Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why Are There No Christian Democrats in America?


The other day I happened upon the Wikipedia article about Christian Democrats. I clicked through to the list of parties, and was surprised by the complete absence of American parties from the list, not even some minor third party outfit. (The closest we get might be the more-or-less defunct New York State Right to Life Party, the Jefferson Republican Party and the amorphous Working Families Party.)

Why is this? Why are there no Christian Democrats in the US?

Admittedly, Christian Democracy is not a monolithic concept. Using the Wikipedia article as a rough guide, we see that it can draw on Catholic social teaching or Calvinist ideas. It can be organized around Christian corporatism, subsidiarity, sphere sovereignty, communitarianism, the stewardship of the Christian believer or the dignity of the human person. (Or lots of those!) Its economics can be of the simple market variety, a social market economy or distributist.

Perhaps it is a bit much to ask that such a diverse - if interrelated - group of ideas spawn a single party in the US. Perhaps there are political, cultural or historical reasons why Christian Democracy lacks a following here. But it strikes me as odd that such a body of ideas have little play in the American arena, where Christians are generally assumed to belong to the hawkish semi-libertarian Republican Party, or are seen as hippie lefties opposed to war, industry and any kind of authority. What a pathetically shallow representation of the political implications of Christianity. Yet that is all we seem to find.
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