26 March 2013

Democrats, Republicans and Pope Francis

Writing in The Washington Post, Charles Camosy draws a seemingly unlikely connection between the two major American political parties and the newly minted Pope: Republicans have a Pope Francis problem. Here's Camosy:
And the election of Pope Francis, if understood correctly by the Democrats, could push them over it.

Consider that this pope from Latin America has views about strong state and international government energetically standing for the poor and vulnerable, ecological protection, and nonviolence that are to the left of Nancy Pelosi. He would likely be considered too liberal for a prime time speaking slot at the 2016 DNC convention. The pope is radically suspicious of the libertarian approach to “autonomy” and “choice”—especially when it ends up hurting the vulnerable and opening the way for violence.

For Pope Francis, to no one’s surprise, this includes suspicion of the right to choose abortion. His anti-abortion views might make his pontificate seem unfriendly to Democrats, but in reality our peculiarly American obsession with autonomy and individual choice—whether it is about our guns, our pelvises, or our money—is more at home in the Republican party. If Democrats could embrace Pope Francis’ connection between social justice for the poor and equal protection of the laws for our prenatal children, they could finish the GOP for a generation.

It would be nice to think that Camosy is right, but, especially in matters of life and sexuality, the Democratic leadership, along with many of their candidates, are dogmatically wedded to this autonomy and individual choice and show no signs even of flexibility, much less of backing down. Those Democrats who have chosen the lonely path of dissent from this secular orthodoxy have been put under enormous pressure to conform. Such groups as Democrats for Life are swimming against the strongest current imaginable, and thus far without making so much as a dent in their party's monolithic public stance.

This should present an opportunity for the Republicans, but thus far they have chosen to squander it and indeed are difficult to take seriously. I do not envy ordinary Americans, whose political choices range from the preposterous to the unpalatable.

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