Friday, October 24, 2008

Seven Key Themes of Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity

This post is a continuation of my examination of both presidential candidates based on the seven basic Catholic themes of social teaching. If you're new here, be sure to read the first post in this series to see where I'm coming from.

Solidarity
...pursue justice, eliminate racism, end human trafficking, protect human rights, seek peace, and avoid the use of force except as a necessary last resort.

This is a tough one to score. Once again, I wish I had the 2004 USCCB report to see what kind of votes were included in this category. It's not like there's a link called "Solidarity" on the Issues sections of the campaign websites for me to check. Oh well. Here goes.

McCain
Let's see... The McCain website has a section on "Human Dignity and the Sanctity of Life." I think I know where that's going, but maybe there's something in there.

Crap. Starts out with Roe v. Wade. I'll talk about that in a later post. Protecting children -- maybe that fits. He talks about filters on public computers and a national registry for people convicted of sex crimes against children. I'm not a fan of internet filters, but if a national registry could be handled better than the TSA "no fly list," it's not a bad idea.

Then the site goes into "There is no greater nobility than to sacrifice for a great cause and no cause greater than protection of human dignity." Thanks for the specifics. And did you know he was a POW?

McCain's section on crime has a lot about federal funding and support for local agencies, which is fine. It rehashes the "protecting our children" theme, but I'm not sure why judicial activism is here. Then it spends a lot of time talking about illegal immigrants who commit crimes.

In the National Security section, the headline is "A Strong Military in a Dangerous World." Then the first sentence starts out "In a dangerous world..." Gee, thanks for reminding me it's a dangerous world. I had forgotten. Now that I'm scared, will you protect me?

Further down, "to impinge on the rights of our own citizens or restrict the freedoms for which our nation stands would be to give terrorists the victory they seek." Great, but nothing about toning down the Patriot Act or the executive orders that allow domestic wiretapping. Furthermore, McCain has gone to great lengths to mock Obama's call for diplomacy with our enemies, and he has been silent when asked about consensus-building with our allies before the use of force. While he hasn't shown that he'd use force unnecessarily, McCain does seem more willing to go that route before diplomatic options are exhausted.

So, other than some spots on defense, there's not much to go on here. These are topics that McCain just doesn't talk much about (or at least they aren't on his website and I haven't heard him mention them).

Obama
Oh look: there's a "Civil Rights" section! It discusses enforcement of civil rights laws, employment discrimination (minorities and women), expanding hate crime statuses, deceptive voting, racial profiling, reducing crime recidivism, and more. And a PDF with more detail.

In his "Defense" section, Obama talks about creating a "Civilian Assistance Corps" consisting of doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police, and others to help in times of need at home and abroad. He also talks about humanitarian activities to build allies.

Obama's position on opening a dialog with our enemies is also widely known now. Not unconditionally, as McCain has been painting it, but with proper lower-level preparations and talks being held first. Most military experts, including active generals and the current Secretary of Defense, agree with the idea that diplomacy must always be an option before war.

Finally, in his "Women" section, he discusses fighting gender violence abroad, which mainly seems to mean Dafur.

Overall, as I stated originally, this is a tough category to pin down. The rambling nature of this post was meant to show how difficult it was to find information on justice, racism, human trafficking (never even found that one), human rights, peace, and force as a last resort. These are not "sexy" topics, and frankly bringing some of them up (force as a last resort in particular) can be exploited as a weakness by an opponent. It should be noted that, in their second debate, both candidates were open to the idea of using our military for moral reasons -- to step into a situation where we may not have direct national interests at stake. Obama gave a few examples of when this would be important, but McCain did not offer any specifics.

Overall the Obama site clearly had more relevant information directly relating to some of the topics (especially civil rights and peace), so I have to score this one for him.

Scorecard:
Obama: 2
McCain: 0

Next up: Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

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