Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Catholics and Politics: A Faustian Bargain

My article "Our Faustian Bargain: Catholics Caught Between Parties" appears today over at Inside Catholic. The article is the fruit of my observation of, and growing impatience with, Catholics seeming to accommodate the principles of our Faith to the two dominant political parties. We, and the faith, are the losers in this process:
Many of us are volunteering to cooperate with evil, because we see no way out of the dilemma of aligning ourselves with one party or the other. In essence, faithful Catholics are forced to accept whatever bones the major parties and candidates throw us: If we think the Democrats offer more compassionate social policies and the prospect of ending the war in Iraq, we must tolerate their embrace of abortion and same-sex unions. If we think the Republicans offer the best hope of eliminating abortion-on-demand and defending marriage, we have to be willing to tolerate their embrace of "preventive" war and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques. Catholics, it would seem, are being forced to make Faustian bargains every time they enter the voting booth.

It seems to me that we are giving up too much in our willingness to play the political game by the rules the two parties give up. Rather than transforming our parties and politics, as our faith teaches we should, we are compromised and co-opted, and end up transformed (and not in good way) by our politics.

It seems to me that if we were serious about transforming our parties and policies by making the gospel the starting point of our politics, things would look a lot different:
If Catholics were really serious about "transforming" our parties and politics, things would look much different than they do today. For example, where is the Congressional Catholic Caucus? There is a Congressional Black Caucus, a Congressional Hispanic Caucus, a Serbian Caucus, and even a Congressional Boating Caucus. So where is the caucus devoted to bringing Catholic representatives and senators together across party lines to promote, defend, and advance Catholic teaching on matters of justice and the common good?

Where are the Catholics in politics? We have Republican Catholics, and Democrat Catholics. How many of us are willing to be Catholic, first, foremost, and without compromise?

Read the whole piece.