"Faith," Economics, and Hillary: Is Anybody Listening?

Posted: Nov 18, 2007 12:01 AM
"Faith," Economics, and Hillary:  Is Anybody Listening?

So - - now what do you think of the Hillary Rodham Clinton presidential campaign?

Mrs. Clinton garnered lots of negative attention two debates ago, when she faced six other Democratic opponents at Drexel University in Philadelphia. The “big story” from that event was that she equivocated on, among other things, the issue of granting driver’s licenses to illegal aliens, and that Obama and Edwards aggressively challenged her on her equivocations.

But if the Philly debate was about the boys ganging-up on Hillary, then the Las Vegas debate seems to have been about defining the current Democratic race as primarily a Clinton versus Obama sort of thing. Edwards certainly possessed some polling momentum in Iowa, going in to the debate. But his showing in Las Vegas was lackluster, if for now other reason than he was seated off to the side of the stage, whereas Clinton and Obama were in close proximity of one another.

If Edwards and Obama can create such a firestorm by confronting Clinton on the driver’s license thing - - a firestorm that was still smoldering nearly three weeks after the fact - - then this begs a question: can any of the Republican candidates make any headway by confronting Mrs. Clinton’s economic proposals?

In the Philadelphia debate, Mrs. Clinton got caught. Caught equivocating, caught playing an issue from both sides, caught giving a “non-answer answer” to a question that is important to Americans of all political stripes.

Yet, thus far Mrs. Clinton doesn’t seem to have gotten “caught” in her assault on free-market economic basics.

Recall that in June of this year, CNN televised a “faith and values” forum in which they showcased Clinton, Obama and Edwards, exclusively, talking about how their “faith” impacts their life’s work in politics.

It was in this forum that Mrs. Clinton made some extraordinary statements about her views on economic policy, and social welfare.

When quizzed about issues of poverty and the environment, Mrs. Clinton was critical of nearly every sector of our society- - she informed the audience that, in her view, the “adult society” has failed; “churches have failed;” “the free market has failed;” “we’ve all failed” - - and to make things right, “something needs to be taken away from some people.”

Think about these words. “Something needs to be taken away from some people.” Who is she talking about? Who in our society should have things taken away from them? And who among us is so just, so righteous, so brilliant that they can fairly and equitably make these determinations?

Mrs. Clinton is fond of maligning the “rich” in our society. But is she - - or anybody else - - to define “rich?” Is a rich person one who earns $200,000 a year, or more? Or should that number be lower - - say, a person who earns $60,000 or $80,000 a year?

Clinton has throughout her campaign spouted off grand ideas about how to transform American society and help the poor, the children, the immigrants, and so forth. But her mechanism for doing this has nothing to do with establishing governmental policies that help grow the economy and produce more wealth. Instead, her vision rests on a foundation of economic redistribution - - taking economic resources (collected via taxes) from “the rich” and giving economic resources (via “government assistance programs”) to those who “deserve” them.

When will somebody ask Mrs. Clinton for some clarification on these policies?

Some analysts have pointed out that, with her message of “helping the poor,” Mrs. Clinton is likely to woo some Catholic voters back to the Democratic fold. And it is true, that Catholics in particular appreciate efforts to help the poor, and have a long-standing tradition of doing so even in their own church. No doubt Clinton’s ideas appeal on an emotional level, to many. But even so, Mrs. Clinton is severely out of step with current Catholic teaching on social justice and care for the poor. In centuries prior, the Catholic church tended to view the church and state as being “one” on the issue of social care. Yet, in a post-Vatican II, post-John Paul II era, Catholic teaching gives great recognition to the virtues of economic capitalism, and makes the case for social care to be distributed via the private sector, and NOT from the government.

While Mrs. Clinton’s economic ideas are dressed-up with the language of “faith” and compassion, in reality she is speaking the language of “liberation theology,” a theological system that views the historic Christian concept of “the battle between good and evil” as a matter of struggle between the social classes, and embraces the tactics of Karl Marx to correct the “injustices” against the poor brought about by the “rich.”

Clearly there are shreds of truth in Mrs. Clinton’s comments: caring for the poor and stewardship of the earth are Judeo-Christian imperatives. However, Mrs. Clinton tragically attaches these noble and necessary goals to a failed and unjust economic model.

These revelations should signal a wake-up call to all who love liberty and prosperity. And conservatives in particular, both fiscal and social conservatives, must now begin to defend freedom and capitalism, because they are most certainly under attack.

Maybe we could start with somebody challenging her on these ideas - - just as it happened over the “drivers license” thing.