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EDITORIAL: Not Your 'Average Joe': Maybe I will vote for Joe Schriner?

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"America needs to hear his appeals to simplify lifestyles, save the unborn, heal the family, return to rural values and expand local charity efforts."

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Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

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By Keith A. Fournier
Catholic Online (
7/10/2008 (1 decade ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I write this editorial without my clerical title attached to my name.I do so because I do not want anyone to confuse my discussion as a specific endorsement of a candidate.

As a member of the Clergy I am free to write about moral issues. Those who read me know I do so regularly. I am also free as a citizen to support a candidate. I have not yet endorsed between the two presumptive nominees of the Major American Political Parties.

In addition, Catholic Online has not endorsed any candidate.

So far, I only know who I cannot vote for. I will not vote for any candidate who fails to hear the cry of the poor coming from our youngest neighbors, children in the first home of the whole human race, their mother's wombs.

So, unless Senator Obama has a conversion over the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the right of every person to life, and the first freedom, the freedom to be born, I cannot vote for him.

There is a hierarchy of values and there is a certain kind of hierarchy of evils! Killing innocent children in the womb, who have no voice, and calling it a "right" is simply wrong.It is the worst evil.

Oh, I know! To be Pro-life is about more than abortion.

I regularly dialogue with many sincere people who are trying to explain their support for the gifted orator from Illinois. Sadly, they sometimes have a bit of a point.

It at least seems like some within the Pro-life community have cared less about children after they are born than before. However, this does not apply to many - and certainly not me.

I simply tell my friends the truth. Every procured abortion is the taking of a human life and I cannot ever support a candidate who fails to recognize that, Period.

If as a nation we end up with a President Obama, I will respect his Office and pray that like another President from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, he will grow in office.

I will pray fervently that unlike Lincoln, who did not come to see the truth concerning the evil of slavery until his second term, President Obama will come to realize QUICKLY that every group of persons has a fundamental right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, no matter what their age.

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That inalienable right attaches to children in the womb.

I fully and totally support the teaching of the Catholic Church that every single human person from conception, throughout all of life and to natural death must be treated with human dignity.

This is sometimes called a "consistent ethic of life". Properly understood, I embrace such a "consistent ethic of life". I prefer to call it being "whole life/pro-life".

I have regularly addressed the deficiencies of what the late servant of God John Paul II in his encyclical "On Human Work" rightly called "economism". This error is sometimes present in what calls itself "conservative" or "neo-conservative" economic thought.

Efforts to blend "libertarian" economics with a concern for the poor can be challenging.

We do have an obligation in solidarity to one another and we do owe a special love of preference to the poor. Markets, to be truly free, must be at the service of the person, the family and the common good. And, the promise of a free market must always expand to include those in need in an ever increasing circle of participation.

I remind my Democratic friends that little girls who are seven months old - but cannot be heard to cry when they are being killed because the scream is hidden by the womb -are also included among the ranks of the poor. Mother Teresa said it so eloquently. We all know it's true, they just have not figured out how to deal with it.

When it comes to daily living, I simply try my best to inform my whole life, including my political participation, by my faith. That includes applying the truths about our life together which come from the moral treasury of Catholic Social teaching.

I know it, I have studied it, I have written about it for years and I believe that it is the treasure hidden in the field of our age which must be dug up and used to inform a new Catholic Action movement.

The great failure of what was called the "religious conservative" or "religious right" movement is that many of its leaders did not know Catholic Social Teaching, even the Catholics among them.

They were conservatives (or "neo-conservatives") before they were Catholics.

Once they realized the teaching existed and had political, economic and policy relevance, at least some of them tried to consider it. Some attempted to use Catholic Social Teaching as proof texts to buoy their conservative or neo-conservative positions.Others just dismissed it as "leftist". They are the most annoying to me.

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Frankly, I am increasingly tired of the political back and forth emanating from some circles. I long ago addressed the verbal fatigue elicited by the tired old words "liberal", "conservative", "neo-conservative", "left" or "right", even "Democrat" or "Republican". I reject them all.

I am simply a Catholic. Catholic is the Noun.

I am pro-life, pro-marriage and family (true marriage not the counterfeit), pro-poor and pro-peace. I was against the initial incursion into Iraq, as was our Pope.

I said way back when this awful war began what most are now recognizing, that invasion in no way fit within the "Just war Theory" and was a wrong decision.

This evaluation of the incursion is a different issue than what discerning what we should do now. That is a matter of exercising our national prudential judgment, to get out of this mess while trying to assist the Iraqis who have suffered enough.

And yes, I understand what "prudential judgment" means and that there are many issues where good Catholics, other Christians, other People of faith and good will can disagree.

