Every Catholic should be engaged in politics because every Catholic has a duty to seek and promote the Common Good. But what is the Common Good? The catechism tells us:
By common good is to be understood "the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily." The common good concerns the life of all. It calls for prudence from each, and even more from those who exercise the office of authority. It consists of three essential elements:
So the question you all should be asking yourself is, "What are the social conditions that allow everyone to flourish as persons and groups in our society most easily?"
To answer this question we have to know what the three essential elements that can not be abridged in our search for a flourishing society:
1. Respect for the Person - Here we are talking about the most fundamental respect for the inalienable rights of the person - The Right to Life, The Right to Liberty (properly understood), and the Right to the Free Exercise of Religion. (CC 1907) Society will decay and eventually collapse when any of these fundamental aspects of the person are violated.
2. Social Well Being & Development - The epitome of everyone's social duty is to seek the development of all peoples in society. (CC 1908) Does this mean that we should support a big welfare state that supplies all of our food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, etc.? No. Becasue this violates the principle of subsidiarity and cultivates dependencies and undermines the family. The state should not replace the family and voluntary associations like the Church and the local homeless shelter. It means that you and I, our families and our local churchs and voluntary associations should seek to ensure that no one in our community suffers due to a deficit of well being or can not develop because of some structural injustice in society (like slavery) or other impediment to flourishing.
3. Peace - this is not the peace of the hippies or of some wooly pacifist who wouldn't even fight to defend the innocent, nor is it the peace that we see in totalitarian societies where fear keeps everyone in line. Rather this peace is deep because it is the fruit of a society that respects persons and seeks development as part of a just and stable society. It implies a morally acceptable means of security and the right to personal and collective defense. (CC 1909) In other words, the right to bear arms, and a strong (moral) national defense that is governed by the Doctrine of Just War.
There is a lot more that can be said about this, but lets look at Ron Paul for a moment as he is on these issues:
1. Respect for Persons - Ron Paul's understanding of this issue is profound and deeply informed. He understands the philosophic relationship between the fundamental right to life and the liberty our founders recognized in the Constitution. Liberty is impossible without absolutely protecting the right to life from conception to natural death. He has said that "Abortion is the ultimate State Tyranny" because the state has no basis to deny someone of this most fundamental right. Ron Paul is against embronic destructive research (however he has talked about situations where the principle of double effect results in the unintended destruction of the life of the child). And perhaps the only issue that Ron Paul has changed his position on over the years is the question of the Death Penalty, previously he was in favor of it, but he is now against it. I don't know of another politician whose position is more in harmony with the philosophic position of the Church.
2. Social Well Being & Development - Ron Paul is an advocate of small government; stated another way, he is an advocate of personal responsibility and engagement with issues at the local level where you and your neighbors can make a difference. When the State tries to solve a social problem, the problem will grow because by its nature, the State is about power, and not compassion. Power always seeks to take and expand; compassion seeks to give away and sacrifice for others. So State programs tend to grow the problem and grow their budgets - this means they will take more money away from you and I. This is why the Church teaches about subsidiarity and the debilitatiing effects of a welfare state on the family.
Ron Paul is a constant advocate of reducing the size of government and reducing the tax burden on the American family. Today the tax payer has to work for close to 6 months to pay government before he can start working for the well being and development of his own family. In addition, Ron Paul is the only candidate talking about the immoral and unjust inflation tax that is imposed by our Federal Reserve system and the policy of borrowing and then debasing the currency. This policy is perhaps the greatest structural injustice against the poor and middle class in existence today. He wants to do away with our the unconstitutional currency, and eliminate the 16th Amendment and the federal income tax.
Ron Paul understands that the path to human flourishing is to get government off our backs, restore an ethic of personal responsibility to the people and let them keep the fruit of their labor by restoring a sound currency and taking away an income tax.
The American people are the most generous in the world. But how can we have time and money to give to charity or volunteer when we have such excessive taxation and the money we work hard to make is routinely debased as a matter of federal reserve policy? When American families have the conditions for their freedom and their prosperity restored and secured, they pour themselves out for others unlike any other time in history and we will see human well being spread by our good example.
3. Peace - Ron Paul is the only candidate calling for the abandonment of the "premptive war doctrine" and a return to Christian Just War principles. He is the only candidate calling for an immediate end to the war in Iraq. He is a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. And a strong critic of the military industrial complex (our society is at risk when large powerful companies have direct and immediate incentives to go to war). Ron Paul is also a strong critic of the erosion of our civil liberties that have happened in the name of "domestic security."
No other candidate running, or in recent memory encompasses the principles of Catholic Social Teaching and the necessary conditions for the Common Good than Ron Paul.