“One theme has a clear line to a particular policy: life, the dignity of the human person, arising from the Imago Dei,” he said. “This is non-negotiable, and policies that directly flow from this are non-negotiable.”
Lipinski became the Democratic pro-life leader and co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus after he voted against the Affordable Care Act because of its abortion provisions. He said his vote made him “a political leper” in the Democratic party. Five presidential candidates endorsed his opponent and he ultimately lost the 2021 primary by a slim margin just before the coronavirus pandemic.
“But, I was proud to be Catholic first,” he said. “I have no regrets about that.”
Lipinski said a shift toward sectarianism in the United States deepened in 2016 with the presidential election of Donald Trump. This sectarianism, he said, “adds tension and bitterness to everyday life, it eliminates real discussion and debate from the public square” and bypasses the structure of the government which was set up to “force deliberation and compromise.”
“Americans are very concerned about the divide in our country,” he said. “Now why does it seem so dangerous? We’ve had these same two political parties for about 160 years and they battle each other in election after election: democrats and republicans.”
The answer, he said, is that “there’s been an elemental change in the nature of partisanship for many Americans: it's now rooted in people’s social identities.”
Lipinski was quick to point out that not all who affiliate with a political party are sectarian, and also suggested that there was “something different going on on the left” although the sectarian right struggles with what he diagnosed as a sort of Trump messianism.
“On the sectarian left we have a rejection of organized religion, especially Christianity, and a rejection of the biblical assumptions about the human person that have been a critical foundation of America since the beginning,” he said.
Citing scholar Roger Scruton, Lipinski noted that there is similarity between the dogma of French revolutionaries and today’s sectarian left. The dogma of the French revolutionaries, he said, “was not a system of belief but of unbelief. It demanded amorphous, unattainable ideals whose purpose was simply to delegitimize rival powers.”
“If we look at what is going on in our country today, the terms equity, antiracism setup such ideals and serve as cudgels to tear down institutions, organizations, and individuals.”
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Developing Scruton’s thought further, Lipinski borrowed his insight that during the French Revolution, only revolutionaries were said to have access to the mind of the people and speak for them while the rest became traitors— a trend he sees today in pro-life women who are branded traitors to their sex, or those like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who is “considered by many as a traitor to his race.”
Lipinski warned not to assume that opposition of a similarly sectarian and ideological nature was the only solution.
“I know it's really tempting to look for this quick solution. This has led some to raise political messianism and to muddle temporal political aims with Christian identity,” he said.
“What is the Catholic answer? We all need to have the courage to enter the public square and be Catholic first...If we want a country that respects human dignity we need to get into the public square, we need to get out there, we need to bring God’s message, we need to bring Jesus into the public square. And we can do this by putting our Catholic faith above partisanship, above personal comfort, and above fears.”
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