.- In a country long entrenched in a two-party political system, Mike Maturen faces an uphill battle.
He’s the 2016 presidential candidate for the little-known American Solidarity Party, which holds views rooted in Catholic social thought.
But while Maturen’s name won’t even be on the ballot in most states – he’s running a write-in campaign in several locations – he thinks this November is the time for Americans to voice their dissatisfaction with Republicans and Democrats alike, and create a better option.
Founded in 2011 as the Christian Democracy Party USA, the party later changed its name to better reflect its principles of Catholic Social Teaching.
“The party itself is a secular party that is informed by faith,” Maturen says. While its members come from various religious backgrounds, and some with no faith background at all, the party’s platform is based upon three pillars of Catholic social thought: solidarity, subsidiarity and distributism.
The American Solidarity Party does not find that it fits comfortably into “conservative” or “liberal” camps. Its platform is staunchly pro-life, but adds that this conviction must also include opposition to the death penalty, as well as social services for mothers in need. Its beliefs on marriage and religious liberty would be considered conservative, while its views on the environment, health care and immigration would be considered more liberal.
Maturen himself was raised Catholic, but left the Church in college and spent years as an evangelical Protestant and later an evangelical Episcopalian before returning to the Catholic Church in 2002. His story has appeared on the EWTN show, The Journey Home.
A few months ago, the party had just 200 members. Now it has 1200, in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. That’s still incredibly small by political party standards, but Maturen believes that dissatisfaction over the current election cycle is driving interest in third party candidates.
“(W)e will be a force to be reckoned with in the future,” he says.
CNA spoke to Maturen about the American Solidarity Party and its goal of creating a platform based upon Catholic Social Teaching. His comments are below:
Can you give a brief overview of your basic platform? Would you consider yourself conservative, liberal, or something else?
Politically, I lean to the conservative side, having spent most of my adult years as a conservative Republican. However, after meditating upon my religious faith and my political beliefs, I realized that the two didn't always match up. I decided to research further what the Church teaches about the various issues our country deals with. It was then that I discovered the richness of Catholic Social Teaching. I began to work to align my politics with my faith. In that process, I discovered the American Solidarity Party. Our platform is based on Catholic Social Teaching. We could best be described as "centrist" as a party...but not centrist by today's definition… Politically, we would be considered center-right on social issues and center-left on economic issues. We believe in the economic concept of distributism as taught by GK Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. We also believe in solidarity (we are all in this together) and subsidiarity, which teaches that problems are best solved where they reside – at the most local level possible. Higher levels of government should only intervene if asked, or if necessary. For instance, national security issues are best handled at the Federal level, while education issues are best handled at the local/parental level.
The American Solidarity Party calls itself a "whole life party." What does that mean, and how does it differ from the two major parties today?
The term "whole life" is a short descriptive of believing in the sanctity and dignity of human life from conception to natural death...the WHOLE life. We subscribe to what is often referred to as a “consistent life ethic.” When describing the positions of the two major parties, I like to use the analogy of a bowling alley. The Republican Party by and large has settled into the extreme right, while the Democrats have largely settled into the extreme left. We call these in bowling “the gutters.” Republicans are pro-life in that they are anti-abortion, but often they forget that life does not end when the umbilical cord is cut. The Democrats only seem to care about the babies AFTER they are born. Until then, they are free to sacrifice the unborn on the altar of convenience. Once the baby is born, the left is very good at providing for their care, with a social safety net, etc. We like to think that we take the best of both parties. We need to ensure that the unborn are protected. I believe that we need to have a constitutional or legal definition of personhood for the unborn. That will ensure their right to life. Once that baby is born, we need to be certain that tools are in place for their proper care, to include medical, social, etc. We also believe that a social safety net for the elderly, impoverished and disabled is a key component to the pro-life stance. Finally, we also believe that part of the consistent life ethic is to oppose euthanasia, assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research and the death penalty.
Your economic plan involves the distributism model. Can you explain a little more about what this would practically look like?
There really are several ways this can be implemented, either fully or incrementally. The core of distributism is to bring the economic engine closer to home. Rather than having a huge portion of our economy wrapped up in the hands and control of a few major corporations, we believe that it is the small business – the mom and pop shops – that drive the economy best. We would propose to re-write regulations to favor the small businesses and family farms, rather than the major corporations that also just so happen to be the major donors to our government officials. Regulations, taxes, etc all need to be re-thought and revamped.
How would you assess the state of the country right now? What are its most pressing needs?
I think our country is still among the greatest in the world. However, our society has become coarse. The current election cycle and the antics of the two major party candidates is really what is driving the growth of third parties and independents. The vulgarity, coarseness and pure venom of this presidential election is disgusting. Our politics should reflect our national ethic. What is missing today are the qualities of statesmanship and diplomacy. We can no longer have a national discussion without it devolving into insults, lies and mudslinging. While these things have always existed in politics, it has risen to a level never before seen. It is time to change the face of American politics and bring a fresh new perspective. We intend to be a catalyst for that change. Our pressing needs are many and varied. We need to reform immigration. We need to have a healthcare system that is fair and just. We need for taxes to be fair and equitable. We need to ensure that a social safety net is in place to care for those among us who are unable to care for themselves. We need to replace our current culture of death with a culture of life. We can do this by guaranteeing the right to life for ALL human beings, born and unborn. We believe in a hope for a future of peace, following the Just War theory. We also believe that we need to care for our shared home, the earth.
After economic issues, terrorism is the topic that ranks highest in voter concern this election. What is your plan to deal with ISIS?
ISIS is a tough pill to swallow. Our constant intervention in the affairs of other countries has led, at least partially, to the creation of ISIS. We do not believe in preemptive strikes. However, we do believe in a secure nation. If attacked, we will defend ourselves, and do so with force. We also need to use diplomacy to reduce the conditions that allow for ISIS to exist. Working with the leadership of the countries where ISIS lives and works, we can help to reduce this threat to not just the United States, but to nations in every corner of the world...and we can do so without interventionism and foreign entanglements, which the Founding Fathers warned us about.
Have you seen growth in your party over this past year?
Yes. We really only got started at gaining ballot access in July. We have grown from a handful of members in a few states to members in all 50 states plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. We have caught the attention of media, large and small...including mentions in publications from Ireland, Italy and the UK. While still comparatively small, we will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.
What would you say to voters who are disillusioned by their choices in this election?
There is a better way. Don't be stuck in the rut of the two party system. Voting for the lesser of two evils is STILL voting for evil, and only perpetuates the mindset that has gotten us to this point in our political history. The only wasted vote is a vote that is not cast. Do not listen to the apologists of the two-party system that a vote for a minor party candidate is a vote for Hillary, or a vote for Donald. These things are simply not true. A vote for Mike Maturen is a vote for Mike Maturen. The American Solidarity Party offers people of goodwill an opportunity to vote with a clear conscience. Take advantage of that opportunity, and help us to reshape the face of American politics.