It’s NOT the economy, [stupid].

For several years, the conventional wisdom has been that conservatives who are Republicans should keep quiet about social issues since their positions are not mainstream enough. Instead, they have been advised to talk about the economy. Well, for the second presidential election in a row, we see where that got us.

In 2000 and 2004, it was widely acknowledged that value voters drove the election results. They turned out like Ronald Reagan was running for office. In 2008, they clearly stayed home. I’ll leave it to the experts to analyze what happened this year, but values were not front and center.

When we suffer defeat, we can always learn from our opponents. They did something better than we did. As Tom Peters and others have noted, they ran on social values: abortion, contraception, and gay marriage. Those “in the know,” i.e. those of us who tend to be more of the activist type, got the message that Romney was running on our issues, cloaked under the assumedly more palatable guise of the economy. But we activist types are the minority.

Unemployment and the fiscal mess that we seem to be heading into did not do enough to move voters.

I have supported Republican candidates because I believe that the social values issues, as set forth by the Catholic Church, are core to our society and the most prominent Democrat candidates have been explicitly opposed to the most fundamental of these same values. I don’t think that a society/government/economy will function well if human dignity is not respected at all levels. Looking back at history, I have yet to see one that did.

As Catholics, we have just begun the Year of Faith. If anything, this election tells me that we need to proclaim the truth that our faith teaches, particularly as it concerns the dignity of the human person. Let’s not try to sanitize the values issues with talk of the economy. It hasn’t worked. At the same time, there are a lot of Catholics voting who don’t understand or accept the Catholic Church’s consistent teaching on social values. That’s a great place to start our Year of Faith. As a church, we need to teach. As citizens, we need to voice our opinions, even when we fear that they might be unpopular.

Playing it safe just got us four more years of unprecendented support for the victimization and destruction of the least among us. It just guaranteed us a long, uphill battle to protect our freedoms of religion and conscience. What better way to start this next four years than with the Year of Faith?



  • davend

    I don’t think most people voted on the economy at all–otherwise Barack Obama would have been soundly defeated. People actually voted their values on this one–it’s just that those values aren’t the same as Catholic values.

  • downtowner

    I think you just got it completely wrong. The GOP has steered too far to the right on social issues and in the process ostracized many demographics including blacks, latinos, women, gays, and young adults. That is a good portion of America right there and as those demographic groups grow the GOP will become more irrelevant unless they can adapt and throw a bone to those groups. That pretty much left the only with older white men and evangelicals. After this massive loss they will never be able to win the presidency again until they realign their party so it is more in tune with mainstream America. They have a decision to make about the future of the GOP and it will most likely include dumping the religious right/FOX news demographic and veering more towards a libertarian point of view because that is where the independents are right now.

  • Faithful Democrat

    It is the economy, (stupid). It’s just that most people realized that they would get the economic shaft if Romney was elected. But please do keep emphasizing the evils of contraception, stay steadfast and even get more hysterical in your opposition to Obamacare, keep insisting that your homophobic hatred results in persecution against you, keep insisting that Democrats are pro-abortion and murderers to boot, yada yada yada. I love you all more than you’ll ever know. You are doing God’s work. Not the way you think, but folks like you are ensuring the destruction of the Republican Party and the advent of President Clinton, Hillary, that is . . . . Twelve More Years (and more). Love you, love you, love you all.

  • Anita

    The Catholic Church needs to give up its tax exempt status or whatever is necessary so that it can speak explicitly about issues. The liberal priests (and the lazy ones) are why many Catholics think it was ok to vote for someone who does not respect Catholicism or its teachings. We all look to the Church for guidance, if it cannot teach us then that leaves a void to be filled by others, less qualified. We must all pray for the leaders of America and those of our Church.

  • Bill

    In church for three weeks we were told by our priests and bishop to vote our conscience. What does that mean?

