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Look beyond the bubble’

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, January 22, 2004

Despite David Tagler’s and Jason Arnoult’s valiant efforts, their arguments do little to clear away my ambivalence with respect to how Catholics can support the Republican Party.

By immediately dismissing Ms. Cuisinier’s idealism and all of the ideas that come with it as defunct by stating that “Unfortunately, we live in the real world,” Mr. Tagler loses his credibility in light of the achievements of idealists such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and even the Founding Fathers.

Furthermore, before he begins making any more course recommendations, Mr. Tagler should probably review his notes from whatever political science course he took last semester and acknowledge that the realpolitik he espouses under which, “all nations do what is in their best interest,” is only one of many different mainstream currents in international relations theory.

Other theories suggest that nations cooperate with one another through international institutions and use diplomacy and discussion to resolve their differences instead of relating with one another solely through brute power or force (although in Mr. Tagler’s defense, recent actions by the United States might suggest otherwise).

Our resident political scientist also affirms that “there is no doubt everyone on this campus wants the most comfortable life possible” and asks if people “are realistically prepared to make the sacrifices of not living in luxury for the people of Tajikistan.”

Well, allow me to cast some doubt into your mind. I know that there are many people here on campus, myself included, who are perfectly willing to make sacrifices, especially small ones, for people in other parts of the world.

When I learned Coca-Cola was complicit in the murder and torture of union organizers in Colombia, I joined an international boycott of their products. Students here at Notre Dame are actively boycotting Taco Bell for their refusal to meet the very basic demands of their workers and condemning goods produced in sweatshops.

Although these sacrifices are small, they still show that plenty of people here on campus do not “want the most comfortable life possible” if it comes at the expense of other human beings.

Before Mr. Tagler has the audacity to make any more outrageous claims, perhaps he should read a few more books and “look beyond the bubble” of his limited perspective.

While Catholic doctrine may condemn socialism, it by no means champions the sort of dogmatic, neo-liberal capitalism Mr. Arnoult seems to advocate in his article. Catholic social teaching supports both workers’ rights and environmental protections; the Republican Party’s record on these is shoddy at best, especially under the Bush Administration.

With respect to the abortion issue, all I can say is that many Republicans may respect the sanctity of life while still inside the womb. But once outside, the holiness of that life is cast aside in favor of priorities more important than education, health care, good food, clean water and basic human rights.

Not to downplay the benevolence of Bush’s AIDS relief package to Africa, but a significant portion of the funds for that proposal were shuffled from existing foreign aid programs so the figures are inflated. Also, if one were to take into the account the amount of damage in terms of lives and property lost in Africa during the 20th Century alone as a result of the actions of the United States and its allies, $15 billion is merely a drop in the bucket, but nevertheless an important start.

To say the very least, the Republican agenda for the country falls well short of the ideals put forward by both the Catholic Church and the United States. Props to Jacqueline Cuisinier for her article – without people who think like her, I would fear even more for the future of the people of this country and for the rest of the world.

Ryan Abrams


Morrissey Manor

Jan. 20