Irritated by something I hear repeated

I am irritated by something I have heard over the last couple days.

The pols and newsies keep talking about the anniversary of "giving women the right to vote" in the USA.

No!

Women always had the right to vote.  

Their right to vote was finally recognized.

We must avoid, in discussing human rights and government, falling into the trap of thinking that the state grants rights.

We have rights because our Creator made us in His image and likeness. 

They are written into our being.

We grant the state its rights and obligations.

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139 Responses to Irritated by something I hear repeated

  1. Chironomo says:

    Absolutely right! The reality isn’t that the “state” grants us rights, it’s that too often, the “state” gets in the way of our exercise of those rights that we already have.

  2. John H. says:

    I’ve always understood voting to be a privilege, not a right. It is a privilege that can be given, and it can also be taken away.

  3. Scott says:

    What does it mean to have a “right” to vote—in the sense of what is “written into our being”?

  4. Tim H says:

    Father,

    With due respect, I am not entirely sure if the act of suffrage is a natural right properly speaking, particularly in the universal, modern manner in which the vote is construed. If you posit votign as a “natural right” then it begs the question of what is so magical about the age of eighteen? Why not seventeen, why not ten? I have known well-read 12-year olds who are better informed on current matters than the average voting-age adult. I would posit that voting is not, properly speaking a right, but rather a custom and practical means governed by the constitutional and social definition of the polity. An oligarchy of educated landholders gave us Washington, Jefferson, and Adams, the present “universal” system gave us little more than a series of thieves such as Roosevelt, Wilson, Kennedy, Nixon, Clinton, etc.
    I would also contrast your putative “natural” modern Western system against the Papal elections. After all, all adult Catholics do not get to vote on the Pope, and yet this “unnatural” “positivist” system has regularly produced a far superior outcome.
    In short, a good message, but poor example. Better would be the 16th amendment and the implication that the state possesses primary and perpetual ownership of all property, with individuals only having temporary and subsidiary ownership of property.

  5. Kradcliffe says:

    Excellent point, father! I had never thought of that before. Thank you. :)

  6. Padre Steve says:

    That is a good point. I think the choice of Sarah Palin will do a lot to make this anniversary remembered!

  7. aelianus says:

    “Modern writers in great numbers, following in the footsteps of those who called themselves philosophers in the last century, declare that all power comes from the people; consequently those who exercise power in society do not exercise it from their own authority, but from an authority delegated to them by the people and on the condition that it can be revoked by the will of the people from whom they hold it. Quite contrary is the sentiment of Catholics who hold that the right of government derives from God as its natural and necessary principle.” – Leo XIII

    The authority of the state is derived from God not the people(http://www.americancatholiclawyers.org/encyclical%20-%20notre%20charge.htm). The state cannot violate the natural law and therefore cannot deprive anyone of a natural right but the right to vote is a civil right and not owed to all under natural law (http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_29061881_diuturnum_en.html). It is no doubt commendable to elect one’s rulers through universal franchise as the Angelic Doctor teaches (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/2105.htm#article1), but it is not required by natural or revealed law. The state does not grant and cannot rescind the right to life of an unborn child but the state can and does grant and rescind the right to vote.

  8. Jenny Z says:

    Well said, Father.

  9. Breier says:

    Voting is a civil right, not a natural right. It’s not a good example, but the point about the state recognizing, not establishing, natural rights is a good one.

  10. Jordanes says:

    Well I’m inclined to think a lot of where the U.S. started going wrong is when we granted human beings the right to vote . . . and the right to run for office . . . Joking, kind of.

    More seriously, I’m not aware of any principle of Catholic social doctrine that necessarily contradicts a suffrage that is restricted to men, or to land-owning/business-owning men, or to men or women who hold land in feu or noble titles in grant from the sovereign. I don’t believe that even men, let alone women, have an innate “right” to vote, and nothing in social doctrine requires that all states be republics or democracies. In the U.S. suffrage is still restricted to some extent: you have to be a U.S. citizen, and you have to be older than 18, and I believe you can’t be a convicted felon, but otherwise you can participate in elections, even if you’re mentally ill, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  11. Tobias says:

    Women have a right from God to vote? Does this mean that every human being
    has a right to vote? If so, does that not mean that democracy is the only
    natural form of government?

    The particular governmental arrangement of the
    United States is conventional. Who gets to vote and who does not is a
    convention. Women did not have the right to vote in federal elections
    prior to the passage of the amendment. Now they do. The properly
    constituted authorities changed a convention. Voting is a function of
    citizenship, and citizenship in the United States is not something determined
    by God. Our officials have decided that “ius soli” prevails here; all
    children born on American children are citizens. If Congress wanted to
    change that, they could. It is not a matter of acknowledging a divinely-
    bestowed right. As the requirements for citizenship are conventional, so
    too the requirements for suffrage, which is restricted to citizens, and then
    only to a certain class of citizens (non-felons of a certain age who are
    properly registered in their home district).

    To sum up: life, liberty, and property are not just conventions, as they
    entail natural rights. Suffrage is a different matter altogether.

  12. Tobias says:

    “Our officials have decided that “ius soli” prevails here; all
    children born on American children are citizens.”

    Excuse me, “all children born on American *SOIL*,” etc.

    Jordanes preempted me, by a matter of seconds.

  13. Carlos says:

    Voting is not a natural right. The problem, however, is deeper: when artificial “rights” (to “free” health care and “education”,etc.), are given by the State, i.e., when the State decides it has the obligation of providing something and calls it a right, the very notion of right is under attack. No woman and no man has a “right” to vote. Power does not and cannot come from some made-up “being” called “the People”.
    While democracy is not necessarily bad, neither is it natural, especially not in its representative form (voting, Congress, Executive power, checks and balances, etc.).
    Rights are not obligations imposed on others, but limits to their actions. I have a right to life; therefore, no one can kill me. If someone kills me, it is an attack against not only myself, but also against God and society. Therefore, the assassin must be judged and, if his guilt is proved, sentenced.
    A supposed right to vote, just as a supposed right to “free” “education”, is a completely different animal from a natural right. It is indeed granted by the State. This confusion between arbitrary State-granted “rights” and natural rights is especially troublesome when, such as now, it touches on matters where Modern society goes against what the Church has always taught about the origin of the rulers’ powers. Saying that women have the right to vote implies that the will of the majority (as expressed through voting) is in some manner the origin of power and of the legitimacy of positive law, and thus comes close to saying that if a majority of voters are, say, pro-abortion, infanticide becomes OK.

  14. Deusdonat says:

    Father Z – an excellent fine point. But I tend to agree with Breir here in that the ability to participate in any form of government is a right granted by the specific government in question. I don’t believe we have a “right” to vote simply for being human. An example is our Catholic institution; it is not a democracy, therefore we do not have a right to vote within it.

    I am not completely convinced that we as humans have a right to participate in any form of government, as the gospels preach a message of obedience to whatever government or powers that exist. And of course I am coming at this argument from a purely theological perspective. If you are arguing inaliable rights as discussed and hypothesised by the founding fathers, then that is a civic discussion (and your point would be completely valid).

  15. Well, I never thought to see you so wrong.

    Sorry Father but the suggesting that the right to vote is a natural rather than political right is just silly.

    The right to vote, for women or anyone else, is a limited and conditional right that is, in fact, granted by the State (or more properly, by whoever can be said hold sovereignty within the State, in this case one might say the Constitution, though that is debatable). This “right” is simply a legal construct that, though reinforced by a civic tradition, exists only in so far as it is deemed by those in authority beneficial to the commonweal.

    The sustainable political theory which supports (though not in all cases, see Hobbes or Rousseau) your argument is that of the so-called “social contract.” I think that once you reflect on the implications of this theory you will see that it doesn’t exactly lend itself to a Christian interpretation

  16. Aaron Traas says:

    I’m not aware of this as part of Catholic teaching, father. I’m unaware that the church takes a position on whether one has the right to vote for their leaders or not. Pius IX proclaimed monarchy as the best of all possible governments. While I’m aware that this is not a statement of faith and morals, and is thus not an infallible statement, it does illustrate that a Catholic may believe that monarchy is the best form of governments and democracy is a sham.

    How then is voting for one’s leaders a natural right?

    Please know that I ask this in curiosity; I’m a humble computer scientist, not a scholar in such matters like yourself.

  17. Austin says:

    Most Catholics in history have been monarchists of one kind or another, and
    many of them vehemently opposed to directly elected governments. This seems to
    be a rather uncharacteristic assertion of a questionable modern and secular
    idea by our esteemed host.

  18. Scott says:

    I’ll also add that, while it is far from a popular view today, I think a Catholic can make a reasonable case that woman should not be permitted to vote. It seems to me that the natural unit of society is the family, not the person, and a reasonable system might only permit the heads of families to vote.

    pax,
    Scott

  19. Tim H says:

    Father,
    Neoconservative Straussian writers do not really believe in natural rights, but they pretend to for the benefit of the demos. The modern corporatist liberal democratic socialist state as “natural” is another of their “noble lies”.

  20. Dominic says:

    I’m sorry, Father, but you’re wrong on this one. While the necessity of government is part of natural law, natural law does not specify a system of government. Voting for those in government is not a natural right; it is a civil/political right.

  21. Paul, south Midlands says:

    The principle is right but not the issue. Democracy cannot be part of the natural law as it needs a functioning state in order that people can vote to run it so therefore it is inextricably linked with the state.

    Until the 20th Century the univeral suffrage was unknown in the whole of human history so it is a very new novel idea and it could be argued that it is far to early to judge if it will work or whether Alexander Fraser Tytler’s alleged prophetic words were correct ie “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.”

    Also if Democracy is part of the natural law, how come there are no universal suffrage elections in the vatican state :-)

  22. Connie says:

    You may want to delete this entry Father in order to save your credibility because you are completely off the mark on this one!

  23. Clayton says:

    Perhaps it would be useful to suggest that Women won the right to vote by their struggle.

  24. Deusdonat says:

    Aaron TraasI’m unaware that the church takes a position on whether one has the right to vote for their leaders or not.

    I too have this doubt.

    Pius IX proclaimed monarchy as the best of all possible governments.

    Yes, but this REALLY has to be taken in historical context. St Pius IX was the first pope to live through the risorgimento (reunification of Italy) making him imfamously the “prisoner of the Vatican” and saw the rise of modernism and moral relativism sweep across Europe. The US was staunchly Protestant and anti-Catholic at the time, and so was Switzlerand (arguably the only two full Democracies in existence). Add to this the parliamentary Monarchy of the UK, which was also staunchly anti-Catholic. So, given there were no models of government Saint Pius IX had to choose from, monarchies were the only ones which gave protection and patronage to the church. So, it’s not difficult to see how he arrived at his conclusion. But that decision was made at the time and circumstances which don’t necessarily apply today, given Europe is now completely Democratised.

    But your/our point still stands, in that there doesn’t seem to be any church teaching to support the view that Democracy or public participation in government is necessary or a right.

  25. Clayton says:

    …that is, won the properly political (not natural) right. A touch of marxist theory is actually helpful in sorting through this.

  26. Ohio Annie says:

    Oh leave Father alone he has made us think. I love this blog. 8-)

  27. Tobias says:

    There is some confusion here on the topic of which Pope declared monarchy the
    best form of government. It was not Pius IX (who is a Blessed, not yet a
    Saint, Deusdonat). Rather, it was Pius VI, on the occasion of the decapitation
    of the King of France during the Revolution (if my sources are correct). The Pope was not making a magisterial definition, in any case.

  28. Deusdonat says:

    Clayton – LOL! Just don’t say the word “proletariate” or you may evoke a Pavlovian response to those of us unfortunate enough to be schooled under Communist regimes.

  29. Tobias says:

    “Oh leave Father alone he has made us think.” wrote Ohio Annie

    But if we left him alone (in error) on this one, we wouldn’t be thinking highly of him! :)

  30. Scott says:

    So, given there were no models of government Saint Pius IX had to choose from, monarchies were the only ones which gave protection and patronage to the church. So, it’s not difficult to see how he arrived at his conclusion. But that decision was made at the time and circumstances which don’t necessarily apply today, given Europe is now completely Democratised.

