I don’t see why not.
Catholics who are serious about the social teachings of their church–all of it–do not have a candidate in this race.
Ted Cruz is the anti-abortion and traditional marriage candidate, but he also wants to carpet-bomb some people (this usually means innocent women and children) and “annihilate” others.
Conservative Catholics like Robert George have to come down somewhere, even if their candidate is imperfect. Since abortion, marriage, and religious liberty are the most pressing issues of the day for conservative Catholics, it makes sense that they will back Cruz.
But as Anthony Annett wonders at dotCommonweal, is the conservative Catholic support of Cruz based on Catholic social teaching or constitutional originalism? Here is a taste of his post:
A group of prominent Catholics, led by Robbie George, has decided to endorse Ted Cruz for president. The case they make is a weak one. Instead of appealing to the principles of Catholic social teaching, they appeal to the American secular constitutional order. “[Cruz] will foster a culture, from the top down, that honors the Constitution,” says George. No word about a culture than honors the gospel or the common good.
How should we judge this endorsement, or indeed, any Catholic discernment of current political choices? I would argue that the best yardstick is Pope Francis’s address to Congress last September. More than anything else, this speech lays out the pope’s views on the moral principles that should animate American political life and policy choices at this particular moment in history.
Melinda Henneberger has written an excellent feature for Bloomberg Politics on Robert George, one of the great Christian and conservative intellectuals in the United States today. What I especially appreciate about this article is its fairness.
George has provided advice on moral issues to Ted Cruz (his former student), Ben Carson, Jeb Bush, and others. Unfortunately, apart from abortion and gay marriage, I don’t hear much of George’s nuanced views when I listen to these candidates. George is pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and one of our foremost advocates for the application of natural law to moral and political issues. He also hangs out with Cornell West, sees no difference between his views and the views of Pope Francis, thinks poverty is one of the most pressing moral issues of our day, and wishes he could go back to voting as a Democrat.
Intrigued? Then check out Henneberger’s piece. Here is a small taste:
Among the candidates, his closest relationship may be with Cruz, who was one of his students at Princeton. But starting early next month, George is planning to do a series of hour-long interviews with presidential candidates on moral and constitutional questions on the Catholic cable channel EWTN, which is one reason why he won’t be endorsing any candidate. “My object is to drill down, and find out how their minds work,” even when he’s helped some of those minds think through various issues.
Planned Parenthood, at the center of America’s politics since the release of videos purporting to show employees negotiating over fetal organs, is one matter candidates call him about. “I’ve argued that you cannot try to fund good and honorable activities or services for Planned Parenthood while blocking the bad stuff it does, like abortions, because of the fungibility of money, and that what we need is a complete de-funding of Planned Parenthood, together with mechanisms for providing desirable services to women. So that might be the kind of issue I’d talk to Rick Santorum or anyone else about.”
He doesn’t supply them with rhetorical ammunition, he says, or the exact answer. “What I try to help these guys think through is: What’s the truth of the matter? What should our response be?”
And on Planned Parenthood or any other issue, George doesn’t always say what conservatives want to hear. For example, he feels the makers of the Planned Parenthood sting videos were wrong in one respect: “I defend the videos, and I think the videos tell us the truth about Planned Parenthood, but it’s wrong to lie about who you are to gain access to get to people.”
This tweet comes from Robert George, the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton. His tweet raises an interesting question. Would a conservative speaking at a public university or secular private college receive the same kind of welcome that Bernie Sanders received at Liberty University?
Over at New York Magazine, Jesse Singal notes how Liberty University students “survived the unsafe space created by Bernie Sanders and his pro-choice views.” She writes:
No one should mistake this for a group of conservative students eagerly flocking to hear a dissenting voice — attendance was mandatory for everyone who lives on campus, and this is not a school where protesting is welcome.
But it’s still interesting to put this event in context, given what some other university students have done when faced with controversial speakers or events. For example, Emily Yoffe, who has written about the connection between alcohol and sexual assault, had a speaking offer at a West Coast college rescinded after a student organization told her that her presence would make victims of assault “feel unsafe.” At my alma mater of the University of Michigan, for example, a showing of American Sniper was canceled (though later un-canceled) after students complained that the movie’s depiction of Iraqi Muslims would make “students feel unsafe and unwelcome.” Unsuccessful attempts to get Bill Maher and George Will canceled as speakers at the University of California – Berkeley and Michigan State, respectively, involved similar arguments about creating dangerous-feeling environments. Sometimes the tactic works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but there’s definitely a trend of students arguing that allowing certain speakers to speak poses an emotional risk to some members of the student body.
Without jumping into the broader debate about political correctness, it’s worth pointing out that, if we’re going to buy the theory that the mere presence of a certain type of speaker on campus creates an unsafe space that expands across that campus, bringing the risk of psychological harm to students, Liberty must have been an incredibly unsafe place today. Many, if not most, of its students, after all, deeply and viscerally believe that abortion is murder. And here was a speaker who didn’t agree with them on that — he was, from their point of view, in favor of mass murder. And yet they let him talk respectfully, they asked him questions, and it seemed like everyone was able to have a civil conversation (albeit a mandatory civil conversation).
As of yet, there are no reports of widespread psychological trauma out of Lynchburg.
And I also think it is appropriate to put all of this in the context of Barack Obama’s recent response to the “coddled” college and university students discussed in a recent article in The Atlantic. Here is the president: