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What Happened

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It is clear that what President Barack Obama has achieved is historic: Being re-elected when not a single one of his major initiatives has enjoyed broad popular support.

What is also clear is that the moral and spiritual demographics of the United States have changed considerably.  If Gov. Mitt Romney, an honorable man of moderate political preferences and conservative personal convictions, cannot attract a winning coalition we are in deep trouble.  His loss illustrates the change that has occurred in the nation and the challenges it portends.  Politics is about addition and Gov. Romney surely tried to run an “additional” campaign and I can think of no Republican who was more likely to accomplish what was necessary for a center-right victory.

Last night’s election illustrates that Americans have become a people more dependent on the government. The country will continue to trend culturally and politically to the left. This means that conservative causes that take their impetus from the truths and moral rationality offered by the Judeo-Christian political  and philosophical tradition will continue to be marginalized, the Church’s liberty restricted, and the cultural, moral, political and spiritual leftism, hedonism,  and materialism, with its attendant anomie and nihilism, will continue the long march through all of our cultural and governmental institutions.

Given the Catholic Church’s failure to adequately address the cultural, political, and even existential threat posed to it by President Obama’s agenda, the credibility of the Church’s witness has been further eroded and enervated, making the Church less likely to be courageous and effective in speaking the hard truths necessary for personal, ecclesial, and national renewal.  Because of this, the leftist cultural and moral agenda will continue to increasingly form and even invade our personal, familial, and communal lives. The effect on our national life and civil society will be devastating. Trends of cultural degradation, the normalization of what has until recently been widely understood as moral turpitude, along with debt, deficits, and fiscal ruin will likely be accelerated.

This Obama administration has been the most historically anti-life and anti-liberty administration in the history of the nation. Its policies stand in clear opposition to the teachings of orthodox Christianity. I have grave reservations about the future of many of the Catholic Church’s integral apostolic activities, not only because of the policies President Obama will continue to pursue unabated, but also because many Catholics, especially suburban women,  are firmly in the camp of a gentle, yet cautionary statism and hedonism which emphasizes material prosperity,  extensive superficial education, “choice,” and comity, over the substance of moral and economic truth and the demands such truths call forth.  This reality is bad for the political agenda of the nation and poses tremendous challenges for authentically Catholic apostolic efforts in the coming years.

The other fact supporting such concerns about conservative initiatives, especially those drawing their inspiration from orthodox Catholicism, is that the bishops ran a largely incompetent campaign against the religious liberty restrictions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which they helped pass legislatively by giving it the hierarchy’s moral cover at a politically critical moment when its passage was far from a given.  Given that the president and the Democratic Party ran a pugilistic campaign against the Catholic Church, in which they regularly mischaracterized the Church’s teachings, President Obama now lacks any political nor personal reason to reach a compromise with the Church on those issues essential to the free exercise of religion.  No doubt, given the hostility of Democratic campaigns to Catholic concerns on the question of the HHS mandate and the broader question of religious liberty, the president will proceed with the notion that he has a mandate to continue his aggressively anti-Catholic, anti-religious, and culturally libertine agenda.

To be honest, my dark assessment of this emerging reality for conservatives and  especially orthodox Catholics and other Christians, amounts to this:  We are going to be marginalized, our institutions reduced, our liberties restricted, and our persons attacked.  Evidence suggests that we have too few deeply principled and thoroughly well-informed leaders who enjoy support locally, parochially, and beyond, who are in a position and possess the courage to be effective in keeping our views and positions viable in the public square.  President Obama’s victory is not about a popular policy agenda, but about the triumph of emotionalism and relativism in the face of an inarticulate, ineffective, and ultimately uncourageous opposition that has convinced a majority of the American people that perception is reality, that feeling is the same as fact, and “being nice” is a moral imperative.

Fr. Phillip De Vous Father Phillip W. De Vous is the pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Crescent Springs, Kentucky, and an adjunct scholar of public policy at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.


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  • I fear Father you are correct…Christians (at least the theologically and morally orthodox) will be marginalized more and more.

  • I am reminded that C. S. Lewis referred a Modern Woman as “A minx, a moron and a parasite.” Our female modern female hero is Sandra Fluke from Georgetown.

    • Guest

      And I describe the modern male as “stuck in stupid.”

  • RogerMcKinney

    I’m not sure that Romney’s failure was due to the electorate having gone bad. Romney could have been the problem. Tea Partiers did not view him as conservative and so stayed home, as they did with McCain. A better, conservative candidate might have won. Still, I agree with this:
    “We are going to be marginalized, our institutions reduced, our liberties restricted, and our persons attacked.”
    We are moving closer in our situation to our brothers/sisters in the Muslim world. We should look to the Christians of Egypt for help in how to live in a hostile world.

    • Greg Miller

      “…When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you
      have chosen for yourselves, but Yahweh will not answer you that
      day.'” –1 Samuel 8: 18

      I agree a more conservative candidate might have won, but I also think the electorate went bad too. I didn’t like how liberal Romney was, but I voted for him as the lesser of evils.

      The day after the election gas prices in St. Louis, MO rose 25 cents per gallon.

      The stock market lost 300 or so points (2.4% of its value).

      U.S. Cellular announced they would be closing 17 stores.

      Boeing (today) announced they’d be laying off 30% of management in the Defense division and closing facilities in California.

      Facts are stubborn things, but apparently the stupidity of a certain sizable section of the electorate is even more stubborn…It seems sure that the country stands to reap what it has sown in the next four years, as we have in the last. God help us.

      God help us, but indeed we still have cause for hope, and need to pray for the common citizens and the elected gentry.

      • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

        Now you really got life twisted. Praying to God for the common citizen and the elected gentry, please! Perhaps you should pray for you to release your fear and to have faith in your hope for a better day. You just may have the gift you asked for but you can’t recognize it because it didn’t come in a white box and bow!

        • Greg Miller

          Did I touch a nerve, Lyndah? I suggest praying for God’s blessing on everyone, indiscriminately, and you say wishing all goodness and guidance is somehow twisted?!

          • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

            Yes, you did, I see no difference in people as to common and/or gentry. We all are the same. And, it is twisted to me to make a distinction. If I misread your intent, I apologize. But it played out within me as if you would praying along the lines of separate and not equal

          • Greg Miller

            I will explain my comment on “elected gentry”. It has nothing to do with race (there is only one race, anyway–homo sapien), and far more to do with profession. When one begins to look at the net worth of our politicians (both parties) one begins to see they are the new aristocracy. Why is it that Claire McCaskill (D, MO) was worth $42 million the last time I checked, and Kit Bond (R, MO) was worth $21 million? Many of our politicians (both parties) are in bed with big business, and yet too many seem to think one party is not.

            Political life tends to attract megalomaniacs, narcissists, and those that lust for wealth or power. It’s elementary psychology, and yet we tend to make false messiahs out of our parties and politicians. If we would keep the tendencies toward greed and despotism in check, we need to decentralize power in this country, not concentrate ever more in the hands of the few.

          • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

            Understood!!! Thanks for not shutting down and taking the time to explain your comment. Peace and blessings.

    • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

      Why look to other humans for answers and not the God ya’ll profess to be so attached to for divine guidance? Can’t He/She advise you on how to live in a hostile world?

  • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

    Church and state should stay separate and every citizen has the right to choose even when their choice differs from your point pf view without having to have that choice marginalized.

    • Dave Hebert

      “Church” – whether it be Catholic, Mormon, Evangelical, Muslim or none of the above – influences the people that espouse them… as it should. It is inherent in humanity that we are ALL believers of one thing or another. In that sense, it is nonsense to assume that church could be completely separate from state (incidentally, that was NOT the sentiment of Thomas Jefferson, to whom the concept is erroneously attributed). After all, what is “state” other than a body of PEOPLE acting on behalf of the PEOPLE they are elected to represent. Having said that, it IS possible to discuss the soundness and efficacy of public policies within the context of those principles that have guided people’s faith for millennia – including the faith and policies of not only our founders but of all who have since succeeded them, taught them, inspired them, nurtured them and died for them. And, for that matter, for us.

      • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

        John Locke/Thomas Jefferson – the idea still remains one that I favor. Church and politics ought not be lovers if you cannot separate governing all the people from your personal beliefs. Dave, what is your point?

        • Dave Hebert

          It’s not a matter of being “lovers,” Lyndah. Most policy negotiations are not between lovers, nor friends, but adversaries (at some level). Agreement between two dissenting voices always involves ongoing tensions – valid points that contend with each other but weighted to satisfy the competing needs.

          My point, therefore, is quite simple. Try as you might, you cannot separate the influence of one’s faith (or, non-faith) on a person’s thinking and worldview. It does, and should, permeate all that person is in much the same way that one’s education, experiences, environment, etc. are also a part of a person’s make-up. To attempt to separate them cannot work. Having said that, one CAN manage their effects by, first, acknowledging the above truth; two, consciously identifying those beliefs that may inappropriately affect one’s thinking in unrelated matters; and, three, assessing the impact either applying or removing those beliefs may have. Bottom line – pretending that the person is NOT the sum of his/her past influences is counter-productive. Accept it, negotiate your ground rules in light of it, and move on to resolve the issues in a reasoned and respectful manner.

          • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

            Dave, we are not the thought we hold, the action we take, or the outcome we experience. We are the witness to the thought, the action, the outcome and therefore can separate self from the influences of beliefs if we choose to. Managing the effect is the separation. thus we can decide to make conscious choices that would be in the best interest of all … I’m just saying!

            Thanks for the simulating conversation.

          • Dave Hebert

            You make a valid point, Lyndah, but are we not, inherently, each a product of our beliefs, values, experiences, etc. Isn’t that what makes each of us unique and, thus, able to contribute to the whole? One of my beliefs is that this is why God made us all different, in part due to these very dissimilarities – it’s why we need each other and why, together, we are able to accomplish more than we can separately. The apostle Paul used the body as a metaphor for the church – each part playing a different role, but all comprising the whole. That metaphor is self-evident and is apparent in so many aspects of our lives and societies. I would argue that if we DON’T bring our uniqueness to the table, are we not merely automatons, each suppressing our known realities and value – all the while assuming such suppression is necessary for a good outcome? No, IMHO effective and lasting solutions are the result of negotiation, compromise and consensus built on a foundation of honesty, mutual trust and our collective wisdom gained from our cumulative experiences, values, etc. (I agree, BTW – good exchange!)

          • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

            Yes Dave, unfortunately we are products of our beliefs. When belief are faulty and serve no one, they should go. However, we have much difficulty in accepting this and moving toward releasing them.

            I too believe that God made us all different each with different roles and part of the whole. Problems occur when some cannot accept the unique design of another and put judgement in the game. Suppression of self is placed upon us by society. To think, act, and be ourselves is not acceptable if it varies from the accepted norm thus we began excluding and minimizing, devaluing that which is not like me/us. Not productive – a fear response. Therefore negotiations, compromise, and consensus built on honesty, mutual trust and our collective wisdom is not what we are really working with. I wish it were the case because I agree that if we all operated from that perspective we are capable of problem solving. Peace and blessings!

          • Dave Hebert

            Lyndah, I came across a few columns I had written some time back that may further this interesting disucssion. If you’d like to check them out and comment at the Examiner site, feel free to do so.



          • Lyndah Malloy-Glover

            Thanks Dave!

  • Dave Hebert

    THNX to the Acton Institute for its firm stance in defense – and ardent promotion – of proven Judeo-Christian ideals, ideas and solutions. Last Tuesday’s election illustrates clearly that level-headed, committed, strategic and biblically sound leaders will be needed in the weeks and months to come to draw in and motivate that 10-20% of “good people” that have not been willing yet to pay attention or engage in the demise of much of what they, as we, have held dear for generations. It is incumbent upon like-minded leaders and ground troops to shun what have become accepted intrusive campaign standards that diminish and disrespect the individual and family to build impressive numbers. On Tuesday we saw that numbers don’t win elections. Maybe respectful, reasoned, prayerful and steady principles, policies and practices do – and will. 2014 is now the time to find out; let’s use the remaining time until then wisely to learn how.

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