    Have you missed a far more important point? Monarchy is the best possible form of government because it is how Christ rules and will rule. He isn’t the “president of presidents”, after all. A monarchy was also at least once divinely sanctioned (amongst the Israelites), which isn’t bad either.

    pax,
    Scott

  31. Tobias says:

    Scott wrote: \”A monarchy was also at least once divinely sanctioned (amongst the Israelites), which isn’t bad either.\”

    That is not a particularly good argument, though. Remember, initially Israel
    was ruled by Judges, and then the Israelites decided on their own that they wanted
    kings. God accommodated them, but He didn\’t give a very ringing endorsement to the
    renegotiated arrangement.

  32. Tobias says:

    I Kings (I Samuel), Chapter 8, tells the story of how Samuel, speaking on the
    Lord’s behalf, tried to persuade the Israelites against monarchy. When they
    refused to listen, God “relented.” For whatever that’s worth.

  33. Deusdonat says:

    Have you missed a far more important point?

    Not that I’m aware of.

    Monarchy is the best possible form of government because it is how Christ rules and will rule.

    I don’t agree with this argument at all. To equate Christ with any earthly secular ruler (note: not talking about the Pope, who is His vicar on Earth) is extreme heresy. In order to make this leap, you would have to assume the ruler in question will always be benevolent, as was Christ. If you look at the monarchs of the past century, some were benevolent (Haile Selassie), some far from it (Hirohito). So, because of the capriciousness of human geneology, once simply cannot assume that because someone shares DNA with their predecesor that they will inherrit any good qualities at all pertaining to governing. So, I dismiss your argument outright.

    A monarchy was also at least once divinely sanctioned (amongst the Israelites), which isn’t bad either.

    Yes, accommodation with the secular powers-that-be is as old as Christianity itself, stemming from the gospel passage “give to Caesar what is Caesar’s”. However, that does not mean it is necessarily an endorsement of monarchy, as the same could be applied to any government in question.

    Now, if you ask ME what the best form of government is, I’d have to say by all means a theocracy (i.e. the Vatican).

  34. John H. says:

    Tobias,

    Yes, initially Samuel rejected the idea, for he thought God should be their King. Yet it still remains a good argument, for it was indeed Divinely sanctioned, and then Divinely decreed under David, through whom would descend the King of Kings:

    “And the Lord foretelleth to thee, that the Lord will make thee a house. And when thy days shall be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of the bowels, and I will establish his kingdom.” [2 Kings (2 Sam) 7:11-12]

  35. John H. says:

    Duesdonat,

    With all due respect, Scott did not equate Christ with an earthly ruler as you seem to claim he did. Christ IS the King of Kings. Thus, monarchies on earth are not the example for Christ. On the contrary, Christ is the example for us. Let’s not throw the word heresy around when it is not warranted.

  36. Deusdonat says:

    John – apparently you need to re-read both Scott and My posts.

  37. Chironomo says:

    Wow… how vastly different we all become when straying from the topics that bind us together! While I hold to my first posting here, all I can say to some of the comments here is OF COURSE VOTING IS NOT A NATURAL RIGHT… clearly this is a right given by the state. I think the point intended was that once the state granted the right to vote to anybody, justice would demand it be granted to all. The state withheld the right to vote from women, which it later conceded was the just thing to do. It is difficult to define whether the state “granted” that right later, or whether they finally conceded to allow women to exercise a right which already existed. Does it make a difference really? The state then conceded that same right to minorities. Would anyone claim that we were justified in not allowing african-americans to vote prior to the passage of the voting rights act because they had no right to vote? Surely the reason for passing that law was that we believed seriously that they DID have a right to vote that they were not being allowed to exercise. I hold to the original position stated that this right exists independent of the state’s recognition of it.

  38. aelianus says:

    St Thomas also said that Monarchy was the best form of government. Monarchy is not necessarily hereditary or unlimited Monarchy. The USA is a Monarchy but an elected and limited Monarchy answering in many respects to St Thomas’s model. The King of Poland (also elected by the citizenry) even wrote to George Washington to express his admiration for the way in which the principle of Monarchy had been preserved in the US Constitution.

  39. Papabile says:

    The “right” to vote is an inversion of the original conept of government as outlined by the Declaration of Independence and the Articles of Confederation.

    In nature, the “right to vote” qua right does not exist. It exists only insofar as God wills it. All power to govern ultimately comes from God. To acknowledge this as a natural right, versus one accrued civilly is what I would call an egregious error.

    An that’s coming from a congressional staffer.

  40. Peter B. Nelson says:

    Dear Fr. Z,
    You are very precise in your language, and are being very precise in the use of the term \”rights\”, therefore indulge me as I offer a pedantic correction. You said, \”We grant the state its *rights* and obligations.\”

    States do not have rights, they have *powers*. States are granted their powers and authority by we the people, who do have rights – granted by God almighty, as you say.

    Any any rate, so says our Declaration of Independence: Governments are instituted among men to preserve our rights, among which are the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

    Yours Truly,
    Peter Nelson

  41. Tobias says:

    John H.: it certainly shows that monarchy is an acceptable form of govt. It
    does not show that has some necessary preeminence over other forms of
    government. God gave the Israelites theocracy, ruled through Judges. The
    Israelites “voted” on monarchy, and God acceded to their will. So the divinely-
    sanctioned Davidic Monarchy was in reality the result of a democratic vote!
    Democracy means the rule of the “demos,” “the people,” and God told Samuel
    to listen to the people when they voted as a bloc for monarchy. So God set
    up a monarchy only after he had Samuel put it to a popular vote! Can we
    really infer from that any precedent for monarchy over democracy, per se?

    Your statement, “for he [Samuel] thought God should be their king,” is
    misleading. Here is the passage, with some editorial notes (not mine)
    interspersed, in the Douay-Rheims Version:

    “1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Now the name of his firstborn son was Joel: and the name of the second was Abia, judges in Bersabee. 3 And his sons walked not in his ways: but they turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. 4 Then all the ancients of Israel being assembled came to Samuel to Ramatha. 5 And they said to him: Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: make us a king, to judge us, as all nations have. 6 And the word was displeasing in the eyes of Samuel, that they should say: Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel: Hearken to the voice of the people in all that they say to thee. For they have not rejected thee, but me, that I should not reign over them. Rejected, etc… The government of Israel hitherto had been a theocracy, in which God himself immediately ruled, by laws which he had enacted, and by judges extraordinarily raised up by himself; and therefore he complains that his people rejected him, in desiring a change of government. 8 According to all their works, they have done from the day that I brought them out of Egypt until this day: as they have forsaken me, and served strange gods, so do they also unto thee. 9 Now, therefore, hearken to their voice: but yet testify to them, and foretell them the right of the king, that shall reign over them. The right… That is, the manner (misphat) after which he shall proceed, having no one to control him, when he has the power in his hand.

    10 Then Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people that had desired a king of him, 11 And said: This will be the right of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and put them in his chariots, and will make them his horsemen, and his running footmen, to run before his chariots, 12 And he will appoint of them to be his tribunes, and his centurions, and to plough his fields, and to reap his corn, and to make him arms and chariots. 13 Your daughters also he will take to make him ointments, and to be his cooks, and bakers. 14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your best oliveyards, and give them to his servants. 15 Moreover he will take the tenth of your corn, and of the revenues of your vineyards, to give to his eunuchs and servants. 16 Your servants also, and handmaids, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, he will take away, and put them to his work. 17 Your flocks also he will tithe, and you shall be his servants. 18 And you shall cry out in that day from the face of the king, whom you have chosen to yourselves: and the Lord will not hear you in that day, because you desired unto yourselves a king. 19 But the people would not hear the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay: but there shall be a king over us, 20 And we also will be like all nations: and our king shall judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles for us. 21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel: Hearken to their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said to the men of Israel: Let every man go to his city.

    End quotation. So *God* tells Samuel that the people have rejected God. It
    is not as though Samuel mistakenly thinks that this is the case and then
    God corrects them. Also, Samuel speaks in God’s Name when he warns the
    Israelites of the oppressive aspects of a human monarchy.

  42. Lee says:

    And fatal recognition it was, Father. If only I could remember her name, but I saw a story about a ninety something black woman obstetrician from Georgia who made the observation that the only thing that women have with the vote is to divorce their husbands and kill their babies. Maybe we should start a campaign to rescind the amendment.

  43. Jordanes says:

    Deusdonat said: So, because of the capriciousness of human geneology, once simply cannot assume that because someone shares DNA with their predecesor that they will inherrit any good qualities at all pertaining to governing.

    Nor can one simply assume that because someone has been democratically elected that they have any good qualities at all pertaining to governing. (Not your point, I know. I’m just making a different one.)

    Now, if you ask ME what the best form of government is, I’d have to say by all means a theocracy (i.e. the Vatican).

    Again, not to disagree, but the Vatican City State website identifies the Vatican’s form of government as “absolute monarchy.” It is, of course, a theocratic absolute monarchy.

    I’m not sure I’d say monarchy is the “best” form of government (though it’s my favorite), but given that God instituted the family as the essential component of human society, I would want any form of government we have to recognise “the hereditary principle” in some way. The U.S. republic has never been very good about that, and is unequivocally hostile to it.

  44. Tobias says:

    Chironomo wrote: “I think the point intended was that once the state granted the right to vote to anybody, justice would demand it be granted to all. The state withheld the right to vote from women, which it later conceded was the just thing to do. It is difficult to define whether the state “granted” that right later, or whether they finally conceded to allow women to exercise a right which already existed. Does it make a difference really?”

    Yes, it really does make a difference. It goes to original intent, for one thing.
    If the Founding Fathers did not intend to give women the vote, then they — the
    ones who set up the system — could not have granted women the right. If you go with the other point
    of view, then despite the consensus of everyone, they *really did* have the right
    to vote. That’s the logic of Roe v. Wade: despite what everyone has always
    thought and said and done, now we acknowledge that there *always* was a right
    to privacy that entailed a right to abortion. If a government says, “You have
    no right to vote,” and the duly authorized officials follow the proper procedure
    when they make this decision, then the person has no right to vote. The criteria may be unjust or imprudent, but the civil right really has been rescinded, not merely violated in
    practice.

    Incidentally, there were republican institutions for thousands of years before
    women’s suffrage. It is not at all logical to conclude that a republic violates
    its republican constitution by excluding women from the suffrage. If that’s the
    case, republicanism (or democracy, depending on your wording and ideology) is
    a recent invention.

    If the vote must in justice be extended to everyone, out
    the door goes aristocracy, which most Catholic political thinkers have considered
    an acceptable form of government. So why can’t I vote in the Senate or the House
    of Representatives? Senators and Representatives get to, so why can’t I? If
    there is to be a vote, shouldn’t everyone be included? Those are aristocratic
    bodies, so naturally they exclude the participation of the masses.

  45. Scott says:

    Deusdonat,

    What don’t you agree with, that Christ is a king or that his manner of governance must be perfect? Please note that I have not suggested (although I may yet) that monarchy is a good idea in practice with fallible kings, only that it is the best possible system in principle. Otherwise, you must explain why Christ chooses to be the King.

    pax,
    Scott

  46. Scott says:

    With all due respect, Scott did not equate Christ with an earthly ruler as you seem to claim he did. Christ IS the King of Kings. Thus, monarchies on earth are not the example for Christ. On the contrary, Christ is the example for us. Let’s not throw the word heresy around when it is not warranted.

    Thank you John.

  47. Scott says:

    I agree with other commentors that my reference to Israel’s monarchy was only half-baked.

    pax,
    Scott

  48. Ryan says:

    I’ve been teaching political science at the college level since 1999, and the contention that voting is a natural right is very, very wrong. There is virtually nothing in the history of classical liberalism to support this assertion.

    If a student were to say something like this in a final paper in my class, I’d give him a C-.

    There is also virtually nothing in the history of Catholic political theory to support this assertion either. Fr. Z’s statement would leave both Robert Bellarmine and Thomas Aquinas scratching their heads.

    Voting is a means to an end. The end is the protection of natural rights, which include life, liberty, and property. However, those ends can be achieved through other means such as through monarchs, or through systems of limited suffrage.

  49. Deusdonat says:

    Scott – What don’t you agree with, that Christ is a king or that his manner of governance must be perfect?

