This isn’t a “you’ve lost another longtime (going back to the early aughts) daily reader forever” message, but it’s worth mentioning that I’ve fought the urge to write this particular letter for at least several years, and maybe more than a decade. I’m finally giving in, perhaps in part, because the points that follow won’t quiet in my head, and I’ve conceded that it’s possible that this urge to write you is a prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Moreover, the director’s cut easily could go on for a few thousand words, but I know that won’t help my odds of a prompt read, so I’ll simply hope that is the Spirit is prompting me to write, then the same Spirit will lead you to read and ponder it.
And simply to help establish some sort of credibility with you that I’m not making these points as a way to question your pro-life credentials (or even as a roundabout way to defend Trump), it’s worth mentioning that I didn’t vote for Trump, I approve of his impeachment, and I also believe his removal probably would have been for the best.
Anyway, here goes:
The first, and perhaps most prominent (apparent) blind spot you exhibit deals with the matter of the so-called “living” constitution. Although I have never taken a single class in law school, to my understanding, the living constitution theory was the overwhelmingly dominant school of thought at the time Roe v. Wade was decided. Textualism, as far as I can tell, only made a comeback in the 80s, and has now become the prevailing judicial philosophy on the Right. Since we both know the U.S. constitution says didly squat about abortion, would it not seem reasonable to presume that nominating judges who respect the concept that words have meanings is necessary to overturning Roe?
Um. Where have I talked about a living Constitution? I mean, I do think that there is no such thing as a static document, especially one that is specifically designed to be amended. But my commentary on the Constitution is pretty spare given that I am not a Constitutional scholar. So I’m puzzled that you think I have a blind spot about something that I hold no dogmatic views about.
To quote another Never-Trumper:
“The fundamental question that we must ask all Supreme Court nominees–all nominees to all benches, in fact–is not one of degree, which is the sort of question that the criterion of ‘moderateness’ would apply. Instead, it is an either/or question: Does the law say what it means and mean what it says, or are judges empowered to graft private notions of justice from their own souls onto the law and the Constitution?”
Nominate whoever you like. My point is simply that Roe is not going anywhere. Neither party wants it to go and 80% of Americans want it to stay. The GOP—which is 100% responsible for the establishment (with Roe) and entrenchment (with Casey) of our abortion regime does not have the slightest intention of outlawing abortion. They have always used it as a carrot for duping the most gullible demographic in American political culture—“prolife” conservative Christians—into voting for them and then turning them into foot soldiers for whatever it is they actually care about when in power. Unjust war, torture, punishment of the poor, racist policies, graft, anti-mask conspiracy theories, pro-secret police thuggery, you name it, the “prolife” conservative Christian burns up infinitely more time and energy defending that filth than defending the unborn. And the ascendancy of Trump has only made that obvious. There has been no lie, crime and now treason that the “prolife” white conservative subculture has not given itself body and soul to defend. Indeed, with the Pandemic we now discover they are literally willing to offer both grandma and their own kids (not to mention the weak and poor) over for death by COVID when Trump and the GOP wills it. They can simultaneously defend the pardon of Roger Stone (because he risks COVID in prison) and cheer as Trump threatens states with skyrocketing COVID rates to send their children back to school. The complete suicidal ruin—both moral and physical—the conservative Christian MAGA cult has visited on itself is breathtaking. That demographic is the backbone of Trump support. And when Trump raised PP funding 8% they did not care one bit. In fact, he has raised it every year and they have not cared. They went on lying that he is the Most Prolife President Ever. They no longer care about the unborn as anything but human shields for all the evils that are their true goals.
So Roe is not going anywhere. My prudential judgment are made in light of that fact.
The second matter is that you refer to “The GOP” as a static entity with a clear unity of purpose that seems to lie outside the human wills of the people who make up the party. Therefore, “The GOP” is Lucy with the football, constantly yanking it away from the foolishly naive pro-lifers who will provide their votes, money and voices in exchange for crumbs and symbolic measures. In the real world, there’s no single man behind the curtain. The GOP is made up of its members, many of whom, I am sure, are passionately pro-life. Numerous others, I presume, talk a good game, but (whether out of cowardice or duplicity) will fold like the laundry when the chips are down. Most of the rest aren’t remotely pro-life but also tend to be open about that.
