Global Solidarity in an “America First” Nation

On March 15, Millennial co-sponsored an event with the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University on the Catholic commitment to global solidarity at a time of rising ‘America First’ nationalism. The event was moderated by Initiative director John Carr and featured Millennial writer and Washington Post editor Elizabeth Bruenig; Shaun Casey, a senior fellow at Georgetown’s Berkley Center, who previously served as US special representative for religion and global affairs and director of the US Department of State’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs; and Robert Costa, national political reporter for the Washington Post and a political analyst for NBC and MSNBC.

Here are some highlights of the panelists’ remarks:

Robert Costa

  • Steve Bannon was talking about the importance of populism in 2010 and 2011, citing the impact of globalization on American workers
  • Trump’s America First views are grounded in a hostile view towards immigration and globalization
  • Trump’s dad thought the US was ‘losing’ because of trade and immigration. This is a foundation of Donald Trump’s America First approach
  • Donald Trump’s worldview is a blend of Fred Trump and Steve Bannon
  • Trump is not a real religious person. I’ve seen him sign autographs at church, he’s always moving around
  • Evangelicals supported Trump because they see someone who will fight a culture they don’t like
  • Religious voters see Trump as blunt instrument to protect religious freedom, even if he doesn’t share their values
  • David Brooks has said Trump is the wrong answer to the right question. Lots of communities are isolated.
  • Democrats only know how to run against Paul Ryan-type Republicans; they haven’t figured out strategy vs. Trump yet
  • Someone on the Romney campaign likely told Paul Ryan he needed to talk about Aquinas to remake is image as an Ayn Rand devotee
  • If the healthcare plan fizzles, where is Paul Ryan’s political capital? Where does he stand with Trump?
  • Take Trump and Bannon seriously when they talk about deconstructing the administrative state
  • Trump wants to fight with educated do-gooder types, he enjoys it

Shaun Casey

  • Trump and Pope Francis have a radically different moral vision of the “other”
  • Clearest contest between Pope Francis’ and Trump’s vision is on refugee resettlement
  • Muslim ban is “existential challenge” to religious agencies involved in refugee resettlement
  • Subsidiarity helps to navigate between (typically secular) statism and libertarianism
  • Trump’s protectionism is not going to rescue people, but hopefully his victory opens up room for new ideas
  • The alt-right is acidic on the bonds of solidarity.
  • Cuts to foreign aid (which was already underfunded) undermine our ability to carry out imperatives of solidarity
  • There is not a functioning Democratic Party in huge chunks of the country. It’s all base turnout.
  • Democrats need to develop compassion-driven policies and actually engage with small town voters.
  • Both parties are really confused about their identity and future

Elizabeth Bruenig

  • We people of faith need to care for refugees/immigrants precisely because we know how important family and place are
  • There are 3 political visions: secular liberal support for the current global order; America First populism; and the third is (often religious) personalist view that rejects rootlessness but also an exclusionary approach
  • In 2016, the Democratic Party was seen by many as having been taken over by a professional class
  • Some economically vulnerable voters who also feel like their culture is not respected felt recognized by Trump
  • Both Republicans and Democrats have been liberal parties (as in Enlightenment liberalism)
  • There is an illiberal reaction by a lot of young people who worry their lives will be worse than their parents’ lives
  • There is a lot of debt, hopelessness, isolation. Democrats have to figure out how to respond beyond more “liberty”
  • We’re at a high point in terms of inequality. Historically war or disease has reversed this. What will happen now?
  • The reactionary view ties sense of place to blood and soil. It’s counter-Enlightenment Romantic view. The liberal worldview struggles to explain how we are all connected to one another.

You can watch video of the event here:




Pope Encourages Integral Development, Solidarity, and Economic Redistribution by the State

Pope Francis met with a number of representatives from the United Nations today, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Here are some of the key points he made in his address to the UN delegation.

Pope Francis explained how future development goals should reflect a commitment to integral development:

Future Sustainable Development Goals must therefore be formulated and carried out with generosity and courage, so that they can have a real impact on the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all, and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development. Specifically, this involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the “economy of exclusion”, the “throwaway culture” and the “culture of death” which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.

He argues that it is the spirit of solidarity and sharing, along with recognition of the dignity of all, that should guide us:

The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions with immediate results, like the decision of Zacchaeus. Does this spirit of solidarity and sharing guide all our thoughts and actions? Today, in concrete terms, an awareness of the dignity of each of our brothers and sisters whose life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death must lead us to share with complete freedom the goods which God’s providence has placed in our hands, material goods but also intellectual and spiritual ones, and to give back generously and lavishly whatever we may have earlier unjustly refused to others…Equitable economic and social progress can only be attained by joining scientific and technical abilities with an unfailing commitment to solidarity accompanied by a generous and disinterested spirit of gratuitousness at every level.

Finally, he explicitly highlighted the responsibility of the state to engage in economic redistribution, while also highlighting the responsibilities of the international community, private sector, and civil society:

A contribution to this equitable development will also be made both by international activity aimed at the integral human development of all the world’s peoples and by the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the State, as well as indispensable cooperation between the private sector and civil society.



Quote(s) of the Day

Three from Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga:

“The Church decidedly bets on living the globalization of mercy and solidarity.”

“In practice, the hyperventilation of the economy has produced great amounts of money, fruit of the erosion of governmental regulation and a symptom of the failure of materialism. But, as a result, there is always a particular category of victim: ‘the poor.’ Jesus of Nazareth made a warning that should be heeded by all the powers: civil and religious, democratic, monarchic, socialist, of any type: ‘You know that those who are considered the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave.’ (Mark 10: 41; Matthew 20: 25).”

“There is no doubt that doctrinal argument is important, but people will be attracted by the humanity of Christians, those who live by the faith, who live in a human way, who irradiate the joy of living, the consistency in their behavior.”