1. Had I known my RIP piece below would attract attention, I surely would have made it better or at least clearer.

2. It goes without saying that I agree with Pete’s center-right agenda below, with its mend them, don’t end them approach to our minimalist entitlements and its due concern for doing everything that can be done to sustain our nongovernmental intermediary institutions (which, of course can be choked by too much or the wrong kind of government). The role of government is real but limited in helping out our sinking middle and lower-middle class. So while I admire Presidents Coolidge and McKinley, I don’t like the rhetoric that suggests that they tell us everything we need to know about the problems that face us now.

3. I don’t say to hell with both parties (as do American conservatives and MacIntyreans) from some European Christian Democratic view. Or, for that matter, from some medieval village view. I agree with all those traditionalist Catholics writing this morning that the our present philosopher-pope is not a stereotypical American conservative. He’s not for “unfettered capitalism” and he is for some environmentalism. Well, I admit that Romney sometimes talked as if the ticket was “unfettered capitalism,” but in fact the general Republican view is for some fettering. And we Republicans notice that there’s some de-fettering of capitalism going on in the more responsible countries of Europe. The social services provided by Christian Democrats might well be sustainable if the Europeans exhibited distinctively Catholic reproductive behavior, but they don’t. It’s surely in the interest of the Catholic Church, it’s easy to add, to be for some form of privatization (with subsidies) of health care. Some key “religious liberty” issues would wither away if government-enabled, employer-based health care would. And in truth prudent privatization could address more effectively “social justice” issues than single-payer schemes given our demographic and debt challenges. Catholics should admit that the Catholic Paul Ryan’s version of commitment to social justice is authentic and plausible.

4. And surely most Republicans support a kind of prudent anthropocentric environmentalism or conservationism. I know I do. But that’s different from Green pantheism and excessive alarmism that produce new and unsustainable forms of big government. And it’s just not Christian to worry too much about CLIMATE CHANGE. Capitalism, in truth, is pretty ambiguous as a cause of environmental devastation. Conservationism is in some ways easier to sell as a “post-materialistic” value in an era of abundance or lack of grinding scarcity. And we’re not going back to the family farm in big numbers, and it might be an environmental catastrophe if we really tried.

5. So the Catholic bishops were perfectly correct to suggest strongly that if you’re for freedom of the institutional church to perform its evangelical mission, then Romney was far preferable to Obama. It’s disheartening, of course, that more voters who call themselves Catholics didn’t follow their lead.

There’s more, but I have to go to class.

Articles by Peter Lawler

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