On the contrary, I believe the GOP to be a highly fluid entity. Its fluidity is due to the fact that it has only goals, not principles. It believes—as all deeply evil things do—in nothing whatsoever except power and money for their own sakes. Those who believed in actual principles have fled the unclean thing and are now engaged in things like the Lincoln Project and other initiatives to unseat Trump and the evil criminals like McConnell and the rest of the Congresscritters who have steadfastly protected Trump. The Republican base who still remain and support them are a mixture of idiots, paranoids, kooks, conspiracy theorists, liars, white supremacists, sadists, profiteers, and children who have not yet figured out that their elders have betrayed them. There are a few romantics who think it can be redeemed. They are the only ones I respect. But since I do not share their hope, I believe that for the sake of the country and the world, the GOP needs to be utterly destroyed, its power broken, and the threat it poses annihilated without pity or remorse. It is the gravest domestic threat to the US since the Civil War. It is the gravest threat to the witness of the American Church in its entire history. It is that latter threat that fills me with implacable hatred of it as the demonic thing it is. It has turned the prolife movement into a diabolical racist fertility cult that uses the unborn as human shields for a war on the bodies of millions of people and the souls of all people.
As a whole, the GOP on abortion often has been like the son in the parable who says he will do his father’s will and work in the field, but then shirks the duty. Nevertheless, on the matter of legalized abortion, the Dems have hardly proven themselves to be the son who works in the field after saying he won’t. They’re more like a third son who tells Dad to buzz of and keeps the promise.
For instance, it seems plain that many GOP judicial nominees are uncertain as pro-life allies, but the Dems’ judicial nominees seem certain to back abortion on demand. When you raise the example of who nominated whom on the court that decided Roe, you have never acknowledged that the Republicans were still several years away from adopting a pro-life plank in their party platform. Moreover, it took a few more years for the Democrats to fully turn the screws and get onetime self-professed pro-life Dems such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Mario Cuomo, Jesse Jackson (and later Dennis Kucinich) to flip-flop. The courageous ones, such as Governor Casey, were marginalized. In other words things evolved in a way that makes the makeup of that 1973 court seem irrelevant, despite how often you raise that point. Moreover, it seems uncertain at best that pro-lifers should simply leave the party that professes allegiance to their cause. Maybe it’s possible they need to keep working and attracting new members and influence its direction.
I don’t expect unbelievers to live by Catholic moral principles. I do expect Christians to do so. The witness of conservative Christians has been to expect non-believers to hold to pelvic doctrines even they won’t live while defending the rapist-in-chief and forcing the poor to abort while condemning them for doing so. They are committed to the idea that they could impose a semi-Christian sexual moral code by force of law on women and gays while refusing to live the Christian teaching on money, which they hate and blessing white male horndogging with “boys will be boys”. As a result, they have been thoroughly corrupted themselves into an antichrist cult that no longer believes the faith at all (judging by the fruit of nihilist lies and cruelty that it bears). So why would any unbeliever believe the gospel when they so obviously do not? The miracle is that so many unbelievers do not spit on the gospel but instead keep begging Christians to act like the Jesus they constantly invoke and even more constantly disobey:
Jesus has not a word to say to unbelievers who are scandalized by Christians who behave scandalously. He has terrifying warnings to Christians who give scandal:
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea. (Mark 9:42)
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7:21-23).
Meanwhile, as a purely prudential calculation, to lessen (not eliminate) the massive evil of a party that both supports choice on abortion and a host of evils besides, it is perfectly legit (no other feasible options available) to vote for a party that supports choice on abortion while opposing the host of evils besides. That’s what I will do. Because in getting rid of those other evils, pressure on the poor to abort is relieved. Since Roe is not going anywhere, it is prudent to address demand more than supply. And it is prudent to get rid of both the worst President in history and the Party that has fought to protect him tooth and nail.
The Dems have never had to do anything about abortion. All they have ever done is maintain the status quo the GOP handed them. The notion that Dems in power will make abortion somehow extra-super-charge abortiony is a fantasy.
Regarding my final point, my conscience won’t let me throw my lot in with the Dems as strongly as you seem to have done in recent years (but then, I wasn’t unfairly pushed out of a job by Trump loyalists). However, your status as an increasingly trusted voice on the Left now probably imbues you with responsibility to hold that side to account on its support for (or acquiescence to) the Culture of Death. I readily admit that as someone who still identifies as a conservative Republican, I have a responsibility to try and correct my cohorts who allow or even advocate torture, unjust war, racism, inhumane treatment of immigrants or other positions that contradict Catholic social teaching. When I do so, I have credibility with those people that a left-wing Democrat lacks. Even if my Republican friends think I’m wrong, they are usually more willing to honestly wrestle with what I say instead of just spouting talking points, as seems likelier when arguing with an unrelenting critic.