    Big discussion points here. First, Christ is a king ALLEGORICALLY speaking. There is no king or ruler which can come close to Christ/God. This is a mathmatical impossibility. When the church and scriptures speak of Christ on a throne, as the king etc, this does not necessarily mean that he is literally sitting on a throne, wearing a crown, nor does he have any territorial/geographic boundaries. The matter at hand is that at the time, the closest analogy we as humans could come up with for an omniscient, omnipresent being was that of an absolute monarch (i.e. a king). And there is a reason that the church uses MANY analogies for Christ, NOT JUST A KING. Are you saying Christ is not a good shepherd?

    As per the second half to your question, Christ/God’s governance (for lack of a better term) is of course perfect, but even this is a flawed statement. Since God designed the universe, set its principles in motion and is the master of its fate, of course His manner of governance is going to be perfect. What else can it be? What else can it be judged against?

    Otherwise, you must explain why Christ chooses to be the King.

    Christ doesn’t “choose” to be king. We as humans associate that title for him. One of many, as I stated. A better more accurate title than king would be all-powerful, immortal master of the universe. But king is understood allegorically (at least it used to be apparently).

  50. Eric says:

    those of us unfortunate enough to be schooled under Communist regimes

    Deusdonat, are you from New York or California?

  51. John H. says:

    Tobias,

    Yes, my statement was misleading concerning Samuel. Thanks for the clarification.

    Still, Are you saying that the Israelites VOTED for their King? Or are you saying they voted to have a King? This seems to be an act of eisogesis.

    The Israelites asked Samuel to give them a King. But instead, God chose to give them a King of his own choosing. This is a far cry from a vote deciding the matter. God gave them a bad King, to whom he made no promise of an everlasting Kingship. Then He gave them David, to whom He did promise an everlasting Kingdom. That Kingdom is Christ’s, and his rule is perfect.

    Considering the principle that we should be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, it would certainly seem that we ought to imitate God’s way of ruling insofar as we are able. And inasmuch as God rules via a monarchy, we too should rule in a subsidiary way to that monarchy. And indeed, we do in the case of the Vatican, as some have pointed out.

  52. Deusdonat says:

    Eric LOL!! Good one. Actually, I am indeed in California. Although I feel it is much more of a PC police-state (complete with its own feminist-atheist-anticlerical-homosexual Gestapo) as opposed to a workers’ paradise.

  53. Aelric says:

    Perhaps some comic relief is needed (from http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/mphg/mphg.htm):

    DENNIS: What I object to is you automatically treat me like an inferior!
    ARTHUR: Well, I AM king…
    DENNIS: Oh king, eh, very nice. An’ how’d you get that, eh? By
    exploitin’ the workers — by ‘angin’ on to outdated imperialist dogma
    which perpetuates the economic an’ social differences in our society!
    If there’s ever going to be any progress–
    WOMAN: Dennis, there’s some lovely filth down here. Oh — how d’you do?
    ARTHUR: How do you do, good lady. I am Arthur, King of the Britons.
    Who’s castle is that?
    WOMAN: King of the who?
    ARTHUR: The Britons.
    WOMAN: Who are the Britons?
    ARTHUR: Well, we all are. we’re all Britons and I am your king.
    WOMAN: I didn’t know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous
    collective.
    DENNIS: You’re fooling yourself. We’re living in a dictatorship.
    A self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes–
    WOMAN: Oh there you go, bringing class into it again.
    DENNIS: That’s what it’s all about if only people would–
    ARTHUR: Please, please good people. I am in haste. Who lives
    in that castle?
    WOMAN: No one live there.
    ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?
    WOMAN: We don’t have a lord.
    ARTHUR: What?
    DENNIS: I told you. We’re an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take
    it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week.
    ARTHUR: Yes.
    DENNIS: But all the decision of that officer have to be ratified
    at a special biweekly meeting.
    ARTHUR: Yes, I see.
    DENNIS: By a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,–
    ARTHUR: Be quiet!
    DENNIS: –but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more–
    ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!
    WOMAN: Order, eh — who does he think he is?
    ARTHUR: I am your king!
    WOMAN: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
    ARTHUR: You don’t vote for kings.
    WOMAN: Well, ‘ow did you become king then?
    ARTHUR: The Lady of the Lake,
    [angels sing]
    her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft Excalibur
    from the bosom of the water signifying by Divine Providence that I,
    Arthur, was to carry Excalibur.
    [singing stops]
    That is why I am your king!
    DENNIS: Listen — strange women lying in ponds distributing swords
    is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power
    derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical
    aquatic ceremony.
    ARTHUR: Be quiet!
    DENNIS: Well you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power
    just ’cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
    ARTHUR: Shut up!
    DENNIS: I mean, if I went around sayin’ I was an empereror just
    because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they’d
    put me away!
    ARTHUR: Shut up! Will you shut up!
    DENNIS: Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system.
    ARTHUR: Shut up!
    DENNIS: Oh! Come and see the violence inherent in the system!
    HELP! HELP! I’m being repressed!
    ARTHUR: Bloody peasant!
    DENNIS: Oh, what a give away. Did you here that, did you here that,
    eh? That’s what I’m on about — did you see him repressing me,
    you saw it didn’t you?

  54. schoolman says:

    St. Thomas teaches that man indeed has the right to choose his civil leaders. This right, and the corresponding duties and rights of the state flow from the natural law.

  55. Kradcliffe says:

    OK… I’m going to have to read the whole thread of comments more carefully to catch the bit about St. Thomas in schoolman’s comment.

    But, at this point, I think that I can see where those who disagree with Fr. Z have a point. Voting is perhaps a civil right.

    But, would it be correct to say that women as the same natural claim to the same civil rights as men? That is, if the State extends the right to vote to any male over the age of 18, wouldn’t women, by their nature, be equally deserving of that privilege?

  56. Jordanes says:

    Schoolman said: St. Thomas teaches that man indeed has the right to choose his civil leaders. This right, and the corresponding duties and rights of the state flow from the natural law.

    Yes – and “choosing” may be done in different ways, including hereditary succession with an anointing and coronation by a bishop.

  57. Brian Day says:

    Aelric,

    You better be careful or someone will bring out the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch. :)

  58. Bo says:

    I think the best point to take from the original post is that states do not give out rights or bestow rights. Saying that voting is a “natural right” is incorrect, but I think Father still struck something very important to bring up. I know teaching philosophy to Freshman they are amazed to hear that things like “due process” were being theologically ellucidated (not created, since of course they are natural) in at least the 14th century (i don’t have my notes in front of me, so forgive me if it is in fact earlier). With the references to Bellarmine and Thomas, it would be interesting to debate the rammifications of the translation theory as to how it plays out in modern democracies, especially when it comes to our notions of voting and political participation. And while the comments above are certainly correct to point out that Thomas thought the best form of government would be a mix between Monarchy, Aristocracy, and Democracy (and the fact that some American founders thought they were doing exactly that), If you have ever read what has been published in English as the “Aquinas Catechism,” on his commentary on the Lord’s Prayer (if it is not that, then it is the beatitudes, but I’m pretty sure its the Lord’s Prayer), Thomas points out that the perfect government will actually be a democracy in heaven. However, that is because it will be a democracy in perfect conformity with Christ’s Monarchy, because every citizen of heaven wills exactly as Christ the King wills.

  59. schoolman says:

    Jordanes, it may or may not — depending on circumstances. I am not aware of any “hereditary principle” as an essential element of civil government or the constitution of states. The institutions of the family and the state (and the Church) each have their own proper instrinsic principles according to their own distinct nature and end.

  60. Bo says:

    okay, to be precise, the above should say “States do not give out natural rights or bestow natural rights.” How “civil rights” relate to natural rights, and whether or not States can “create” rights that are not natural but are not oppossed to nature is a different debate, so I will clarify as to not start that debate!

  61. Brian says:

    Shifting the focus a bit, I hope that the end of abortion in this country does not come about by way of Constitutional Amendment granting the unborn with the right to life (an absurd notion); but rather that the Supreme Court recognize that an unborn child is a human being with a right to life and thereby ends the nightmare of abortion.

  62. Tobias says:

    “Still, Are you saying that the Israelites VOTED for their King? Or are you saying they voted to have a King? This seems to be an act of eisogesis.”

    I thought I made very clear throughout that post that the people voted for
    *monarchy.* Of course God chose the kings, first Saul, then David and his
    progeny. But the people did choose this *form of government*, and God acceded/
    agreed. So first there was a democratic procedure — Samuel listened to the
    people, who voted for the form of government (monarchy) they wanted. THEN
    there was monarchy.

    So you can take away from this either 1) God endorses monarchy, or 2) God
    endorses the right of a people to determine their own form of government. The
    Bible is very clear as to whose idea it was to set up a monarchy — the people’s.
    The principle is democratic, even if the assembly immediately votes itself out
    of power.

    Furthermore, you seem to be making a false dichotomy between Samuel selecting
    a king and God choosing one. The Israelites knew that Samuel was God’s prophet,
    so they probably did not see any dichotomy where you seem to be making one
    (which seems to be eisogesis). God said: “22 And the Lord said to Samuel: Hearken to their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said to the men of Israel: Let every man go to his city.
    ” God’s order was to hearken to the people, so when Samuel chose a king, he was
    obeying both the people and God simultaneously.

  63. Tobias says:

    Sigh. In the last post, I was responding to John H.

  64. David Kastel says:

    Father, you are wrong on this one – none of us has a God given right to vote.

    All authority comes from God, and that includes the authority of unelected kings, for (or against) whom nobody has the right to vote, as that king’s authority comes from God, not from men. If we lived in a society ruled by a benevolent (i.e. – Catholic) and unelected king, none of us could legitimately complain that our God-given right to vote were unjustly taken from us – since there is no such right.

    P.S. – Democracy overall is a stupid form of government. Ever hear the joke that Ben Franklin told about democracy? – in which two wolves and a sheep took a majority vote on what to have for lunch…

  65. Jordanes says:

    Schoolman said: Jordanes, it may or may not—depending on circumstances.

    That goes without saying. If hereditary succession is one acceptable method of “choosing” governors, then it necessarily follows that there are other acceptable methods.

    I am not aware of any “hereditary principle” as an essential element of civil government or the constitution of states.

    “Essential”? Perhaps not. Guess it depends on what that means. But in the proper ordering of society, the right of a person to bequeath property to his children or grandchildren must be acknowledged and respected. That doesn’t mean a society must inculcate the hereditary principle in its governing bodies, but it does indicate that there is a certain “fittingness” if it does.

  66. Ryan says:

    According to both Sts. Aquinas and Bellarmine, God CLEARLY endorses monarchy. Democracy, in both their ages was thought to be little better than mob rule.

    The Catholic tradition in all ages, including our own, is that monarchy is a perfectly legitimate form of government. Not necessarily Constitutional monarchy, mind you, but authoritarian, ordinary, monarchy.

    True, Aquinas writes that government rests on the consent of the governed, but it is unreasonable to read 19th and 20th century ideas into a 13th century philosopher. When Aquinas spoke of “consent” be meant that when the people consent, they refrain from regicide or some other form of political revolution. Democracy had nothing to do with it, and voting is certainly not a right in his thinking.

  67. Deusdonat says:

    David Kastel – Democracy overall is a stupid form of government.

    I think if we are going to have a legitimate discussion here, we need to be honest. There are pluses and minuses of ANY proposed form of government. People have been arguing their political theories for millenia. I don’t think Democracy is any more or less “stupid” than a monarchy, Communism, Socialism, Totalitarianism, Oligarchism etc. All serve a need for a specific segment of humanity, or they would never have been implemented. Whether or not they are the most efficient form of government for a given populace is another story.

    Just because Democracy doesn’t work in Afghanistan does not make it “stupid”, since it seems to be working quite well in Switzerland.

  68. schoolman says:

    According to the thought of St. Thomas, the best form of government in view of the common good of civil society (hic et nunc) is the mixed regime or regimen commixtum generally patterned after the temporal regime established by God in the Old Testament (ST. i-ii. 105. 1; “Talis enim est optima politia, bene commixta”):

    1) The ideal is part “monarchy” insofar as there is a hierarchy (ST. i-i. 108. 2) with “one [man] head of all. Such a ruler need not possess the totality of power in order to be considered as “king” as St. Thomas states: “Hence from the very first the Lord did not set up the kingly authority with full power, but gave them judges and governors to rule them.” (ST. i-ii 105. 1) This aspect of the regimen commixtum, considered in itself, however, holds first place among the other basic governmental forms insofar as rule of one [man], per se, is patterned after the perfection of the divine government as well as the constitution that Christ established for His Church.

