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By 1984 my parents were "Reagan Democrats." He had won them over as he did with millions of others. Of course, I too was a "Reagan Democrat" at this time, just as my parents were, just as most fourteen year-old teenagers follow their parents in politics. Like most people of my generation, I still have fond memories of the 1980s, and why shouldn't I? It was the best economic growth our nation had seen since the 1950s. These were good times to be an American. However, we shouldn't fool ourselves into the mindset that all was good during the 1980s. During this time, seeds were being sown that would eventually become our economic demise in the twenty-first century. By 1988 I could legally vote, and my first ballot was cast for George H. Bush in a Republican straight ticket. So there you have it. It was the eight year transformation of a young mind full of mush; from the crying ten-year old over a Democratic loss, to a young man casting his vote to ensure a Republican victory. How does something like that happen?
The truth is, it's happened lots of times, millions upon millions of times, not just in America, but around the world. If you've ever voted, it's probably happened to you. People behave essentially like herd animals. They're easily manipulated and controlled by those with money and power. Democracy is the best political vehicle available to make that happen. The modern media is just the oil that greases the machine.
Through the 1990s, as a young man, I was a die-hard Republican. I flirted with Libertarianism for a brief period of time, but when it came to voting, I was pretty much straight-ticket Republican. I think the last presidential election I was ever exited about was in 2000, wherein I voted for then Governor George W. Bush over then Vice President Albert Gore. What I thought would be a decisive victory of a Republican candidate over the corruption of the Clinton administration turned out to be an electoral nightmare. The election was stalled in Florida, and ultimately decided by a few thousand votes and the electoral college process. Let's not forget the roles of the Florida and United States supreme courts in that whole fiasco. G.W. Bush won by a hair, but I'm afraid that's when the reality of American politics, and democracy in general, started to set in with me.
I'm ashamed to admit it. Yes, I am truly ashamed, and consider this a sort of public confession, but while President G.W. Bush was ramping up forces to invade Iraq, I like many Americans, believed his rhetoric. In fact, when Pope John Paul II warned us of the folly of this military exercise, I believed my president over my pope. I said to myself that the president has information the pope is obviously not privy to, and the president knows what is best in these situations. The pope is a nice old man, so I thought, who's job it is to promote peace, but really doesn't understand the situation. I know the truth now. I WAS A FOOL! Pope John Paul II was right, and the president was wrong. Bush couldn't even produce these so-called "weapons of mass destruction" he got us all so worries about. By 2005 that was obvious. I, and millions of other Catholic Americans who supported him, were left with egg on our faces. We were played. I am ashamed of not listening to my pope over my president, and I can assure the current pope, and all future popes, that will NEVER happen again. So in 2005 my eyes were beginning to open to this zeitgeist we call Modernism.
The German word "zeitgeist" is often attributed to the philosopher Georg Hegel (b.1770 -- d.1831). It is transliterated into English as "time-spirit," and it simply means the "spirit of the age," or the dominant way of thinking during a certain period of history. The word "modernism" has many attributions, but it is particularly the religious-philosophical one I am interested in here. By that I mean the definition condemned by Blessed Pope Pius IX on December 8, 1864 in his "Syllabus of Errors." Modernism is the mindset or philosophy that pervades our modern times. It is the zeitgeist of our age. It consists of many things; atheism, pantheism, communism, socialism, relativism, and the like. More specifically to the United States, it pertains to the errors of our nation's Founding Fathers, who advocated a "wall of separation" between church and state, which eventually led to the creation of government-run secular schools that are completely separated from (even opposed to in some cases) all things religious. By extension, it leads to the notion that issues of family and morality can be subject to a popular vote, or even a secular court decision, in such a way that redefines them apart from religion. These things Blessed Pope Pius IX condemned as heretical "errors" in his Syllabus, which Catholics cannot believe, but unfortunately, they are the very things that define our modern civilisation, which includes the United States of America as one of modernism's chief proponents throughout the world.
So people ask me today if I'm a Republican, Democrat or Independent. I answer: "none of the above." I am a Catholic -- period. For the most part, Catholics are unrepresented in American politics, even by so-called "Catholic politicians" on both sides of the political isle. The social teaching of the Church transcends everything the United States government represents, and it is something American politics cannot even hope to measure up to. I look at the political field of candidates and ideas. I am disgusted by what I see. Of the two major parties, this is our choice, as I see it. Democrats offer us a centrally-planned economy (socialism-lite), with moral relativism to underpin it. The Catholic Church has condemned both ideologies. Republicans offer us an economy of rugged-individualism (libertarian capitalism) with promises to restore Christian values that are never delivered and often compromise with the zeitgeist of moral relativism (i.e. "homosexual civil unions" instead of "gay marriage"). Again, the Catholic Church has condemned both ideologies. What does the Catholic Church teach insofar as American politics go? Well, let's list some issues to help define that...
- 100% Pro-Life: that means no abortions, no Plan B morning after pill, no artificial contraception, no in-vitro fertilisation, no euthanasia or "mercy killings," no executions (capital punishment), no human cloning, no embryonic stem-cell research, no unnecessary wars. Life is sacred. Get the picture?
