Sunday, May 01, 2005

Congressman Lacy Clay Makes an Unexpected Vote

U.S. Representative Lacy Clay, Democrat, Missouri 1st District, voted for the House Bill 748, the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which prohibits transportation of minors across state lines for abortion without parental approval. Congressman Clay, who is a professed Catholic, voted against his party on this bill. He is a member of Saint Nicholas Parish in North Saint Louis, staffed by members of the Society of the Divine Word Missionaries, Chicago Province, an order that specializes in inner-city, ethnic, and social justice ministries.

Clay said "I'm going to follow my church leadership and vote in favor of this bill," although he has been critical of Archbishop Burke's policy of withholding communion from politicians who support abortion. Is this is a conversion of heart or is it is a calculated move to gain votes? The latter appears more probable, from this article. "We have to start being flexible...Now, that's going to alienate some of my constituents in the pro-choice community. But look, it's time we start telling these constituency groups, hey, don't be so rigid in your stance and hold us to such a litmus test that it costs us seats."

Clay's district roughly covers Saint Louis City north of Interstate 44 in the eastern 2/3rds of the City and Highway 40 in the west part of the City, all of north Saint Louis County, and much of west Saint Louis County north of Highway 40 excluding the Clayton area. Population loss in his historic district led to a realignment of the boundary lines to areas that include more Republican voters than the old north Saint Louis, including parts of Creve Coeur, Ladue, and Frontenac.

We are witnessing a sea change in the Culture War, and political forces are realigning. At one time, to be a Catholic meant being a Democrat. The Republican Party was originally the Liberal party, home to the Robber Barons, who crushed the spirit and destroyed the livelihoods of poor Catholic immigrants within the machines of Progress, and who used social engineering and educational reforms to deprive Catholics of their ethnic identity and Church affiliation. The Democratic Party, although home to pro-slavery, and later pro-segregation forces in the South, and by the 1930s, Socialists, became more controlled in the North by Catholics in the great cities.

Nowadays, the Democratic Party is being more controlled by the wealthy, who have visions of a New Secular Order, where materialist spirituality can be bought and sold, and great profit may be made via sales of medical services and pharmaceuticals to the welfare state. This is startlingly apparent by the financial activities of George Soros during the 2004 Presidential election, who attempted to buy a presidency and who also is controlling a wide variety of organizations who are flooding the United Nations and social justice networks with his peculiar agenda. But this is also the vision of many "Country Club" Republicans who are increasingly uneasy with their 40 year old alliance with the religious conservatives.

The last realignment occurred in the 1960s, when Southern Democrats abandoned segregation and became Republican, and the Democratic Party became increasingly radicalized. Catholics were prominent in the social justice arena of that era, and were then the major core constituency of the Democratic Party. The reforms following the Second Vatican Council were greatly admired by this new radicalism; however, Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae, rejecting the sexual revolution, was a great disappointment to the new Democratic leftists being elected throughout the country by the early 1970s. Catholics still largely supported the Party, but the Party became alienated from Catholics and started proposing and implementing many policies that were in direct opposition to Catholic doctrine. Older Catholics remained loyal to the Party, mainly, while the Catholic youth -- or at least practicing Catholic youth -- were Republican from the start of their voting lives. This change became very apparent during the Reagan presidency, where several practicing Catholics held prominent positions in the administration.

Do not forget that the party platforms of both Republican and Democratic Parties are HETERODOX. Neither party has a worldview, philosophy, or policy proposals that are completely compatible with Catholicism. But we must participate, the Magisterium and Natural Law both insist on active participation in civic life. The Republican Party generally respects traditional family and religion, while also supporting policies that cause job loss and social disruption. The Democratic Party historically fought for the rights of Catholic Americans, supports Catholic social justice policies, but also is attempting the destruction of the family as well as promoting socialism, euthanasia and abortion.

What is a Catholic voter to do?

Some sects, philosophies, and undercover political operatives suggest retiring from political life. This is unacceptable and not Catholic. Catholics must -- as a matter of the virtue of justice -- be patriotic, and be actively involved.

Some suggest forming a third party, which will be pure and will support Catholic doctrine fully. Under our system of winner take all elections, third parties are usually failures. Those political systems that do have multiple parties are usually chaotic, with frequent change of government, and more troubling, often come under control of the one party that will broker its votes to the highest bidder -- and when it does take control, it will change the system for its own benefit, and sometimes remain in power as a near-dictatorship for decades.

Some say switch loyalties from the Democratic Party to the Republican Parties. Many hard core Democratic Catholics are from organized labor, but now most are likely to be dissenting Catholics (or what were once called heretics). Other supporters are older, and remain loyal due to history and won't likely change due to painful memories of Republican business owners who told them that "Catholics need not apply" for employment, and for the good union jobs that Democrats fought for. However, I suspect that many dissenters will give up in their subversive attempt to "change from within" and will go back to their former strategy of trying to destroy the Church from without, like the Communists, freethinkers, and atheists of the past. The Republican Party strongly supports policies that cause good jobs to be lost. Yes, new jobs are created, but huge social disruption occurs in the interim, and older workers probably will never regain their former standard of living due to inability to learn the skills needed for the new jobs. And, many Republicans, like Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, are opposing their pro-life constituents by backing biotechnology business that will do clone-and-kill research or create chimeras -- hybrids of humans and animals.

The greatness of the American system of government is that both political parties are somewhat centrist. It is difficult for a minority political view to gain ascendancy, at least by election (although the Supreme Court has been very affective at pushing extreme views). Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Ratzinger, even suggested that the American model of government is more conducive of good Church-State relations compared to European governments, even those European states that financially support the Church, since European governments are either relentlessly athiest or control the Church too much. In the United States, Catholic unity would get the attention of both parties. Especially if the Magisterium, local ordinaries, and the laity push for a single Catholic vision, then political change could happen, without Catholics completely selling their souls to a single party. This is most likely if the views expressed are long-held, rational, and practical views, that can be easily found in the long history of the Church, and not recent novelties. We can expect opposition and cries for "Separation of Church and State", and even increased persecution. But we need to do our duty.

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