    2) The ideal is part “aristocracy” insofar as hierarchical power is shared and distributed according to the diversity of orders or offices (ST. i-i. 108. 2). It is reasonable to foresee a certain separation of offices in order to provide an effective check against tyranny (Cf. De Regimine Principium) and preserving above all the rule of law” (ST. i-ii. 90. 1). What is implicit in the thought of St. Thomas has found explicit formulation in the teaching of the Catechism (CCC #1904): It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the rule of law, in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men. Considered in the order of abstractions, however, “aristocracy” has less perfection, per se, than “monarchy.”

    3) The ideal is part “democracy” insofar as all rightly take some share in the government (e.g., directly or representative — that is vicariously — insofar as civil rulers are the “vicar of the multitude” — vicem gerens multitudinis; (ST. i-ii. 90. 3). This right is exercised by the people, for example, when they choose their rulers or when they legitimately replace a tyrannical regime (ST. ii-ii. 42. 2). Considered in the order of abstractions, however, “democracy” has less perfection, per se, than the other two basic governmental forms.

    4) “Monarchy”, in itself, is considered to have the greatest perfection (in comparison to other basic governmental forms, in themselves) insofar as it is patterned after divine government and the government of the Church. In this sense, “Monarchy”, per se, can be considered as the (absolute) best in the order of abstractions.

    5) The “Regimen Commixtum”, on the other hand, is considered the best in a (relative) sense. In other words, relative to civil authority, per se, in the temporal order and man’s state of nature, the regimen commixtum is considered to be the “best” and, as such, is generally patterned after the kind of civil government initially established by God in the Old Testament.

  69. aelianus says:

    Aquinas never endorsed hereditary monarchy anywhere in his writings. He endorsed a monarch elected by universal franchise assisted and limited by an aristocracy also elected by universal franchise. This reflects the constitution of his own order. “This kind of government is hardly the same as those absolute monarchies based on blood-ties whose supporters have sometimes appealed to the authority of St Thomas” – Etienne Gilson. But there is no natural right to this form of government it is simply the best form of government all other things being equal. Social conditions may render another form of government more prudent although this could easily be an excuse for the privileged. Those countries such as the UK and the USA whose constitutions have approximated St Thomas’s model seem to have been very successful at preserving civil peace and the stability of their frontiers.

    See: Aroney, N., “Subsidiarity, Federalism and the Best Constitution: Thomas
    Aquinas on City, Province and Empire”. Law and Philosophy 26 (2007)
    161-228.

  70. josephus muris saliensis says:

    Surely no seriously thinking person, (in Europe anyway, who looks at the yobs who populate our conurbations and the rubbish which is printed in the popular press to fuel their prejudices), any longer truly believes in universal suffrage? I know of not one person, who when pressed in private, will defend votes for all.

    The only reason that any modern society continues with it, and here I include the USA, is that no-one has yet come up with a better alternative. Yet.

    There is a better solution, make no mistake, and one day, to the social, economic and spiritual benefit of all our peoples, we shall agree upon it.

    Nowhere does the Church teach universal suffrage as either a human right or an absolute social benefit.

  71. Mike Kelly says:

    Great point.
    God also gave Nancy Pelosi the right to choose wrongly.
    Ack.
    Where is HER bishop’s statement as to her mistaken views?
    Why the silence from the Mother Church in California?
    Did a certain Mahony lose the moral high ground?

    Pray for us in California, where Mass is like a Peter, Paul & Mary concert most every Sunday. Who permits such liturgical travesties? I think the Holy Father got a small taste during his mass at the stadium here in the U.S. Quite a difference between Placido Domingo and the full gospel folk chorus of the planet.
    Oy!

    Pax vobiscum.

    I am praying for you and all our priests. God, send us HOLY priests!

  72. Clayton says:

    Josephus: There is a better solution, make no mistake, and one day, to the social, economic and spiritual benefit of all our peoples, we shall agree upon it.

    Wouldn’t this be an essentially democratic solution? Or, is this eventual tidiness the result of en-masse brainwashing? Would we be better off if we were all insects, with some kind of homogeneous hive-mind mentality?

  73. BobP says:

    All humans have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit
    of happiness. Not everyone has a right to vote, if you call it a right at all. Infants don’t vote. And not all countries vote, yet rights aren’t automatically not assumed. Catholics don’t vote and I haven’t heard any movements to start voting. But we have a free will. No one can take that right away from us.

    I’m inclined to agree with voting as a privilege, just like driving a car.

  74. schoolman says:

    Let’s just say that citizens have a natural right to select their rulers and that this right can be exercised in a variety of ways.

  75. thetimman says:

    Fr. Z, with all due respect,

    Please.

  76. BobP says:

    >P.S. – Democracy overall is a stupid form of government. Ever hear the joke that Ben Franklin told about democracy? – in which two wolves and a sheep took a majority vote on what to have for lunch…<

    But the United States is a republic. Unfortunately that has extended to mean the Supreme Court ultimately decides everything including who’s President.

  77. Clayton says:

    If we subscribe to the notion that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”,

    then Fr. Z is quite correct. The right to vote is God-given, but secured by government.

  78. fr william says:

    Rights can be either moral absolutes, or legal and social constructs. It doesn’t assist clarity of thought to confuse the two.

    To assert that the right of women (or men, or anyone) to vote falls into the first category is to state the moral impermissibility of any form of government which is not based upon universal suffrage. That not only condemns every form of government ever existing before about 100 years ago, it also condemns the governance of the Church at any time in its history. It imposes a philosophy which states that we are uniquely enlightened – that every other age and culture got it wrong, and we alone know what is truly right. It says that democracy is the natural state of human governance, and anything else must be regarded as a departure from that natural and proper state, in spite of the fact that democracy as we understand it is a novelty in human affairs.

    If, however, this right is a legal/social construct, it is a nonsense to talk of it in absolute terms. Such rights are, by definition, entirely relative to the social situation within which they arise and from which they derive their significance and reality.

    I’m afraid Fr Z hasn’t really thought this through.

  79. Maureen says:

    “There is no power except from God.” That’s in St. Paul.

    All human beings are formed in the image and likeness of God, and hence are naturally equal. Adult humans, who have responsibility for themselves and are not under the responsibility of others, are all equally free.

    In Christ there is no man or woman, no slave or free, etc. Clearly, there was never a natural law right to restrict the freedom of anyone, or restrict the vote to adult males. Landowners… well, there’d be more natural law excuse for that, but we got rid of that voting restriction first.

  80. Tobias says:

    “All human beings are formed in the image and likeness of God, and hence are naturally equal. Adult humans, who have responsibility for themselves and are not under the responsibility of others, are all equally free.

    In Christ there is no man or woman, no slave or free, etc. Clearly, there was never a natural law right to restrict the freedom of anyone, or restrict the vote to adult males. Landowners… well, there’d be more natural law excuse for that, but we got rid of that voting restriction first.

    Maureen, not all human beings are equally capable of exercising the type of
    prudence and discretion required for the exercise of suffrage in a republic.
    Furthermore, you state, “Adult humans, who have responsibility for themselves and are not under the responsibility of others, are all equally free.” In most classical political
    theory, women are considered as being subject to their husbands as the heads
    of the household. Often, only heads of households could vote, precisely
    because only they really had responsibility for themselves and were not under
    the responsibility of others. Women were always considered to be in some sense
    subject to the authority of their husbands, fathers, elder brother, or some other
    male relative.

    That is (part) of the natural law argument against women’s suffrage, and it uses
    precisely the criteria you advance for determining the extent of suffrage.

    Also, anyone who does not own his own property is to some extent under the
    responsibility of someone else, namely the guy whose property he rents.

  81. Although there was been a general preference for government headed by a single individual (what “monarchy” means after all) among Catholic thinkers (including popes), it is a grave error to identify this with hereditary absolute confessional monarchies like those of the 1600s and 1700s. That (at least in Catholic countries) such monarchies were overthrown by secularist revolutionaries in the late 1700s, created a backlash among Catholic thinkers (including popes) against alternative ways of structuring government.

    In fact, the idea of centralizing all authority in a single head of government is contrary to the Catholic principal of subsidiarity: that what can be decided at a lower level of government should not be done by a higher one. In short, Catholic theory favors the devolution of decisions to the lowest level possible. This was true of St. Thomas, who did, of course, favor a monarchy (single ruler) for the largest level of government, what we call the nation.

    But even this is not the only structure possible: for example, the Communes of medieval Italy were perhaps the most participatory states ever (70% of the adult male population not only voted, but was actively involved in some legislative body) but they were equally Catholic ritual communities at their basis. The participation in government there was higher than Puritan New England (perhaps %30 of adult males) or ancient Greece (hardly anyone since most people were women or slaves). [Shameless self promotion follows.] On these republics and their Catholic polity see my Cities of God

    Governments exist to protect natural rites (properly understood), there is no “natural” form of government save in the sense that the form that is most apt to promote the common good is better than those that fail in this.

  82. schoolman says:

    The definition of “monarchy”, according to St. Thomas seems means that there is a hierarchy in government with one at the top. This naturally includes kings, presidents, prime ministers, etc. It certainly has nothing to do with absolutism…

  83. John Enright says:

    Father Z is not off the mark on this issue since their is significant international legislation which recognizes voting to be a basic human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was approved on December 10, 1948 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, and among the original signatories thereto were the United States and the United Kingdom. In pertinent part, Article 21 § 3 states “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

    That being said, there’s more to the issue than a simple political document generated by an organization currently of dubious character. I’m a Republican American. I don’t think our Canadian friends would be particularly happy to see me cast a ballot in Ottawa during Canada’s legislative elections.

  84. John Enright says:

    Sorry, should be “there” in the first sentence rather than “their.”

  85. Jordanes says:

    John said: That being said, there’s more to the issue than a simple political document generated by an organization currently of dubious character.

    What do you mean “currently,” Kemosabe? When the the UN’s character been anything but dubious? And just because there is international legislation asserting that something is a basic human right, that doesn’t make it so.

  86. Jordanes says:

    “When HAS the UN’s character . . .,” that is.

  87. james says:

    Father, are you saying there is a natural law right to vote?

  88. Dominic says:

    Deusdonat says: “Just because Democracy doesn’t work in Afghanistan does not make it “stupid”, since it seems to be working quite well in Switzerland.”

    Like most other countries, Switzerland has a pseudo-democracy which has degenerated into totalitarianism, with its anti-life laws allowing not only the wholesale destruction of the unborn but also euthanasia (for non-residents too).

    The Church can and does make a case for democracy – but let us not confuse it with the sham of democracy, violating natural law, that we see all around us.

    [P.S. How does one reproduce an earlier quote in bold or in italics?]

  89. David Kastel says:

    I am afraid that Clayton and John Enright have lost their faith along with their minds. It is not for any human organization or person to determine what are the rights of men.

    Despite what he wrote in the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was wrong. Governments DO NOT derive their just powers from the “consent of the governed,” but from the CONSENT OF GOD. Catholic doctrine trumps any document written by a man (who was not even a Catholic.)

    And the “Universal Declaration on Human Rights”??? LOL. What does that have to do with the truth as revealed by God through the Catholic Church?????????

    It is sad but true. The Cult of Man has replaced the Cult of God, even among Catholics.

  90. schoolman says:

    We can say that a people have the natural right to choose their civil rulers. At the same time, there can
    be a variety of legitimate ways of “choosing” depending on the circumstances of time and place.

    I don’t see the need to blow this out of proportion. I think Fr. Z simply wanted to point out that all legitimate civil rights are ultimately rooted in natural rights flowing from the natural law. In that sense, we should not fall the trap of legal positivism.

  91. Tobias says:

    Schoolman wrote: “I don’t see the need to blow this out of proportion. I think Fr. Z simply wanted to point out that all legitimate civil rights are ultimately rooted in natural rights flowing from the natural law. In that sense, we should not fall the trap of legal positivism.”

