Tulips at the Old Parsonage by passionate plantsman Charlie McCormick in the lovely Village of Little Bredy in Dorset.

Follow Sunlit Uplands by E-Mail

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Republican Tsunami: We Need a Morally Coherent Presidential Candidate

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Like millions in the United States of America I am tired today. After an evening of ministry in Church on November 4, 2014, I returned home and watched network television. I also utilized my mobile device to stay abreast of the election returns. It was a long night.

The facts speak for themselves. This was not simply a Republican wave, it was a Tsunami. What will follow in its wake is up to us.

The importance of the midterm election cannot be overstated. It was not about political parties. It was about buying some time to hold back the collapse of a culture spinning out of control. The loss of our national moral compass is at the root of every other problem, economic, international, or social. There is a moral foundation to a free society. 

The campaign for the 2016 Presidential campaign in the United States has begun in earnest. I write as a private citizen convinced of my obligation to do everything I can to ensure that we have a Presidential candidate unafraid to speak to the moral issues which are at the root of our continuing decline.

I write as a Christian who tries to inform my political participation by the truths and principles revealed in the Natural Moral Law and rooted in the Jewish and Christian patrimony of Western Civilization. I dislike the political labels of the hour.

I am a reluctant Republican. I was raised in Dorchester, Massachusetts, in a blue collar family. My family felt that the Republican Party had a silver spoon in its mouth and had no concern for people like us. I know, it was a caricature. However, like many caricatures, it had an element of truth behind it.

I left the Party calling itself Democratic when it was stolen by the coalition which now holds it captive. That coalition purports to care about the poor but fails to hear the cry of the poorest of the poor, our first neighbors in the womb of their mother. They feign a solidarity with blue collar workers but foment class warfare and push statist economic and political policies which are a grave threat to true liberty.

They pay lip service to marriage and family while actively supporting the redefinition of the word and the demise of the institution. They do not respect the first freedom of religious freedom and treat the Church with contempt and disregard for its proper and important role in promoting the common good.

In 1941, the late Catholic Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote: “Whence comes the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Read the Declaration of Independence and there find the answer: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Sheen continued, “Notice these words: The Creator has endowed men with rights and liberties; men got them from God! In other words, we are dependent on God, and that initial dependence is the foundation of our independence.” (A Declaration of Dependence, pp. 121-122).

The birth certificate of this Nation was called a Declaration of Independence because it declared independence from an unjust civil ruler. It did NOT declare independence from God. Our age has succumbed to the siren song of relativism, a philosophy which denies the existence of objective truths.

The real problem is, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the recipient of the Templeton prize in 1983 explained, “Men Have Forgotten God.”

The exercise of freedom cannot be divorced from the moral norms necessary to govern our choices – and guide our behavior.  When there is nothing objectively true which can be known by all and form the basis of a common life then there is no freedom.

There is a moral basis to a free society.

There is a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women because it is written on the human heart. It can be discerned through the exercise of reason. It should inform our life together and our positive or civil law. The existence of this Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which every great civilization has been built, including our own. It gives us the norms with which we should govern ourselves.

The American founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life. The struggle we face in the West involves a rejection of our moral roots. Those roots informed our worldview and enabled us to once rise to greatness. A recovery of those moral roots is essential for the recovery of freedom.

Freedom is more than a freedom from, it is a freedom for responsible and virtuous living. It gives us obligations to one another. The American founders spoke of the pursuit of happiness with reference to an understanding of virtue as a key to living a happy life. We need a Presidential candidate who does the same and calls us, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, to pursue our “higher angels”.

The truths revealed by the Natural Moral Law have fueled our determined efforts to build a free society. They have ensured our survival against totalitarianism of every ilk and every political persuasion. When embraced and welcomed, they help us to govern our life together in goodness and fairness and keep the flame of freedom burning in the torch of Lady Liberty. When rejected, we succumb to the various forms of tyranny which pretend to liberate but only lead to slavery.

We need to affirm together, once again, the classical Jewish and Christian worldview and social vision which influenced the American founders, whether they were religious or not, and stop running from it. We need a Presidential candidate who will call us to such a national recovery of our moral foundation.

We are a nation in crisis. The angst in the American public is evident in every poll. We are threatened from within – and without. We need a Presidential Candidate with courage, one who is morally coherent. Someone who refuses to stay away from what are disparagingly called social issues. They are moral issues and cannot be dismissed.

Just as you cannot separate body and soul in a human person, you cannot separate social and economic issues in the body politic. Only a people with shared moral values can expand a free market, protect freedom in the international order and build a truly free culture on the home front.

I offer two of many quotes from the American founders to underscore this connection between morality and freedom. First, from George Washington, the Father of our nation: “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” Second, from Benjamin Franklin: “[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”

On the day after the Republican Tsunami, I offer some personal reflections on the kind of Presidential candidate we need in the 2016 election.

We need a political movement to coalesce around the 2016 Presidential campaign in the United States which works to select a Presidential candidate who demonstrates moral coherence and does not separate social, international and economic issues in their governing philosophy.

Someone who is committed to expanding economic opportunity because of the dignity of every human person and a desire to see our neighbor succeed. One who recognizes that equality of human worth and human dignity does not equate to equality of outcome but means we are called to expand opportunity and further the common good.

Someone who is not anti-government, but advocates limited, efficient and small government. One who respects the family as the first government and understands the proper role of the principle of subsidiarity. The word is derived from a Latin word which means help and assistance.

Someone who recognizes that government begins with the smallest unit, the family, and all other government exists to provide them the help and assistance they need. The family is the first society, the first government, the first church, first school, first economy and first mediating institution. The proper role of government above the family is to provide assistance and help – NOT usurp the proper role of the government below it.

We need a Presidential candidate who recognizes the hierarchy of rights, which begins with the Right to 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. 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.

Someone who knows that a shared knowledge of what is right is what formed the basis for our criminal justice system. For example, we 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, a hospital, a prison or a hospice.

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 a rejection of the ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper. It is also a violation of a higher law, the Natural Moral Law.

We need a Presidential candidate who defends marriage as between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to life and formative of the family. Family 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 need a Presidential candidate who reaffirms the moral foundations essential to freedom. We may be free to choose, but some choices are always and everywhere wrong. We know this 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.

We need a Presidential candidate who understands that we live in an interconnected world and have an obligation, when we are asked, to help others who suffer under the boot of totalitarian systems and the horror being inflicted on the innocent by evil people who promote counterfeit ideologies and commit egregiously evil acts against helpless people.

Someone who is not afraid to confront global tyrants and bullies, when it is necessary. Someone  who understands there can be a proper role for use of legitimate force in self-defense and the defense of others. Someone who understands that it is sometimes necessary, as a necessary part of persuasion and a needed protection against the effects of evil, to use power along the path to peace.

We need a Morally Coherent Presidential Candidate. There are many qualified people emerging who may fit the bill. The field is very promising. We need an engaged movement committed to choosing them – and then getting them elected to office.

Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of the Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance, which are dedicated to the conversion of culture through four pillars of participation; life, family, freedom and solidarity. He is the Editor-in-Chief at Catholic Online. He is a constitutional lawyer who appeared in four cases before the United States Supreme Court on Pro-Life, Religious Freedom and Pro-family issues. He is the author of eight books on Christian living, Christian family and public policy issues. Deacon Fournier is a member of the Clergy of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia. He holds his BA in theology and philosophy from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, his Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Theology from the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (MTS), his Juris Doctor Law Degree Law (JD) from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and is a PhD candidate in Moral Theology at the Catholic University.

No comments: