A year or more ago I began to sketch out the principles and policies of a hypothetical political party. It would stand for human dignity, family, local government, and responsibility. It would be a centrist party with a consistent life ethic, opposing abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. It would be pro-market, supporting trade and the right to work, without idolizing the free market. It would be internationalist but not militarist, focused on using trade, intelligence, and public diplomacy before resorting to the sword. You might say this hypothetical party would have all the good things of the Republican Party without of its ills.
I grew up staunchly Republican. I attended the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia and was on the floor when George W. Bush was nominated for president. In college I discovered traditional conservatism and realized that the GOP was not always a champion of conservative values. In graduate school I discovered that there are far more tools to foreign policy than just economic sanctions or military force. And I starting reading more social doctrine of the Catholic Church, seeking to have my faith inform my politics, instead of the other way around. Among other things, I came to realize that the Church took very seriously the Gospel's command to care for the poor and the weak. Yes, we must do that as individuals in our immediate area, but we must also do it as a society and sometimes that means government action.
With the presumptive nomination of Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump - two candidates about whose shortcomings and vices much as been written - the need for some kind of alternative seemed pressing. Not that I was actually planning to found a party, but I hoped that my hypothetical platform might help spur discussion.
And then I discovered that an actual party very nearly fitting my own platform already existed: the American Solidarity Party (ASP), a small, young party, based on principles drawn from Catholic social teaching and similar ideas found in Protestant and Orthodox Christianity. It calls for respect for human life, from conception to natural death. It calls for an economy that is fair, transparent, and democratic. It defends the Bill of Rights and the freedom of all Americans to exercise those rights. It calls for decentralized universal healthcare, hospitality for migrants, and the promotion of peace.
I will be the first to admit that I do not support every plank in the ASP's platform. But I am very excited to have found it. For the first time in a long time I felt excited about a party, rather than merely tolerating it. This past weekend we held our national convention. There was civil discussion, in which I was able to participate rather extensively, and then voting on every amendment to the platform, every candidate nominated or endorsed. It may be a tiny party, but I had a real voice in it, and that was refreshing.
Over the coming weeks and months I'll be blogging about the ASP, the Christian democratic tradition from which it emerged, and what I think it might all mean for America.