"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Monday, October 29, 2007

My political provocation

For the sake of generating discussion, I shall here abandon my usual reticence about partisan politics. I'm usually reticent for two reasons. First, I believe that both major American parties are, in somewhat different respects, equally far from my political principles, which are derived from the natural law and the social teaching of the Church; second, most political discussions get so tied up in disputes about what the relevant facts are that it becomes almost impossible to have a productive discussion about principles. And so I usually see little point in generating political debate on this site. But as the presidential election cycle gears up, I thought I should say something to provoke my readers into thinking about the matters people ought to be thinking about. How you end up voting is, of course, between you and your conscience.

At this point, it seems inevitable that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee. I oppose her for several reasons. One is that I oppose any candidate of either party who lacks credible pro-life credentials, and she certainly lacks them. Another is that she is a true believer in what conservatives like to call "big government" and I prefer to call "nanny government." On both philosophical and emotional grounds, I hate paternalism in government; and I don't like maternalism in government any better, especially given that, in a number of respects, America is gradually evolving into a gynocracy anyhow. Finally, Hillary is Bill's wife and has always kept her star hooked to his. Enough said.

The Republicans have several candidates who, at this stage, have a reasonable shot at being nominated. In my mind, the pivotal question is which credibly pro-life candidate has the best chance of beating Hillary in the general election. That seems to boil down to Mike Huckabee, who in my view offers the most favorable combination of accomplishment and personality needed to appeal to the general electorate. And so as of now, he's my man.

Some of you might wonder why I don't mention the elephant in the room: the war in Iraq. I don't mention it because I suspect that, as a purely practical matter, whoever is elected President next year will end up pursuing roughly the same policy as their opponent would have. Everybody wants some sort of drawdown of troops, which will happen; nobody wants to leave Iraq a playground for al-Qaeda and Iran, so that won't happen. Things like troop numbers and force posture will probably be determined by how much more success we will have achieved in Iraq between now and 2009, which nobody can confidently predict. And so, to me, Iraq has become largely irrelevant as a way of deciding among candidates.

On a more abstract level, the question most likely to interest my readers is whether short-term political issues really matter much at all, given the daunting spiritual challenges faced by Western civilization. That's the question that most interests me too.
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