    No, we should not fall into the trap of legal positivism. But women’s suffrage
    is in fact a matter of conventional civil and legal rights, which is what Fr.
    Z. effectively denied. If Fr. simply wanted to point out what you say, then he
    did not say what he intended. So we can either take his words at face value and
    refute them, or we can doubt his ability to convey accurately what he has in
    mind. Personally, I find the latter route more patronizing. I’m not sure that
    that is what you’re saying, but we certainly can grant his over-arching point
    about the nature of rights without accepting the particular example *he chose.*

  92. Tobias says:

    Dominic, you do not prove that Switzerland is a pseudo-democracy. You merely
    prove that it has unjust laws. Monarchies, dictatorships, oligarchies, tribal
    groupings, real democracies, you name it can have unjust laws. All of these
    forms of government can violate the natural law. (Here I am not referring to the
    distinction between “good monarchies, aristocracies, and polities” and “bad
    tyrannies, oligarchies, and democracies” that Aristotle makes.) What makes a
    government democratic is how the laws are enacted, viz. by the consent of the
    populace. In order to show that Switzerland is a “fake” democracy, you would
    need to show that the people were not responsible for the unjust laws you
    speak of. Maybe they were not and maybe Switzerland is not democratic, but
    you have not yet demonstrated this.

    John Enright, you cannot conclude anything from some idealistic, secular humanistic
    bunch of verbiage cobbled together by the UN. The fact of the matter and the
    viewpoint of international legislation are two very different things.

  93. David Kastel says:

    Well stated, Tobias.

    There is certainly no supernatural right to vote, since supernatural rights are given to men so that they might fulfill their eternal purpose – to secure their eternal happiness. The right to practice the Catholic religion is a supernatural right.

    There is also no natural right to vote, inherent in the character of men. The proper type of civil government can depend on the exigencies of different times and places. In one time or place, democracy may be more proper, in another time or place, monarchy may be more proper to serve the purpose of civil government, which is to secure the temporal happiness of men. And even in the case of a state where the people have a vote, this does not mean that women have a right to vote, inherent in their nature.

    The civil right of women to vote was granted, (not simply acknowledged) by the state throughout America with the 19th amendment. They did not have any right to vote (in some of the united states) before then. Father Z misspoke, which is not a terrible crime. But he should retract his misstatement.

  94. John Enright says:

    Perhaps David Kastel would care to read the comments in this blog just a little more closely. I never indicated a source for the right to vote, either Divine or human. I merely stated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to universal and equal suffrage. That it may originate in natural law, however, can be seen by Part Three, Section One, Article Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in particular, paragraph 1901 thereof: “If authority belongs to the order established by God, ‘the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.’”

    I merely said there is support for the proposition advanced by Fr. Z that suffrage is a human right. Mr. Kastel either disagrees with the Catechism or he ought to retract his baseless attack against me.

  95. Jordanes says:

    Dominic asked: [P.S. How does one reproduce an earlier quote in bold or in italics?]

    Use HTML tags. For italics, it is a less-than symbol, the lower case letter “i,” and then the greater-than symbol. That tag will turn your text italic. To turn off italics, it is a less-than symbol, the forward slash, the lower case letter “i,” and then the greater-than symbol.

    For bold, it’s the same thing, only use the lower case letter “b” instead of “i.”

    Italics and bolding seem not to carry over from one paragraph to the next, so you’ll have to use these tags at the start of each paragraph. But be sure there is a
    “close italics” or “close bold” tag, or else your entire comment will be in italics or boldface.

  96. Jordanes says:

    John said: I merely stated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to universal and equal suffrage. That it may originate in natural law, however, can be seen by Part Three, Section One, Article Two of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and in particular, paragraph 1901 thereof: “If authority belongs to the order established by God, ‘the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.’”

    The Catechism is not saying that the right to universal and equal suffrage originates in natural law. It does, however, affirm (with St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Robert Bellarmine), that the authority of the state derives not simply from God (which it certainly does) but also from the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence says (echoing Aquinas and Bellarmine: and some believe Jefferson may have learned of that concept from political writers of his day who were familiar with Bellarmine’s writings).

    What that means is: if the people consent to, say, a Catholic absolute monarchy wherein suffrage is limited to certain classes of men, then that is in accord with human rights.

  97. John Enright says:

    Jordanes said the “Catechism is not saying that the right to universal and equal suffrage originates in natural law.” I don’t know how you came to that conclusion since text of paragraph 1901 clearly requires consent of the governed, and that in turn, necessarily requires legitimate human authority based upon human nature (paragraph 1898) as well as the authority of the moral order derived from God (paragraph 1899). Suffrage in its most basic form is the ability of an individual to participate in the affairs of government either directly or by delegation.

    Jacques Maritain in Christianity and Democracy (New York: Arno Press, 1980), 22, 46, for instance, says that Catholic social beliefs “do not exclude a priori any of the … ‘forms of government’ which were recognized as legitimate by [the] classical tradition.” Instead, Catholic life can be adjusted to a constitutional “system of monarchic or oligarchic government.” However, the “dynamism” of Catholic social thought “leads, as though to its natural form of realization,” to democratic government “as their most natural expression.”

    Your own example of a Caholic absolute monarchy with limited suffrage presents a reductio ad absurdum since by your own admission it depends on whether “the people consent,” which presumably includes the consent of individuals without the limited right of suffrage.

  98. Tobias says:

    John Enright: consent can be expressed in ways other than suffrage, a.k.a. voting.
    Spontaneous acclamation of a charismatic ruler; traditional, ingrained deference
    to a ruling dynasty; un-coerced oaths of loyalty to an aristocratic constitution;
    routine, mundane fulfillment of feudal obligations. All of these qualify as
    “consent of the governed.” None of them involve suffrage.

  99. Dominic says:

    Thank you Jordanes – and now I’ll just see if I can do what you said!

    For italics, it is a less-than symbol, the lower case letter “i,” and then the greater-than symbol. That tag will turn your text italic. To turn off italics, it is a less-than symbol, the forward slash, the lower case letter “i,” and then the greater-than symbol.

    For bold, it’s the same thing, only use the lower case letter “b” instead of “i.”

    And now I guess I will only know if it works when I post this. Apologies folks for this comment!

  100. Dominic says:

    Tobias said: Dominic, you do not prove that Switzerland is a pseudo-democracy. You merely prove that it has unjust laws.

    To which I respond: Democracy is more than merely voting for elected representatives. It is about voting for worthy representatives who will uphold the common good. Democracy is a system of government, part of which is the enactment of laws, and there should be a basic pre-supposition within a democratic (or any other) system that laws cannot violate the moral order. The system of government that exists in Switzerland (and also the US, UK, and most so-called civilised countries) allows people to vote for representatives, but the system does not prevent gross abuses of power (by those elected and/or those electing), because (with the increasingly fragile exception of some countries like Ireland) laws on matters like abortion are regarded as subject to the ‘democratic’ will of the people in the same way as matters like speed-limits.

    John Paul II summed it up perfectly in Centesimus Annus : “Authentic democracy is possible only in a State ruled by law, and on the basis of a correct conception of the human person…As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism” (n. 46).

  101. John Enright says:

    Tobias: EACH of them is a species of suffrage, especially since the non-democratic regimes could be replaced by democratic institutions in any instance and at any time where it is the will of the people governed thereby. (Otherwise those non-democratic regimes would cease to be governed by the consent of the people.) In other words, if at any time a democratic state could be instituted merely with the consent of the people governed, the right of suffrage exists.

  102. Deusdonat says:

    Dominic – Like most other countries, Switzerland has a pseudo-democracy which has degenerated into totalitarianism, with its anti-life laws allowing not only the wholesale destruction of the unborn but also euthanasia (for non-residents too).

    No disrespect, you you don’t have a clue here. Switzerland is probably the closest model to a representative democracy that has ever been achieved by a sovreign state. To call it totalitarian is hogwash. You don’t like the Swiss federal government’s stance on abortion and euthanasia, I do’t like the standpoint on euthanasia. But it was arrived at in a very DEMOCRATIC process: each canton (like the US states) votes on this subject (and ALL subjects) individually. Therefore, euthanasia is OUTLAWED in the cantons of Obwalden and Ticino, while all others allow it (as far as I’m aware). Whether or not you agree with the outcome does not make the process any less democratic.

  103. John H. says:

    John Enright,

    One does not ‘vote’ with the sword. This is rather a revolution. To conclude that any true monarchy, like the Vatican, somehow allows for suffrage of the people simply because the governed to not overthrow their governing power, is sophistry at best. People in the Vatican do not vote for their leaders. The state did not come about by a vote, and it cannot be overturned by a vote.

  104. Dominic says:

    Deusdonat, may I suggest you read what the Church teaches is required for democracy. The opportunity to participate is one element of democracy, but there are other important elements too. Democracy has its conditions. If a so-called democratic country violates them by allowing such things as abortion you then have a pseudo-democracy, not an authentic democracy.

  105. John Enright says:

    John H.: First, the subject is secular government, not governance of the Church. Second, I suggest you read the portions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which I cited and in several cases quoted. Third, the monarch of the Vatican, as a state, is democratically ELECTED by the persons eligible to vote, i.e., members of the College of Cardinals under the age of 80. Fourth, the notion of voting “by the sword” is simply ridiculous and irrelevant to this discussion; any government empowered by force of arms without the consent of the persons governed does not meet the requirements of the Catechism. Fifth, why don’t you read Jacques Maritain whose work I quoted earlier. Finally, I cannot respond further since your comment is grammatically confused and your meaning is unclear at best.

  106. Tobias says:

    Dominic — First, I don’t know what magisterial value is carried by John Paul
    II’s statement. By “authentic” democracy he seems to mean “in accord with the
    natural law.” This is similar to Aristotle’s claim that when the people rule
    justly, you have a “polity,” when the people rule unjustly you have a “democracy.”
    Likewise, the just rule of one man is a monarchy, the unjust rule of one man is
    a tyranny. The just rule of a select group of men is an aristocracy, the unjust
    rule of a select group of men is an oligarchy. John Paul is using the term
    “democracy” in a necessarily positive sense, which is actually the opposite of
    Aristotle’s usage of the word, as for him a “polity” was the just rule of the
    people and “democracy” was the unjust rule of the many.

    BUT, most of us in this conversation are using “democracy” in a value-neutral
    sense to describe any system in which the people rule rule, either through
    direct participation or through elected representatives. We’re talking about
    the procedural aspect of popular rule, and are not considering what laws those
    people enact. In that sense, Switzerland is very definitely democratic. The
    will of the people is enacted, through their votes. Whether they are an
    Aristotelian “polity” (John Paul II’s “authentic democracy”) or an Aristotelian
    “democracy” (mob rule, or rule of demagogues) is not the immediate topic of
    conversation, or at least it wasn’t the point of the person who originally posted
    about Switzerland.

    It seems to be stretching the meaning of “totalitarian” to call a country
    that merely on account of legalized abortion. Certainly, the legislators are claiming
    a right that does not belong to them. However, one can have abortion in a very
    libertarian arrangement. Not everything that is bad is automatically “totalitarian”
    on that ground alone.

    John Enright: “EACH of them is a species of suffrage, especially since the non-democratic regimes could be replaced by democratic institutions in any instance and at any time where it is the will of the people governed thereby. (Otherwise those non-democratic regimes would cease to be governed by the consent of the people.) In other words, if at any time a democratic state could be instituted merely with the consent of the people governed, the right of suffrage exists.

    BUT the people also have a duty to abide by their duly constituted governments,
    and sometimes the people even have a duty to endure (rather than to rise up
    against) a tyranny or an occupying government. A legitimate standing government *merits* consent, all things being equal. Your definition of suffrage (any expression of consent by the
    governed) is not what we’re talking about here, at least as far as I can
    see.

    I think by suffrage, most of us have meant *one-citizen, one-vote*. If there were
    an innate right to such a system, then the
    people would be morally bound to reject monarchy, aristocracy, etc. If every
    human being has an innate, moral right to vote in a democratic system, then *one*
    single peasant in the 19th century Papal States could have said, “That’s it, I
    no longer consent to this form of government,” and the Pope would have been morally
    required to abdicate from his secular throne and turn the whole system into a
    democracy, lest he be guilty of violating that one person’s innate natural right.
    That is foolish. Rather, that peasant was morally bound to obey his sovereign.
    As no one has an innate right to cast a ballot for a popular representative
    legislator, women cannot have that innate right.

