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Another One Bites The Dust? Reflections on Political Parties and the Future

10/12/2003 - 9:30 AM PST

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By: Keith A Fournier
(c) Third Millennium, LLC

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“Another one bites the dust Another one bites the dust And another one gone and another one gone Another one bites the dust Hey I'm gonna get you too Another one bites the dust”

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I still remember these driving words from the old rock and roll anthem by Queen. It was released in 1980, the year that I graduated from Law School. The tune is so driving that it seems to have stuck somewhere in the recesses of my mind. Frankly, it seems to have an angry edge. So do I these days when I think about politics. I am tiring of both major political parties.

I have been a lawyer for twenty four years and a political “wonk” of sorts for many more. I have always believed that political participation is a great opportunity of freedom and an indispensable ingredient of the vital task and duty of citizenship. This is particularly true for Christians but even more for Catholic Christians who have been given the great treasury of the social teaching of the Church!

I spent my first few years in the practice of law building my own law firm, trying to blend what I have always called my “two professions”, the practice of law and the practice of my Catholic faith. After all these years, I see where blending the two has led to an interesting career with many unique opportunities.

In 1986 I was a Dean at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Steubenville, Ohio. I had a long association with that wonderful Catholic school beginning when I followed my friend Fr Michael Scanlan to what was then the College of Steubenville, in 1974, after he became President. Right out of a monastery, I moved to Steubenville to finish my undergraduate work and become a part of that work of the Holy Spirit.

I graduated from the College of Steubenville in 1977 with a degree in Philosophy and Theology. I was deeply involved as a student leader and in building a local lay community and stayed in the Steubenville area to continue to help in the “re-building” of that Catholic school. I went to law school in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1980, I graduated with my J.D. from the University Of Pittsburgh School Of Law. I entered law school specifically because I wanted to be a part of the class action lawsuit that would one day be brought on behalf of all pre-born children wrongfully killed in the sanctuary of their mothers’ womb.

Though I spent the first half of the eighties practicing law in my own law firm, I went “in house” with the University in the middle eighties so that I could be more fully involved in “ministry” and, as a part of that, in helping others to understand the implications of their faith on their political and social participation. Back then, I was a Democrat.

Let me explain why.

I was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in a working class home. I always believed that the Democratic Party was the party of the “little guy”, the voiceless and the underprivileged. Naturally, when I became politically active, I registered as a Democrat.

One of my heroes during those years was the last of a now almost extinct breed, the Honorable Robert Casey, a pro-life Democrat. In 1986 he was the Governor of Pennsylvania. He still made me proud to be a Democrat. However, that party was quickly leaving me, and many like me, behind. I admired the candor and courage of a Republican named Ronald Reagan. He seemed different than my perception of Republicans and his vocal, unwavering commitment to the inalienable right to life inspired me.

I knew back then what I know even more profoundly now, after all these years of activism; a belief in the inviolable dignity of every human person at every age and stage is about more than ending abortion, though it of course involves that. It is about how one views the entire social order, human and civil rights, freedom and civic obligation. In short, it is a hermeneutic, a lens through which we inform our entire worldview, especially our obligation to social participation and human solidarity.

In September of 1987, a shockwave hit Presidential politics; Pat Robertson resigned from his ministry to pursue the Presidency of the United States. I vividly remember speaking to a mutual friend, Reverend Harald Bredeson (a stalwart in the early days of what was to be called the “charismatic renewal” - and a wonderful Christian leader) concerning the news. I was quite excited. I told him that I admired Robertson’s clear stance for life. Harald knew Pat very well and immediately got me on the phone with the candidate. I found myself suggesting that I head up something I was going to call “Catholic Democrats for Robertson.” Though I was invited to go to New Hampshire and campaign, I did not do so. I stayed in Steubenville.

However, that ...

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