The news is still sinking in.
The people of Massachusetts ignited a political firestorm on Tuesday by electing Scott Brown to the seat vacated by the late Senator Kennedy.
CatholicVote did not endorse Brown, nor did we urge voters to elect him. Instead we fired back at Martha Coakley’s assault on Catholic doctors and nurses with phone calls to nearly 200,000 people in Massachusetts.
But many rightly are asking – if Scott Brown supports abortion, is CatholicVote happy that he was elected? Let me explain.
First, Senator-elect Scott Brown opposes using taxpayer funds for abortion, opposes partial-birth abortion, and supports other laws that would provide parents and women notice, counseling, and information prior to an abortion. But his opponent Martha Coakley was proudly 100% pro-abortion.
Scott Brown is certainly not an ideal candidate. After all, he supports Roe v. Wade! So the question must be asked — how should faithful Catholics, Christians, and dedicated activists that want to build a culture of life respond — how do we fit in?
Do you remember the ‘S’ word?
The ‘s’ word is subsidiarity. And Scott Brown’s win was a victory for subsidiarity – a key principle of Catholic social doctrine, and a foundational principle of American self-government.
The surge that propelled Scott Brown into office was largely a response to Congress’ overreach on health care. Americans of both political parties, and huge numbers of independents elected Scott Brown because of what he represents – a chance to stop the government first “reform” crusade. And because Scott Brown was elected, the health care ‘reform’ debacle may finally be stopped.
The Power of People
Subsidiarity simply means that issues ought to be solved by the smallest and least centralized competent authority. Families, charities, churches and local communities, and even states ought to be the primary instruments of political change — as opposed to a massive bureaucratic centralized federal government.
And thus, while Scott Brown is ultimately wrong about abortion, he is definitely right in urging us to think anew about the proper size and role of government in a free society. And for this reason, CatholicVote is happy he won.
Think about it – the issues we care most about – abortion, marriage, protecting embryonic life, moral and ethical health care, school choice, helping the poor…have all been a disaster when our political leaders ignored the principle of subsidiarity. In almost every case, where Washington D.C. decides, we lose.
The Catholic understanding of the dignity of the human person of course begins with the right to life. But our dignity doesn’t end once we are born. It includes our capacity to act responsibly, to work, take risks, build businesses, raise children, and to help those who need our help. Our God created us with more talents, creativity, AND hearts than any politician in Washington will ever give us credit for. Government can’t love. But the human person can, and does.
So where do we go from here?
The stage has been set for a massive rethinking about how our government ought to operate. How much it ought to control, regulate, and spend. And behind these questions, is the question of whether Americans are ready to re-assume control of our lives.
Make no mistake, we need leaders willing to stand for the principle that every life is sacred. Scott Brown is not that candidate. At least not yet!
But his victory set in motion a movement that many Americans thought was no longer possible. This movement — call it “the subsidiarity movement” – may very well carry us to the political place where life, faith, and family are truly victorious.
Don’t believe me? Don’t count America out yet. The power of humanity may surprise you.
Just ask Martha Coakley.