Here we have a Pope who is speaking forcefully and eloquently about how the issues of the day and all the right wing can do is reject his message as an ill-conceived interference into the political realm. Stay away from climate change and gay rights, they say, and for heaven’s sake, stop talking about immigration. Yet Francis has stayed on message in a way that would make House Speaker John Boehner proud.
Well, former House Speaker John Boehner, that is. Or at least he will be at the end of October. Poor John tried his best to reign in a fractious caucus of elected government officials who detest government and want it flushed down the sink, or at least shut down so it can’t do more damage to the country, damage like pay out Social Security benefits. Or Medicare. Medicaid. Or keep the national parks open. Get people passports. Inspect our food. Defend the country. Provide funds for the less fortunate. Health care. Investigate crimes. It’s terrible, this United States government we have today.
It’s funny how conservatives have been saying for years that we need to base our actions on religious values and that we have lost our way morally under the weight of godless liberal social policies over the past 70 years. Yet here comes an infallible Pope who can be ignored at will because he has the temerity to say that the United States needs to do more, not less. Take in more Syrian refugees. Care more for the poor. Stop demonizing Muslims. Care for the environment and the globe.
When you put the right wing’s agenda together with the rejection of Francis’s message and stir in the fact that the next Speaker of the House is likely to be an even more conservative than John Boehner, then you will get a party that simply doesn’t like anything. And how do you run and win on that?
Mark this week down as the one that will eventually define the presidential election for the GOP. They have been saying no for far too long and the no backbenchers are about to get a more sympathetic ear for them to yell into. The elites are fighting to rid the field of Donald Trump, and he’ll go eventually, but he won’t go quietly or without tearing down enough of the other contenders to make their jobs more difficult. And the new House leadership is likely to allow some of the less savory bills that Boehner was able to squash to get out of the caucus room and onto the floor.
Pope Francis is actually leading the way for conservatives to re-engage in a balanced conversation. He’s no liberal by any stretch of the imagination. But he is a humanist and he understands that if we don’t take care of everyone, than we really don’t take care of anyone.