Now, what is the political upshot of the previous two posts? We have isolated the category “intrinsically evil acts.” Such acts are always evil; they can never be good. No intention and no circumstance can render them good. They are per se evil. And what in its essence is evil cannot be made good, period. We have given one example of per se evil, a significant one in the contemporary landscape, fornication. It remains to indicate others, the chief ones that touch contemporary political debate.
What are the “per se evil” acts relevant to today’s political economy? Let us get a relevant list of them. As you run through this list, compare this list with the PLATFORMS (either stated or widely known to be practically endorsed by the party as such) of the Republican and Democratic Parties.
Is one or other Party so intensely committed to so many intrinsic evils that it, effectively, automatically nixes itself as a viable party for a voter who wants to uphold Catholic moral teaching as it relates to society?
- Capital punishment? NO! It is not per se evil. This Means: It can be right and just to use it.
- Any and every control on immigration? NO! It is in the legitimate interest of peoples to keep an eye on the flux of the population. Men of virtue can disagree as to where to draw the line prudentially. Thus, it is not per se evil to control one’s borders. In fact, it is a duty of leaders to keep civil order, which can be overturned in a revolutionary manner by sloppy management of the borders. In the times of wandering barbarians, prudent Christians even built walls. Had they not, their women would have been raped and murdered. What kind of “charity” would have left women to rape and children to slavery? What kind of man would have tolerated this? Nowadays, one can debate the practicality and utility of “walls.” One also must consider the needs of helpless people. These matters can be prudently discussed. But for any nation to let within its borders, without vetting and unchecked, any and sundry persons “claiming” to be helpless, when in fact most are able bodied young men, then that nation is being wildly imprudent and setting itself up for disaster. Those who would preach to such a nation to keep open porous borders, unto its very ruin, are rebels against law, subverters of order, enablers of chaos. Self-love can be good. That is, there can be a good self-love. In fact, such a love is natural and necessary. A Christianity that preaches the opposite is no true Christianity. Only a death-cult preaches the opposite, a cult of death and gloom. There is a time for sacrifice, for suffering present wrongs, and there is a time to take up arms against a sea of troubles, and oppose them.
- Homosexual acts?The Church teaches and has always taught that these are per se evil always and everywhere. What’s more, The Church teaches that no rights emanate from evil acts as such; that no tendency to evil can generate any rights; that all rights a society sets up on such claims are null and void according to Catholic teaching. The Catholic Magisterium officially teaches: “There is no right to homosexuality, which therefore should not form the basis for juridical claims” (art. 13 of the CDF, Non-Discrimination against Homosexual Persons).
- For a sacramentally married person, who has consummated the bond, to attempt getting civilly divorced and remarried? The Church is forever clear: This is per se evil.
- Is war per se evil? No, for war can be justified.
- Abortion? Per se evil.
- Fornication? Per se evil.
- Pornography? Per se evil.
- Extortion? Usury? Per se evil.
- Contraception? Per se evil.
- Not having a minimum wage? Or setting it below such-and-such a figure? Not per se evil. Prudent men can disagree on the prudence of these things. In fact, it can often hurt the worker to fight for him on this front.
- Not having rent controls? Or letting the market largely determine matters? Not per se evil. Prudent men can disagree over this prudence of these decisions. In fact, it can often hurt renters and the housing market to enact strict laws in these matters.
- Pre-emptive war? I’ll leave a certain answer to this to the trusted moral theologians. Let’s say Hitler is building an army on the river bordering your country. Let’s say he shows active belligerence. Perhaps here the hostility is lasting and grave. Before he fires a shot, one might reasonably argue, one may launch an attack.
- A state not having socialized medicine? Not per se evil.
- A state not having health insurance for all? Not per se evil.
- Positively preventing needy persons from obtaining health care? Per se evil.
- Allowing citizens to possess firearms? Not per se evil.
- Allowing free markets? Not per se evil.
- Mutilating the sexual organs? Evil, per se.
What is the Upshot for us?
While the Catholic Church takes no a priori side politically, nonetheless, does not a quick glance at these evils reveal that the Democratic platform endorses numerous of these per se evils? One can think above all of abortion, which appears numerous times with utterly clarity in the Democratic Platform. Also, its notion of sexual rights seems to conflict on various fronts with the Church’s teaching.
We do have a practically “binary” system. For better or for worse. That is the present reality. (More on this to come.) So let us turn to the alternative. Does the Republican platform endorse any per se evils? At the very least, we can quickly say, not nearly as many. Which ones that are per se evils does it endorse? Well, effectively it seems to endorse (in past practice) the “pre-emptive strike” one. Whether this is is a per se evil may be debated. Further, is this one unique to the Republicans? Although Bush was the one who undertook action in this regard, was he not supported by Democrats in this decision? It is a common conception that Democrats are less hawkish than Republicans. Whether that conception is true is another matter. Clearly, to be hawkish is evil. It is evil to bomb a nation into smithereens. It is evil to decapitate a government and hope for the best for the people. It is evil to strike preemptively. I am by no means excusing any of this. I am nonetheless stating that the Republicans are not the unique supporters of these evils. Hence, this one by and large works out evenly. Further, the Democrat “pullout” of the middle east has only exacerbated matters. Bad to go in, in my opinion; but worse to pull out before the new authority was certainly and definitively in place.
How about Republican endorsement of contraception? Does this differentiate them from Democrats? Yes: Because Democrats are much more emphatic and unequivocal about this, much more committed to delivering such things to all and sundry, and ASAP. After all, Obama sued the Catholic nuns who did not want to partake in contraceptive health coverage.
Just what intrinsic evil does the Republican Platform endorse that the Democratic Platform does not endorse? I’d like to know. Perhaps one could bring up another per se evil supported by Republicans that I’m missing. I’m all ears in the Comments Box.
Working with the above, although a good Catholic should find much wanting in the Republican way of doing things, one cannot to my knowledge find any per se evil in the Republican platform that one cannot find in the Democratic platform.
Hence, what is the “cash value” of the category “non-negotiable values”? The non-negotiable values stand for the defense of things to offend which is per se evil. That is, the offense against these goods is always evil, under every circumstance. Thus, there can be no “negotiation” with those who wish to promote these evils except insofar as one is making an advance against the evil (taking a step towards defending against the evil). But there can be no negotiating to promote it under any circumstance.
The cash value is at the very least a clear vote “No” for any Democrat who endorses his or her party’s platform. There is no ambiguity here.
Those who use the a priori neutrality of the Church with respect to political parties as a reason to conclude that a Catholic can legitimately vote for a platform such as the Democratic one are either foolish, or out of their minds, or have lost touch with their faith.
The question will be: But can one vote for a Republican?