  107. Tobias says:

    “In other words, if at any time a democratic state could be instituted merely with the consent of the people governed, the right of suffrage exists.”

    Using this logic, if at any time a monarchical state could be instituted merely
    with the consent of the people governed, the monarch’s right to reign exists.

    Furthermore, the Pope does not rule by the consent of *all* the people he
    governs in Vatican City, but only by the election of the Cardinals. The
    Swiss Guards don’t get to vote. The other citizens of the Vatican City-State
    don’t get to decide. If 501 of the 1,000 or so (let’s say) citizens of Vatican
    City voted to make the City a secular republic, the Pope would ignore them
    completely, and rightly so.

    Then again, the whole theory of the consent of the governed has never made much
    sense to me. There are legitimate governments, and until they do something
    really egregious, we are morally required to obey them. If we refuse our
    consent on a mere whim, we would be being disobedient. When St. Louis’ subjects
    rebelled against him, he came with knights and horses and swords to put down
    the revolt, he did not say, “As the governed now refuse their consent, I no longer
    have authority over them.” I think he said something more like, “These
    oath-breakers must be brought to repentance.”

  108. Tobias says:

    “If 501 of the 1,000 or so (let’s say) citizens of Vatican
    City voted to make the City a secular republic, the Pope would ignore them
    completely, and rightly so.”

    Actually, if 1,000 of the 1,000 voted to do this, the Pope would be perfectly
    right to ignore the vote, as no one ever granted them any right to vote —
    certainly not God.

  109. Dominic says:

    Tobias said : most of us in this conversation are using “democracy” in a value-neutral sense to describe any system in which the people rule rule, either through direct participation or through elected representatives.

    It is precisely the adoption of the value-neutral definition of democracy (so beloved of secularism) that is the problem. It is precisely why Pope John Paul II warned (as I quoted above) that “a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism.” Read anything by any Pope from Leo XIII about democracy and they all reject the sort of value-neutral notion that you are upholding.

    Tobias (and Deusdonat if you do not accept my previous comments), I have said all I want to say on this. If anything I have said is contrary to what the Magisterium has taught, then please feel free to point it out. So far you have not suggested that my comments are contrary to the teachings of the Magisterium and I do not believe that you can.

  110. John H. says:

    John Enright,

    I read the Catechism quotes you posted, and unless I am missing something, it never uses the wors “vote” or “suffrage.” Also, the vatican IS a state in its own right, as well as the governing power for the Church. And yes, bishops from around the world, who may or may not be citizens of that state, elect its monarchical ruler according to the laws set down by that ruler. That ruler could, if he wished, appoint his own successor. This is a far cry from a consentual agreement of the governed. One does not ‘vote’ for the pope anymore than we vote for the ultimate King of our Church, that being Christ. Lastly, Maritain does not determine Catholic political theory.

    The Catechism quote is not sufficent to say that suffrage of the pople is a natural right of the goverend. Consernt is a fact. I consent to being Catholic. I consent to being a citizen of the US. Neither means I voted for these realities. I could if I wished, be neither by defecting. And i could if I wished, revolt to either. But neither of these options is a vote in the proper sense.

  111. John Enright says:

    John H.: You did indeed miss something. Paragraph 1901 expressly states “”the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.” (bold added for emphasis.) Any way you cut it, a “free decision of the citizens” to appoint rulers is suffrage, though it can take many forms such as direct vote, delegation to electors (such as the Electoral College in the USA), election of legislative leaders, etc.

    The Vatican City and the Holy See are not synonymous, although they are intertwined and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the two entities. When the Catechism speaks about secular government, I don’t think it refers to a peculiar micro-state which exists for a special purpose. In fact, the Vatican, as a sovereign state, does not have many citizens at all; most of the “citizens” possess citizenship for a limited period of time, and citizenship is surrendered after the necessity for it dissolves.

    You are correct that the Catechism does not directly mention suffrage or voting rights in those exact terms. Neither does it mention democracy, democratic republicanism, monarchy or any other political form. It does, however, require the consent of the citizens for selection of the rulers. That is it in a nutshell.

  112. David Kastel says:

    John Enright,

    You are now grasping at straws. The topic of this whole thread is whether women’s suffrage is a right granted by God, which they always had, even if unrecognized by the state. It is certainly not. Fr Z misspoke with this:

    “Women always had the right to vote. Their right to vote was finally recognized. We must avoid, in discussing human rights and government, falling into the trap of thinking that the state grants rights. We have rights because our Creator made us in His image and likeness. They are written into our being.”

    Fr Z is wrong. Civil rights are granted or retracted by the state.

    There is nothing at all in the quote from the Catechism you gave which indicates anything at all about suffrage (for men or for women.)

    The right for women to vote is a civil right granted by the state in the 19th amendment. It could be retracted without any violation of the natural law.

    From the Catholic Encyclopedia:

    “On the other hand, other rights may be given by positive law; according as the law is Divine or human, and the latter civil or ecclesiastical, we distinguish between Divine or human, civil or ecclesiastical rights. To civil rights belong citizenship in a state, active or passive franchise, etc.”

    Case closed!

  113. Jordanes says:

    John Enright claimed: Any way you cut it, a “free decision of the citizens” to appoint rulers is suffrage, though it can take many forms such as direct vote, delegation to electors (such as the Electoral College in the USA), election of legislative leaders, etc.

    No, in the context of political discourse, “suffrage” refers only to voting. The only other kind of “suffrage” there is are intercessory prayers, which in a sense is a “vote” for someone or something. You can’t just redefine a word to make it fit your argument. As has already been pointed out, the “free decision of the citizens” does not require formal voting. If the citizens (or in societies that have no citizens, the subjects) assent to a system in which there are no regular elections at all, then all talk of “suffrage” and “the right to vote” would be inapplicable to that society. The Vatican City State, for example, has no citizens at all, only subjects of the Bishop of Rome. “Consent of the governed” does not require democratic elections. Aquinas and Bellarmine both talk of the consent of the governed, but they do not say that necessarily means any sort of voting franchise, whether limited or universal.

    Your own example of a Catholic absolute monarchy with limited suffrage presents a reductio ad absurdum since by your own admission it depends on whether “the people consent,” which presumably includes the consent of individuals without the limited right of suffrage.

    Not at all, since in such a case the consent of the people is given on their behalf through those leaders who represent them in the king’s parliament.

  114. Why would popular consent be a requirement for the legitimate exercise of the State’s authority? Surely as long as the State acknowledges Christ as the source of its authority, as long as it upholds the common good, and as long as it translates God’s Laws into civil laws and never defies them, it rules justly. Even if the populace refuses its consent, the State would not lose its legitimacy under these circumstances.

    Reginaldvs Cantvar

  115. John Enright says:

    Jordanes: Your limited definition of suffrage needs to be expanded radically. According to Webster’s Dictionary, the term suffrage includes the following definitions:1. A vote given in deciding a controverted question, or in the choice of a man for an office or trust; the formal expression of an opinion; assent;</b< vote; 2. Testimony; attestation; witness; approval.

    Even using your narrow definition, your argument doesn’t wash. While you are correct in that the “free decision of the citizens” does not require formal voting, that does not exclude the notion that the “free decision of the citizens” can require voting. Accordingly, the concept of “free decision of the citizens” means that the citizens are always free to demand a vote, otherwise they can withhold their consent.

    Your belief that the citizens of absolute monarch can express their consent through an elected parliament is likewise nonsensical. If it is in fact an absolute monarchy, then the citizen’s lack of consent would be irrelevant. If the lack of consent of the citizens would have meaning under those circumstances, the citizens would be free to demand a democracy.

  116. Jordanes says:

    John Enright said: Your limited definition of suffrage needs to be expanded radically.

    It’s not my definition, it’s just the way “suffrage” is used in a political context. If you disagree, then please show examples from documents of the Church’s social doctrine in which “suffrage” is used for anything but voting.

    Even using your narrow definition, your argument doesn’t wash. While you are correct in that the “free decision of the citizens” does not require formal voting, that does not exclude the notion that the “free decision of the citizens” can require voting.

    If “free decision of the citizens” does not require a voting franchise, but permits it, then it follows that voting rights are not a fundametal human right derived from natural law.

    Accordingly, the concept of “free decision of the citizens” means that the citizens are always free to demand a vote, otherwise they can withhold their consent.

    No, that doesn’t follow at all. If demanding a vote causes greater evil than maintaining a political system in which there is no voting, then the state can rightly decline.

    Your belief that the citizens of absolute monarch can express their consent through an elected parliament is likewise nonsensical.

    I have no such belief, as monarchs, absolute or otherwise, have no citizens — they have subjects. But the subjects of a monarch certainly can express their consent representatively through a parliament that their monarch elects, or that representatives of the populace elect at the monarch’s request. As has already been pointed out, there are different ways that a population can express consent. Regular elections under a regime of universal suffrage is just one way, and not necessarily the best way, for a people to express consent.

    If it is in fact an absolute monarchy, then the citizen’s lack of consent
    would be irrelevant. If the lack of consent of the citizens would have meaning under those circumstances, the citizens would be free to demand a democracy.

    Consent can be withheld by a people, but it ought to be for good reason. If an absolute monarch is ruling justly, it would be criminal to withhold consent.

  117. Deusdonat says:

    Dominic – you’re so off base you don’t seem to understand your own arguments here. The church did not found Democracy, nor is not an arbitor of Democracy. The church is an arbitor of issues such as social justice, public morality etc which transcend ANY form of government. But to say a form of government which meets all criteria set by accepted political theory is invalid or “pseudo” government simply because you don’t agree with certain policies is ludicrous. You have yet to show any of us any church document outlining why you believe a government is not a tru democracy because it endorses issues such as abortion and/or euthanasia. Nor have you produced any church document using this term you invented called “pseudo-democracy”.

    If you wish to be taken seriously here, the next comment you made on this subject should have direct links to documents from the church outlining precisely what you are trying to say. If not, you should qualify all your future comments with “I believe” or “It is my opinion that” to keep yourself honest.

  118. John Enright says:

    1. “monarchs, absolute or otherwise, have no citizens—they have subjects.” This is a completely artificial distinction, and it begs the question. This distinction would effectively annul the application of a large portion of the Catechism in every type of political state other than democratic states, and thus, must be rejected out of hand. In any event, you’re simply wrong on this count. Here is Wikipedia article on citizenship in the United Kingdom.

    2. “Consent can be withheld by a people, but it ought to be for good reason. If an absolute monarch is ruling justly, it would be criminal to withhold consent.” I didn’t realize that anyone living still placed faith in the “Divine Right of Kings.” This, too, must be rejected without further ado.

    3. “If ‘free decision of the citizens’ does not require a voting franchise, but permits it, then it follows that voting rights are not a fundametal human right derived from natural law.” I really don’t want to get into an Aristotelian debate regarding Actus et potentia, suffice it to say that so long as citizens (or subjects) can demand a vote, the right thereto is innate.

  119. Jordanes says:

    John said: This distinction would effectively annul the application of a large portion of the Catechism in every type of political state other than democratic states, and thus, must be rejected out of hand.

    No it wouldn’t, since it is clear what the Catechism means, even though it is less than precise in its use of the word “citizen” than it ought to be.

    In any event, you’re simply wrong on this count. Here is Wikipedia article on citizenship in the United Kingdom.

    If bureacrats or legislators in a monarchy misuse a word, than doesn’t make it a proper use of the word.

    I didn’t realize that anyone living still placed faith in the “Divine Right of Kings.”

    You need to read more carefully, John. Who said anything about a “divine right of kings”? Bellarmine certainly believed in so such thing, and yet he said that a people need some really good reasons to exercise their right to change their governors and form of government. When a governor is doing his office as he ought and justice is being done, it is criminal to overthrow him simply to institute another form of government, especially one to which a people are not suited.

    There are, of course, still plenty of divine right monarchists around, but I’m not aware of any of them posting comments in this discussion. I know of only two monarchs who can be said without question to have a divine right to rule: Jesus, and the Pope.

    So long as citizens (or subjects) can demand a vote, the right thereto is innate.

    They may only demand a vote in certain circumstances, and may be denied a vote in certain circumstances, so voting cannot be an inalienable human right. If you are saying it is, then you are wrong. If you’re not saying it is, then we have nothing to argue about.

