A Post-Party 2017

No, the title of this post does not mean that I have given up partying after a crushing hangover yesterday (didn’t happen!). What I am seriously considering as my belated New Year’s resolution is to curtail my involvement in any political party this year in favor of focusing my energies on groups and organizations which will be fighting to preserve our civil rights and liberties which I fear may be very much under attack under a Trump administration.

Oh, I will still remain a registered Democrat. At least as long as that party’s platform and values best represent the poor and marginalized with whom my faith requires me to stand. I will likely vote Democrat in any upcoming elections, but I will no longer devote my time and hopes to a political party which so badly failed us all in 2016…and perhaps long before. I worked hard for Hillary Clinton and was assured by the party bosses that Donald Trump could not possibly win and that their strategies would carry Secretary Clinton with ease into the White House. Wrong!

Besides, I have never been a completely doctrinaire Democrat. I resonate with Republican concerns about our ballooning national deficit and want to “fix the debt.” I agree with them that the federal government is far too large and bureaucratic to serve the needs of the people. I am pro-life as well as pro-choice, and am uncomfortable with the Democratic party’s seemingly cavalier attitudes toward the taking of a human life even from the womb. I am sympathetic with the catholic church’s “consistent ethic of life” which opposes both abortion and capital punishment.

I am hugely attracted by the Libertarians’ non-interventionist positions with respect to our military and agree with Ron and Rand Paul that the U.S. rarely makes things better by military adventurism into foreign conflicts and usually make things worse (i.e. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt). I believe military force should be the absolute last resort and used only for our national defense and with Congressional approval! Bloated military spending could well be re-directed toward humanitarian support for the victims of foreign conflicts rather than entering them ourselves.

Right now, I am most concerned about the issue of immigration, fearing that the Trump administration is serious about making life difficult and even miserable with their proposed “build a wall, send them home” policies. So I intend to get involved in Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (www.iowacci.org) and our local interfaith coalition if they are serious about standing with immigrants, documented and undocumented. And I plan to attend the Iowa City Council meeting tomorrow night as they discuss the pros and cons of designating Iowa City as a “sanctuary city” as a way of publicly declaring our solidarity with our recent, and not so recent, newcomers.

As priest and bishop, I always tried to be political but not partisan. In other words, I spoke out on the issues but never advocated for a particular candidate or political party. In retirement, I felt free to involve myself deeply in the Democratic party, including being a delegate to our district convention, making phone calls, knocking on doors and pledging not-insignificant dollars for Democratic candidates.

In retrospect, I think my former posture was better.

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