Hurricane Isaac will delay today’s opening of the Republican Convention in Tampa.
When it does begin, Fox News will surely be there. So will Norquist, Rove and, Cato and the Heritage Institutes, all as sainted monarchs of the Republican glen. Fox will advertise it as ‘must see or else TV’ the way Jehovah’s Witnesses were goaded in fear of Armageddon to attend the gathering in Yankee Stadium in 1958. By some absolute precept, they’ll all say, President Obama must not be re-elected.
The marriage of the Christian right to Wall Street has never made sense to me. The tax loathing Grover Norquist coupled with the community of faith charities who give so much of their time and money to the poor has seemed anathema to aiding people to care for themselves. Then I realized that we are living in a time of reborn Calvinist economic thought, where the rights of the individual and his relation to God and state are one.
In other words, what binds the Republican Party together is not their agreement over abortion or civil unions or any other moral issue. Rather, the moneyed interests are wed to the faith community by the idea that good economics begins with being a good Christian.
At least, that’s the pitch. To couple the anti-abortionists who want to defund Planned Parenthood with those who want to defund the government. Former President George W Bush was the epitome of this as he was both an Evangelical and from an old moneyed family. Evangelism has grown in part because of the belief that good faith and economics go hand in hand.
Ideally, this shouldn’t be a problem if everybody has a job, does the right thing and cares for their children. Sadly, we live on earth and not in heaven. We are mere mortals, not saints and are fallible in a way the Vatican is loathe to accept of its leader. In the end, we can have hope in knowing that faith can do most anything, yet faith cannot do everything. For the rest, we must rely on the human mind and each other.
When the convention begins in Tampa, the silly season will kick into high gear. The party on the right will veil itself as the party of faith while Wall Street will lay quietly in the background. This week, President Obama is sure to be demonized as an over taxing, anti-American, anti-Christian, baby killing Commie Muslim demagogue that he isn’t.
I am no defender of those whose distaste for faith is universal. Their respect or understanding of faith, its power and its beauty is often crude and less than scholarly. As well, I hold the faith community to a similar standard when it comes to those who believe they are somewhat better Americans because of their faith. My Catholic upbringing taught me otherwise.
In light of this, Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s pronouncement that he is a ‘Catholic deer hunter’ has me wondering where the church has erred in allowing itself to be included in such brazen, joke inducing nonsense? Is it any wonder that Mr. Ryan comes from the same state and grace as a previous Catholic buffoon who poorly represented Wisconsin some fifty plus years ago?
Is a deer a Catholic? Does it have a soul? Does the deer or the Congressman make the sign of the cross before the trigger is pulled? Or, is this a saleable ploy by a mortal to use his sacrosanct faith as his credential for office? And, does he forget that our only Catholic president was mistrusted for supposedly having greater allegiance to the Vatican in Rome than to the Constitution in Washington DC?
At this point, many American Catholics might label me an apostate, a bum. They may also grow angry that my thirteen years of Catholic education did little to quell my interest in solving problems through logic, not faith alone. In opposite, my education reinforced my interest in doing as such.
I have been called un-American, anti-white, a nigger lover and recently a Catholic hating ex Catholic. The former labels I’ve long ignored as idiotic for I am proudly American. The last label, from a longtime friend, I will take issue with. He is correct that, by choice, I am no longer a Catholic. Still, I do not look up or down at the Catholic or any other church, synagogue or mosque.
When President Obama spoke at the University of Notre Dame during its 2009 commencement, he suggested that the opposing sides of the abortion issue work together in bringing down the number of unintended pregnancies. He suggested making adoption more readily available as well as offering more aid to mothers who bring their pregnancies to term. Not only was the president boycotted by some graduating students, it was suggested beforehand by Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League, that he not be given an honor by the university.
Since 1991, the number of abortions in this nation has dropped dramatically. Both sides of the abortion issue may lay claim to the diminishing numbers and both sides may be right. Through both Republican and Democratic presidencies, something has worked to lower the numbers. Even so, while the number of abortions has gone down, the number of children born into the underclass and in need of social services is ever growing.
My question for the GOP voter, who wants to defund both a ‘bloated government’ and Planned Parenthood is, where is the money going to come from for social services for those children being born who are in need? Are we simply going to accept that so many will end up in prison and repeat the cycle of their parents?
In booing and boycotting the President, I fear many who are ‘informed’ by their faith alone practice it little, forgetting they too live in glass houses. In believing only in absolutes, they ignore the need that arises in women who may have children just as thoughtlessly as they may have had an abortion.
I sometimes think this penchant for finger pointing akin to an Ayatollah’s pronouncements in Tehran or a severe mental illness. Such a compulsion fills a need to demonize a distant and often irrelevant enemy of faith while ignoring the immediate need for common sense in our midst.
You may want to lump me with the so called ‘Jew hating Jews’ or ‘Black hating Blacks’. Still, I’ve rarely been so cynical as to be a single issue voter over abortion. It has been my belief that the best decisions we make as a nation, we make together, not apart.
Robert Emmet Mara has been in Baltimore since 2006. A native New Yorker, Robert came to Baltimore to do three things: work with kids, renovate houses and write a second book of fiction. Since his arrival, he has managed to do all three and more.
He has sought better oversight for his still blighted Harwood neighborhood from the city and has been asked to speak to various community association leaders on the subject of city agency relations.