Reactions to the First Presidential Debate of 2016

We encouraged all of our writers and readers to analyze last night’s debate through the prism of Catholic social teaching. While we have seen a great deal of discontent about both presidential candidates among those who share Millennial’s commitment to human dignity, the sanctity of life, social justice, free democracy, and universal human rights, the overwhelming response to this debate on social media was centered on criticism of Donald Trump, along with some praise for Clinton’s positions on various social justice issues. This may reflect Clinton’s strong lead among Catholics, the total exclusion of abortion and a few other important issues from the debate, and that many center-right proponents of Catholic social teaching are #NeverTrump (even those who are also #NeverHillary). The highlights in this twitter round-up reflect this:

The Fight for a Big Tent Democratic Party

QuotesCover-pic29Kristen Day and Charles Camosy write about the Democratic Party’s extreme abortion plank in the LA Times:

The abortion plank in the 2016 Democratic platform effectively marginalizes the voices of 21 million pro-life Democrats. It means the party that is supposedly on the side of justice for the vulnerable no longer welcomes those of us who #ChooseBoth; that is, those of us who want the government to protect and support prenatal children and their mothers.

Most significantly, the platform calls for the repeal of the Hyde and Helms amendments, which prevent taxpayer funds from being used to pay for abortions. This would force those who object to abortion to contribute to what we believe would be government-funded killing, and it would eradicate policies that have already saved hundreds of thousands of lives….

The future of the Democratic Party depends on its diversity, its ability to remain inclusive. The 2016 platform language on abortion torpedoes those goals.

Russell Moore and Michael Wear in USA Today on the Democratic Party’s need to reverse this mistake:

For the past 25 years, the Democratic Party, at least rhetorically, acknowledged that compelling taxpayers to fund abortions was a step too far in the culture wars. If the call to repeal the Hyde Amendment remains in the Democratic platform, that era is officially over. A party that calls for government funding of abortion does not merely disagree with pro-life Americans, but wants to implicate them through their government of supporting what they believe is a moral evil….

As taxpayers, our money goes toward all kinds of things we do not personally support. It is part of living in a pluralistic society. Even so, for 40 years, our government and our people have decided to respect abortion as a unique moral issue. The Democrats should reverse course and remove opposition to Hyde from their platform. Wherever you stand on abortion, forcing people to pay for it can’t be good for Democrats, or for democracy.

Kristen Day in an interview with Aleteia:

Regarding abortion, we believe that the answer to a crisis pregnancy is to eliminate the crisis—not the child.

We don’t believe women should have to “choose” between motherhood and a decent, safe life.  We believe it is going to take emphasis on the support side, which Democrats are good on, to truly give women real choice. A livable wage, affordable children care, paid leave, and flexible hours all help families who are faced with an unplanned or planned pregnancy….

We are pro-life Democrats because we truly believe in protecting prenatal children and we believe that to reduce abortion we must address poverty in all its forms.

Since we believe the Democratic Party is more focused on addressing social needs, we are convinced that the pro-life position is a great fit for the party.  We plan to stay active and work to convince our party to embrace a consistent life position of protection—from womb to tomb. It is really the sensible position for Democrats.

And Crux:

During the debate on the Affordable Care Act, even those considered pro-choice were eager to support limits on abortion. This could have been a major turning point for the party. Two things happened. Republicans saw the danger of an inclusive, big-tent Democratic Party when the pro-life Democrats helped pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The abortion lobby saw this danger too. Neither liked to see the strength of the pro-life Democratic caucus.

Instead of embracing the pro-life Democrats for unifying behind this crowning achievement for Democrats, the party treated them with disdain. Many of the Stupak 18 were ostracized by party leaders and party activists. At the same time, Republicans saw this opportunity to knock the pro-life Democrats out of the purple seats by claiming the ACA was the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade.

This combined effort resulted in 88 percent of the seats once held by Democrats who opposed taxpayer funding of abortion becoming solid red seats….

It does seem that way. Many in the current leadership would rather be a minority party than include pro-life democrats and/or do not fully understand that pushing pro-life democrats away has caused us to lose numerous opportunities and majorities around the country….

We cannot legitimately claim the mantle of the “big tent’ party of diversity and inclusion when we openly say that we don’t want pro-life voters. People are celebrating that our party is more progressive, but fail to recognize that people didn’t change their opinions – the party is just smaller because we do not support, nor want to include, the voices of moderate and pro-life democrats.

