I hate the word politics. It comes with so many disgusting connotations; I’d much rather people (including myself) be talking about economics and philosophy than about politics. Unfortunately, in my study and discussion of economics and philosophy, there comes a time where these economic and philosophical principles have to be put into action as policy. So politics is virtually unavoidable.
This grounding of policy in principle is crucial. However, it seems that more and more people are perfectly content to skip the principle portion of the process completely and go right to policy. But what are these policies based on? Well, today, most people just regurgitate sound bites or take whatever stance they believe they are supposed to take, depending on their party alignment, and vehemently defend this position (I honestly think that the less one knows, the more impetuous and forceful they are when voicing their opinions).
This is exactly the problem though. If policies aren’t based on principle, then they lack consistency and substance. Laws are made for the sake of making laws, or for special interests, or for money, instead of being made to model the Natural Law, and to protect our liberties and rights that come from God, or from our humanity.
This brings me to Catholics and the current issue of the HHS mandate. Don’t get me wrong; I am delighted that Catholics are rising to voice their distaste (or disgust) with the HHS mandate. However, it is a bit discouraging to see the sheer amount of backlash coming now with this mandate, when it didn’t come earlier. Let me explain.
The most prevalent opposition to the HHS mandate, from what I am hearing, is based on the freedom of religion as guaranteed to us by the First Amendment. This is where things get sticky. In my honest opinion, some Catholics are coming across as self-centered and fickle in this battle. Hear me out.
Where was the backlash when Fourth Amendment rights were violated by President Bush’s passing of the USA PATRIOT Act? Where was the backlash when our Sixth Amendment rights were violated by President Obama’s signing of the 2012 NDAA? Where was the backlash when our Eighth Amendment rights were violated with the authorized use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”?
I could go on, but I’m sure you get what I am trying to say. If you are going to use the Constitution as the basis for your argument against the HHS mandate, then you have to take the Constitution as a complete document. You can’t just pick out which parts pertain to you and then hollar your lungs out protesting any injustices that affect you.
What about solidarity? Aren’t we all our brother’s keepers? Shouldn’t we speak out against all injustice, all violations of the Constitution, and all violations of our natural rights, and not just the ones that affect us? Right now, Catholics are the Church that stood by until something was unjustly demanded of us. How will anybody take us seriously when we speak out against one Constitutional violation, but twiddle our thumbs when it is others who are suffering the injustices of the government?
This goes back to my original points. Policy must be based on principle. We can’t pick and choose what policies we like based on party lines or what on what directly affects us. For example, if all life is sacred, then that includes Iraqi and Afghani citizens, death row inmates, critically ill, disabled, and US and foreign soldiers…not just the unborn.
As soon as you say, “Well, we have to violate the Constitution here because the government needs to keep us safe,” or “I’m going to support these unconstitutional wars because my party supports them,” then you have stepped onto the slippery slope. Pretty soon people will be saying, “We have to violate the Constitution here because this is a health issue, and woman need birth control.” You will object to this, but on what basis? You have nullified the Constitution as premise to any argument you make, because you supported it’s violation in the first place.
Principles must guide policy. Policy must emulate the Natural Law. A government exists to protect the rights of its people. Any government that does not exist to serve it’s people is despotic, and right now, we are all servants of our government.
“Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is required… But let it not be said that we did nothing. Let not those who love the power of the welfare/warfare state label the dissenters of authoritarianism as unpatriotic or uncaring. Patriotism is more closely linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for safety and security. Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from a society respectful of individual liberty.” – Dr. Ron Paul