I just insist there are some which we cannot disagree on. One of those is the fundamental human right, the right to life.

I am, as I have often expressed, a "reluctant Republican".

I had to leave the Democratic Party years back when it censored the last great Democratic Candidate for President, the late Governor Bob Casey, because he understood that children in the womb have a right to life, are our neighbors and insisted it was always wrong to kill our neighbors.

I have never liked the militarism of the current leadership of the Republican Party, or for that matter, of some within the Democratic Party.

I am also not "anti-Government", as are some of those in the remnant of the movement often called the 'right". I think that Government is "good" when it is exercised closest to the need and recognizes that there are moral goods and obligations which bind us all.

Those moral goods and obligations can be known because they are revealed to us all by the Natural law. The kind of "small" governance model I support recognizes the critical role and place of mediating associations as well. It is a common sense application of the principle of subsidiarity.

I have been writing multiple articles concerning the current U.S. Presidential campaign. Anyone who has read me knows that neither of the two candidates who have emerged were my choice.

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I cannot vote for one of them, Senator Obama. I do not yet know if I can even vote for the other one, Senator McCain. My reasons on both fronts are in past articles, commentaries and editorials.

However, some who read me, who adamantly oppose the Obama candidacy, are upset at me. Even after writing my last piece for Catholic Online entitled "EDITORIAL: Abortion, the '800 lb. Gorilla' in the Campaign", in which I clearly stated why I cannot vote for Senator Obama, I had E-mails from people incensed at me for what they maintained were the compliments I gave him for his (obvious) rhetorical gifts.

Others were irate at the mention I made that on some issues (concerning the war and the poor) I was closer to his positions.

Frankly, the divisions, shrillness in our discourse and meanness of some of the comments I receive these days, have convinced me that our politics are at an all time low. One Pro-life Catholic Medical Doctor who sends out E-mail missives every morning has been the worst.I am close to blocking him.

When you read some of the vitriol coming out these days against Barack Obama you have to wonder. My mother always siad "consider the source".

First, these verbal combatants claimed that Obama was a Marxist, then he was a Muslim, then he was not a Patriot, lastly that he is not a Christian.


He is not a Marxist. He is not a Muslim. He is a Christian. He is simply wrong on some vital issues. His popularity has much to do with the failure of some on my own side of the pro-life issue who have done such a horrible job presenting the truth of the Pro-life cause.

This is an important Presidential campaign. Who we elect to the Presidency may have never been more important, at least in my lifetime.

I like the freedom I have in writing for Catholic Online to opine on this campaign. Catholic Online is not a not for profit association. So, we have no political limitations on our speech. And, to the chagrin of many, I have been an equal opportunity critic of the current Presidential field.

I wish there was another candidate who more closely reflected the common sense truth which I find in wonderfully expressed in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching.

This teaching is not true because its Catholic, it is Catholic because it is true. It is also not "religious", in the sense that it is only for "religious" people. It is offered by the Church for the world. She has wisdom to share because she, like the One whom she follows walks the way of the person and is "an expert in humanity".

I long ago predicted what I called the "requiem for the Religious Right". It was a movement which was founded upon a faulty philosophical, anthropological and political foundation.

Too often, those who became involved in it did not realize that they were going to be asked to place their so called "social" positions (read being pro-life and believing in true marriage...) aside and be used by some within the Republican party.

I still cringe when I think back on the conservative voices, even on radio and TV, who supported the candidacy of Rudy Giuliani when this campaign began. They did so even though he gave Barrack Obama a run for his money on the issue of the right to life!They both support an unfettered abortion "right".

That was an appalling example to me of how far the religious "conservative" movement had fallen from its early days. The religious right, as I wrote in another article "lost its religion and lost its' way".

So what can I do? I have a candidate to choose.

I have looked to the third party candidates. So far, I have not found the consistent ethic of life (properly understood), concern for the poor, support of true marriage, concern for the immigrant, love for peace and true economic populism converge in one candidate. I also see some candidates who once held issue positions I support, only to quickly shed them to now obtain a nomination.

That was until I discovered, by accident, the candidacy of "Average Joe Shriner"


I commend this man to my reader's attention. His small town honesty, his love for his family, his country, his Church and his common sense exposition on the great issues of our age in these nonsensical times.

Joes campaign theme is, "Common Man, Common Sense, Un-Common Solutions!"

Mike Haynes of the Amarillo Globe-News discovered Joe before I did. He wrote concerning him"...America needs to hear his (Schriner's) appeals to simplify lifestyles, save the unborn, heal the family, return to rural values and expand local charity efforts."

