum the wonderful contributions of the Church, people of faith, and the great ideas informed by faith which have shaped the West. There is a Cultural Revolution underway in the West. There are two conflicting visions of the human person, human freedom, human flourishing and marriage and the family founded upon it as the first cell of a truly just society contending for the future. These visions are incompatible with one another. Only one will triumph.
The American founders carried a vision of authentic freedom into the experiment in ordered liberty called the United States of America. However, they did not come up with this ennobling and enabling vision on their own. They received it from the treasury of Western civilization which is found in Christendom. It is the Jewish and Christian vision of the human person, the primacy of marriage and the family founded upon it, and the acknowledgement of the existence of normative, fundamental moral truths, which guarantees the future of Western civilization.
The truths revealed by the Natural Law have fueled our determined efforts to build a truly free society. They have ensured our survival against totalitarianism of every ilk and every political persuasion. When embraced and welcomed, they can properly govern our life together and keep the flame of freedom burning in the torch of Lady Liberty. When rejected, we will succumb to the various forms of tyranny which pretend to liberate but only lead to slavery. The Republican Party is at a crossroads. Will it compromise on the moral basis of a free society?
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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