Glenn Beck's Interview of Newt Gingrich Calls for a Discussion of 'Good Government'
The first question we should ask is whether government is good, in a dual sense of the word, meaning both moral and efficient.
We need to ask whether the exercise of governance respects the family first and then the other proper mediating institutions - and defers first to them before assigning the task it attempts to accomplish to a higher level of government. The last level of governing should be the federal government. When the mediating institutions are bypassed, the common good is not served and subsidiarity is not afforded its rightful place.
On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, I heard Glenn Beck's radio interview of Newt Gingrich
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, I heard Glenn Beck's radio interview of Newt Gingrich. I knew that Glenn Beck was not a fan of the Republican primary Presidential candidate, so I listened closely. What I heard in the exchange revived a long held concern I have with some aspects of what is being called "conservative" politics these days.
What is needed in campaign 2012 is a discussion of whether there can be such a thing as "good" government. Clearly, from the tenor of the interview, Glenn Beck seems to think not - while Newt Gingrich disagrees. After Beck's interview of Newt Gingrich he interviewed Michelle Bachmann who called Gingrich a "frugal socialist". Though that comment will garner sound bites in the press, it was inaccurate.
We need a discussion of the social ordering principle of subsidiarity. Many Catholics do not even know that there is such a principle within the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church. Instead they join in the charged rhetoric from both the political left and the political right concerning the role of government. They too often end up adopting it as their own - instead of offering the Nation an alternative which includes the principle of subsidiarity.
The current administration is rapidly expanding the role of the Federal Government in the United States. The most recent example was the passage of what is wrongly called "health care reform". In addition to obvious dangers within the legislation which threaten human life in the womb - and its failure to respect conscience and religious freedom - the federalized approach to health care delivery itself raises important questions concerning the nature, size and role of government.
Yes, we should acknowledge our obligation to one another in solidarity - we are our brother/sister's keeper. However, we should then ask, is the centralizing of the delivery of needed health care services through a federalized bureaucracy the best response to that obligation? Or is it a violation of the principle of subsidiarity?
It is time for Catholics to propose an alternative to the "government is always bad" notion which is prevalent in some conservative circles as well as the collectivism model of governing being called "progressive" by the left these days. We should propose a model of good government; an alternative to the mistakes of both the left and the right.
To view government as a "problem"- in and of itself - is at odds with the insights which are summarized in the Catholic Catechism concerning the human person, the family and human society:
"All men are called to the same end: God himself. There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men are to establish among themselves in truth and love. Love of neighbor is inseparable from love for God. The human person needs to live in society. Society is not for him an extraneous addition but a requirement of his nature. Through the exchange with others, mutual service and dialogue with his brethren, man develops his potential; he thus responds to his vocation.
"A society is a group of persons bound together organically by a principle of unity that goes beyond each one of them. As an assembly that is at once visible and spiritual, a society endures through time: it gathers up the past and prepares for the future. By means of society, each man is established as an "heir" and receives certain "talents" that enrich his identity and whose fruits he must develop. He rightly owes loyalty to the communities of which he is part and respect to those in authority who have charge of the common good.
"Each community is defined by its purpose and consequently obeys specific rules; but "the human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject and the end of all social institutions. Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man; they are necessary to him. To promote the participation of the greatest number in the life of a society, the creation of voluntary associations and institutions must be encouraged "on both national and international levels, which relate to economic and social goals, to cultural and recreational activities, to sport, to various professions, and to political affairs.
"This "socialization" also expresses the natural tendency for human beings to associate with one another for the sake of attaining objectives that exceed individual capacities. It develops the qualities of the person, especially the sense of initiative and responsibility, and helps guarantee his rights. Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative.
"The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher ...
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