  120. Deusdonat says:

    I guess I don’t understand the whistful nostalgia for monarchy coming from people who have never lived under a monarch in their lives. Honestly, with the exception of Haile Selasie (buon’anima) can anyone here give one good example of a benevolent, effective absolute monarch from the last century? And in case you’re wondering, benevolent means not sending in armed forces to kill unarmed people. And I’m really setting the bar low here for y’all.

  121. Geoffrey says:

    Deusdonat:

    Blessed Karl (Charles) of Austria comes to mind.

  122. Deusdonat says:

    Geoffrey – VERY interesting choice. However, his reign spanned under 3 years, and those were during World War I, after which he lost his empire. So, I don’t know how effective he was as a monarch. Plus, it’s really hard for me personally to see him as benevolent since he sided with the Mohammedan Turks in the war. But to the best of my knowledge, no, he did not commit any massacres of unarmed civilians.

    On an entirely political note (given the vein of this thread), I believe he was declared blessed due to the fact that he was the only one who acknowledged the Vatican during the conflict, and this reward was Vatican politics at work. And I also think that when he lost his throne, he did carry out the rest of his life in dignity given the relative poverty he was consigned to.

  123. Geoffrey says:

    “I believe he was declared blessed due to the fact that he was the only one who acknowledged the Vatican during the conflict, and this reward was Vatican politics at work.”

    How awful! Talk about cynical! I highly recommend reading about his life, and you can see he was a saint. He was effective because he was a true Catholic monarch who promoted peace, and maintained a life of religious piety and devotion.

    One interesting fact: Blessed Charles of Austria refused to permit anyone to speak negatively about the Pope in his presence.

  124. John Enright says:

    How about Blessed John XXIII:

    “It must not be concluded, however, because authority comes from God, that therefore men have no right to choose those who are to rule the state, to decide the form of government, and to determine both the way in which authority is to be exercised and its limits. It is thus clear that the doctrine which we have set forth is fully consonant with any truly democratic regime (Pacem in terris [1963], 52).”

    It is rather obvious that we do not agree, and probably won’t agree on this issue. The only difference, though, is that I’ve cited sources and you haven’t. In fact, most of your arguments are refuted simply by reference to the Catechism.

  125. Jordanes says:

    Deusdonat said: I guess I don’t understand the whistful nostalgia for monarchy coming from people who have never lived under a monarch in their lives.

    Well, Americans don’t like to think of it in these terms, but the U.S. President is an elective constitutional monarch, a king in all but name. Madison modeled his constitution on the English system, which makes sense since it was a system that the newly independent former colonists were familiar with. When Madison proposed an executive with real authority, however, everyone was worried that he was giving them a king so soon after they’d gotten rid of their monarch. He reassured everyone that the President’s powers would have limits, and of course his term of office would be brief, and his position would not be hereditary. Still, while we don’t call our executive “king,” he has the same role and all the essential powers that any king has ever had. The President has greater power than the figurehead English monarch, in fact. If we were to quit the pretense and call our prince a “king” instead of a “president,” I wouldn’t particularly mind, as long as it wasn’t much more than that change in nomenclature.

    Honestly, with the exception of Haile Selasie (buon’anima) can anyone here give one good example of a benevolent, effective absolute monarch from the last century?

    You’re right that Blessed Charles of Austria, while benevolent, wasn’t effective — due to circumstances beyond his control. (His beatification wasn’t Vatican politics, though: it was because his sainthood cause has faithful and persistent supporters and promoters, such that the requisite virtues and miracle were brought to Rome’s attention.) Most of the Roman Bishops of the past century have proven themselves benevolent and effective, though perhaps the prince of Vatican City doesn’t count, as his governance is specially graced as no other prince’s would be.

  126. Jordanes says:

    John Enright said: It is rather obvious that we do not agree, and probably won’t agree on this issue.

    If you are saying that voting is a natural right of all men, then yes, we do not agree, nor would you agree with Catholic social doctrine, which maintains no such thing. I’m not sure you’re saying that, though, and in fact I’m not sure what your point is. Now, if voting were a natural right, then any form of government that isn’t at least an elective republic would be morally an evil.

    The only difference, though, is that I’ve cited sources and you haven’t. In fact, most of your arguments are refuted simply by reference to the Catechism.

    The only sources you’ve cited are sources that say nothing that supports the claim that voting is an inalienable human right, but say things with which I agree. Blessed John XXIII said nothing in that quote that the Catechism didn’t say (or that Aquinas and Bellarmine didn’t say), and we have already established that the Catechism does not require that all nations have systems of government in which voting and elections take place.

  127. Jordanes says:

    His beatification wasn’t Vatican politics, though.

    Okay, let me qualify that. “Politics” does enter into canonisations, as the delayed cause of Pope Pius XII apparently demonstrates. With Blessed Charles, however, enough time had gone by that most of the political mines had been removed that might have been in the way, and the Iraq War probably made his beatification very timely: a ruler who sought to end a futile and unjustifiable war.

  128. Father,
    Who said voting was a right, and who said that women have that right?

    ~cmpt

  129. Interesting discussion!

  130. John Enright says:

    Jordanes:

    1. “If you are saying that voting is a natural right of all men, then yes, we do not agree, nor would you agree with Catholic social doctrine, which maintains no such thing. I’m not sure you’re saying that, though, and in fact I’m not sure what your point is.” My point is rather obvious, and that is that the Catechism, particularly paragraph 1901, requires the consent of the governed. Whether that is actualized in voting is irrelevant so long as the potentiality remains. So, to that extent the right to vote is natural whether actual or potential.

    2. “Now, if voting were a natural right, then any form of government that isn’t at least an elective republic would be morally an evil.” I’ve said no such thing, and nothing I’ve said logically leads to that conclusion. What you’re doing is simply putting up a “strawman’s argument.” Whether a system actually employs voting is irrelevant so long as it can be replaced at any time with one that allows voting. Any system in which voting cannot be actualized would not be legitimate.

    3. “The only sources you’ve cited are sources that say nothing that supports the claim that voting is an inalienable human right.” Again, please refer to paragraph 1901 which states “If authority belongs to the order established by God, ‘the choice of the political regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.’” There is no other reasonable definition of “the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens” than the right of voting. What is the source of this right?

    4. “Madison modeled his constitution on the English system, which makes sense since it was a system that the newly independent former colonists were familiar with.” The model for the government of the United States was not England; it was the Commonwealth of Virginia which already possessed a “strong executive” attribute. The reason the “strong executive” Virginia model was chosen, together with a firmly bound federal element, was simply that the first model adopted, the Articles of Confederation, did not work very well. The Articles of Confederation were nothing like the English government; it functioned very much like the UN Charter both in mechanism and efficiency. The “Virginia Plan” was proposed by the Governor of Virginia, Edmund Randolph. Alexander Hamilton actually proposed a government based on the English model, but it did not receive support. The fact that you do not see the vast difference between the English and American models of government doesn’t surprise me in view of our other discussion.

  131. Dominic says:

    Deusdonat, you ascribe to me (in an unfortunately rude tone) some views that I have not expressed and do not hold, and life’s too short to address all your (often intemperate) points (especially as I had said in my previous post that I had said all I wanted to on the matter).

    However, I will make one final point, given your inability to understand the concept of pseudo-democracy, which is a system of government constantly rejected by the Magisterium even though that precise term has not been used.

    Pseudo means “false.” Pseudo-democracy is a false democracy. A false democracy is one which fails to uphold key elements of the common good, by allowing, for example, laws that allow abortion or euthanasia. A pseudo-democracy is not a true democracy. So, if the Church says something is not a true democracy, then it is teaching that is a pseudo-democracy, whether or not it uses that term.

    In Evangelium Vitae John Paul II taught (consistent with what was taught by Leo XIII, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI amongst others): “There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person’s dignity and without respect for his or her rights.”

    For the avoidance of any doubt, John Paul II himself emphasised the words “true democracy” (vera democratia). In other words, he was saying, “There is a pseudo-democracy if there is a failure to recognise every person’s dignity and if there is no respect for his or her rights.”

    That is all that I was saying too.

  132. Dominic says:

    The quotation I gave in my previous comment is from Evangelium Vitae n. 101: “There can be no true democracy without a recognition of every person’s dignity and without respect for his or her rights” (emphasis in the original).

    That section (101) also highlights that respect for life is foundational for any democracy. “Only respect for life can be the foundation and guarantee of the most precious and essential goods of society, such as democracy and peace.” (EV 101).

  133. Jordanes says:

    John Enright said: My point is rather obvious, and that is that the Catechism, particularly paragraph 1901, requires the consent of the governed.

    No, you are obviously saying far more than that.

    Whether that is actualized in voting is irrelevant so long as the potentiality remains. So, to that extent the right to vote is natural whether actual or potential.

    An inalienable human right to vote must always be actualised, or else we have injustice. Therefore voting cannot be an inalienable human right, a part of natural law.

    “Now, if voting were a natural right, then any form of government that isn’t at least an elective republic would be morally an evil.” I’ve said no such thing, and nothing I’ve said logically leads to that conclusion.

    Okay, then you aren’t saying the right to vote is a part of natural law. Good.

    But then you contradict yourself a few lines later . . .

    What you’re doing is simply putting up a “strawman’s argument.”

    No, what I’m doing is trying to ascertain the point you’re trying to make.

    Whether a system actually employs voting is irrelevant so long as it can be replaced at any time with one that allows voting. Any system in which voting cannot be actualized would not be legitimate.

    Okay, now you’re saying something that neither the Church nor any Doctor or Father of the Church has ever held. The Church does not in principle object to political systems in which voting cannot be actualised, although the Church insists that the people always have the right to determine their form of government. If that means a system in which no one, or hardly anyone, votes, that does not necessarily contradict natural law.

    What you should have said is, “Any system that cannot under appropriate circumstance be modifiied to become a system in which at least some of the people have the right to vote would not be legitimate.”

    “The only sources you’ve cited are sources that say nothing that supports the claim that voting is an inalienable human right.” Again, please refer to paragraph 1901 which states “If authority belongs to the order established by God, ‘the choice of the political
    regime and the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens.’” There is no other reasonable definition of “the appointment of rulers are left to the free decision of the citizens” than the right of voting.

    No other reasonable definition? What if the choice is for a political regime that doesn’t involve voting for one’s rulers? No one would have a right to vote in that scenario.

    “Madison modeled his constitution on the English system, which makes sense since it was a system that the newly independent former colonists were familiar with.” The model for the government of the United States was not England; it was the Commonwealth of
    Virginia which already possessed a “strong executive” attribute.

    Yes, and the Virginian model was based on and derived from the English system: three branches of government, including an executive with real authority.

    The reason the “strong executive” Virginia model was chosen, together with a firmly bound federal element, was simply that the first model adopted, the Articles of Confederation, did not work very well.

    Yes, the confederation approach, like your typical revolutionary government, was a reaction against what the colonists had formerly lived under. Finding it unstable and ineffective, a system more firmly in the English tradition was opted for instead.

    The “Virginia Plan” was proposed by the Governor of Virginia, Edmund Randolph. Alexander Hamilton actually proposed a government based on the English model, but it did not receive support. The fact that you do not see the vast difference between the English and American models of government doesn’t surprise me in view of our other discussion.

    Of course they’re different systems, John, and yet they are also very similar: a head of state with the power of veto and the power to appoint judges and ministers (although the English head of state has not exercised the veto for so long that if she were to try, Parliament would probably move to strip her of that power), a bicameral legislature, and a judicial system that interprets and applies the laws. Virginia adapted that same model for itself.

  134. John Enright says:

    Jordanes:

    I’ve never encounter anyone so apt to add two and two together and consistently come out with five.

    1. “An inalienable human right to vote must always be actualised.” You’re making up rules. Actually, it must always be potential.

    2. “Now, if voting were a natural right, then any form of government that isn’t at least an elective republic would be morally an evil.” I’ve said no such thing, and nothing I’ve said logically leads to that conclusion.
    Okay, then you aren’t saying the right to vote is a part of natural law. Good.”

    Your conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises. A hereditary monarchy could be a legitimate political system provided that the citizens (or subjects) retain the right to abolish the monarchy and substitute another system of their desire. This is not inconsistent since you don’t appreciate the difference between actual and potential.