- 100% Pro-Family: that means no gay "marriage" and no "same-sex civil unions," no easy divorce, no turning marriage into a mere legal contract. Marriage means one man, plus one women, open to the possibility of creating human life. Period.
- Solidarity with immigrants: while this doesn't mean open wide the doors and allow a nation to be overrun by undocumented aliens, it does mean showing mercy to those people who are already here and otherwise living as peaceful law-abiding workers. It means making a path for these people to enjoy basic human rights and possibly even a path to citizenship.
- Solidarity with the poor: this means helping those in the greatest need, providing for food, clothing, medicine and shelter.
- Universal healthcare: this means all people have a right to medicine when needed, without having to worry about losing their homes, or becoming indentured servants to obtain it.
- Government Subsidiarity: this means socialism is out! It means that people have to find solutions at the local level, and that larger government entities must find ways of supporting local solutions rather than centrally planning them.
- Economic Subsidiarity: this means big business must change. People have a right to productive property and to own their means of labour. Monopolies must be broken up at all levels to make way for small family-owned businesses, and large corporations should consider transforming themselves into worker-owned cooperatives.
- School Choice: this means parents have the absolute RIGHT to determine what form of education is best for their children, while governments, communities and churches have the absolute RESPONSIBILITY to provide for this choice and make it economically possible.
That's right, none! Neither political party represents Catholic social teaching, not even in a small way. They are both woefully insufficient. They are both sorrowfully bankrupt. They are both pitiful. Neither major political party deserves the Catholic vote, and yes, they know it. That's why they work so feverishly to divide the American people along single-issues and demonise each other with the most inflammatory language. When all else fails, they start a war (or some international crisis) to rally their supporters and keep the nation divided along the terms they have predetermined.
On the outskirts of American politics are the marginalised "third parties," and again, nothing represents Catholic teaching among them. If they affirm one aspect, they deny another. It's the same trap, just reformulated a different way. It is the zeitgeist of modernism played out again under smaller banners. These do not deserve the Catholic vote either. It doesn't really matter though. American politics is so clearly dominated by the two main parties that the rise of a third political party is all but impossible. So this is the situation we live in, but it's not just limited to the United States. Canada, Australia, Europe, and indeed the whole Western world is caught up in the modernist zeitgeist.
What of democracy itself? What do we say of that? I think anyone who follows national or international events can tell you that democracy is controlled by labour unions and big business. This is true not only for capitalist nations but for socialist nations too. What has emerged in our lifetime is a strange kind of marriage between big business, big unions and big government. The three are wedded together in the most queer way. In the end they rely on each other. They depend on each other. They literally need one another, and they know it. The common man is more impoverished because of it. No, for all this talk about conspiracy theories and "dark smoke-filled rooms," there is really nothing to hide. It's all just business you see, and it's been business all along. Look, large political campaigns, such as the presidential and senatorial campaigns, are very expensive to finance, and every political campaign needs money. There is a small handful of very large businesses and labour unions that are willing to foot the bill. The people who run these operations are just businessmen, and they're usually very eager to pay. As good businessmen however, they only expect a good return on their investments. So there you have it. Politicians, by nature of the expensive campaign process, are bought and paid for before they're ever sworn into office. It doesn't matter which party they belong to, or how many churches they visited during the campaign. It doesn't even matter what political, social, religious or philosophical persuasion they cling to. In the end they have to make promises to their biggest campaign donors, and if they break those promises, they cannot expect such "generosity" from those big donors again. This is why many large donors contribute to the campaigns of opposing political candidates. That way, it doesn't matter who wins the election, because the large donor wins the favours. That is modern democracy in a nutshell, and that is why everything seems so "screwed up." In the end, whoever you vote for in big national campaigns, is likely somebody who is already bought and paid for by a large business and/or labour entity that does not necessarily have your best interests in mind. The same is true for democracy on all levels, but the problem becomes more manageable as you get into smaller state and local governments. At the lower levels of government there can be more accountability to the people, because campaigns are less expensive to finance. When it comes to democracy, I highly recommend it at the city and county levels. The state level is a little sketchy. As for the federal and national level, I am now of the opinion that it's pretty much a farce.
Is it "unpatriotic" for me to say these things? I suppose it is only if you believe observation of the truth is unpatriotic. I really don't believe there is a political solution to the problems that now face our civilisation. I think the ideas and tools offered by America's Founding Fathers are woefully inadequate for what has now become of our world. The solutions offered by both political parties in the United States, when you really stop and think about it, are just more of the same thing, repackaged to look pretty for another generation. I don't worship political candidates, nor do I shed tears for them any more. I'm tired of being suckered. I'm afraid that what is needed is some kind of a great social "reset," but I don't know what that would be or how that would play out. What I do know is this zeitgeist of Modernism cannot last forever. It is already beginning to crumble all around us. The Syllabus of Blessed Pope Pius IX will be vindicated, and in many ways, it already has been. There will come a new global order someday. I don't know exactly what it will be, or how it will play out, but I do know that this zeitgeist of modernism will at that time be relegated to history's ash heap of failed ideas. I suspect people will eventually default back to something they know works. I imagine that will be something from our Christian past. No, I don't have any predictions or details.
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