My choice to support Dems has nothing to do with being fired by the Register as a human sacrifice to the Cult. It is a purely prudential judgment. There is only one party with the ability to defeat the gravest domestic threat to the US since the Civil War. That threat must be defeated at all costs, therefore I support the Dems. I don’t support them without qualification. And I agree that I have a responsibility to speak for those aspects of Catholic teaching the left tends to dismiss or ignore—which I have done repeatedly and for years. One time, after hearing the claim yet again that I did not do this I asked my readers on the Left if they were under any illusion whatsoever about whether I support abortion, contraception, gay marriage, or the sundry other pelvic matters that utterly consume conservative Catholics. Every single one of them made crystal clear that they understand that I believe the Church’s teaching on sexual matters. Not one of them was confused about that. The only people under that false impression, clinging to that false impression, doggedly insisting on that false impression, were conservative Catholics convinced that I have somehow become a “Leftist” when in fact I have not moved an inch in my political views. I have simply stood still while American conservative Catholics have gone utterly insane in their extremist willingness to support evil.
I do think that (again, speaking prudentially) arguments about such matters as gay marriage and homosexuality are essentially a waste of time in our culture and for the same reason I note above. You cannot refuse to do the work of evangelization and expect unbelievers to hold a difficult moral code when they do not hold the faith that is the only thing that makes it possible to live that moral code. Conservative Christians have abandoned almost entirely the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ. What they believe in is imposition of a bourgeois Republican moral code cannibalized from Christianity that punishes those they hate will cutting themselves endless slack when they do not live those parts of the moral code they don’t like. Gays being able to have standing in law to care for those they love is, for some reason, something those conservatives want to punish. Trump and every other rich white whoremonger raping and betraying everybody in their orbit is to be “forgiven” with rewards, money, and power. Even faithful, celibate gays who truly believe in Jesus are to be punished and treated as pariahs, no matter how much they seek to obey the gospel. The real miracle is that there remain any gays in the Church at all when they are treated that way by so many millions of MAGA Christians. So my own take on the Church’s teaching about sexual matters is heavily informed by her pastoral counsel, which is that we cannot tie up burdens heavier than frail humans can bear. Nearly all “conversations” between so-called “faithful conservative Catholics” and gays inside or outside the Church begin not with the fact that gay persons are loved by God, but with an adversarial declaration that the gay person is broken, sick, evil, and/or an enemy who needs, at best, to be fixed, and at worst, to be defeated and destroyed. I deeply regret my own role in that over the years and my slowness to see the persons I was addressing before I saw the abstraction I was defending.
Amazingly, gay people don’t experience the love of God in that. And the response of the “faithful conservative Catholic” is that he is the emissary of “tough love”, followed by more abuse and insults. All you have to do is look at the virulent hatred and abuse that subculture has poured—for years and year—in the preternaturally patient Fr. James Martin to see the truth of this. His primary sin in their eyes, say what they will, is that he approaches gay people as human beings made in the image and likeness of God first, and not as enemies.
Well, and it also helps if they know I love them, which I strive to do. I even love and pray for Trump constantly (especially his conversion). I did the same for Obama, Bush and Clinton. I assume you’re praying for Trump already, but it might not hurt to mention that now and then.
I am praying for him and the whole crime syndicate and cult every day. I have been praying a very specific prayer under the blood of Christ since last September, asking God to bind the principalities and powers at work both in the organized resistance to Pope Francis and in the Trump cult and all those in its orbit. My prayer is that the human agents at work in these cults be thrown into confusion, rendered powerless to harm, and ultimately redeemed from their sins and genuinely repentant of their evil so that they may find the mercy of God. I also pray for all those seeking to do the will of God in serving the common good to be empowered by grace, manifest all the virtues and the fruits of the Spirit, and work with all people of good will for the common good that His kingdom come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I ask for the grace to love God with heart, soul, mind, and spirit, and to love our neighbors as ourselves as Christ has loved us. I include the prayer of St. Michael and prayers to our Lady. And, of course, I pray that I would repent my own sins and failings.
Anyway, there are other matters in which I think you have been less than fair, but I will leave them aside for now. I do pray for you and believe you are doing your best to be a faithful disciple of the Lord’s. Please try to extend more benefit of the doubt to your perceived enemies that they are, as well.
Thank you for your kindness and patience with me. This has been a trying time for us all.