usa - elections

This is the text of a flyer written and disseminated by the community in the USA. A tool for regarding and judging the upcoming presidential elections

A Politics of Responsibility

September, 2000
The human thrust toward an infinite ideal lies at the very heart of the American experience. From the beginning the United States has understood itself as the nation where all people could fully express their human desires, generate communities, create works, and build a “new world.” To this day, Americans have an ingrained sense that life is positive, that the human heart contains a deep promise, and that freedom can seek its fulfillment without having to wait for the generosity of the powerful. As Christians, we have a great sympathy for this idealism and this freedom, because we have encountered in the flesh the Ideal that moves every human heart. This Ideal is not an abstract idea, but a tangible presence in history. Whenever the concreteness of this presence is denied or destroyed, the Ideal is reduced to ideology, and ideology always serves those in power.
For this reason, our approach to politics is that of responsibility in front of the gift of reality. A politics of responsibility does not defend any preconceived notion of the way things should be; it affirms the primacy of human desires over abstract ideologies, of individuals and communities over impersonal institutions. This is the attitude of the social doctrine of the Church, expressed in the three principles of freedom, subsidiarity, and solidarity. Freedom means, concretely, freedom to live, build, and educate, to associate around shared needs and respond to them with creative works. Subsidiarity means that the state must serve society and not take its place, and that what can best be done at the grassroots should not be taken over by the government. Conversely, the state should facilitate and defend all forms of constructive creativity, and recognize their public value. Solidarity means that politics also must be attentive to the needs of those weaker members of society who lack the opportunities and resources to freely express their creativity.
On the occasion of the upcoming elections we want to contribute these principles to the American political debate. There are a few concrete issues which we feel constitute important applications of a politics of responsibility:

1 First of all, freedom of education, since educating the young is one of the most crucial forms of human expression, that should never be monopolized or homogenized by political power. We ask for the state to recognize everyone’s right to an education consistent with human dignity and freedom. This requires, first of all, welcoming and supporting the initiatives of individuals, families, and communities. It also implies that public education must allow freedom of expression and association for all.

2 In general, public policy must recognize and value all those intermediate communities that stand between the individual and the powers of the government and of private economic interests. This includes acknowledging the essential social role of the family and also the public value of non-profit organizations, for instance in the tax code.

3 The principles of both subsidiarity and solidarity are crucial to the world of health care, which is more and more ruled by powerful economic interests. Indeed, the right to adequate health care is a constitutive part of the right to life. The law must protect the integrity of the human body, from conception to natural death.

4 A politics of responsibility also means that both isolationism and hegemony are unacceptable answers to the many challenges that come to us from the rest of the world. The United States today has, like no other country, the historical task of preserving peace in the world as the necessary condition for human development. Also, America must live up to its unique tradition of openness to immigrants, who have always been the great source of vitality in our history.

With this declaration, we seek to dialogue with men and women of good will, across party lines, who share our conviction that politics should bet everything on the original, irreducible dynamism of the human heart.
Communion and Liberation