Thursday, October 1, 2009

Party Politics, Reality, the Big Picture, and This Catholic

When they're doing what, in my view, they're supposed to, people engaged in party politics and supporting political philosophies are trying to solve problems by applying a set of general principles to specific issues.

Sometimes a grand-sounding program does no great damage, sometimes it actually does some good.1 That doesn't surprise me, really: I think it would be very odd if the two major political philosophies in America failed to match reality at all points. (July 17, 2009)

I also think that most Democrats, Republicans, and members of other more-or-less-mainstream political parties. want to help America and Americans.

But I'm not "for" any political party. I'm a Catholic, and try to find candidates whose positions are least unlike what the Church teaches. (November 3, 2008)

A century or so back, I'd have been choosing mostly among Torys and Whigs. A century or so from now, the odds are that the Democrat and Republican parties will have been replaced by something else, and if I were alive then I'd be choosing among whatever was available. Trying to find someone who seemed likely to support positions that weren't all that far from the doctrines of the Church.

It's a lot more work than marking off all the names from one party, but nobody said life was easy.

Party Politics Gone Wrong

"Partisan politics" is what the other party does when they do something that annoys the person using the phrase. "Partisan" doesn't really mean "annoying." One of its meanings is "devoted to a cause or party." (Princeton's WordNet) Sometimes "partisan politics" really is "partisan politics:" opposition to the other party's efforts for the sake of opposing the other party: not because there's anything particularly wrong with what the other party is doing.

I've been asked if I'm "a partisan." In that "devoted to a cause or party" sense, yes: I am. I'm a Catholic, and a Christian, and my intention is to support the will of God and the doctrines of the Church.

But I'm certainly not "partisan" about political parties.

I've read and heard people who are. You probably have, too. They're the ones who are absolutely against wasting the taxpayer's money - when it's the other party's program they're criticizing. When it's their party that supports creating a new federal agency to regulate the packaging of paperclips, or whatever, cost is no object: their lofty goal is to protect the public from dangerously packaged paperclips.

I shouldn't joke: someone might come up with an idea like that.

"Partisan politics" is part of what, in my view, kills off political parties. When people who haven't dedicated their lives to supporting the optimates, or populares, (July 7, 2009) or whatever, notice that the party's supporters - and leaders - care more about keeping the party's members in office than in what the party's members do once they get elected - those people are going to take their support elsewhere.

Partisan or not, I think that most political parties start out with people who sincerely want to improve the lot of someone other than themselves: which is a step in the right direction. Here in America, I think the two major political parties are composed, for the most part, of people who sincerely want to help most if not all Americans. Yes, I know: there are exceptions.

I also think that, when there's a relatively stable society and most people are given the opportunity to learn about the world outside their own neighborhood, widely-supported political parties started out with the intention of helping.

They don't always end that way, though. The national socialist party in Germany in the 1920s through 1940s, for example, had goals which were, objectively, wrong.

Why Write This Post?

I'd started off on a tangent while writing another post. That's not at all unusual for me - but this time I'd written quite a bit before noticing that I was 'way off topic. Since what had been keyed in was (fairly) coherent, and related (sort of) to the general focus of this blog, instead of deleting what I wrote, I copied it, pasted it here, and tied up a loose end or two.

Now, back to work on that other post.
1 I'm of the opinion that "he who governs least, governs best," and remember running into the assertion that: "The perfect emperor does nothing, rides on the perfection of his ministers." (Apathetic Lemming of the North (September 15, 2009)) The first quote has been widely attributed to Thomas Jefferson, but I haven't verified either, or gotten a solid lead on the source.

Actually, I suspect that the "governs least" quote is a paraphrase of something said in the general vicinity of Athens, around two dozen centuries back - and that they were discussing an idea that had been handed down through oral transmission for tens of thousands of years.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.