  • Fr. Satish Joseph

    For most part I have refused to use the pulpit to endorse any candidate. Many
    of you have commended me for this and others have castigated the stand that many
    other priests and I have taken. For those of us who took the non-partisan stand,
    the experience of one of my theologian friends best summarizes how we feel. She was called both a flaming liberal and a
    zealous conservative within the same week. But what meaning shall we assign to
    this election as a people of faith? Ironically, it was ‘Sandy’ that provided us
    an opportunity to look beyond politics. When President Obama and Gov. Chris
    Christy came together to focus on the rescue and recovery of a people in peril,
    the entire nation got a glimpse of what politics is all about. At the forefront
    during those days were not differences but rather service to the affected
    irrespective of wealth, race, religion or political affiliation. And the
    question I am asking is why this could not be the norm rather than the
    exception. For me it is hard to see a divided nation but it is even harder to
    see a divided church. I am saddened that some Catholics have often chosen to
    let politics inform their faith rather than faith inform their politics. I am
    saddened to see the entire Catholic teaching reduced to a few non-negotiable
    principles in this way sacrificing the comprehensiveness and beauty of the
    Catholic faith at the altar of politics. Unfortunately, even some bishops have
    contributed to the narrow interpretation of Catholic theology. I certainly have
    refused to be part of such partisan politicking.

    As president Obama and Gov. Chris Christy showcased in their working together, I think that politics must first serve the most vulnerable among us. After all, we believe in a God who came to call not the righteous but the sinners; a God who called not the strong but the weak; a God to came not to be served but to serve. When public policy is such that the most vulnerable are taken care of then we know that everybody is taken care of. Many a times, the most vulnerable person is in the womb, other times
    he or she is walking homeless on our streets, and many times he is man on death
    row. The Catholic teachings are broad enough to take care of them all. I think
    that the only non-negotiable principle is love – all the way from the womb and
    all the way to the tomb.

    Fr. Satish Joseph, Dayton, OH

    • Douglas

      Perhaps instead of spending millions of dollars to ban gay people from getting a marriage license at their local city hall, the Catholic Church should have invested some time and money into this:

      • Bill

        To my knowledge, the catholic church has not spent one penny to ban gay marriage. However, the church has spoken out against it, as they should.

        • TRUTH PLEASE

          That’s weird, the Minnesota Artorney General’s website shows that Catholic Churches and diocese were the too contributors to the discriminatory marriage amendment. Did the money come from the poor box, or did you steal it from somewhere else?

        • riotjock™

          Minnesota Catholic Conference: 901,620.97
          Knights of Columbus: $350,000.00
          Diocese of St. Cloud: $62,602.00
          Diocese of Crookston: $50,000.00
          Diocese of Winona: $50,000.00
          MN Catholic Conference: $33,554.72
          Knights of Columbus State Council: $26,700.00

          Grand total Catholics spent running ads against gay people: $1.5 MILLION.

          How many hungry people could the church have fed with that money?

          • royally pi**ed off

            that’s pretty selective. how many abortions, uh, how much food could have been provided with the money Bezos gave the gays in Washington state to fight for their ‘rights’? Sometimes you have to spend might to fight against horrific wrongs, like gay marriage.

    • Bill

      The church and government as well as other generous people will always take care of the poor. Bur the unborn have no protection against this president and “catholic” democrats.

    • Floyd

      Thank you for posting this. I completely agree. Too often people are blinded by this narrow view professed by the right wing and do not look beyond this. We have a responsibility to look to take care of those who are most vulnerable in the womb AND out of the womb, not just the former.

    • Julie T.

      Father, with all due respect, the human life made in God’s image who is in the womb is *always* the most vulnerable. Please do not use that Cardinal Bernardin “seamless garment” apology. It was seized by the left and twisted about until there was nothing left of hard Gospel Truth left in it. That philosophy is all about relativism and Jesus Christ was not, is not, nor ever will be about “relativism”.

      • Fr. Satish Joseph

        Yes, I agree with your first comment. Surely, every child in the womb is vulnerable. My use of the words “many a times” does not mean that there are times that the child in the womb is not vulnerable. But vulnerability does not end there. I have immigrant families my parish who are also vulnerable… there are children there too. Only things is they are not still in the womb. When “self-deportation” was proposed during the primaries, families (which by the way is central to Catholic doctrine) were threatened. To apply a principle to all situations is not called relativism. It is called moral consistency. Rather, I argue that to apply the vulnerability argument only the unborn without applying it to those vulnerable outside the womb is relativism. In fact, you are engaging in moral relativism… that some moral principles apply in some situation and not in others.



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