Why I Am a Catholic Republican

Deal W. Hudson
September 13, 2007

I’m not a Republican because I think Republicans are fun or especially good company. If I were looking for sociality or cordiality in my political party, I would look elsewhere.

I would also look elsewhere if the GOP ever turned its back on the issues that brought me into its fold in the first place: pro-life and pro-family matters. There is no question that the Republican Party and its platforms over the past 30 years have been closer to Catholic teaching on these issues than those of the Democrats.

When the Catholic apologists for the Democratic Party start to talk about poverty as the primary cause of abortion, they are merely spinning. When they point at the support of some GOP leaders for the death penalty, they are spinning. When they talk about “Bush’s War” they are spinning, and when they call the GOP “the party of the rich,” they are spinning.

Democrats make all this noise to distract attention from the simple fact (a fact well-documented by former Democratic activist David Carlin in Can a Catholic Be a Democrat?, Sophia Press, 2005) that the animating vision of their party is being supplied by 1960s radicals turned post-modernists. “Marriage is only a social construct” is the kind of thing that tells me all I need to know about Democrats. Their philosophy is simply bad.

Republicans aren’t perfect. Okay, I said it. There is always the possibility they will toss aside their Reagan-Bush patrimony for the sake of keeping the White House. Then the Catholic and Evangelical voice will become a voice of dissent within the GOP.

The GOP is a coalition of religious and social conservatives, economic conservatives, libertarians, and pro-business interests. The fault lines between the various groups are always visible and always in danger of widening.

What all of these groups have in common, however, is a sensible philosophy and an appreciation, at least, for the contribution of religion to human institutions. In other words, the deposit of natural law can be found emanating from the soul of the GOP.

When and if the GOP gives up its defense of life and marriage and makes faux-tolerance the summit of the virtues, at that point it will no longer matter what party you belong to. The only argument between the parties will be how much of our money should be spent on programs for social engineering.

If I sound detached, it’s because I have learned to be. There is the politics of Aristotle and the politics of America in the 21st century – and they aren’t the same. One instructs us on the wisdom of applying first principles to government; the other is where we struggle to keep our first principles in view.

The GOP is my political home because it comports most closely with my Catholic faith and its most basic principles. The great divide between the Democrats and the GOP is not tax cuts or the war in Iraq. These are prudential judgments that an administration and a Congress must make – they are not violations of principle. There will be taxes and there will be wars.

The Democrats treat matters of prudential judgment as if they were principles. That’s because they have abandoned principles and put habits of prudential judgments in their place: Spend more money on “programs,” tax the “rich” to pay for them, and blame America for the ills of the world.

Republicans may not always make the best prudential judgments, but they still hold onto the basic vision of human rights as stated in the Declaration. Those three inalienable rights are the core of the natural law tradition upon which this nation was founded, a tradition with religious roots.

Republicans still know the government cannot provide happiness for its citizenry; it can only make possible our right of pursuing it. Good government creates the conditions for the ordinate exercise of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But neither of these rights can exist without a life to bear them.

When that right – the right to life – is denied, then anything becomes morally possible, even a culture of death. And when a political party has become the “party of death,” as Ramesh Ponnuru believes the Democrats have (The Party of Death: the Democrats, the Media, the Courts, and the Disregard of Human Life, Regnery, 2006), it cannot be a viable platform for social renewal.

Republicans have kept a sound philosophy underlying their politics; they have not yet taken the postmodern turn contra naturam. We can credit the infusion of conservative Christians into the GOP over the past 40 years with keeping the party from going the way of the Democrats. I was one of that breed, and I will remain so as long as the GOP stays on course.

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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