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John J. Conley, S.J.September 08, 2016
(iStock photo)

Appalled by both Hillary and the Donald? Unimpressed by Gary and Jill? Lurking in the folds of the internet is an offbeat alternative: the American Solidarity Party.

Visiting the office of a colleague a few weeks ago, I noticed a new framed document on the wall. She explained that it was the platform of the American Solidarity Party, a new political formation “somewhere out there beyond the Alleghenies.”

For anyone who loves Catholic social doctrine, the platform is a political Rembrandt. For those of us orphaned by the major American parties, it offers a political home in the tradition of the old Christian Democratic parties. Like the venerable formations of Adenauer and de Gasperi, the Solidarist ideology leans leftward on economic issues, rightward on social issues and firmly internationalist on questions of war and peace.

The treatment of human life issues shows the breadth of the party’s moral vision, overcoming our standard right/left cleavages. Firmly opposing abortion and euthanasia, it affirms a comprehensive defense of the human right to life: “We support constitutional and legal measures that establish the Right to Life from conception until natural death.” It condemns capital punishment. Eschewing pacifism, it adheres to a strictly limited version of just war theory, allergic to the sirens of preventive warfare: “We oppose the use of military force in violation of Just War principles. Among other things, this precludes the use of pre-emptive strikes and disproportionate retaliation.” The censure of the political use of torture is categorical: “We condemn the use of torture—by whatever method, for whatever purpose, and by whatever euphemism it may be called—by any representative of the United States.”

Its opposition to the culture of death is not confined to the censure of homicide; the platform endorses a broad welfare state. “To replace the culture of death with respect for life, we call for adequate social services and income support for women, the elderly, immigrants and other vulnerable persons.”

This welfarism includes a gradual transition to a single-payer health care system. Immigrants are to receive legal protection: “We favor a generous policy of asylum for refugees from religious, political, racial and other forms of persecution.” Calls for subsidiarity leaven the summons for social responsibility.

The traditionalism of the party appears in the treatment of family policy. Civil marriage is defined as the union between one man and one woman. Education is to be firmly controlled by the schooling choice of parents, financially enabled by the state to follow their pedagogical consciences.

Bathed in a religious sensibility, the platform unabashedly singles out the Judeo-Christian tradition as the moral matrix of the nation. Religious freedom emerges as the central right among the guarantees in the Bill of Rights. “We deplore the reduction of the ‘free exercise of religion’ guaranteed by the First Amendment to ‘freedom of worship’ that merely exists in private and within a house of worship. The right to follow what the Declaration of Independence called ‘the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God’ must be respected.”

As attractive as its platform is, there is a major problem with the American Solidarity Party. It scarcely exists outside of cyberspace. It will be present on few if any state ballots. It controls not a single seat in the national or state legislatures. Its current candidate for the U.S. presidency, Michigan’s Mike Maturen, has no political credentials. He is a professional magician, indeed a card-carrying member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.

In November most of us will grimly choose between Clintonism and Trumpism—between corruption and xenophobia. The American Solidarity Party will remain a tiny club of eccentric Catholic intellectuals tending the embers of distributism, corporatism and solidarism.

But the embers are noble. Glossed by Leo XIII and G. K. Chesterton, the common good endures. And somehow our morally troubled trip to the polls has been ennobled by A.S.P.’s eccentric whisper.

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Richard Booth
7 years 10 months ago
A very interesting article, in spite of the imputations of "corruption" and "xenophobia." While the goals of Solidarism sound worthy, I am skeptical that, once a small group becomes cohesive and requires an administering power, corruption and vainglory will not seep in. I have yet to see or belong to a group in which base motives never show their faces. If given the free reign of a democratic foundation, Solidarism could even become a semblance of what the author eschews, regardless of its espoused positions and values.
ed gleason
7 years 10 months ago
Richard;. HOPE is a virtue. I agree that groups of any kind can fall into selfish motives . Even families flounder, but Despair is a sin. So register to vote and hold your nose if necessary to vote. .
ed gleason
7 years 10 months ago
All policies I agree with. But this is a 'hold your nose' election and the need to vote Hillary is real. That Trump menace is TOO real and needs a thorough bashing loss . The GOP dies and 'hold your Nose' Dems and independents will start looking for answers After the election, I will take a look again at Solidarists. A religious values based grouping is eager to be born but beware of charismatic frauds.
Lisa Weber
7 years 9 months ago
I agree with you. This election is too important to waste your vote on a party that has no chance of winning the election this year.
Edward Heller
7 years 10 months ago
I have to take issue with Fr. Conley's characterization that the candidates represent a choice between "corruption and xenophobia." I am not a huge fan of Hilary Clinton, but she has never been criminally charged with any government corruption, to imply otherwise is a simple smear tactic. I think Fr. Conley knows better. I wish the only thing that Donald Trump stood for was xenophobia, which brings out people's worst fears about the other, but it is not what scares me about Mr. Trump's candidacy. Mr. Trump states quite openly that he thinks that Vladimir Putin is a good leader, with an 82% approval rating. This should make every Catholic cringe. Mr. Putin was a former Lt. Col in the KGB, who imprisoned, tortured and murdered many Christians, Jews, and Moslems. He represented the worst of the former USSR. Father Conley certainly doesn't have to agree with me on this point, but he my want to review what St. John Paul II wrote about the KGB and communism!
Joe Schaub
7 years 10 months ago
I think Fr. Conley owes an apology to all and to Hilary Clinton for characterizing her as corrupt. She has not been convicted of any crimes of corruption. Fr. Conley has fallen to the mistake of believing something is true just because the accusation has been made so many times for so long. Corrupt compared to who? Are there any politicians who have not been accused of such things by opponents? I doubt it. Compared to Trump? Are not paying his debts, stiffing students of Trump University, making untrue accusations, and creating and inspiring fear and resentment are not corrupt actions? Please apologize, Fr. Conley for your mistake.
John Schoonover
7 years 9 months ago
Spot on. Hilary Clinton's "corruption" exists only in the minds of a certain faction of our body politic (and it isn't one that pays a lot of attention to facts). And comparing corruption to xenophobia as though these might be the worst attributes of the two candidates ignores the mendacity, racism and religious intolerance frequently demonstrated by Donald Trump. Perhaps Father Conley thinks xenophobia is worse than these other behaviours, but I doubt that most people would agree.
MJ Painter
7 years 9 months ago
I was away from mail all of September so only read this column in print last night. I was shocked to read Fr. Conley's assertion that a vote for Mrs. Clinton is a vote for corruption. There is no evidence whatsoever to support that view under the current definition of corruption in politics. I'm happy to see that other readers have noted and commented on this well. The editors should not have let this get through. But then maybe I shouldn't be surprised, since there have been editorial comments praising Antonin Scalia and Ronald Reagan.
JR Cosgrove
7 years 9 months ago
Several of the comments here imply that Hillary Clinton has not done anything wrong. For an alternative point of view see the following article for a summary of her activity. The headline is
THE CLINTON RECORD: A devastating exposé of the most unfit and undeserving individual ever to seek the American presidency.
http://bit.ly/2dnd2SU And by the way I in no way support Donald Trump who has his own very serious problems.
Douglas Fang
7 years 9 months ago
Attacks again Clinton are mostly exaggerated and lack of honesty. Sure, she made a number of poor choices, has been more secretive than it should be, made more excuses than necessary,… After all, she is just a politician, especially a female politician. However, a lot of the attacks from her opponents are just based on cowardice… I cannot say better that this article on Bloomberg today: https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2016-10-17/wikileaks-war-on-clinton-is-politics-for-cowards... The source fueling the right’s recklessness isn’t stupidity. It’s cowardice. It takes a basic level of character and respect for truth to confront the world as it is rather than concoct fantasies that flatter your ideology, complement your anxieties and excuse your faults... PS - Referring articles from far right fringe groups, i.e. “David Horowitz Freedom Center", is not credible and brings absolutely nothing to the discussion forum.
JR Cosgrove
7 years 9 months ago
Thank you for agreeing with my post. You do so by not disputing what the analysis shows but referencing an irrelevant article and resorting to ad hominems. That is always a sign of agreement. The document by John Perazzo has 139 footnotes referencing the sources for its comments and has nothing to do with Wikileaks. (one reference is to Wikileaks which showed she lied to Congress.) I suggest people read the document though it is long. There are other analyses that make the same points. Also what do you mean by the term
far right
I always wonder why people use such a term. It is a term from 18th century politics that seems to be used mainly as a pejorative today. Are you referring to those who emphasize freedom of speech and liberty? That is one of the main goals of David Horowitz as his organization fights for freedom of expression on college campuses. Are you against freedom of speech and expression?
Stephen Bauer
7 years 9 months ago
Trump is not corrupt?

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