Pro-life Democrats Hit Back at Democratic Platform’s Extremism on Abortion

13599899_1144580945562241_64976429325294662_nvia Jacob Lupfer:

The platform Democratic convention delegates will adopt in Philadelphia later this month will be more pro-choice than ever before, ceding even less to Americans who oppose abortion rights or have moral concerns about the procedure.

Upon learning that the Platform Committee called for eliminating the Hyde Amendment, a legislative procedure that generally prohibits Medicaid from funding elective abortions, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said, “That’s crazy.” Manchin cited the fact that most Democrats in West Virginia disagree with federal funding for abortions, as do most Americans.

Via The Hill:

Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat from Pennsylvania who opposes abortion, was concerned enough about the change to write a letter to the platform committee urging members to reconsider.

“This is a consensus-based policy that has, for many years, prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortion,” Casey wrote in a letter sent Friday to the platform committee and obtained by The Hill.

He said the Hyde Amendment recognizes “that many Americans remain morally opposed to abortion, and do not wish to see their tax dollars go to pay for abortion.”…

Representatives for two other prominent anti-abortion Democratic senators confirmed to The Hill on Monday that they were opposed to their party platform’s proposal to repeal the Hyde Amendment.

“Senator Donnelly has long supported and continues to support the Hyde Amendment, and as a pro-life Senator believes all life is sacred,” said Sarah Rothschild, spokeswoman for Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

Via Michael O’Loughlin:

After an unsuccessful effort to get delegates to amend the platform language on abortion before it goes to a full vote in Philadelphia, which included an online petition, Day said she will urge party leaders to look beyond winning the White House.

“You can’t rely on the White House to pass things like paid leave, or Medicaid for all, or increased access to health care, or a minimum wage increase,” she told America, referring to other issues she believes are important to the pro-life cause. “You can’t pass any of those things when you have Republican majorities in the rest of the country. You can’t just rely on the White House, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Day pointed to substantial Democratic losses at the state and national levels following the passage of the Affordable Care Act, which contained provisions to increase access to contraception, including methods church leaders consider abortifacients. “We can’t pass more laws to support pregnant women and working families and protect this ‘Whole Life’ point of view if we’re in the minority,” she said. “In swing districts, the pro-life vote can make a difference.”

During the convention, Day’s group will unveil a report that she said shows that the party’s extreme views on abortion are out of touch with most of the U.S. electorate and is thus harming progressive goals.

The Hunger Crisis in Venezuela

The New York Times reports on the food crisis in Venezuela, where authoritarian ideologues have once again created disastrous living conditions:

With delivery trucks under constant attack, the nation’s food is now transported under armed guard. Soldiers stand watch over bakeries. The police fire rubber bullets at desperate mobs storming grocery stores, pharmacies and butcher shops. A 4-year-old girl was shot to death as street gangs fought over food.

Venezuela is convulsing from hunger.

Hundreds of people here in the city of Cumaná, home to one of the region’s independence heroes, marched on a supermarket in recent days, screaming for food. They forced open a large metal gate and poured inside. They snatched water, flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, potatoes, anything they could find, leaving behind only broken freezers and overturned shelves.

And they showed that even in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world, it is possible for people to riot because there is not enough food.

In the last two weeks alone, more than 50 food riots, protests and mass looting have erupted around the country. Scores of businesses have been stripped bare or destroyed. At least five people have been killed….

The economic collapse of recent years has left it unable to produce enough food on its own or import what it needs from abroad. Cities have been militarized under an emergency decree from President Nicolás Maduro, the man Mr. Chávez picked to carry on with his revolution before he died three years ago….

A staggering 87 percent of Venezuelans say they do not have money to buy enough food, the most recent assessment of living standards by Simón Bolívar University found….

Using emergency decrees he signed this year, the president put most food distribution in the hands of a group of citizen brigades loyal to leftists, a measure critics say is reminiscent of food rationing in Cuba.

Men and the “Right to Choose”

If liberals and libertarians sincerely believe that autonomy and choice should trump the protection of human life in the case of unwanted pregnancies, then the question has often arisen: why should men not be free to exercise their choice to terminate a pregnancy or opt out of an unwanted pregnancy in some other way? A regional branch of the youth wing of Sweden’s Liberal Party is now making the argument that they should have this “right”:

The idea, proposed by a regional branch of the youth wing of the centrist Liberal Party, would allow a potential father to legally abdicate his responsibility toward the child up to the 18th week of a woman’s pregnancy. The man would lose any rights to visit the child but also would not pay any child support he may otherwise be required to contribute.

If this seems horrifying, it should. But it is merely an extension of the disordered values that place autonomy above life, individualism above the common good, and choice above responsibility. Proponents of abortion-on-demand should not be shocked that other liberals are taking their arguments to their logical conclusions.


Fr. James Martin: We Are Holy Saturday People

Fr. James Martin has a great reflection on Holy Saturday and its relationship to our everyday lives. He writes:

Most of our lives are spent in Holy Saturday. In other words, most of our days are not filled with the unbearable pain of a Good Friday. Nor are they suffused with the unbelievable joy of an Easter. Some days are indeed times of great pain and some are of great joy, but most are…in between.

We are an Easter people, to be sure but also a Holy Saturday people.

Most of our days are, in fact, times of waiting, as the disciples waited during Holy Saturday. We’re waiting. Waiting to get into a good school. Waiting to meet the right person. Waiting to get pregnant. Waiting to get a job. Waiting for diagnosis from the doctor. Waiting for things at work to improve. Waiting for the results of our physical therapy to help us feel better. Waiting that relationship to improve. Waiting for life just to get…better

But there are different kinds of waiting….

there is the wait of passivity, as if everything were up to “fate.” In this waiting there is no despair, but not much anticipation of anything good either. It’s the wait of “Whatever.” This is also not the waiting what we are called to.

We are called to the wait of the Christian, which is called hope. It is an active waiting; it knows that, even in the worst of situations, even in the darkest times, God is powerfully at work. Even if we can’t see it clearly right now. The disciples’ fear after Good Friday was understandable; but we, who know how the story turned out, who know that Jesus will rise from the dead, who know that God is with us, who know that nothing will be impossible for God, are called to wait in faithful hope. And to look carefully for signs of the new life that are always right around the corner–to look, just like a few of the disciples were doing on Holy Saturday.

Because change is always possible, renewal is always waiting, and hope is never dead.

You can read the full reflection here.


Catholic Theologians Take Strong Stand Against Islamophobia

A number of blogs featuring Catholic and other Christian theologians, including some of the most talented millennial Catholic theologians, have posted a statement that condemns the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment and all forms of violence directed toward Muslims on account of their faith here in the United States. The statement expresses their solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters. Here is the full text:

We, as Christian theologians in the public sphere, stand together in solidarity with Muslims in the United States in support of all Muslim citizens and residents of the United States.   We do so not despite our deep Christian faith, but precisely because of it.

Recent statements in the wake of the horrific actions of violence in Paris and San Bernardino have once again raised the threshold of acceptable actions in this country.  We reject and abhor any and all statements or actions that respond to these acts of violence with indiscriminate fear, suspicion, and hatred against our Muslim sisters and brothers.

We unequivocally oppose all acts of violence against Muslim places of worship.  We oppose all acts of violence–verbal, physical, or otherwise– against Muslims. We oppose all acts of violence against people perceived to be Muslim.  We oppose all attempts to establish any sort of religious test for citizenship or immigration status.  We oppose all attempts to deny the fact that Muslims have been present in the Americas since the 16th century, living as enslaved people, soldiers, politicians, leaders, sports heroes, rockstars, and faithful citizens.

As December is a time of holy preparation for Christ Who Redeems not through violence or fear, but through love, sacrifice, and hope, we call upon all Christians to be mindful of your neighbor in a special way this season.  Affirm your Muslim neighbors, who live in fear of the hateful stranger in a way we can never know.  Affirm and support those who have accepted Syrian refugees, even against the wishes of state authorities.  Affirm and support those who offer mercy, love, and support for those who flee persecution around the world.

We will not allow fear to define our Christianity, to define our vision of Christ.  And, in the spirit of Pope Francis, we will not allow violence to be the only answer to a world crying out for mercy.

We invite others to re-post this statement on their own blogs, to stand together in solidarity, both in person and in word around the internet.