Catholic Power

The news has been filled recently with stories about how the Catholic hierarchy pulled a fast one over the pro-abortion crowd by squeezing the Stupak Amendment into the House healthcare bill. Catholic bishops, who support universal health care, lobbied fervently to halt the expansion of government support of abortion. Additionally, news articles have detailed the efforts of organizations fighting for their way with abortion in the Senate health care bill, set to debut in the coming weeks. Pro-abortion advocates have attempted to mobilize members of liberal groups like EMILYs list and NOW, while pro-life factions have attempted to mobilize Catholics.

Throughout all this I have been amazed by the power of the Catholic lobby and the Catholic vote in America. Catholics represnt only 1/4 of the country, but hold incredible power in its function and policy. I’ve recently been asking myself why this is so, when evangelicals are statistically much more pro-life than the average Catholic. Perhaps it’s because there is no go-to evangelical leader who speaks for all evangelicals like there is for the Church- namely, the Pope and his bishops. Though only about 50% of Catholics may be pro-life (though the numbers for Catholics who attend church regularly are much higher), those 50% are relatively easily mobilized. Their impressive power has shown itself over these past few weeks in the healthcare debate.

Go Ahead. Fail.

Every week my Entrepreneurship class hosts a successful guest entrepreneur who speaks to the group about his career path and shares tips on how to make it in the business world. I look forward to these classes each week, as they reaffirm my beliefs and experiences that business is all about doing things your way and sticking to your core values, as opposed to the narrow, live-in-a-cubicle, get-rich-quick-by-being-a-slave-to-Wall-Street type of business that Georgetown preaches.

Anyways, our guest last week was David McCourt, a B.C. High graduate and telecommunications pioneer who has had quite the career. His entire presentation was fascinating, from his refusal to settle for “no” when getting started to his adventures getting his business into foreign countries. But, what struck me most were his final few thoughts on why the United States is the entrepreneurial leader of the world. I had never really thought about it this way, but after hearing Mr. McCourt it made complete sense. America celebrates failure, he stated. If you fail at first, people will be there to support you the second time around. If you fail again, they’ll be there even more the third time as you try to overcome your weaknesses.

He’s right. America has thrived on failure. A failed early constitution. Failed policies like slavery. Failed scientific experiments that lead to discoveries like the light bulb. America has emerged from each of these failures stronger. Likewise, every entrepreneur who has spoken to the class has been frank with his failures. But these failures aren’t what defines these guys. Instead, it’s their ability to move beyond failure, often with the help of family or a mentor, and come out stronger. Mr. McCourt joked (sort of), that in Japan, if you fail, it’s acceptable to kill yourself. In England, he claims, once you fail, you’re done. But in the U.S. you’re given a second chance. And brilliant ideas come from those second, third, and fourth chances.

I think that’s pretty cool.

Happy Flyer

Very rarely do I have anything positive to say about airlines (except Jetblue), but I must say that United surprised me this morning. I somehow convinced myself that I had a 6:40 flight from Logan to Dulles, only to find out when I got to the airport at 5:45 this morning my flight was at 6 AM. Looks like I wouldn’t be making my first class.

So, the guy at the ticket counter said he could get me on the next flight at 8:20 and it wouldn’t cost me anyting more. I always thought you had to buy a new ticket when you missed a flight, so I was already pleased. But then, when I mentioned that I’d be missing class, he said, “Let me see what I can do”. Sure enough, he was able to get me on a 7 AM US Airways flight into DC Reagan, which is much more expensive to fly into and only ten minutes away from campus, as opposed to 45 minutes from Dulles. And, no extra charge. Bingo. Props to United for going out of their way to get me down to DC as soon as possible.

Worth Checking Out

Two good opinion pieces from today’s Wall Street Journal:

“Dr. Phil and the Fort Hood Killer”

“The Man Who Made Pelosi Cry ‘Uncle’”

Principle vs. Party

There’s all sorts of debate going on right now about the New York 23rd District election that takes place today and its effects on the Republican party and the 2010 midterm elections. In upstate New York Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman entered the election with the support of “tea party” supporters and gained unexpected support, appearing tied or ahead of his competition in the most recent polls. His soaring popularity lead to the withdrawal of liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava and her subsequent endorsement of Democrat Bill Owens. The previously boring race gained national attention when Republican heavyweights like Sarah Pailin publicly endorsed Hoffman over the Republican on the ballot. While many conservatives and Republicans rallied for Hoffman, Newt Gingrich warned that having a conservative litmus test for Republican candidates would only drive the party into obscurity and hurt its chances in attracting more moderate, Independent voters. Politico has a nice article today titled “Uncivil War: Conservatives to challenge a dozen GOP candidates” that speaks to the effects of this race on up and coming elections, as moderate Republican Senators and Representatives like Charlie Crist now face more conservative challengers backed by the tea party faction.

So, is this challenge from conservatives healthy for the Republican Party? Or will the tea party activists turn away the ever-important Independent voter and cement a Democratic U.S. government?

Conservatives have every right to challenge liberal to moderate Republicans and should continue to do so. The conservative principles in question here are winning positions both ideologically and with U.S. voters. Americans are fundamentally hesitant to allow Uncle Sam to stick his nose in their medical business and decide what type of medical care one may or may not receive. The same goes for European-style carbon trading and its subsequent astronomical effect on the already stretched wallets of ordinary Americans. Republicans strayed from their most basic party principles while in power over the last decade and paid dearly for their betrayal last November.

Why vote for a dishonest Republican who preaches fiscal responsibility while spending like a drunken fool when you could vote for a Democrat who will at least be honest with you in his desire to tax and spend on various social programs? A party that comes to be defined by hypocrisy or blurred ideologies cannot campaign or govern effectively. Unconventional political players who are appropriately enraged at past and present spending habits are performing their duty in standing up for principle over party and challenging what has become the status quo over the past years. If a Republican is so willing to sacrifice his supposed political beliefs for the sake of the letter R on a ballot, as Mr. Gingrich and other crooked Republican Party leaders are, one must question the genuineness of their positions. It’s time for the Republican Party to reinforce its most basic values and drive a disciplined, consistent punch to the ongoing and upcoming political fights that have the potential to drastically alter the shape of American government.