Monday, June 09, 2008


I subscribe to AlterNet's email feed. Every day, I get a smattering of intelligent, thoughtful, and, perhaps most important, liberal news from the US. Most of what I get otherwise is from the networks, or from NYT online, and much of it isn't good. I read it, though, for the reasons that I mentioned in my last two posts: the US is very important to Canada, and I need to keep an eye on the wingnuts.

I get discouraged about a lot, and not just the news from the States, but I do get upset. The erosion of your liberites, your reputation, your economy, your democracy. It all affects me because it could happen here. And that scares me. As far as democracies go, yours is pretty old, and if the current status of the US is a glimpse into my country's future, I think we might want to rethink this constitutional monarchy thing and just let the Queen run the show.

Some of the news from the US just annoys me. I read that there are now two candidates for the White House. I count five. How does he do it, you ask? Well, first, I don't discount anyone who has not ceded a nomination. Therefore, Ron Paul is in the race. Then I look at other parties that have nominated candidates: the Greens have nominated McKinney, and the Libertarians have nominated Barr. These "fringe" parties have gone to the trouble of holding conventions and naming candidates, so the least I can do is recognise that they seek the seat. And finally, I note that a high profile candidate has said he is seeking the presidency as an independent: Nader.

Feel free to tell me that none of these losers have a shot. Allow me to point out that they don't as long as Americans don't vote for them. A two-party system is flawed, especially when corporate interests own both parties. Barack is all sexy and charismatic and shit, and he's also not substantively different from Clinton. McCain is a "maverick", or has been in the past, but now he votes the party line (about 95% of the time: a real loose cannon, that guy).

But it's McCain's "maverick" image I want to address.

A summary look at McCain's history from AlterNet indicates that he has often voted against party lines when it comes to crucial issues:
...for a substantial part of his political career, he was a Republican maverick
on a variety of issues, including the environment, immigration, campaign reform,
taxes and the budget.

I'm assuming the source is sound. I have neither the time nor the inclination to check McCain's stance on every vote taken since he ran for office. But look at that list: he voted against the party on some pretty vital issues. Where has he agreed with the Republicans? Crime, I guess. Apparently foreign policy. And presumably he followed the evangelical crowd to the right on social issues (In theory, social issues should be irrelevant because of the constitution. The question is not what a person's rights are, but who actually gets them. It has never actually really meant "everybody", but you're getting there...)

But if you find such a large chunk of the Republican platform disagreeable, then why the hell are you a Rebulican? What is it (since it's a two-party system) that prevents you from crossing the aisle? Do the Democrats have cooties or somthing? They didn't really want to fight yet another stupid, pointless war? They're not frothy enough when it comes to their support of Israel? Too many black people?

[Incidentally, he seems to have sorted it all out. He loves the GOP and its Fearless Leader® these days. He's hot for it. He digs it. When Bush says sic 'em, McCain starts barking. He likes Iraq. He likes tax cuts. He likes privatizing the military. He likes cutting the balls off (small as they were) the EPA. He wants more fucking hippies and protesters in prison, and he like fucking Gitmo. He's all over the GOP these days. He's regained the faith.]

The same things apply to religion, for most people. My wife is a Catholic (I believe I mentioned that). She goes to church, takes communion, had the baby baptised, prays to the saints, and thinks that Pope Benedict has the ear of god. More or less. However, she disagrees with the Church on some fundamental issues:
  • Abortion--While she would not have an abortion herself, she recognises that she doesn't get to choose for other women.
  • Education--She recognises the inherent discrimination in a publicly funded Catholic school system.
  • Catholic Supremacy--She's pretty sure that other churches are at least as correct as hers is (So am I. Ha!). This guy is not so sure...
  • Gay Marriage--She is still getting used to the idea, but the fact that my brother will be marrying his boyfriend in a year or two is helping her along.
  • Contraception--Because having a lot of babies is just medieval, and only funny in the right context. Further, telling people that protected sex is a sin amounts to genocide, and while she wouldn't go that far, she knows it's stupid and evil.
  • The finer points of the theology--She didn't know about limbo until I told her, and the idea that unbaptised babies had a special afterlife struck her as stupid. I don't think she actually believes in transubstantiation, either.
So the question is, why the hell is she still a Catholic?

And I don't mean in one of those tick-the-box-off-on-the-survey Catholics, or one of the Christmas-and-Easter Catholics, but an actual go-to-church-every-Sunday-and pray-and-donate-and-join-St.-Vincent-De Paul-society Catholics. She's a real Catholic. Believes that the Church is the True Church. The Pope talks to god. Mary was the mother of god. Miracles and saints and the whole nine yards...

I guess what bothers me is that the short list of disagreements are not insignificant (with the possible exception of the last one). She, in effect, says, "I disagree with some of the fundamental doctrines of the church, but I'm still going to go, and give it some money."

If she were a not-really catholic, like most of the ones I've met, I think I'd understand. It's more of a cultural identification, then. But at the same time, the label does not apply. So why don't you get a new label? But even the label thing bugs me.

If your faith (or your party affiliation) is only a way for people to stereotype you, then you really ought to do some rethinking.

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