    3. “The Church does not in principle object to political systems in which voting cannot be actualised, although the Church insists that the people always have the right to determine their form of government.” Sorry, but you’re completely wrong on this. Any system, benevolent or otherwise, which forecloses completely the ability of the citizens’ potential right to select leaders runs counter to Church doctrine. A political system where “voting cannot be actualized” is one in which there is no potential right to select leaders by definition. See paragraph 1901 of the Catechism.

    4. “What if the choice is for a political regime that doesn’t involve voting for one’s rulers? No one would have a right to vote in that scenario.” You’re starting to catch on. How did the “political regime that doesn’t involve voting” for rulers come about unless the citizens’ thereof exercised their right to select such a system? Once selected, do you think that the citizens couldn’t thereafter modify the regime to include an election of the leaders?

    5. [T]he Virginian model was based on and derived from the English system: three branches of government, including an executive with real authority.” Virtually all systems are composed of three governmental functions: executive, legislative and judicial, including the Roman Republic and the Vatican. Other than that, the American model is quite different from the English model, also known as the “Westminster System.” First, George III was King at the time of the Revolution. His power, as a monarch, was quite limited from a Constitutional perspective. It was his determination and strong personality which allowed him such a great say in the affairs of state. Actually, since Charles II, the power of the monarch was severely circumscribed in practice although virtually unlimited in theory. It is the Prime Minister who exercises actual executive power in the Westminster System, and unlike the American model, the PM is an elected member of Parliament. Moreover, the Judiciary in the Westminster System is intertwined with Parliament. Until recently, the court of last resort for most cases in the UK was the House of Lords. (It is the Privy Council with regard to some former colonies.)

    If the American government was patterned after the Westminster System, our government would look like the government of Ireland where the President is a figurehead and the executive power exercised by the Taoiseach (PM) and the legislature (Oireachtas). Canada, too, has a government based on the Westminster System. You’ll have to trust me on this. I’ve taught American Constitutional Law in the past.

    6. “Yes, the confederation approach, like your typical revolutionary government, was a reaction against what the colonists had formerly lived under.” Wrong again. The confederation approach was initially adopted because each of the former colonies thought of itself as sovereign, and each had a working government very much like the present state governments including: three separate branches of government with a strong executive. The Constitution was adopted to form “a more perfect union” when it became apparent that multiple independent sovereign bodies consisting of a single people was unworkable.

    7. “[A] head of state with the power of veto and the power to appoint judges and ministers.” Some states in the US don’t allow the executive to make permanent appointments of the judiciary, and none allow that power without legislative approval. Pennsylvania is one of the states in which Judges are elected rather than appointed. A big difference between the UK and the US was noted by you – the virtual absence of practical veto power in the UK while it is a very real power in the US, on multiple levels, Federal, State and local. Certain magistrates in Rome had the power to veto legislative acts of the various Roman legislatures. (In Rome, the executive powers were divided among various types of magistrates. So, too, the statutory enactments were the product of multiple legislatures depending on tribe, class status, etc.)

    8. “a bicameral legislature” Sorry, chief. Not all democratic republics maintain a “bicameral legislature.” In the UK, the House of Lords, which is the upper chamber, has only had the power to delay legislation, with a few exceptions which aren’t relevant to this discussion. That makes Parliament unicameral for all practical purposes. In the US, Nebraska, Guam and the US Virgin Islands maintain unicameral legislatures. Puerto Rico is in the process of changing its system from bicameral to unicameral. Most local legislatures, such as City Councils, are unicameral. In short, “a Bicameral legislature” is irrelevant.

    9. “a judicial system that interprets and applies the laws.” The judiciary of Civil Law countries such as France, Germany and Italy, also interpret and apply the laws. For that matter, so do the secular and ecclesiastical courts of the Church. None of them have their origin in the Westminster System. That’s not surprising since “It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department [the judicial branch] to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule.” Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803).

    10. “Virginia adapted that same model for itself.” You are trivializing the thought and effort put forth by our Founding Fathers to develop a new, stable, fair and just framework of government. There are far too many influences on American Democratic-Republicanism to speak about them here. Just a few: Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu who was a French political philosopher noted for his ideas about the separation of governmental powers. How about John Locke? Jefferson, who drafted the Virginia Constitution in 1776, was a classicist who read Plato and Tacitus.

  135. John H. says:

    John Enright,

    Your comments are very educational, and I am humbled by your intricate knowledge of political systems. Still, I honestly do not see how you have been able to prove that humans are born with a natural right to vote, which is the original subject of this discussion. Even if a hereditary monarchy goes astray, this does not mean it can be ‘voted away.’ This doesn’t happen. The governed have a right to revolt, or migrate, or sue for change, but no Church document you have cited makes it clear that they have the right to vote in actuality or potentiality. They can consent, they can voice their opinion, they can revolt, and their government can allow them to hold a determining vote, but they have no inherant right to do so.

  136. John Enright says:

    Responses to miscellaneous comments:

    Tobias said “BUT the people also have a duty to abide by their duly constituted governments, and sometimes the people even have a duty to endure (rather than to rise up against) a tyranny or an occupying government. A legitimate standing government merits consent, all things being equal. Your definition of suffrage (any expression of consent by the governed) is not what we’re talking about here, at least as far as I can see.”

    Answer: I don’t see why citizens have any duty to endure a tyranny. It makes no sense.

    David Kastel said: “You are now grasping at straws. The topic of this whole thread is whether women’s suffrage is a right granted by God, which they always had, even if unrecognized by the state. It is certainly not. Fr Z misspoke.”

    Answer: Father Z, like the rest of us, is capable of making semantic mistakes in grammar or spelling. My own comments present a host of such mistakes. Father’s point, however, was not made as a result of misspeaking. When have you ever seen Father Z post something which he didn’t believe? Rather, his point is substantive in nature. I have to admit that at first blush, my initial reaction was one of perplexity. I really never gave it much more than a cursory thought in the past. After reading his post, however, I reflected on it and did a little research. A “little research” became a project, and after reading numerous papers on the subject, I came around to Father Z’s position.

  137. John Enright says:

    John H. said “I honestly do not see how you have been able to prove that humans are born with a natural right to vote, which is the original subject of this discussion. Even if a hereditary monarchy goes astray, this does not mean it can be ‘voted away.’ This doesn’t happen.”

    I agree that it does not happen in real life; just look at China! This whole tread deals with utopian concepts, i.e., what should happen in the event that a political system becomes unresponsive to the will of God and/or the citizens. The Catechism is a great extract of Catholic doctrine; with it one doesn’t need to know about St. Thomas Aquinas or any of the other Doctors of the Church in any particular detail. All that we should think and believe is contained therein with regard to substantive issues. The Code of Canon Law provides mostly everything you need to know about the administration of the Church. Both the Catechism and the Code of Canon Law are available online.

    I think that a complete application of the Catechism to the actions of people and nations throughout the world by everyone would result in a utopian society in which war, crime and sin would not exist. We know, however, from one of the relatively few future prophecies of Our Lord that there will always be war. It doesn’t mean, however, that we shouldn’t strive to better society by aspiring to compliance with the Catechism’s model of government.

    Lastly, I thank you for your comments, but I assure you that I do not merit them. Thank you, nevertheless.

  138. John Enright says:

    Sorry, “tread” in the second sentence should be “thread.” I said before that my comments consist of a mountain of spelling errors and grammatical mistakes! The proof is in the pudding.

  139. Jordanes says:

    John Enright said: I’ve never encounter anyone so apt to add two and two together and consistently come out with five.

    Beg to differ, but from where I’m sitting it seems that I’m adding two and two and coming up with four, whereas you are adding two and rabbit and coming up with four and a half.

    “An inalienable human right to vote must always be actualised.” You’re making up rules. Actually, it must always be potential.

    I’m not making up any rules, John, I’m merely noticing that an inalienable human right that is alienated is a right that has been violated. May anyone treat an individual’s right to life only as “potential” and thereby do something to prevent it from being “actual”? Absolutely not: all humans possess the inalienable right to life, even if a government does not recognize that right, and if the government does not recognize that right, the government is unjust. But if a government does not grant the right to vote to someone, that person’s rights have not necessarily been violated.

    Look again at what the Church says about consent of the governed: it is not the individual who has the right freely to determine his people’s government, but the people who have that right, and he may (or may not, depending on who he is, his state in life, etc.) have a right to participate in that choice. Thus voting rights cannot be classed with individual human rights.

    Your conclusion doesn’t follow from the premises.

    Now you’re just contradicting yourself. First you deny saying that any form of government that isn’t at least an elective republic would be morally an evil, then you turn around and say that the right to vote is granted by natural law, which means that any government that doesn’t include voting and popular elections would be immoral. Make up your mind, John.

    A hereditary monarchy could be a legitimate political system provided that the citizens (or subjects) retain the right to abolish the monarchy and substitute another system of their desire.

    “The right to abolish the monarchy” is not “the right to vote.” As has already been established, and is contradicted by no one in this discussion, the people always have the right to determine their form of government, even if it is a form of government in which no one has the right to vote: so long as the state governs justly, in accordance with divine and natural law. Voting is not a necessarily element under Catholic social doctrine, as you have already conceded. Therefore you do not disagree with me.

    This is not inconsistent since you don’t appreciate the difference between actual and potential.

    No, it is inconsistent, because you don’t appreciate what it means for a human right to be a natural right, universal and never permitted to be denied.

    “The Church does not in principle object to political systems in which voting cannot be actualised, although the Church insists that the people always have the right to determine their form of government.” Sorry, but you’re completely wrong on this.

    And yet you still haven’t quoted a single Church document that says voting is the only permissible means of choosing one’s government and one’s leaders. That’s what is really at issue here, and as far as I can tell, you don’t believe that voting is the only permissible means of choosing one’s government and one’s leaders.

    Any system, benevolent or otherwise, which forecloses completely the ability of the citizens’ potential right to select leaders runs counter to Church doctrine.

    Practically speaking, there is no such thing as a merely “potential” right: something either is a right or it isn’t. Something that only has the potentiality of being a right is something that no one currently enjoys as a right. Something that is a moral evil is never a right of anyone, not even potentially. But the people always have the right to select their leaders, no matter how they happen to exercise that right, and they never give consent to any government in such wise that they forever lose the right to withdraw consent.

    A political system where “voting cannot be actualized” is one in which there is no potential right to select leaders by definition.

    No, it’s a system in which the people do not vote for their leaders, but select them in some other way.

    ”What if the choice is for a political regime that doesn’t involve voting for one’s rulers? No one would have a right to vote in that scenario.” You’re starting to catch on.

    It’s nothing I hadn’t already said.

    How did the “political regime that doesn’t involve voting” for rulers come about unless the citizens’ thereof exercised their right to select such a system?

    Exactly. Bellarmine.

    Once selected, do you think that the citizens couldn’t thereafter modify the regime to include an election of the leaders?

    They certainly may, under certain circumstances. Again, Bellarmine.

    You’ll have to trust me on this. I’ve taught American Constitutional Law in the past.

    Nothing you said about that is contrary to what I said, only much more specific and detailed: and what I said is taken from my college and university notes in American constitutional government. I never said the American constitution was patterned exactly on the English model.

    “Yes, the confederation approach, like your typical revolutionary government, was a reaction against what the colonists had formerly lived under.” Wrong again.

    Perhaps the revolution itself wasn’t a reaction against what the colonists had formerly lived under.

    Please note that I didn’t say it was “solely” a reaction.

    “a bicameral legislature” Sorry, chief. Not all democratic republics maintain a “bicameral legislature.” In the UK, the House of Lords, which is the upper chamber, has only had the power to delay legislation, with a few exceptions which aren’t relevant to this discussion. That makes Parliament unicameral for all practical purposes.

    Well, I didn’t say all republics have a bicameral legislature, I said the U.S. government has one, and it has one because it received that tradition from the English experience: the Senate, the upper house, was even meant to be a little something like the House of Peers, with senators appointed by state governors, not voted on by the people, usually chosen from the more “elite” or landed sort of families, analogous to English peers receiving a writ of summons from the monarch.

    “Virginia adapted that same model for itself.” You are trivializing the thought and effort put forth by our Founding Fathers to develop a new, stable, fair and just framework of government.

    Not trivialising, summarizing.

    Okay, I’ve got to drop this: my comments have grown too long and all out of proportion, and I think we’re going in circles.