Tuesday, January 24, 2012

One Fed Up Liberal

I don't know if it's correct to say, as some have, that the Obama administration is waging "war" on religious organizations, but it certainly does seem that the administration is at least indifferent to the concerns many of these organizations have about being compelled to adopt government policies which violate their deepest convictions.

So flagrant has been what some see as open hostility to religious organizations, particularly Catholic organizations, that they've decided that though they voted for Mr. Obama in 2008, admire him personally, and support much of his agenda, they no longer can support him and will not vote for him in November.

Michael Sean Winters is an example of this disaffection. He's had enough of this administration's obvious intent to coerce and compel Catholic hospitals and adoption agencies to abandon their traditionally pro-life, pro-traditional marriage stances. Here's Winters:
President Barack Obama lost my vote yesterday when he declined to expand the exceedingly narrow conscience exemptions proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The issue of conscience protections is so foundational, I do not see how I ever could, in good conscience, vote for this man again.

I come at this issue as a liberal and a Democrat and as someone who, until yesterday, generally supported the President, as someone who saw in his vision of America a greater concern for each other, a less mean-spirited culture, someone who could, and did, remind the nation that we are our brothers’ keeper, that liberalism has a long vocation in this country of promoting freedom and protecting the interests of the average person against the combined power of the rich, and that we should learn how to disagree without being disagreeable.

I defended the University of Notre Dame for honoring this man, and my heart was warmed when President Obama said at Notre Dame: “we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief. In short, we must find a way to live together as one human family.
What follows in Mr. Winters' essay is a long bill of particulars against the president for his failure to live up to the principles of classical liberalism he articulated as a candidate. Nevertheless, despite having had enough of Mr. Obama, Winters is not about to embrace the Republicans. He closes with this:
Some commentators, including those in the comment section on my post yesterday, have charged that people like me, Catholics who have been generally supportive of the President, were duped, that we should confess our sins of political apostasy, and go rushing into the arms of a waiting GOP. I respectfully decline the indictment and, even more, the remedy. Nothing that happened yesterday made the contemporary GOP less mean-spirited, or more inclined to support the rights of our immigrant brothers and sisters, or less bellicose in their approach to foreign affairs, or more concerned about the how the government can and should alleviate poverty.

It is also worth noting that the night before the decision, Mr. Gingrich said that he would halt the U.S. Justice Department’s suit against the State of Alabama regarding that state’s new anti-immigration law, a law that raises exactly the same kind of issues of religious liberty and the rights of conscience as are raised by the HHS decision. Religious liberty cuts both ways. Nor, is religious liberty the only issue. Voters should still consider how candidates for the presidency are likely to address a host of issues. As for myself, I could not, in good conscience, vote for any of the current Republicans seeking the presidency.

But, yesterday, as soon as I learned of this decision, I knew instantly that I also could not, in good conscience, ever vote for Mr. Obama again. I once had great faith in Mr. Obama’s judgment and leadership. I do not retract a single word I have written supporting him on issues like health care reform, or bringing the troops home from Iraq, or taking aggressive steps to halt the recession and turn the economy around. I will continue to advocate for those policies. But, I can never convince myself that a person capable of making such a dreadful decision is worthy of my respect or my vote.
It's remarkable to me that a committed Roman Catholic would have voted for Mr. Obama in the first place, given Mr. Obama's opposition as an Illinois state senator to a law that would have prohibited a practice that amounts to infanticide. At any rate, Mr. Winters is fed up with Mr. Obama's contempt for constitutional protections of religious organizations in general and Catholic religious and moral convictions in particular, and I suspect a lot of others are, too.