Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Il Papa

I've read the remarks from Pope Francis to Congress.

What has been most striking about Francis has been most simply this: He has placed morality rather than rules at the center of the Catholic Church.  Reading his remarks, he does talk about dogma or restrictions.  He speaks eloquently about our moral responsibilities to each other.  He lays out a clear case for why we should be our brother's and sister's keeper.

Booman made an argument a few days ago that progressives should be wary about allying themselves with this Pope, because the next one could be much more anathema to causes that liberals believe in.  This is laudable if you think anyone pays a price for being mildly hypocritical in American politics.  But it misses this key point about Francis.  What he is arguing is not a doctrine but a morality based in love of one another.

In the early part of his speech, he repeatedly notes the necessity of community in building strong individuals.  As someone once said, "It takes a village."  And when Hillary wrote that, or when Obama said, "You didn't build that" in reference to roads and schools and institutions, both were articulating a creed that focused on the "pluribus" and not the "unum."  The modern GOP, infused as it is with the spirit of Ayn Rand, simply doesn't care about the "us", it cares about the "me."  It's appeal to is harp upon the differences - Mexicans, gays, blacks - that can tear our country apart.

In so many ways, America is a fragile nation.  We have attempted to include so many different cultures - indigenous and imported - and so many different of visions of what America should be, that it might not take too much to tear us apart.  Aren't we in fact, tearing each other apart verbally?

The policy examples that Francis focused on were striking.  He did not explicitly mention abortion, despite the fact that this would have earned him applause from the Right.  Instead, he tackled the death penalty, immigration reform, poverty and climate change.  If he implicitly criticized gay marriage and abortion in his remarks on family, he also implicitly endorsed the Iran nuclear deal.  If the speech was partisan, it was partisan in the direction of the Left of American politics and must have been discomfiting as hell to those who would further wealth inequality, deny climate change, build a wall on the Mexican border and apologize for the extreme discrepancies in the number of African Americans who die by the hands of the police.

Pope Francis just gave Bernie Sanders' inaugural address.

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