Let me share two of Joe's positions, in his own words:

"Average Joe" on Life:

"We are adamantly against abortion and our administration would do everything it could to help make it illegal. In tandem, we would work exhaustively to help reverse poverty, family dysfunction, relaxed sexual mores and any other precipitating factors leading to abortion.

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"We also espouse a "Consistent Life Ethic" that sets us against embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, the death penalty, poverty, pollution, nuclear proliferation... and anything else that can end life prematurely.

"In our travels, we have stood in solidarity with groups protesting (and praying) on the streets against abortion in Fargo, North Dakota; Ocala, Florida; Marquette, Michigan; Las Cruces, New Mexico; Cleveland, Ohio; Bakersfield, California... And I told the Lewistown News-Argus newspaper in Lewistown , Montana , that as president - I'd be doing the same.

"With abortion, our society has become it's own worst terrorist," I said during a talk in Savannah, Tennessee. And as we've traveled, we have also looked for creative local safety nets for women in crisis pregnancy, I told the Range News in Arizona. And as we've found them, we've tried to inspire them elsewhere.

"In Johnstown, Pennsylvania, we learned "Mom's House" is staffed by volunteer seniors who provide day care for women in crisis pregnancy. In Newport, Rhode Island, we learned that local churches have combined to start "Women-to-Women," which provides residential help, food, clothing and scholarship money for women who want to keep their babies.

"In Hibbings, Minnesota, Patty Jacobson told us the "Pregnancy Life Care Center" there provides free sonograms, legal advocacy, medical help, counseling (for both mom and dad), chastity training...

"Just before Election 2004, our Sarah, then eight-years-old, told a reporter from ABC News in Dayton, Ohio, that having an abortion should not be a "choice" in America .

She's right."

To my readers, I may have actually found a candidate to consider who is really "Whole Life/Pro-Life".

The candidates position on Peace, his honest concern for the poor and the middle class, his work ethic, his concern for the suffering in Darfur, health care, education, environment, farm workers... he covers them all with a down to earth genuine concern for human persons and down home wisdom.

Oh, I know his policy positions need to be developed. He would also need to surround himself with a lot of talent.

But, after reading the words of this man, as well as reading what others say about him and his love for his wife and family, I think he might do just that. He is humble. How refreshing in Politics.

I am sure there are many self professed "intellectuals" among my readers who may think I have lost my mind. I don't care.I am tired of your lock on politics.

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I leave my readers with the candidate's thoughts on another important issue, at least important to this disillusioned voter and columnist, the continuing War in Iraq.

Listen to "Average Joe" speaking to the Press: "...I wouldn't have gone to war in Iraq," said Schriner to the Xenia (OH) News. "What if we let the weapons inspectors into Montana?" asked Joe on ABC News in Toledo, Ohio.
Then he said this about the war:

"I would have weighed a potential, pre-emptive war in Iraq (and any possible future war), against the criteria of "Just War" principles. In this case, it didn't match up. Before declaring any war, I would go to Congress, not with a pre-conceived plan, but with an open mind. And I would respect the consensus decision. ~ Likewise, I would go to the U.N. with the same type of paradigm.

"What's more, we went into Iraq predicated on finding weapons of mass destruction. They weren't there. (I told the Cortez (CO) Journal that the irony is "we have 10,000 weapons of mass destruction (nuclear missiles) aimed all over the world!").

"Our actions have destabilized Iraq, opening the door to sectarian civil war.Our actions have also galvanized jihad (Holy War) alliances and significant insurgency into Iraq. And it has stoked more anti-US sentiment in the Arab world in general.

"We are now looked at as "occupiers" interested in controlling Iraq oil. There have been massive civilian deaths and maiming. And there are now 1.8 million Iraq refugees, and counting.

"Our use of depleted uranium munitions (bullets and bunker busing bombs) is leaving Iraq radioactive in many spots and spiking the incidence of cancer and other disease in the civilian populace exponentially.

"The Iraq War has diverted attention away from such international crisis as the genocide in Sudan, and diverted a tremendous amount of money that could have been used to cut world hunger, fight disease, and help reverse global warming...

"At home, the Iraq War has meant U.S. military deaths and maiming, significant cuts to domestic social programs, increasing emotionally disturbed families from new cases of soldier post traumatic stress syndrome..."

All I can say is - "You go Joe!"

Joe Schriner speaks the way he writes. No polish, no eloquence - just honesty, sincerity and a real concern for real people and real issues. His web site is also unpolished.

He really is just an "average Joe".

In an age of polish and pizzazz, that is why he is so refreshing! I am not sure if the report on the site is accurate and he really is running for the "Green party" candidacy. If so, I do not think he will get their nomination when they gather next week.

However, maybe he is still a worthwhile write in?

I encourage you, go to


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