Stephanie's Political Arena

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Posts Tagged ‘contraception

A Culturally Polarized Nation

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At long last, I have finally returned to the blogosphere!  After taking a much-needed break to relax, travel to Europe, catch up with long lost friends and family, and allow my brain to properly recover from the incredibly hectic pace of my schedule for the last two years, it feels good to be back.  It feels even better to read and write for fun now as opposed to working under pressure to meet deadlines and course requirements.  As you might have already guessed, I GRADUATED!!  Mission Accomplished (M.A., get it? ;).

As I work my way back into a regular blogging routine again, I could not help but notice a recurring theme from my final semester of graduate school resurface into the center of the spotlight over the past week.

I took a class titled American Political Parties and one of the themes that we discussed periodically throughout the semester was “polarization” in terms of ideology, partisan affiliation, geographical location, and personal values and beliefs, to name a few.   In reading about and discussing this theme, one of the primary objectives within the scope of the course was to determine 1)whether or not the concept of “polarization” has any impact on elections; and 2) if it truly does affect electoral results, what could be the long-term implications for parties, movements, and the electorate?

And this is just an overly simplified way of summarizing polarization in American politics.  If you’re really motivated and wish to read into this a bit more, I’d recommend checking out The Disappearing Center: Engaged Citizens, Polarization, and American Democracy by Alan Abramowitz (2010) and Disconnect: The Breakdown of Representation in American Politics by Morris Fiorina and Samuel Abrams (2009).

Having said all of that (while reflecting back on those fond memories of late-night and weekend-long study sessions), this brings me to the white-hot topic of the First Amendment, particularly the “separation of church and state.”

It always amazes me how those affiliated with far-left movements are the first to object to public displays of religion – even when those displays are on private residential or commercial property – and anything else they view as a “violation of the (literal) separation of church and state;” yet, they see no problem with using judges and politicians (whose salaries are funded by the taxpayers) to force their views and demands upon their faithful opponents.  And when the majority of Americans vote to elect leaders approved by far-left activists (such as our president), that is “what democracy looks like” to them.  Yet, when a majority of Americans vote in favor of a referendum or other ballot initiative that the far-left activists disapprove of, then that is considered “illegal,” “discriminatory,” and must be tyrannically thwarted or overturned by unelected individuals.

And political scholars wonder why Americans live in such a polarized environment today…

Since the 1990s, there has been considerable debate over the existence of a “culture war” in the United States and – for those who believe we are in a culture war – to what extent it has divided our nation.   Simply looking back on the past week alone, I would argue that we are, indeed, in the midst of a cultural war between the church (particularly the Catholic Church) and state.

For full disclosure before I continue, I was baptized and raised a Catholic (yes, I have known people who have honestly cringed in disgust upon hearing this – and I thought the Crusades ended centuries ago).  Thus, the decision made by the Obama Administration over the last week to force Catholic universities, hospitals, and charities to provide coverage of birth control and other forms of contraception as part of their health insurance plans offered to employees really hit home for me.  The same can be said of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals striking down California’s Proposition 8, which 52 percent (aka the majority) of the state’s voters supported in the fall of 2008.

My initial thoughts when I learned of the Obama Administration’s  intrusive decision upon the Catholic Church was, “What happened to that ‘separation of church and state’” argument that this administration has championed time and time again?  Why are devout practicing Catholics who do not believe in contraception being forced to abandon their beliefs for someone else’s political gain?  And if this decision is made permanent, what’s in it for the Catholic Church?  In exchange for this misguided and intrusive decision, would Catholics be allowed to display Nativity scenes or the Ten Commandments in public places from now on without suffering from any ACLU-induced heartburn?  Speaking of which, where has the ACLU in all of this?!

On the topic of marriage, while I cannot speak for other churches, as a Catholic I was raised to understand that marriage (matrimonial covenant) is one of the Seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ and entrusted to the Church.  More than simply a contract, marriage is understood by the Catholic Church to be a permanent union between a man and a woman for “the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”  As reaffirmed in the Catholic Catechism: “The Church and her members need to continue to be a strong and clear voice in protecting an understanding of marriage, which is rooted in natural law and revealed in God’s law.”  I could be wrong, but I’m guessing this law was in place long before the LGBT community mobilized.

Okay, the anti-religious readers can stop cringing now.  I’m finished with my theological lecture… for now.  The point I’m trying to make is that the commitment that many Americans have to their religious beliefs factors into their electoral decisions – such as defending the longstanding tradition of marriage by supporting Proposition 8 in California.  They had every right to step up and tell the “state” not to infringe upon their beliefs by imposing a politically-charged definition of “marriage” upon them.   Yet, when they succeeded in doing so, the state turned around and rejected their legitimately cast votes in favor of a minority that disapproved of the outcome.  This brings me to ponder if the outcome of the presidential election will be reversed in the same fashion should, say, Mitt Romney win and a vocal, tyrannical minority that disapproves sees to it that Barack Obama remains in the White House…

We’re seeing the same reaction among Catholic bishops who have stepped up to tell President Obama that he does not have the right to infringe upon the Church’s longstanding beliefs on contraception.   Unfortunately, they don’t have the luxury of judges looking out for them and the interests of the Church.

Whether or not the President completely reverses his decision on the contraception issue is irrelevant at this point – he still stepped into prohibited territory and demonstrated complete disregard for the First Amendment’s protection of religious values and beliefs.  The Supreme Court could reverse the decision made by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in keeping marriage within its sacred and religious boundaries.  Either way, both controversies have reignited the culture war that continues to polarize and divide America… making President Obama The Most Polarizing President. Ever, according to Chris Cillizza and Aaron Black of The Washington Post.

Written by Stephanie

February 12, 2012 at 11:49 pm