Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, A Free Economy and Human Flourishing, the new book by Acton’s Director of Research Samuel Gregg, has received a review from Fr. Dwight Longenecker at Aleteia.com. Fr. Longenecker dives right in, asking “Is Catholicism Conservative?” and looking to Gregg’s book for some answers.
Catholics have too often fallen into the easy trap of conflating their political opinions with their political views. So left-wingers latch on to the Catholic Church’s “preferential option for the poor” and think that means Marxism. Right-wingers pick out the Catholic Church’s condemnation of socialism and conclude that Catholicism backs an unrestrained free market economy.
The prevailing assumption among many American Catholics is that the Democratic Party is the Catholic party because they want to help the poor. A strong minority of American Catholics think the Republican Party should be favored because they’re for personal responsibility. Samuel Gregg encourages us to think more deeply about the relationship between Catholicism and the economic theories behind political movements.
Fr. Longenecker states that Gregg’s book “is a solidly argued and sobering call to an America adrift.”
Next, Gregg writes at American Banker, in a piece that draws on his book, entitled, “Bankers and Processors Are Not Moral Police.” This piece addresses some of the moral issues inherent in today’s financial arena:
At what point, for instance, does paternalism start to rear its head in the relationship between a bank and a client who is using credit provided by that financial institution to engage in self-destructive behavior?
A moment’s reflection soon makes one realize that answering this question requires us to enter into other debates that, by their nature, touch upon some perennial questions. Among others, these include: (1) how free do we allow transactions between businesses and customers to be; (2) how do we hold people accountable for their free choices; (3) how far we should go to protect people from self-destructive behaviors; (4) what is the financial sector’s broader responsibility for the common good of a given society; and (5) how far can regulators go in making financial institutions fulfill those responsibilities (whatever they happen to be)?
Finally, in a piece that does not mention Gregg by name, but picks up the same threads as Tea Party Catholic, William A. Galston at The Wall Street Journal discusses the “GOP crack-up” and the role of the Tea Party. Today’s Tea Party, Galston says, is ” aroused, angry and above all fearful, in full revolt against a new elite.” Galston sees today’s Tea Party as rallying against Obamacare in an “existential struggle” rather than mere politics. This group is socially conservative, mostly Christian, pro-life, highly educated and pro-free market – the same values espoused in Gregg’s Tea Party Catholic. While Gregg’s book does not align itself with the current Tea Party movement, it is interesting to see how his book (which draws on the morals, insights and life of Founding Father Charles Carroll) can play a role in the discussion of the current political scene.