Fear, Anger, and Cool, Surgical Voting

Brian Saint-Paul, in posting about Dan Burke’s piece at Religion News Service, alerted me to the following quote from Sister Simone Campbell, who is apparently one of those “progressive” Catholics I hear about:

“Those [pro-choice, anti-limited-government, leftist legislators who culturally identify as Catholic] are folks who are really committed to the common good, with a strong sense of Catholic social teaching,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a national Catholic social justice lobby. “But they really got lost in whatever this fear is that is gripping our country.”

Hmm. I see. The defeated Democrats were voted out because of “…whatever this fear is that is gripping our country.”

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

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The implication, however sloppily and indirectly insinuated, is that Catholics who voted in favor of…

(a.) The Rule of Law, in the form of limiting Congress to its Constitutionally enumerated powers;

(b.) Church Teaching, in the form of not sending federal funding to abortion;

(c.) Sane Debt Levels, in the form of resisting increases in entitlements which so vastly outstrip GDP growth as to ensure a financial collapse of the American economic system so severe that it, with its attendant echoes in other world economies, would certainly consign hundreds of thousands to death and illness through the mere increase in poverty alone;

…have, by voting in this fashion, abandoned the right reason of an adult intellect and a well-formed conscience, and instead voted irrationally in the grip of fear.

Yet those three items constitute excellent reasons to vote against Catholics who supported the ACA (a.k.a. “ObamaCare”) and the rest of the recent D.C. agenda. Those reasons appeal entirely to conscience and good judgment.

Sister Simone Campbell, however, lumps anyone who voted according to such reasons in together with frightened children crying on a roller-coaster because, poor dears, it was a mite too scary for them and they just couldn’t cope.

Now I call that slander. Were the sister standing before me saying such a thing, I would of course resist the temptation to return the favor by slapping her hard across the face. I would resist that temptation, out of respect for her gender and her vows, and most of all because Jesus says to turn the other cheek, and because He says, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man.”

I would resist the temptation to reply in kind for all those reasons, but not because her casual insult was anything less than a blow across the face of faithful, adult Catholics who voted as they did because it was rational, it was the conclusion of a well-formed conscience, it was the responsible adult way to vote.

And as for the emotion?

Well the plain fact is that I’m a bit more worked up about the Sister’s insult than anything in the weeks leading up to the election.

True, there were things to be afraid of — I love my country and her people and would prefer her economy not collapse under the weight of the last two years’ or decades’ extreme fiscal indiscipline — but I had gotten used to that as it built up over time. That perfectly rational and appropriate fear had long lost the suddenness and unexpectedness which would have allowed it to interfere with my ability to calmly decide for whom to vote.

But I went to the polls this year with a feeling rather like a surgeon entering the operating theater — or so I imagine. There was a nasty-looking cancer on the body politic. It was time to cut the thing out.

So I coolly voted, as strategically as I could, against the forces of unlimited and unconstitutional government, fiscal indiscipline, and funding for the Culture of Death. It was an analytical, by-the-numbers act.

That’s why I am a bit more riled by Sister Simone Campbell bad-mouthing me (and most of the serious Christians I know) than by the election itself. One expects that kind of treatment from one of the New Atheist propagandists, or from gum-smacking college progressive groups with heads full of rebellion and pop culture, or from sneering celebrities and MSNBC anchorpersons. It’s disappointing, and feels like a betrayal, to get such a broadside from someone identified with the Church.


  • Cord Hamrick

    Cord Hamrick is a husband and father of three, raised an evangelical Christian in Southern Baptist churches. After years of lurking, questioning, and eventually opining in the Catholic blogosphere, he was received into the Catholic Church at Easter Vigil, 2010. Cord is a sometime church musician, former praise-and-worship bandleader, frequent songwriter and arranger, occasional guitar teacher, and — because one really must somehow pay the bills — a developer of web-based software applications. He lives in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife and three kids.

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