Sunday, November 18, 2012

Proclaim Liberty: Notes on the Next Great Awakening in America

Proclaim Liberty: Notes on the Next Great Awakening in America.

Beyond Republicans and Democrats, Conservatism and Liberalism

During the final days of the presidential campaign this November, I was on retreat and read Carl Anderson's Proclaim Liberty: Notes on the Next Great Awakening in America. Published by Image Books, © 2012. It was difficult to vote - yet again - when both parties - in both their candidates and their platforms - present a conflicting set of moral goods - or the lack thereof.

Proclaim Liberty: 
Notes on the Next Great Awakening in America.

Anderson gives voice to many voters' dilemma - Catholic and otherwise:  
"Unfortunately in politics, Catholics—and especially many in the Hispanic community—are too often confronted with a choice between a candidate who claims to be welcoming of immigrants (but supports legal abortion, restrictions on religious freedom, or other policies hostile to immigrants’ values ...) and a candidate who stands with the Church on these social issues but holds positions that might be less welcoming of immigrants.

"Every election year, many Catholic voters see their choices as between the lesser of two evils. They face candidates who argue that, while they may not be consistent with Catholic values on all issues, they are consistent on some and that should be good enough. But it is not good enough. And as bad as this situation is, it has produced an even worse result: it has blocked the potential of Catholic social teaching to transform our politics."

Anderson continues: "Obviously, there is a difference between a national referendum and the election of candidates for public office, but consider what we could achieve over the next decade if we insisted that politicians seek our vote on our terms—that is to say, on the terms of an authentic appreciation of Catholic social teaching. 

"Consider one example from recent history. In the 1976 Iowa caucus, Jimmy Carter and Sargent Shriver were both seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. As we know, Jimmy Carter won in Iowa and went on to win the nomination and become president. But what if Shriver had won in Iowa and he had gone on to become president? Is it likely that four years later, Ronald Reagan would have been able to build a winning coalition of so-called Reagan Democrats, composed primarily of blue-collar Catholics, to defeat an incumbent pro-life Catholic President Shriver? How would American politics have been different after eight years of a Shriver administration rather than of a Reagan administration?

"Shouldn’t our goal as Catholics be to achieve a political environment where Catholic voters can choose between candidates who are in agreement on the fundamental social teaching of the Church? And if so, how would that new reality change the platforms of both our major political parties regarding other principles of Catholic social teaching?

"I cannot predict the answers to these questions, nor can I say which political party would benefit. I cannot say how our political parties may change during the next decade if politicians take seriously Catholic social teaching. But the outcome could be a new political coalition in which Catholics would play an irreplaceable role. This is not promoting partisan politics—it is the opposite of partisanship.

"Our fourth step must be to transform our national politics on the basis of Catholic social teaching. It was in our grasp to transform American politics in 1976—and it can be again. No political party in America can be successful and at the same time lose a majority of Catholic voters. The solution is as simple as this: we should exercise our right to vote on our own terms and not on the terms of others. If we do, America will be a better place."

Carl Anderson is the Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus.

The Knights of Columbus was founded 130 years ago by immigrants and the children of immigrants to protect both the faith and the finances of their families. It was founded for another reason, as well.  In the face of massive immigration by Irish and German Catholics in the nineteenth century, the American Party, the “Know Nothings,” and other anti-Catholic bigots claimed that these new Catholic immigrants could not be faithful to papal teaching in matters of faith and morals and at the same time be loyal to the values of American democratic society. The Knights of Columbus sought to show that Catholics coming to the United States could be both faithful to their Church’s teaching and loyal Americans.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the above book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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